Light through Stained Glass Windows by Susan Doubet

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Public witnesses

Wed, 2021-06-09 21:24

Local news: new cases of the COVID virus are under control enough in our area for us to resume two of our more public social justice experiences. We will start up our monthly Silent Peace Walks again with one downtown at Perry Square on Tuesday, June 15, 7:00-7:30. If you're "local" please consider joining us.

After holding two online Take Back the Site Vigils, that included ten victims of homicides since last spring, we will hold live vigils on Monday, June 21 on Buffalo Rd. near Boogie's Tavern for a double homicide in early March and a second one in early July for a homicide in late March. The online ones were beautiful but very sad, both in their context and because we couldn't offer them in person for  families and friends.

Nature's interplay

Sun, 2021-06-06 20:39


Photo: Charlotte Ann Zalot, OSB

Yesterday as the musicians were getting ready to practice, unknown to us, the prayer leader had just blown out the candle at the end of Morning Prayer. Also at this exact time the bright morning sun came streaming it right through the smoke coming off the candle.

At this point my friend Charlotte grabbed a phone and got this unique picture. It all took place in about 20 seconds.

It reminded me of another unique photo from a few years ago. During the Christmas season almost the same thing happened, at about the same time one winter Sunday morning. This time the bright sun came through the stained glass windows and through the Charlie Brown tree to form a unique design on the ceramic wall tile. About a half dozen of us ran for a camera (pre-cell phone days) and here's what we got:

Nature update

Wed, 2021-06-02 19:46

One of my favorite all-time pictures--the tool building at Benetwood Apartments with the annual iris display in front. And this week is the week when I see it live--right now. The building is quite a bit more weathered than when this photo was taken, but that makes it even more photogenic, I think. The iris are the same--beautiful.

We haven't seen many deer lately, we think this is the time for the birth of this year's fawn, so they will be scarce for a couple weeks. The geese are not around as much, gosling care for sure. Hummingbirds and Baltimore Orioles have been sparse this spring, too--but lots of other birds are around: the yellow finch are delightful to see flitting about. Our morning praise is accompanied by birdsong every day!

The rhododendron are great and plentiful this month, as were the forsythia last. This week our peonies are opening and the roses are having their first bloom, too. 

Finally, but far from last, the Night Blooming Evening Primrose started Monday night. They are truly miraculous in every sense of the word. 

Hoping your natural world is beautiful and that last summer's restrictions at home carry over into yards and gardens throughout the country for bird and flower lovers, not to forget vegetable growers!  Our tomatoes are doing very well in large vats on the back patio. 

The mysteries of life (Part 2 of 2)

Sun, 2021-05-30 17:21


The first trellis flowers.

Why do you press harder on a remote control when you know the battery is dead?

Why does lemon juice contain mostly artificial ingredients but dishwashing liquid contains real lemons?

Do Roman paramedics refer to IV's as "4's"?

Why are there 5 syllables in the word "monosyllabic"?

Whose cruel idea was it for the word "lisp" to have an "s" in it?

Why do banks charge you a "non-sufficient fund fee" on money they already know you don't have?

The mysteries of life (Part 1 of 2)

Wed, 2021-05-26 21:37


The Mysteries of Life (Part 1)

Why do they call it the Department of the Interior when they are in charge of everything outdoors?

Why is a carrot more orange than an orange?

Tell a man that there are 400 billion stars and he'll believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint and he has to touch it.

How come abbreviated is such a long word?

If you're sending someone Styrofoam, what do you pack it in?


Sun, 2021-05-23 21:25

Pentecost Sunday is one of the community's favorite and most celebrated feasts. This year was no exception except of course we had it to and for ourselves. The three prayer periods and Sunday liturgy were full of Holy Spirit songs, inspiring scripture reading on the coming of the Spirit to the first apostles and to the entire church...down through the centuries and even today! Creative expressions highlighted many parts and good music had a part in everything.

To that end, I am trying something new on this blog and I'm not sure that it will work. I'm going to try and link one of the organ/oboe duets that Sisters Charlotte and Anne W. played this weekend. This one was written by our Sister Mary David Callahan. She is best known to us and to others through her songs, but she has a music book of instrumental Preludes and Postludes that are quite nice and these two excellent musicians played her "Veni Creator" beautifully.

I hope the link works because we'd really like to share this wonderful music with you. If it doesn't, I'll read up on it and try again next time!

Gratitude overflows

Wed, 2021-05-19 20:58

Our very kind physical resource director has succumbed to yet another of my crazed ideas for our property. Oh, they are not huge expensive projects but they do take time and sometimes a great deal of effort---on her staff's part--with as much help as I, myself, can offer.

