Sunday, November 27, 2011

No Night of Ease

 Today marks the beginning of Advent and the Gospel reading presents Jesus talking about the need for watchfulness ("May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"-- MK 13:36-37). Tagore captures this sentiment for me. If we are to watch we are awakening in God's love and that can only mean unrest. The qualities of Advent that are most appealing to me are the darkness and the desire to spend these weeks in hibernation. Doesn't that sound like the appeal of winter. The darkness comes over us early, like 4:00 p.m. here in Wisconsin, and the cold air is beginning to be experienced more often, tonight it is 32 degrees outside and the desire to rest is strong. All we need is some logs and a rolling fire to set us up for a Norman Rockwell experience (that is if you have a fire place). These are the days when I want to curl up and just sleep. And then we hear Jesus say that it is time to watch.

Reality check: Sometimes following Jesus can be a real drag. Of course, I am thinking this is the time when we begin to wait for his birth and he is telling us what to do. How does that work? Bossy child is one thing...but the unborn being so demanding, really? I have spent the last weeks daydreaming about what book I want to read after the fall semester ends (something that has nothing to do with my life preferably) and today I am sitting in Liturgy and hear these words about being watchful. Let me tell you this brings about sudden irritation. What I really want to do is hibernate and not be connected with anything productive and being watchful demands that I am ready to be involved if needed.

After the readings and homily there was this adorable little baby that was baptized, wow, what a contrast. We welcomed new life into the Church today which means that for this little guy and his family there is no more waiting. It is so hard to be heated with Jesus when you are celebrating him in the Sacraments. I felt a sudden responsibility for this newborn child whose Mom and Dad do not have the luxury of hibernating for the winter and in reality, neither do I. In this day there were a couple of lessons. First, life continues, even in the darkness. Second, if I am to honor life I have to be watchful. Finally, to wake in God's love is to offer my life throughout all seasons of the year, even Advent. I leave you with a prayer from Rabindranath Tagore.

No Night of Ease

When I awake in Your love, my night of ease
will be ended.

Your sunrise will touch my heart with its
touchstone of fire, and my voyage will begin its
orbit of triumphant suffering.

I shall dare to take up death's challenge and
carry Your voice into the heart of mockery and

I shall bare my breast against the wrongs
hurled at Your children and take the risk of
standing by Your side, where none but You

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Holy Hill Retreat

This weekend I attended an overnight retreat at Holy Hill (I so love that area) ->for those of you who do not know about Holy Hill I am adding the link ( It was one of those situations when I really did not have the time, nor the energy to be away from my own studies. However, something nudged me to go (long story) and I listened. This was my first retreat that was not silent/directed and I was somewhat nervous about it.  Upon arrival, after settling in a bit, we shared in small circles about the word 'present.' Can you believe it? Present, have they been reading along with us this month...totally blew my mind after the past month or so and my concern about this topic?  I felt like a puppy running in circles chasing it's own tale (now, we all know that type of excitement, and in some ways it seems anything but present, and there I was with a little 'woo-hoo' in my heart from the get-go). Of course I did not want others to know my simple animated cheerful state so I sat and chatted rather than exhibit the internal puppy-effect.

The structure of the retreat was set-up through three over-arching themes: 1. Present/Connected, 2. Compassion/Gratitude and 3. Hope/Peace. The sharing was rich and the people were great. We watched the film Of Gods and Men, a must see for those interested in a solid inspirational film. Then, three of us went for a late night stroll down the steep incline that holds the Stations of the Cross. Funny story, as we were walking one member of the group said she would not take such a walk alone at night and the other agreed. I made some comment that about being able to do it alone and that there was nothing to fear out there. Well, wouldn't you know it. Within minutes I heard a noise and grabbed the shoulder of one of my companions in fear. Okay, so maybe I am not so brave. I am adding a song to this post to share some of what I felt this weekend. Have a great Thanksgiving! Blessings, Vicki

Sunday, November 13, 2011


"Though we may not reflect too frequently on the vast infinity that surrounds us, something within us is always aware of it. Such infinity can be anonymous and threatening; it makes us feel inconsequential and tiny. Unknown to us this intensifies our hunger to belong."
John O'Donohue 
Eternal Echoes
There were some things in the news this week that broke my heart and all of this news dealt with people who did not recognize the gift of life in themselves or others. My thought is that they have attempted to numb their hunger and now are being consumed by it. Belonging is a big thing and the hunger to belong is something that I imagine all of us experience at varying levels. The infinity that surrounds us sometimes seems like the only real thing that exists in the world. This can create feelings of isolation and longing. Belonging is a difficult awareness to hold. There are so many ways to belong as family, friend, employee, community member,  student, citizen and human person...and so much more. Yet, even with all of these connections there are times that the sense of infinity creeps in and does become a threat. It is in those moments that we as humans stand on the edge of our existence. The temptation is to reject what we know in our relationship to the other. This can be detrimental and I imagine all of us have done it. And then there are those who are convinced they have no one, no place, or no moment that connects them to the rest of us. These are the extremes of knowing only the infinity and being caught in some nihilistic cycle. Tonight I pray for all of the people who are not aware of their belonging who only experience the vastness of their longing and are losing sight of, or have lost sight of their connections.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

From the Circus to the Moon and the Steady Flow of Life

October flew by and we have arrived at daylight savings time. Just wanted to put down some nuts and bolts type notes about the past month or so. October began with a silver jubilee celebration for one of the sisters in my local community. We celebrated her commitment of 25 years with a Chicago experience of the Universoul Circus. If you look at her picture she is content on the ground...and then she went for the ride of her life. Woohoo....gotta love the elephants. A good time was had by all and we ended the evening with a fantastic meal from Leona's, yum. I would like to give a shout out to all of the people that were involved in this spectacular event. So, happy jubilee Madeline! You provided an opportunity for us to be together for a great time!

Two weeks after that another trip to Chicago was in store (glad I picked up the I-Pass this summer) as I headed to the Adler Planetarium with a former student for another splendid experience. We soaked it all in as we attended the Deep Space Adventure. The first time I experienced the exhibit was on retreat this summer and I was completely moved by the visual stimulation. We walked through the planetarium and as you can see there is a moon exhibit, in the past I have skipped this. Oftentimes I take the wide-eyed X-Files approach to the moon landing. However, this part of the experience was not as Hollywood as I expected it to be. The day was great and much fun was had (while writing this I keep thinking of REM's "Man on the Moon").

This past month has been full and fruitful. Sprinkled throughout October were the realities of the dailiness of it all, community time, family time (with only two members), another birthday party with friends, meetings, etc. Last night I was so excited about turning the clocks back (like a kid a Christmas excited) that I wanted to stay up late. So, when I was ready to collapse I turned everything back and ended up going to bed at 9:30 p.m. Hmmmmm not what I initially had in mind for a late night. Maybe next year.