Saturday, September 24, 2011

Petaling, Party, Pedaling and Prayer

I will be putting up some pictures of a flower blooming throughout this post. One of the students brought these beautiful plants in for the teachers and after it had a near death experience, due to an unintended desert experience, beautiful flowers began to appear. One day last week I caught the flowering in action, hence the petaling as part of the title.

Today I attended a birthday party for my friend Donna. We had a fantastic time as we played games, munched, joked around and shared a meal...and then played some more. Tonight I am realizing that Donna has been a friend for over half my life. And this group of women that celebrated has been getting together for like 15 years or more. These are the friends that provide a home in the relationships of my life. There is no other way to describe it. There have been times when through distance or busy-ness I have not been able to be with them, and still through these things love persists. It was an evening of gratitude. Happy Birthday Donna!!!!

Upon returning from the birthday party I decided to go to the gym and work-out. This initiative was not something I thought of on my own. It was sparked by the phone call I received a few days ago saying I have not been there in a while and they were wondering what happened (they can track how often you go and this summer I was negligent at best). So yesterday I returned the call and fessed-up to my lack of reasons and committed to working out today (which did not happen this morning as planned....blech). The entire time I was on that spinning bike my hamstrings were letting me know they were not pleased.

The other thing I reflected on while spinning was how prayer and exercise are the first to go when experiencing imbalance or a chaotic cycle in life. Since beginning the doctoral program at the end of August I have struggled to keep on top of my prayer time. I can become so caught up in intellectual pursuit that I forget that I have a spirit and body that need to be nourished as well. So, getting the reminder call from the trainer is an opportunity to remove myself from a state of neglect and move toward greater balance. Another little something to learn it seems (the list is growing).

Good Night!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Troy Davis

"The struggle for justice doesn't end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I'm in good spirits and I'm prayerful and at peace." --Troy Davis

I just checked my email and received the news from Amnesty International that Troy Davis was executed last night for the murder of police officer Mark MacPhail. Davis claimed innocence even in his final moments. I offer my prayerful support to both the Davis and MacPhail family.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pondering Rilke

The stories of 9/11/2001 are being shared this week as we memorialize the loss of lives, and the reality of our country being plunged into a decade of uncertainty. Uncertainty, that has always been with us even when we are not aware of its bitter presence. Tonight I offer a poem from Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God along with a few images from Ireland. I reflect on the poem and wonder whether I am open to God's transforming presence in the suffering that continues as our we continue to face genocide, war, poverty, racism, sexism, disease and indifference. The suffering that occupies spaces even greater than a date of remembrance, this suffering occupies the empty spaces of our lives and offers the opportunity to reach out toward change, or continue in the foggy state of illusion.

I'm still the one who knelt before you
in monks' robes, wanting to be of use.
You filled him as he called you into being--
a voice from a quiet cell
with the world blowing past.
An you are ever again the wave
sweeping through all things.

That's all there is. Only an ocean
where now and again islands appear.
That's all there is: no harps, no angels.
And the one before whom all things bow
is the one without a voice.

Are you, then, the All? and I the separated one
who tumbles and rages?
Am I not the whole? Am I not all things
when I weep, and you the single one, who hears it?

Listen--don't you hear something?
Aren't there voices other than mine?
Is that a storm? I am one also,
whipping the trees to call to you.

 Are you distracted from hearing me
by some whining little tune?
That's mine as well--hear mine as well;
it's lonely and unheard.

I'm the one who's been asking you--
it hurts to ask--Who are you?
I am orphaned 
each time the sun goes down.
I can feel cast out from everything
and even churches look like prisons.

That's when I want you--
you knower of my emptiness,
you unspeaking partner to my sorrow--
that's when I need you, God, like food.

Maybe you don't know what the nights are like
for people who can't sleep.
They all feel guilty--
the old man, the young woman, the child.
They're driven through the darkness as though condemned,
their pale hands writhing; they're twisted
like a pack of frenzied hounds.

What's past lies still ahead,
and the future is finished.
They see not the faintest glimmer of morning
and listen in vain for the cock's crow.
The night is a huge house
where doors torn open by terrified hands
lead into endless corridors, and there's no way out.

God, every night is like that.
Always there are some awake,
who turn, turn, and do not find you.
Don't you hear them blindly treading the dark?
Don't you hear them crying out
as they go farther and farther down?
Surely you hear them weep; for they are weeping.

 I seek you, because they are passing
right by my door: Whom should I turn to,
if not the one whose darkness
is darker than night, the only one
who keeps vigil with no candle,
and is not afraid--
the deep one, whose being I trust,
for it breaks through the earth into trees,
and rises,
when I bow my head,
faint as a fragrance
from the soil.

 II, 3

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Founders Day

I have been sitting at the computer for quite a while fretting about what to write. Funny thing is that while planning and getting set-up for this blog everything sounded so fun and exciting in my head. Now to shake it out and see if I even have a 'blogging voice' that can be heard beyond my own ears. So, welcome readers and I hope that together we will build a community of query and surprise. Let us begin.

Today CSA celebrates 153 years as a religious community. In 1858 our initial founder (Fr. Caspar Rehrl) attempted to begin a small community of sisters in Wisconsin. This was all based on a vision he had at the tomb of St. Agnes of Rome (afterward he went to the Pope to get permission to start a religious community. Can you imagine having that type of access to the Pope? It's unreal how much has changed during these years!). We have the fortune of having trinity of founders. Second in this relationship is Mother Agnes Hazotte who was elected Major Superior at 17 y/o and in 1870 took many of the sisters up to Fond du Lac to begin the community anew (Basically she was breaking away from Rehrl so that the Sisters could receive proper training in the community and their ministries). Mother Agnes sought help from Fr. Francis Haas, OFM Cap who became the third person and helped CSA become realized through his companionship. We are here today to celebrate as a result of these three examples of hope, commitment and tenacity. And, wow, the community has changed much over the years!

I was able to connect with two other sisters tonight for liturgy and dinner. We had a great time chatting it up and talking about some of the realities of our community today. Afterward I reflected on the many changes that have occurred over the years. Today, we have CSA Associates who are also committed to the mission of the congregation. Associates do not take vows they make a commitment to live out their call from their present lived experience. Okay, okay, okay I am getting excited and beginning to rant. Oh boy, this is a long post. Okay, maybe starting on Founders Day was not the best time. I just blew my goal of brevity. Possibly next time. Blessings!