It all started with my finding three trellises at the back of the monastery, with no plants growing up on them. "Could we move them to the inner courtyard?" I asked. "Sure," she said. They were bolted to the bricks, you see, but now enjoy three beautiful climbing plants every summer on new walls.

Then came the sighting of bluebirds and googling that told me they only nested in birdhouses that were on posts in the middle of a field or large lawn area. "Could we put one up? I'll buy it," I asked. "Sure," she said. And now we have two, in a row, to help the mowing--and both get used by bluebirds (or sparrows) every year.

Then, I think came the dogwood trees on the path to Benetwood to replace the trees that came down. "I have two young trees in the garden that I've been nursing along for a couple years, could I plant them along the path?" "Sure," she answered. And in they went. Totally done by myself, by the way!

Now we're up to the cemetery plots: 250 of them. "Our flat stones look terrible," I reported. "They don't have a nice border around them and the crab grass and tree droppings fall all over them. You can hardly see some of the names. Can we get them a border and mulch?" I pleaded, as I showed her pictures that I had taken of the various conditions. This was a much bigger project then previously, but she said, "Yes." Sure enough the next spring our regular landscapers went out and dug all around them. What a job! I found them at it one day and those young guys were working hard. Digging out grass is very difficult as you might know. But once done it's much easier to keep it up, which I can help with now.

This saga brings us to this month: "Do you know that there are two beautiful Benedictine crosses with PEACE etched into them on the front sign building?" I said. "Yes, I do," she responded. Because she really does know every inch of our land and properties. "Well, I'd like to try and dig out the overgrown bushes that are totally covering them," I continued. "Hmmm, that'll be a big job," she noted. And she was right. It took me five sessions of an hour or more each, until I succeeded it clipping off enough of the branches to expose the trunks so that the guys could get a chain around them. Seems the only way to get the (huge) trunks/bushes out was to pull them with the tractor. With the tractor?! I thought. Holy moly. Well, our great guys did it this week and look at what we now have.

The upper photo is the east side, the lower one is the west side. Aren't they beautiful?

Hopefully now, similar to the gravestones, it will be easier to keep them exposed and visible.

My great, great thanks to "Charlie," as we affectionately call her--for her patience and kindness to me over and over again as I presented her with my "latest scheme." 

Hmmmm, let's see, what shall we do next?! 

The theme is trees

Sun, 2021-05-16 21:09


Yes, the theme this spring is trees. You may already have seen a photo-story on our community website of the first of two tree planting sessions that we had across East Lake Rd on the Glinodo side of our property. Next Friday will be session two and it will be planting a sort of nursery in which 100 trees  will get a good start. So I thought it would be time for an update on the trees we've been putting in previous to this effort, albeit in a much more modest program. 

Here are two evergreens that we planted about 6-7 years ago at the end of a long, long line of evergreens from the Glinodo cabins to the lakefront.It was lining up high school senior boys and adding two from kindergarten at the end. But althought they started at about 12" high, they are now about 4' high and holding their own very well...among the giants.

This is a 12" Douglas Fir that is one year old. It survived the winter in a plastic tube and seems to be hanging in there. A smaller version is also still with us.

Here's the best of five others, I believe this is a Tulip Tree, that made it through last winter, too, and is doing very, very well. Here's hoping that next summer we can transplant them somewhere on the grounds. The two dogwoods that we transplanted along the path to Benetwood two summers ago are small, but alive! If they can survive the deer they'll be very pretty some day.

And that's the latest update on our tree-planting efforts!

Two Mother's Day remembrances

Sun, 2021-05-09 21:13

                       The azaleas popped out this week--not for Pentecost, but for Mother's Day.
One of my friends has a tribute to her mother every year. She wears a string of pearls that were her mother's. It must be quite the length as it has three layers when it's around her neck! And it doesn't matter what she has on, today it was just a pair of black pants and a nice top--no formal wear or out for a night dancing--just her every day Sunday outfit, with a remembrance of her Mom.
I, too, have a remembrance of my Mom, but it's with me every day. When my mother died I was going through her things and I found a simple gold ring in her jewelry box. I didn't remember ever seeing it before. Being a jeweler's daughter I knew to look for an inscription and sure enough, with the help of  some magnification, there were my grandparents' initials and a date in 1916--their wedding day. As if it was meant to be, it fit me perfectly and ever since I have worn it--to be one with my mother and with her mother--a ring over 100 years old.

ReLeaf Erie County

Wed, 2021-05-05 20:24

Some of the new trees planted along Seven-Mile Creek.
We have become part of some very exciting news in Erie County--the ReLeaf program sponsored by the Lake Erie Arboretum--located at Frontier Park for you knowers-of-Erie.

