Light through Stained Glass Windows by Susan Doubet

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Updated: 1 hour 27 min ago

How's Lent Going?

Sun, 2021-02-28 20:47


How's Lent going? Well, it's only been 12 days, but it's coming along pretty well, I'd say.

We have our once-a-year hymns, which are all very nice to include at the beginning of prayer. There are a number of mantra-like verses, which get inside you when they are chanted two or three times over and over.

However, one of the new parts this year is on the dining room tables, I think they are those fast growing bean plants. Many of them are already up (see photo) and to a place that hasn't seen outdoor growth for 4-5 months now, it's really a nice sight. The local weather man told us that March 1 is the meteorological first day of spring. What that means I do not know--but with 3-4 days with a high in the low 50s last week, we are getting teasers of a spring that won't come March 1, I assure you. But it's on its way.

Meanwhile, you may know from reading our website, we lost our Sr. Andrea Friday morning. Helen H. did her usual wonderful job of crafting a display of Andrea for all of us to enjoy and reminisce over. One of the special blessings of community life.

Winter birds

Wed, 2021-02-24 21:00

Here in Erie we have winter birds or I guess it would be more proper to say that we have birds that winter with us. They are here in the summer, too. The ones I see most often at our feeders are chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals and woodpeckers. There are a few other kinds, but I'm not as good identifying them as I should be!

It is quite amazing to me that they stay with us, however, I have to remember that we don't get as cold as say the midwest, but with all this snow (we are at 60" now--well below our average through this date, but still a lot) you might think they wouldn't. However, the bird feeders are many in this area so I suspect if they can find suitable shelter, the food might keep them here. Oh, and of course, there is endless fresh lake and creek water.

Winter and the Nuthatch

Once or twice and maybe again, who knows,
the timid nuthatch will come to me
if I stand still, with something good to eat in my hand.
The first time he did it
he landed smack on his belly, as though
the legs wouldn't cooperate. The next time
he was bolder. Then he became absolutely
wild about those walnuts.

But there was a morning I came late and, guess what,
the nuthatch was flying into a stranger's hand.
To speak plainly, I felt betrayed.
I wanted to say: Mister
that nuthatch and I have a relationship.
It took hours of standing in the snow
before he would drop from the tree and trust my fingers.
But I didn't say anything.

Nobody owns the sky or the trees.
Nobody owns the hearts of birds.
Still, being human and partial therefore to my own successes--
though not resentful of others fashioning theirs--

I'll come tomorrow, I believe, quite early.

Mary Oliver

Four of our sisters heading over to our Glinodoproperty for some sledding down the big hill. (click to enlarge)

Sun brings shadows

Sun, 2021-02-21 21:37

 OMG, after two weeks of cold, cold temperatures (everything is relative, but for us "cold temperatures" means 20-25), the sun and warmth (ditto, "warmth" right now means 35!) broke through Sunday and I swear all of Erie was outdoors, squinting and taking in the natural Vitamin D.

For us it meant a walk to the lake at 2:00 pm, well past mid-day. These days sunrise is at 7:00 am and sunset at 6:00 among other things 2:00 pm brings are long, long shadows on the very white and sparkling snow.

Here are some of my rather ordinary attempts at catching this February phenomenon. For us, it is glorious!

All of our trees have their attached shadows nowadays.

I thought Scholastica's crozier looked quite impressive.

Walking on the Glinodo boardwalk to the lake.

COVID "holidays"

Wed, 2021-02-17 19:45

The entry right before this one was predicting that the snowstorm that is still devastating Texas, Louisiana and numerous other central, southern states would hit us as it made its way up to the northeast. Well, that didn't happen. We got 3" Tuesday morning and almost another 3" by evening. We, however, can handle that pretty easily. Oh, BTW, there was no ice involved. That even stops us!

Today we celebrated a COVID Ash Wednesday. Which means that we didn't receive ashes in the normal way. There were ashes available in the chapel all day if anyone wanted to use them, but there was no general reception of ashes. Amazing changes throughout this year.

And, then, in the early afternoon we had our second vaccine shot. The first one came on Jan. 20th, inauguration day; the second one Ash Wednesday and the last one will be March 17 for those who just started today. Being a "congregate" living situation with 82 in the community and a number having already caught the virus, we were able to qualify. I'm calling them the holiday surprises. 

