Thursday, October 30, 2014

And the Emmy Goes To....






....Brother Luke for best portrayal of absent monk in a documentary!

Life is so random!  There we were, my friends and I, finalizing our purchases at the bookstore of our monastery when we overheard a long conversation about homemade fudge between some ladies and Brother Luke.  I had been joking that we weren't special enough to warrant some fudge or the complimentary paddle to go along with it as the ladies left. Then in the midst of our transaction, Br. Luke got a little excited and said, "I have a great story for you.  He pointed to a DVD, The Everyday with which we were already quite familiar. (He wasn't yet at the monastery when this was filmed).
The documentary goes through the day in the life of a Benedictine Monk at Mount Saviour Monastery in Elmira, NY.  It is wonderfully made and when we are missing our spiritual home away from home, we have been known to watch it and long to return.

The long and the short of this story so as not to betray a place of privacy and reflection was that after a visit, Kells, (who became friends with these men and went on to produce the Rachel Ray show) sent this to Br. Luke to be enjoyed by the very people who allowed the vision he had to be brought forth in this video.  His note said,(essentially) "Return when you get tired of looking at it."  Which is how, in the randomness of life, I got to hold a real live Emmy award.


Now, here is what I find interesting. In our society that holds up these awards as something to be coveted, this person found more value in the sharing of it.  What a gift to have this place to "recalibrate", what an even better gift to have a heart that knows that all of this is better when shared.

Though the monks are amused I am sure, (they are getting a little more press these days then when I first went there some 30 years ago!) I can't imagine it would hold their attention for long.  Even for us, it was an, "Okay, that was fun and novel" moment but we really just wanted to hurry up the hill for the final hours of our retreat.  Still, this is what makes our place of refuge so extraordinary.  How cultures collide on those hills for the Glory of God is remarkable and I learn more and more about it every time I visit.


Friday, October 24, 2014

So Many Blessings!

So,  I have been thinking and thinking about writing on my blog. I have really missed it.  Then I decided to pop on and friend Lynda sent a note of encouragement!!  Thank you Lynda, I have missed you too!

Where to begin.  Well,  I have taken on the whole faith formation program at my parish and am still working here and there at the school. Our LIM program is currently stalled which is its own blessing because I feel like my family is no longer being ignored a couple of days a week. We are preparing to send the oldest to college (Janine, if you are reading, ESF is a top contender) which is taking some time and emotion that is new.  The girls are growing into young women before my eyes and I have to sometimes catch my breath when I realize that I have been privy to bringing such wonderful human beings into the world. I hear everyday from someone about my girls and that is such a huge payment to me!

Much of my time has been spent cleaning and organizing for the program at church.  I have an old and sentimental parish and it is hard to sometimes move forward.  They are the most extraordinary and giving people and I am happy to be part of it and to be in a position to build it. But there is a lotta lotta work to catch up on.

There have also been some people in my world who have experienced big losses.  Parents, siblings or friends and it has been a very hard time to watch them as they move through their grief.  In a conversation yesterday, one person told me that their husband just stopped believing when his mother died.  It is so hard to be grief-stricken and my heart has been so heavy for this excellent individual who has now taken another blow to his family.  Another blow and an unwillingness (or inability?) to be consoled.  In the meantime, a couple of friends lost parents and their great consolation through their pain is the faith that there is so much more and that they are at peace with their loved ones.

It's funny how we all process so differently.  It is interesting how perceptions vary. 

There is so much more to write and I will. I am back. I feel like writing again.  Maybe someday I will gather something and try to make something coherent out of it!  Haha!

I hope that whoever is reading is well.  Please say hi!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Forgotten Blog and Summer Life

My poor little blog has been ignored for some time now. It makes me a little sad to think how much I am not writing on it. I have stopped writing altogether in an attempt to weed something out of my "must do" mindset.  In reality, I only enjoy doing the blog...it isn't  a must do.  But, in leaving my blog I left my enjoyment.  Oh the confusion!! :D

So what has been going on?  So many things.