The ReLeaf program is an effort to plant 275,000 trees, one for each citizen of the County. Our Glinodo property is becoming a temporary tree nursery this month as over 150-200 trees will be nurtured along our creek and on a protected area of Glinodo until they can be transplanted to their permanent home in a couple of years. A number of our sisters have already helped in the planting, with the second planting day to come at the end of this month. 

My Dad told me that one of Erie's nicknames, when he was growing up, was City of Trees. If you've looked down whenever flying into Erie in spring, summer or fall, you know that this is true. It will be even more so now thanks to ReLeaf.

14 years now

Wed, 2021-04-28 21:57

May 1st in this blog's anniversary. Fourteen now. I've shared the first entry a number of times, so I thought this year we'd look at the second: May 3, 2007. 

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Mint Julep WeekThe deer have returned to our backyard. Somewhere between 7:00-8:00 pm most nights they emerge from the woods that borders two sides of the Mount. They slowly graze, stop at the salt lick, and wander in and out, making their way across the backyard before turning north to cross East Lake Road to the lake side of our property for the night. (At least that's where we think they're going.) This week we witnessed a first: three of them, not the fawns we saw do this last summer, initiated their own Kentucky Derby of sorts, as they ran, full out, the length of the yard next to the tree line, for about 15 minutes. Back and forth, back and forth, pausing only long enough to take a breath before turning around and tearing back the other way. We are used to seeing the fawn romp and jump and frolic, but we had never witnessed grown deer in such a racing contest. Must be the week, even though we are 400 miles from Kentucky! (Future posts will announce the arrival of this year's fawn....we hope.)
This gives a bit of a commentary on the Benedictine vow of stability--faithfulness, commitment, etc. The 2021 follow up to this entry is: we still have deer in the backyard; we still have a salt lick--which I have yet to buy for this season; we still have fawn that race around as if it were the PA version of the Kentucky Derby, which I believe is coming soon.
Conclusion: Life goes on; everything changes and yet nothing changes. 
This week the bleeding hearts in the inner courtyard are making their first 2021 appearance. Beautiful and miraculous---nothing changes. 

3 at once

Sun, 2021-04-25 19:32


I'm in the midst of something this week that I very rarely do: I'm reading three books simultaneously. Two were given to me by a friend, who had just finished them and was raving. The third came in at the library where I had "ordered" it a couple weeks ago. You may think that I could easily just read them in order but, you see, they are all on the (very) short list of my favorite authors--so I just couldn't leave one or two of them out--so I started them all.

The authors are Barbara Brown Taylor, Anne Lamott and Martha Grimes. Barbara and Anne are both wonderful spirituality writers--solid as rocks and just as humorous, clever, and marvelous in their reflections, stories and experiences of God in their life.

Martha is the author of the Richard Jury series--the Scotland Yard detective whose cases always center around some English pub and involve his quirky group of friends--who both assist him in the case and offer him a taste of everyday life.

Learning to Walk in the Dark, Barbara Brown Taylor

Dusk, Night, Dawn, Anne Lamott

The Grave Maurice, Martha Grimes

7:30 AM Wed. April 21

Wed, 2021-04-21 21:29


146 migrant chidren arrive in Erie

Sun, 2021-04-18 20:35

Here are some excerpts from the Erie Times News following the arrival of 146 girls, ages 7-12, unaccompanied migrants entering the US.

"While the Biden administration has called on states to provide shelters and help ease the backlog of unaccompanied minors at the border, only two non-border states have done so--Michigan and Pennsylvania.

As of now, Erie is the only city in Pennsylvania to set up an Emergency Intake Site, a temporary shelter that allows migrant children to move out of packed US Customs and Border Protection facilities and into the care of the US Dept. of Health and Human Services.

The Erie site, a dormitory in Summit Township was offered by the owner for federal use. At the site they are receiving medical care, clean beds and clothes as case workers begin the task of linking them with relatives or vetted sponsors in the US. Federal officials say that the majority of the girls do have family or relations in the country."

Donations and volunteers have been plentiful, although volunteering is not easy, as three clearances are needed. For now between 75-100 federal staff are caring for the children. However, donated items (socks, flip-flops, sweatshirts, jackets, underwear and games, such as puzzles) can be dropped off at the Erie First Assembly Church on Oliver Rd. or at the monastery and we'll get them there. 

Thanks to Sisters Pat Lupo and Rosanne Lindal Hynes, pictured above in an Erie Times News article last week, who helped purchase the initial supplies for the children. And thanks for the generous people of Erie who responded so quickly. We're not surprised--we have had 1,000s of immigrants over the last decade or so--many coming through our SBEC programs-- and have, generally, welcomed them warmly.

Favorites for everyone

Wed, 2021-04-14 20:33

 If you live in a four-season climate or even maybe just a two-season one, I'm sure you have your change-of-seasons favorite moments: the first hummingbird that comes, the first winter wonderland snowfall, the first pumpkins that are displayed in the same place every year, the first day it's warm enough to sunbathe.