Big storms coming

Sun, 2021-02-14 22:14

 time to be sure our birds (and wildlife) are fed--

our resident furry friend who shares the seeds for our birds

and apples for our deer!

Super Bowl Sunday

Sun, 2021-02-07 20:33

Before taking in the Super Bowl this weekend, we took in a ride around Presque Isle and downtown Erie, along the bayfront. One of the best views was of this Great Lakes freighter, in for repairs over the winter at one of our docks. What a monster ship.

 On the peninsula itself we saw this ice hockey game going on at Waterworks where families love to come for winter activities. We couldn't see from where we were whether they were playing on the frozen pond that is there or if they made their own rink with water on a flat surface near that cabin. I think they were on the pond. Lots of locals were out--despite the 22 degree temps--BTW there was bright sunshine to take the edge off!

Memories of Lenore

Wed, 2021-02-03 21:53

When I was growing up my grandmother Pearl was friends with Millie Shaw. Pearl and Millie both played bridge and had a lot of fun with the "girls" they hung around with. Each also had a daughter in the convent---well, sort of. 

My aunt entered the Sisters of St. Joseph after college and stayed there over 50 years, until her death.

Lenore entered the Benedictine community three times--in 1945, but left within a year or so--again in 1948, and left in 1950--and entered for the third and final time in 1978! Most people think the community had to catch up with Lenore, not the other way around. Lenore was a character of the first degree. During the 28 years between her second and third entrances, she taught for a few years in a city public high school--driver's education was her specialty. She would cajole us with story after story of the zany adventures of her friends on the faculty there, as they banded together to cope with the challenges of inner-city teaching in the 60s and 70s. At her large and crowded Irish wake every one of those colleagues (and even some of her former students) came out to pay her tribute and remember their favorite adventure with "Miss Shaw."

Her last ministry was at the Second Harvest Food Bank, which was then administered by one of our sisters who was as much fun as Lenore. They say that working with the two of them was like being part of a comedy routine every day. Her final "job" was as a community driver, about which she'd exclaim, "If I ever doubted I was going to heaven, I don't now. This is my purgatory!" as she'd roll her eyes every day at the peculiarities of doctor's appts. and changing schedules that would send anyone else over the edge. We told her that she was perfect for the job.

Her annual February contribution to community fun was to organize the annual Super Bowl pool--$1.00 a box, with $25 to the winner of each quarter. If you could see into our place this weekend you would view this year's chart: The 19th Annual Lenore Shaw Memorial Super Bowl Pool--that I am proud to organize. Because of  the COVID experience this year we've adapted the pool a little. The four sister-winners this year will get to name a charity of their choice to which we will donate each $25. Seems like a moderation that Lenore would approve of--she was generosity personified.

Winter (indoor) fun

Sun, 2021-01-31 19:09

If you look down to the Jan. 24 post you'll see what our creek looked like just one week ago. After seven days of very cold temps, some snowfall and cold winds here's what it looks like one week later. Ditto for the lake itself...a week or 10 days ago it was completely clear--here's this afternoon:

This is a nice look at ice dunes as as they are growing and ice on the lake as it is coming together. The Bay is already ahead of this, ice fishermen/women are already out on it or will be soon.
So, one conclusion that is easy to come to: make your own fun---indoors.Ok--here we go--exhibit #1:

A display to accompany a winter birthday celebration!

In the side door

Wed, 2021-01-27 17:21

Instead of using the East Lake Rd entrance, you can sneak in off of Troupe Rd. At that side entrance is a lovely old marble sign but because it's not too tall it often gets partially or completely hidden by the latest snowstorm. In many ways that doesn't matter all that much now as we haven't had visitors, overnight guests or even friends, family or oblates for so many months. It just doesn't "feel" right, as we are a community that greatly values and fosters hospitality. 

On the other hand, this pandemic is teaching its own lessons, ones I for one never gave a thought to when all was humming along "normally." And one of those is the gift of friends and family--and I mean actually being with them physically, not virtually. I think of grandparents and their young grandchildren out of state, prisoners and their families losing their already limited visiting privileges, school aged children missing their friends and the learning of important concepts of socializing and getting along with others, and the people who already lived singly, now without their daily interactions in their communities. So many of us are really longing for the vaccine to spread enough around the country and the world, that we can be with each other again. 