I will start with a return to my monastery.  I had not been there in two whole years and was blessed to be able to go back for three days! With my best monastery girl, no less!! And then an odd thing happened. 
St. Gertrude's Guest House

Monastery in summer.  Never was here at this time of year.
It felt like the same place we went to as young adults some 28 years ago! A few changes here and there and missing some beloved people, yes.  But the Spirit, the one that kept me returning, has come back.  I am not sure why...but I will take it.












I will be returning again in November.  Hopefully with a  full crew.











 On another note, we started looking at colleges for my oldest.  This was a little painful because of the clash of expectations but everyone will come around with time.  I believe these kinds of things work themselves out and that with prayer she will be placed where she should be.

  
This was the hands down winner for both teens UVM Burlington.


Then there has been extended family time with my adored sisters and brothers and my mother.  With my aunts and uncles. I am very fortunate to have such a large (and Thanks be To God), healthy family.

So, it has been a wonderful summer for me.  But in the backdrop is all of this madness.  The children at the border, the injustice that surrounds that whole situation.  The Israeli/ Palestinian craziness, ISIS and the Iraqi and Afghan refugees, Ebola, flooding, foolishness and the one that broke all of our hearts the other day, the suicide of Robin Williams.  A person who poured himself out....and made us laugh or cry sometimes for days. A beautiful mind and heart. 

If I don't focus on my own little world my anxiety would be off the charts as I ask, "So what do we do?" But in the back of my mind I keep hearing "My yolk is easy, my burden is light" I am not sure what I am suppose to glean from that in all of this...except maybe trust.  Be not afraid...trust. So I try to, sometimes I do better than others. 

I will be back here now as my password seems to be working and so is my mind.  I hope I hear from some of you, as I have missed your voices! 

Sending many blessings!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wow! Where Did The Time GO?

It has been a bit of a  whirlwind around here with work and life and work.  But, last night I was able to witness my first class of students be confirmed.  And what a beautiful group they are. 
Such promising young ladies and gentlemen and there in the back is one of the blessings I didn't expect, their teacher who has become my friend.  This group, as with any, came with their own set of challenges.  Who didn't want to continue the process, who was pregnant, who didn't care.  And yet, here they are in all of their beauty with Mary watching over them. I beam whenever I look at them.  They are also a very fun group who has dealt with my odd sense of humor well this year.  My threat last night was, "You know you aren't rid of me, right?"  I want them to know that this is not the end but the beginning.

What a blessing this year has been.  I am so grateful to be entrusted with these kids.  I am so grateful that the adults who have come to assist are steady and excellent role models themselves as well as fun playmates for the child in me and each with a very deep and welcoming spirituality.  I am over the moon that my best friend has joined me and I am still saying, "Where did that come from?"  But we all know where it came from, we all know that the gift of love that the Spirit provides cannot be measured or understood...but it can be savored and I do.

Last night, our Bishop (Bishop Cunningham) spoke plainly and simply to these kids and it felt from the heart.  He reiterated what we have said all year, that none of this matters if you don't continue to nourish it.  These kids need their faith, they need to be connected to their God.  Please say a prayer for them in this special moment.  Please pray that they understand, that just as the original disciples, they can bring people closer to Jesus through their own living.

And for Scott who gives always of himself  to them for the mission of Jesus the Christ.

Monday, May 19, 2014

3 random strangers make an awesome song




My husband sent me this video this morning. I think it is spot on cause sometimes "I just don't know" but as the one man said, I try to figure it out but if I can't I get down on my knees and pray that he will.  Paraphrasing of course.  But this is good stuff.

**pardon the expletive at the end...but it's genuine!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lady

There is a lady in our parish who helps tend the flowers.  She also cleans up the pews and around the church.  She also brings gifts for the priest; this woman who has virtually nothing.

She is Vietnamese and maybe 70 years old.  She wears what the women would have worn during the war.  She speaks no English but I can understand "Father".  She has very little but she has a deep faith.

There is something that draws me to her...not sure what it is.  I feel protective of her in my little way but she is uncomfortable letting me help her even though she lets me a little and smiles.

Yesterday she was planting pansies around the base of our statue of Mary.  One of my co-workers caught her sobbing.  When I wondered why I was told that her husband beats her terribly. It broke my heart and I have been thinking about her since.

