Sunday, August 26, 2012

Word of the Day: Buoyancy

I am sitting here looking out the window (a warm, dreary day), listening to P!nk and just drifting from thought to thought. This week is the return to school for many people and I have abundant thoughts going out to those who will be entering college for the first time.

Over the Edge (Maria, Lisa and Kristin)
Last week I returned from NJ where I had my first experience of swimming in the Ocean. Wow, one of the most interesting tidbits I learned from the experience was that salt water makes you more buoyant. I like being buoyant and recognize that this is not my natural relationship to the world. Somehow I experience myself tensed up much of the time, and even more so extremely reactive to situations. Not sure why, just always trying to figure things out, or workout fallacies and delusions...some might call this fixating. So, the experience of being buoyant was great as I learned how to body surf and just roll with the waves. Since then I have been reflecting on the gift of being with friends while sending Lisa off to her Final Vow preparation in Rome. We spent the days at the beach and watched some good films in the evening (plus some episodes of the Colbert Report). To be with friends who are my age from different communities is a privilege I don't take lightly as we dream and live into the future of Religious Life.

I returned to Fond du Lac refreshed and ready for the year. And, the first thing I did after dropping off my clothes was head to work on materials for the upcoming semester (there was an instant shift from buoyancy to a stone). Since that time I have spent much of the week just spinning out wondering if things would fall into place. Finally, yesterday I worked for quite awhile and then before leaving the Mother House an awareness about my choices flashed through my head. So, rather than get in the car and go home to fret I stuck around to walk the Labyrinth and take some time for prayer. That forty minutes put things into perspective. It is time to learn how to float a bit and not be all tensed up about what is going to come next. It is essential to prepare and that is where it can stop. Working and re-working ideas only drives me crazy and that tension is not good for anyone. Now, I don't think I am going to magically be able to become this buoyant being that just bobs up and down without being bogged down. That fantasy is not what I seek. What I think needs to happen is I need to lighten-up (which as I recall was the theme of the reflection given when I was received into the novitiate). So, once again I am setting priorities and realize that the work is not the first thing that needs tending at all times. If I want balance between teaching and learning I need to first cover the basics: prayer/meditation, relationships and exercise....the constant theme. So much of the learning over these years has been repeat lessons and again I am grateful for this.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Basking in the Sun

Wow, it is already Sunday and I have spent the week in Sea Girt, NJ with friends. I will be updating the blog upon sometime this week (after I get caught up on preps for the upcoming school year). This has been the most relaxing time of the summer and we had some great conversations and much time to ponder. More later!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Break Your Heart

Today I was sitting in Mass and my mind kept drifting to the massacre at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI last week. I felt secure in the chapel at the Mother House and was listening to the homily which talked about Jesus' presence in the Mass. That is when I drifted off into deep sadness about what happened last week. It is so difficult to understand how we can hate one another so easily, whether it be for our faith, ethnicity, sexuality, politics, or any other reason that exists. How is it that we are able to persecute one another? The prejudice I carry about somebody may not manifest in a hate crime. It might just appear as I make sweeping generalizations about persons based on my own limited data. It is easy to be suspicious of other people and believe they are up to no good, or trying to scam the system and everyone they meet. Unfortunately, I also am aware that people will rise to the expectations that we put forth. When I look upon a person with love he or she will likely respond in kind. I believe we are all seeking goodness and that at times people forget their responsibility. My guess is that the vast majority of us are on that path of forgetting most of the time and sometimes get lost in our judgments and confusion. I have nothing but my own brokenness to bring to this conversation and in that my heart and prayers extend to the Sikh community as they heal. I am attaching Break Your Heart (Natalie Merchant & N'Dea Davenport) as a prayer offering in an effort to unite my hope and prayers to healing and solidarity.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


This week went so fast. It seems like no time has passed since last writing. Wednesday was a short retreat trip and the time was spent well and much needed. There is something about having time set aside with God that always lifts me up. The focus was varied this time as I entered into the space of Bethany Retreat House, East Chicago ( I absolutely love this place and realized I have been going there for four years since I did my 30 day Ignatian Retreat for final vow preparation (that was remarkable and a very intense time). Sr. Joyce Diltz, a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ, is the director and has created a sacred space in an urban area. Of course during my first retreat there the silence became more difficult after the initial week, yet with Spiritual Direction every day and an interim break I was able to make it. My thoughts were that I would bounce all over the place and somehow I managed to pray and steady the course. The greatest challenge and best practice for me thus far has been settling in for these days of prayer. I love the other retreat experiences I have throughout the year, yet these days are always what I look most forward to.

Today I experience the joy of the days. The theme for me this week centered on experiencing some of the sadness of saying goodbye to the Dominican High School community. I spent much time praying with what it means to encounter Christ and recognize that this is what my life at this school has offered in new and creative ways. We talk about being community and this is something that I never experienced in this way before. I also reflect on the wisdom of returning students to the school over the years, and their gratitude for the relationships built upon Dominican's values. I experience pride in being a part of this place where education can occur through truth, compassion, justice, community and partnership. These values are fulfilled by people who believe in them and, although at times we limp along and make mistakes, the goal is to live the mission with verve. I am deeply grateful to the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters who founded and provide the bedrock for the mission and practice of the school, these women have impacted my life in a most profound way.
Sr. Donna and her nieces

I returned last night to Fond du Lac and this morning awoke to the overwhelming sensation that part of my life is still in boxes and that sucked the air right out of me. So, my head has been twirling around this reality all day and it will have to be this way for a while yet. However, I went with two friends for a long bike ride and then a birthday party for Sr. Donna Innes, who had her two nieces here for the week. That was a blast and we played games, including "Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey." These were all organized by her nieces and who knew that a bunch of adults and two younglings could have such great fun (I won two prizes so left feeling pretty blessed).

Radish Mouse (yum)