It will come. Meanwhile, be well, help others. Thanks for tuning in to us--online.

This is late January

Sun, 2021-01-24 19:40

Winter has finally set in. Our amount of snow has doubled in the last 3 weeks, some days the high temp is in the 20s, and during a walk I took today I saw ice floes just beginning in Lake Erie. On the other hand, says Pollyanna, this also means  the our heavy winter sweaters and turtlenecks can be worn, as well as our corduroy pants. It's like finding a whole new wardrobe!!

Since we live equidistant from Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Buffalo, we had a great time a couple weeks ago when they were all in the initial weekend of the NFL playoffs. Today we are down only to Buffalo and, as I write this, they are playing Kansas City in order to go to the Super Bowl February 7. Kansas City is near a Benedictine monastery in our federation and home to many of our friends, Mount St. Scholastic in Atchison, KS. But, one of our sisters was born and raised in Buffalo, so well be happy whoever wins! 


Fri, 2021-01-22 07:09

 A Democrat, feminist, Vatican II Catholic and Mr. Rogers all wrapped into one---

and fireworks that were magnificent.

WOW--What a day!

Helicopter happenings

Sun, 2021-01-17 19:26


Here's the backstory: About 15 years ago or so a helicopter landed on our front lawn! It was in the middle of the night or late enough that most of us were asleep. One of my friends was one of the two sisters that witnessed this and told me later, "I didn't get you because I didn't want to wake you up that late." How often does a helicopter land at your house?! I have never forgiven her and at least once a year when something unusual happens I remind her that the next time a helicopter lands nearby I want to be awakened--no matter the time! 

This weekend I got a phone call that began "This is the makeup for the helicopter!" In other words, she hopes this will be enough that I stop reminding her to get me when anything exciting is going on! 

The call was telling me that a car was in the middle of our (large) side lawn. Sure enough, there is was. Stuck, deeply, in the muddy section that appears every winter due to the snow, rain and poor drainage there. Within an hour another car was stuck, a friend called and trying to help we presumed. What a mess! 

Soon the local state police arrived and over the next hour or so got a tow truck to come and pull both cars out and got our side yard cleared--although it was left with rather deep muddy ruts. 

I was "thrilled" that I was asked if I'd go out there, get the needed information and take pictures of the helicopter, I mean, stuck cars. (See above for a tire extraordinarily covered in mud.)

All is forgiven and not to be mentioned ever again.

Keeping our sanity

Wed, 2021-01-13 20:09

Today is Day #20 of our quarantine and it's getting a little kooky! So, we are trying hard to make our own fun. Here's a quick but challenging game. See how you measure up in our Monastic Match Game!

Five Benedictine "saints"---year of birth and year of death:

 _____St. Scholastica              A.  1832-1881          

_____St. Gertrude the Great     B. 1256-1302

_____Benedicta Riepp            C. 1098-1179

(First Benedictine woman in the USA)

_____St. Hildegard of Bingen    D. 1825-1862

_____Scholastic Burkhard        E. 480-543

(First prioress Benedictine Sisters of Erie)

 Five community members who were not born in Erie, Oil City or Sharon, PA

_____Mary Ellen P.            F. Rapid City, SD

_____Maggie Z.                G. Danvers, MA

_____Linda R.                    H. Muskegon, MI

_____Jen F.                        I. Honolulu, HI

_____Placida A.                J. Verdun, France

Turning to Nature

Sun, 2021-01-10 19:21

After the atrocities of the past week, I think I'm going to keep my eye on nature to calm my soul, ease my anxiety and find honesty, truth and wholeness in the world. And, of course also to my friends!

Here are two shots that one of those friends, a fine photographer in her own right, took in our backyard at sunrise a week or so ago. The "red" one she took facing east, then she pivoted 180 degrees and found the "blue" one in the western sky. Very cool, isn't it? Nature speaks--beauty and loveliness.