Please pray for Lady and for her hard-hearted husband.  So many people live these lives but here she just tries to clean up the mess and make it lovely.

Unfortunately, this hits home as the trial for the local murder begins.  Please pray for those who are suffering.  Mary will protect...this I know.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mothers Day Love

Every Mother's Day since my girls were very small they would go out in our yard and gather a bouquet for me. Now, though they are not so little anymore they  still take seriously the task of my bouquet. There is nothing more beautiful to me and I give thanks for the loving hearts that have been put in my care. I hope this Mother's Day finds you well and duly appreciated. For at heart, we are all mothers to someone.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Bring Back Our Girls






Each day that passes my stomach churns for the families who don't know where their girls are.  My heart aches for these young ladies who are being violated and harmed.  My soul begs for forgiveness because somewhere in all of this mess is the bigger problem, the systemic problem that I glance at and then look away from because it is so ugly and so uncomfortable.  But these girls have made my gaze constant.  These girls and the animals who have taken them have shed new light on a problem that has been part of our humanity for centuries. We cannot allow this to happen because while it does God will not reign.  Our responsibility to other human beings is the same whether they are related or not.  These are our girls as are all of the other girls and boys who are trafficked.   It is hard to know what to do, but I can begin with not looking away and with prayers. 

Because if it were my daughters....

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy To Be Home!

I am always happy to return to my corner at the end of Lent!  I am ready to move into the joy of the Easter season!

Yesterday, this happened at my dinner table.  The wine, which my mother-in- law accidently spilled went all over my daughter's home-made butter lamb.  The symbolism would have been enough there but the wine happened to have been bottled the day before by my brother, a hobby vintner.  Upon tasting it, I told him it tasted like sacramental wine...little did I anticipate what would happen next.




Now some people will tsk tsk the apparent lack of reverence here but it isn't that.  Everyone at the table understands what was done for us on Good Friday...and everyone understands what is done for us in moments of laughter like this one on Easter.  I see God in it all. 

I hope yours was a wonderful Easter.  And in case you were wondering with some salt applied to it, the stain did come out! 

 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Back in the Saddle

Returning to where I began, at my Lenten blog.  I stopped writing for a while to try to re-focus myself.  Apparently doing things in the fashion I have been doing them does not promote creativity.  But with a couple of big events behind me and with a need to delve into the spirit of  Lent, I find I am longing for Lent Thing.  Please join me in the Spirit of renewal.

http://ltr-agapemessages.blogspot.com/


 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

What if God was One of Us video



My daughter Meg made this video for a Confirmation retreat that I had this past weekend.  I love this song and have always wanted to use it in this capacity but she made it even more real and even more urgent.  Almost all the images are from the past couple of years.  Is there an image that stands out to you, let me know?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Feast of the Holy Family

I crashed after Christmas and said I could sleep for a week.  My body took me seriously and has here and there, whether reading a book or watching tv, (both things I have not had much time to do) has fallen asleep. 

This fall, I completed a degree, began running a Jr./ Sr. high program at my parish, began facilitating an extension program for Loyola in N.O. and continued to sub at the school.  My children played tennis, danced, acted, worked in productions, played instruments and concerts and  went to religion and were basically busy girls.  My husband went back to work in a position where he had to learn from scratch and is working very long days.  My car was falling apart, my phone not working, my house a disgusting mess but except for the last two weeks everyone ate healthily.  Laundry was not always done and sometimes socks didn't match.

In the midst of this mayhem, I noticed some things.  My first thing is that my kids are really good people.  They have their moments like all kids, but they are really good people.  Carrying pretty hefty schedules of their own, they would stop when I needed them to and help me with my math course.  They have spent much of the year not asking for much, they are not typical of their age.  They really get that the world is bigger than their sphere.  I am looking forward to seeing what the next 10 years brings.  But not yet.  The other thing that I was reminded of was how much my husband loves me.  What a good person he is.  How he will do anything to help me, to lighten my load and to keep me smiling.  The other thing was how blessed I am with the family and friends that I have had most of my life.  I was all but missing in action these past 3 months...but they are always ready to embrace  me again. 