Well, in Erie we have many firsts when winter changes to spring. It would be much too hard to list my ten top favorites--I don't think I could get them down to only ten! But among the top three would definitely be this one: the blossoms on the flowering pear tree in the center of our library courtyard--on which at least half of our bedrooms have a view. But the view I catch it with is the one from the library itself. I'm walking down a hallway, just as I was this week, and suddenly out of the corner of my eye, this huge white expanse goes by--and I know instantly what it is: the whole pear tree has erupted and fills the panes of glass that cover the east wall of our library.

Every year I try to take a more perfect picture of what my eye sees. But I must tell you, they never catch exactly what we see. Nevertheless, here's this year's attempt.

For those of you with whom we are sharing the coming of spring, I hope you are getting wonderful pink and yellow and white surprises everywhere you look. One more of my favorites: the route I take into my ministry each day, through some pretty dilapidated neighborhoods and the unexpected gloriously blooming dogwoods or magnolia trees, in the yards and up against the most humble of abodes. Good thing nature doesn't care where it comes through.

We are all one.

Sun, 2021-04-11 20:02

 This weekend I enjoyed an annual event in my family--watching The Masters golf tournament. Well, we didn't watch it much when we were kids, but by the time we were young adults, being a golfing family ourselves, we took great pleasure in the annual April event from the gorgeous course in Augusta, Georgia.

I miss not being able to watch it with my parents now, all of us offering commentary, advice and past stories throughout the tournament. 

One thing worth noting this year: the first Japanese player won! Hideki Matsuyama, a 29 year old, 10 year professional who had won as low amateur at the Masters ten years ago. The commentators shared great remembrances and history of all of the fine Japanese golfers that had played in the Masters over the years and telling the audience that Matsuyama will become a national icon in his golf-crazy native country after this win.

How wonderfully ironic and blessed news this is as it comes at the most prestigious US golf event, right at the time of the racial prejudices against Asians. The pious might say, "God works in mysterious ways!"

Easter Vigil 2021

Wed, 2021-04-07 21:12

The story, in its entirety, would be 3 1/2 hours long! Here's the short version.
Saturday night, April 3; 6:15 p.m. an electrical power outage hits our area of Harborcreek.
8:00 p.m. We begin the traditional Easter Vigil service after much scurrying to find:
  • a portable mic system
  • scores of flashlights/battery-operated lighting devices, especially for each musician,
  • contacting all the principle players, including Fr. Bob Brugger, who is a "prince of a guy" for going along with us in this (ad)venture! "Jesus probably didn't have electricity at the Last Supper," he wisely noted, "so I guess we can do without it, too."

What you see above is a concoction of three smaller lights held together with blue duct tape,mounted on a stand at the primary lectern--looks like something out of Star Wars to me!
Do you remember MacGyver (1985-1992) where Richard Dean Anderson played a genius-level guy who solved tough cases by jury-rigging whatever was at hand to get in and out of situations for each week's dilemma--fighting for the good guys? That's exactly what our Sister Mary MacGyvers did for an hour getting set up for this not-to-be-soon-forgotten Easter Vigil. BTW: an updated MacGyver has been on since 2016--an undercover government agent who uses ingenious engineering techniques in his weekly cases.

Here's what the north side of the chapel looked like. Yes, there were four emergency lights on. 

Here's the south side.

And here are my orchestra bells with a lantern-type flashlight hanging with fishing wire so we could get it toilluminate the music and the steel bars equally!
The lights came back on at 9:45 p.m. just as Communion was ending and the organ had time to warm up for the last song--which gave new meaning to rousing.
To all of our next year's guests---sure, we'll try to duplicate it in 2022---just for you!


Sun, 2021-04-04 20:38

 "Black Swallowtail"

The caterpillar,
interesting but not exactly lovely,
humped along among the parsley leaves
eating, always eating. Then
one night it was gone and in its place
a small green confinement hung by two silk threads
on a parsley stem. I think it took nothing with it
except faith, and patience. And then one morning
it expressed itself into the most beautiful being.

Mary Oliver

Good Friday

Fri, 2021-04-02 13:50

 "Broken, Unbroken"

The lonely
stand in the dark corners
of their hearts.

I have seen them
in cities,
and in my own neighborhood,

nor could I touch them
with the magic
that they crave

to be unbroken.
Then, I myself,

said hello to
good fortune.

came along
and lingered
and little by little

became everything
that makes the difference.
Oh, I wish such good luck

to everyone.
How beautiful it isto be unbroken.
Mary Oliver

April Fool's Day--7:00 a.m.

Thu, 2021-04-01 09:29