Wear a mask

Wed, 2021-01-06 20:53


We are doing fine, thank you for all your thoughts and prayers that have been coming into us all week. You can see from the photo above that even Benedict is taking care! Who climbed up there and did this?! We don't know, but we think it's great. "We're all in this together," as they say.

On the other bit of news today, we are as amazed as you surely are at the goings on at the Capitol Building in Washington. Perhaps our national-elected officials will be "shocked" into realizing that for them to strive for common ground, peace and respect, in all their dealings, for all the people, are much more important than partisan politics and re-election strategies that so many of them seem to be under the spell of. 

Be well, stay healthy, help others. We will, too.

Wise ones

Wed, 2020-12-30 16:21

In the year 2000, at the turn of the millennium, the National Catholic Reporter newspaper ran a contest, inviting artist to produce a rendition of Jesus for this time. The winner, “Jesus of the People” was painted by New England artist, Janet McKenzie. You can see it here.

I came in contact with Janet’s work a couple of years later when Orbis Books (Maryknoll) published a book, Holiness and the Feminine Spirit: the art of Janet McKenzie. It included reflections for each piece. Joan Chittister, OSB, wrote the reflection for “The Visitation.”

Through this project Orbis sent us prints of some of Janet’s other works and the one that really impacted us was the one called “Epiphany. We framed it and use it annually.

It features Janet’s usual androgynous people, both in gender and race. But, if you look closer you can see that they are definitely female. What a wonderful visual of the Magi, especially as it portrays women as the wise ones from the East.

It is eye opening when you first begin to experience such things as: to reading commentaries of biblical books from the point of view of the women involved; seeing visuals such as this that feature women as the principal players or discovering the spiritually rich material now available from a woman’s perspective, as well as a man’s.

So be sure to watch for wise men and wise women--both travel through our lives.

Sharing our "joy"?!

Sun, 2020-12-27 19:57

That time of year has come again...what time is that, you ask? The time when I share with all my friends in California, my cousins in Florida and the Carolinas and friends everywhere who grew up in Erie or visited often as a child, the snowy winters of the Great Lakes.

We had our first lake effect snow of the season December 25 and 26, and it was a winter wonderland for Christmas. I was so happy for the kids. They say Frontier Hill and Peak 'n Peak were full of sledders and skiers.

Here's a look at our 20.8" that fell on those days:

Looking out my bedroom window, with a huge amount of snow on the bird feeder. That's my yellow ruler to give you perspective!!
Here's the magnolia tree in the inner courtyard taken from a sister's room on 2nd floor. See how the bottom limbs are almost lying on the snow!
And here's a shot looking outside at 6:30 am on Christmas morning.An outside security light gave some light, but otherwise it was pretty dark.

Quite idyllic

Fri, 2020-12-25 09:08

 Waking Christmas morning to 5-6" of new fresh snow and these: 

The male is a little squeamish, comes if the indoor lights are off!

 The female, however, comes right over to the window feeder--and stays!

Christmas 2020

Wed, 2020-12-23 21:20


This year our chapel Christmas tree is lovely. Quite perfectly shaped. A perfect height and even, for the first time that many of us can remember, adorned with little lights.

We are very much enjoying the ten minutes before Morning Prayer when only the tree and the Advent wreath are lit in the dark chapel. Quite a special moment.

Here it is all by itself.
Please know of a special and continual remembrance in our prayers and prayer services,  for all of you and for your loved ones, at this unusual and really quite sad Christmas time. Let us be good to each other--and for all those in our families and local communities.

Mild December gifts

Sun, 2020-12-20 20:19


December has been a mild one---so far. Here in Harborcreek we have had barely 4" of snow and daily high temperatures in the 40s and, just lately, 30s. Among the benefits that such mildness brings are these two fishermen who we ran into last weekend when we were walking down to the lake through our Glinodo property. 
They are seen here leaving for the day, each of them dragging two very large fish (Walleye??) hanging on hooks that they are holding...what does that make the fish, about 24"? At least, I would say.
So instead of making ice fishing plans on the bay, which has to have a minimum of 4" of ice, I believe, they are still enjoying the flowing open waters of all of the creeks emptying into Lake Erie. Especially ours: Seven Mile Creek.
Merry Christmas to them...and happy fresh fish dinners to all.