On this feast of the Holy Family, I look to my family in their holiness.  I give thanks to the witness that they provide of an active and loving God.  I remember the words of encouragement that we share, the prayers we say together and the fun we always have.  I remember that when we are angry or short-tempered with each other that it too is another form of love, a love that is confident that it is real and so can be what it is at all times. 

I give thanks for the first Holy Family who remains an example of faith and acceptance for me.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Looking For Prayers

I am going over a hurdle in a very Ignatian way.   I think it will go well but any prayers you can spare would be appreciated.  Pretty soon I will be back! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Star

Yesterday on Pray As you go the question was; "Can I place all of my hope, all of my trust and all of my faith in God?" 

An image came to me of  sitting in the window of my childhood home. I was about 10 years old.  My bedroom had a bay window, (it was a great house and one of the reasons that I know God provides) and I remembered sitting on my chest of drawers as I often did, staring out the window.  I was staring in earnest.  It was Christmas Eve of a very poor Christmas year and I was looking for the star. After awhile of staring at the sky, I spotted it, and contentedly went to sleep.  All the rest was anti-climatic, I was asking God if the story was real and in my child's mind, I received my answer in the form of a star that spoke to me.

An interest in Astronomy never changed the answer I felt in my heart that night.

I have, as long as I can remember, placed all of my hope, trust and faith in God.  I have had God as my anchor in the midst of chaos.  Moreover, God has always had me.  In that star, I sensed that God wanted me to know that God had me. 

Some people will read this as fluff and that is okay since we often disregard other people's experiences of the divine but it is anything but fluff.  It is the fuel that has driven me to stay faithful and to believe in the promise of Christ coming.  Christ here.  God with us.  Emmanuel.

The question is an important checkpoint this Advent.  I invite you to join me in asking it often.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Starting Over

I love Monday's when we are in a normal rhythm which means, I don't have to go into work unless I want to.  Then, I am able to go when I want to.  It is a good thing.  But I also like it because generally we are all up and ready for our work week.  Not so much with bright shining faces, after all, I do have teenagers, but we are up.  The house is usually a mess of sorts despite a cleaning on Saturday.  So I am generally in a good frame of mind to make sense of my world on a Monday.

This morning, I woke up with another feeling to start over.  I think that is what Monday means to me; to start over.  There is hope that I can make some progress in whatever I am working on.  So too with Advent. Perhaps in this season, I can make some progress in what I am working on.  Perhaps I can get a little deeper into the mystery of my faith.  Where Lent calls me to penance, Advent calls me to believe.  It whispers, ever so quietly with the lighting of a candle, to focus on what it may be that keeps me from a deeper and more authentic relationship with Christ. 

In a season rife with distraction the candle focuses me on what is real in my world; light.  Or, more plainly, the Light of the World.  There in the symbol of light is the relationship that waits for me to be willing and ready.  But I have to be willing to focus.

 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

First Sunday of Advent



Light the candle of Hope in someone's life.  By your presence may they feel the presence of Christ. May they know the joy of a promise kept...God always keeps his promises.

Here is a local priests website, I think you may enjoy it. 

www.fatherweber.com
 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November Service

November 17th

November 24th


This past weekend my Jr./Sr. High group completed it's November service project which was a winter wear drive for the Refugee Center in Utica.  I know I have mentioned on here that the Refugee Center is a 2nd stop on the way to settlement for Refugees.  Some people stay here and some go, but initially this is where they are until that decision is made. 

Many of the families that we are getting now are from the countries whose conflicts have driven them out.  Burma and Somalia are the most recent.  These people arrive with nothing or at most, very little.  They arrive to a climate dramatically different than what they have lived in their whole lives.  For example, this week our low temperature was zero.  Winter has come early to CNY and it feels more like January than November.  So this coat drive, which a teacher suggested, was timely. 

In the end, we collected over 350 articles of clothing.  The lesson for the kids was to remember that we are here to serve and that we need to look at people who are in dire circumstances as people and not just images.  That scratchy wool will touch someone's skin...those gloves will protect someone's hands.  Remember the person with a mind of hospitality which means; if it is ripped, dirty or too worn do not send it.

The kids did wonderfully, really examining items.  I took 3 large bags of coats to launder and they were right, they needed cleaning. One thing I asked was that they take a moment as they were holding the item and maybe say a prayer or a blessing.  I don't know who did, but I have a suspicion some did.  For the first weeks group I showed this video as part of the prayer.


 
My goal is for these kids to understand that they can make the difference.  No one has to start an organization to make that difference it can happen just by seeing our newest members in our community and welcoming them we can ease the stress of the situation.  That in doing so we are keeping the greatest commandments of loving God and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. 
 
Already the coats have been put to use.  Imagine a simple thing like gloves to work in, or a coat that is your size and your gender. If we looked at each other with dignity as we are called to do, imagine how the world would change.
 
In Pope Francis's recent encyclical we are called to just such a place of conversion.  We are called to dwell in the Gospels which calls for changes in structure.  I am hoping that this next generation will be the ones who see the injustice and don't look away opted instead for the third house with a pool and six cars.  I am hoping that this is the generation that allows compassion to win over the hearts of the greedy. 
 
We start small; a message, a wave and some warm gloves.  Peace is what will really trickle down in the end.
 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Alleluia Is The Highest Praise

 
One of the best prayer sessions I have ever witnessed.  The Holy Ghost is all around. Enjoy this gift.
 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Diane

One of the things I enjoy most is calling attention to people who don't call attention to themselves.  They are loathe to suggest that they have any skills or dedication that should be brought to the light.  But for several years, I have been toying with the idea of writing about these people.  The ones who inspire me, intrigue me and humble me.  In a culture of self-promotion they are the people who keep the clocks running, keep the meals coming and keep us on mission but that no one ever really knows about.  There is no false humility, there is a genuine understanding of the task at hand.  There is a clear denial of self that requires no one to notice what is being done in the name of service. So begins this series.

"Christ has no body now but yours.  No hands, no feet on earth but yours.  Yours are the eyes through which he looks, compassion on this world, Christ has no body now on earth, but yours."  St. Theresa's Prayer by John Michael Talbot


Diane is the housekeeper at our parish.  Aside from serving in the capacity of housekeeper, (which means cooking, cleaning and caring for the pastors and anyone else living there) Diane has volunteered to coordinate the Hope House meal every third Sunday for the past 21 years.  She has actually volunteered with the organization longer.  That means, getting volunteers, making a menu, shopping, cooking, serving and cleaning.  It is a long process.  She has done this, almost sight unseen for 21 years every 3rd Sunday of every month which equals 6,237 times.  But she doesn't just throw soup together.  She puts so much into it that the feeling is that she is serving family.  She doesn't seem to have the mindset of doing anyone a favor as much as showing love to those who may feel unloved. 

This past Sunday, my group of kids were doing a service project in the parish center.  I kept smelling something delicious.  I couldn't figure out where it was coming from until finally one of the people with me found chicken baking in the oven.  A couple minutes later, Diane came in with a volunteer and checked on it. It smelled gourmet. 

We were told that Diane has recently decided that she needed to step away from this ministry.  It has become too much for her, which I think after 21 years is fair.  :)   But now the challenge is to find someone who is as in tune with the idea of service as she is.  To find someone who understands that this meal may be the only way for a person to feel loved and valued.  Someone who understands that  Christ is always present in the breaking of bread.  Someone who understands the sanctity and sacredness of the meal.  It will also be a challenge to find someone with Diane's quiet wisdom.  With her good heart.  This is someone who leads with a smile.  Who listens to stories while handing out sandwiches.  Who knows who is safe and who is not, who is missing and who is not.  Every street person on her watch is noticed.  She is the exact opposite of so many of us who look away because it makes us uncomfortable.  She is a missionary in our parish.  But it is time for her to step away.

There is so much more to say about her but this will suffice for this page.

Please pray that the Holy Spirit will work as it always has for us.  That someone with the same heart will show up to take on this mission and to execute it with such ability.  And pray for Diane for the goodness that she lets into our lives.  For her ability to accept others for themselves.  And for her to enjoy some rest.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

MInd, Body Spirit

Began a challenge.  Wish me luck...I am beginning to feel my oats.  Time to bring my body back around to where my mind and spirit are.  Anyone want to join me?