Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Laudato Si

Daylilies lift their heads
like golden trumpets
resounding in exuberant joy
Finches, wrens, sparrows
whistling, trilling, warbling
toss their ecstasy into the universe
Rabbit peeking from under
the glorious dogwood bush
offers shy worship
Squirrels digging in wood-chipped earth
startled by some mysterious impulse
stand, alert and ready
Elm trees laden with seeds
bow, bend, wave 
In wondrous rhythm

Stately firs
in elegant symmetry 
announce a paean of praise
Sister Philip rolls her lumbering cart
across the grounds
tools clang, clack, thrum
Modesta’s vacuum hums,
Jane’s mop swishes in time
with Dolores at the organ
In the tranquil cemetery
holy witnesses in silent concert bespeak
enduring faithfulness and ardent love
          LAUDATO  SI!
Kathryn Casper, OSB

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dealing with the Unexpected

A lot of things have happened unexpectedly in my life recently. Take this blog, I wasn't expecting to write one for today, but here I am! And this is just one of the multitude of unscheduled things that have happened at work in less than two days this week. Sadly, it's carry-over from how things were at the end of last week. So far, I don't think I've completed one of the things that I had written on my "to do" list! I must say, I was starting to feel stressed and frustrated. I've kept thinking, "When can I get the work done?"

Well, the fact is that it's all been work, just not the work I thought it would be! And that's stressful.
So, the question arose for me about how could I get through everything and de-stress? I think two things have helped. The Benedictine motto "Ora et labora" ("Work and prayer") came to my aid. Instead of focusing on how stressed and, I will admit, at times irritated, I've been feeling, I decided to see the unexpected challenges as an opportunity put everything I was doing and feeling into God's hands. I've tried to see it all in a bigger perspective and not get caught up in my little "now." In other words, I've tried to make my stress and frustration part of my prayer life.

The second coping strategy came out of the first. When I realized with some horror that we have no blog for this week and our regular blog poster is away, I was not excited about the fact that I'd have to fill in (no offence intended to blog readers!) One more thing to do. When I looked at the task prayerfully,  however, I could see that here was an opportunity, in fact, to de-stress. Here I am writing about my stress to you and, by sharing it reflectively, I can feel myself calming down. My heart rate is slowing and I'm becoming more prepared with very word to move on calmly to the next task; I'm even looking forward to it.

I'd like to end by saying, "Thank you for listening."

Have a calmly, prayerful day!

Karen Rose, OSB

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Smartphone Adventure

The smartphone adventure is one that I held off for a long time. Because I was very comfortable with my “land line” and “flip phone,” I saw no reason for a smartphone. I supported my choice for not owning one for the following reasons: “It is too expensive”, and “Will I learn or need to use all the things a smartphone is capable of doing?” Eventually I made the decision to buy a smartphone. So, when the sales rep. told me, “You now own a mini computer”, “Yikes!” I thought, I am still learning how to use a desk top computer, my learning curve just increased. I am gradually learning the benefits a smartphone has to offer. One benefit is that I am able to stay connected to more people than I had ever dreamed of, if I choose to so. As a work benefit, it will help me connect and collaborate with other vocation directors.  The smartphone lets me respond to email, send a text message, check Facebook, and actually make a phone call, imagine that. I must admit that I am slow to get up to date with the social media of today’s world. Yet, as I learn how to work with my smartphone, I see the many advantages available at my fingertips. I have the plus of staying connected 24/7 which is okay for some people but not for me. In this case I have learned that I can just as easily ignore the buzz that alerts me to a new email or I can respond. I choose to ignore it, especially if I am engaged in a face to face conversation at the time.  I do not want a smartphone to take me away from the real person right in front of me. As a novice smartphone owner I know I have a lot to learn.  In conclusion I am grateful for the many willing individuals, all younger than I am, who are ready to teach me the tricks and conveniences of this new piece of technology. So all you smartphone users, I wish you well. If you would like more information about our community, please contact Sister Lisa Rose at lrose@csbsju.edu.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Plastic Ocean

When I recently heard the newscaster tell us of the huge oil spill into the Columbia River, my heart sank again. How long and how often will we witness such tragedies that destroy the beauty and life of our Mother Earth? It seems as if the seas and oceans, lakes and rivers are the oft-reported scenes of human abuse and, yes, trafficking!

A recent report from the World Economics Forum indicated that by 2050, the oceans’ plastic waste will outweigh fish! I can scarcely get my mind around that announcement – that today there are over 150 million tons of plastic in the ocean  (re-read that statistic, please); and that by 2025 — less than 10 years from today — the ocean is expected to contain 1.1 tons of plastic for every 3 tons of fish. . .and by 2050, more plastic than fish, by weight. Plastic! This same report indicated that at least 8 million tons of plastic — equivalent to one garbage truck every minute — leak into the ocean each year. (Please re-read that alarming statistic, as well.) 

How can it be? Is it because of our unexpected surge in consumption? Because everything we buy is being packaged in plastic? Some plastic bears the warning: “Keep out of reach of children!” I would say that our world is being choked by all the discarded plastic. What can I/you do to save our fish, dolphins, coral, children, Mother Earth, Sister Seas?  It’s too big for anyone or anything unless the whole supply and demand chain sits at the table and participates in this necessary revolution. Would you agree? Are we willing? When do I/you begin the revolution against plastic, to say nothing of oil spills, pop cans etc.?


Renée Domeier, OSB

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Should They?

In spite of what I learned not to do, I find myself occasionally using the words, “They should”. But I also react to those words when I hear them in conversation.  I will describe each word separately. 

***They should***
When Jojo says,”They should”, who is he referring to as they? Does he have people in mind or is this just a nebulous reference?   Perhaps Jojo does not know who they is, himself. Jojo may be thinking that persons in power are not common people like ourselves but have all the answers.
So when Jojo says, “They should not allow marijuana smoking in public places,” who is he referring to as they? The policeman? The parent? The salesperson?   Does it ever occur to Jojo that he might be just the person who could initiate working on the issue at hand?
***They should***
At one time, another teacher and I were preparing adult volunteers to work with seniors dealing with mental health issues. Our manual for the course emphasized that it’s best to remember that “one shouldn’t should on anybody”. How we make a suggestion can impact the person’s response.  
When Katrina tells her family that they should dress up for the gathering, she may be implying that she wants them to do it the way she would do it. Moreover, using the word should can make the suggestion somewhat demanding.  How much gentler it would be to say, “Have you ever thought of…, or “If I were in that situation, I might…”.  The person receiving the opinion, then, may be more disposed to receive the suggestion.
And by the way, maybe I want to think about whether I shouldn’t should on myself either!
S. Janet Thielges

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


I like to think of an older person as an Elder. For me, it speaks to the wisdom of the person and looks to the aging person with a sense of dignity.

 I used to feel like aging yielded a more or less down time and that was not a happy thought. Yes, we slow down as we age, and there are health and pain problems, but aging can also be a positive and productive time in one’s life.  Calling it a culmination in my life versus a time of decline is a first step. Culmination is an act of carrying something to full completion.

Elders need to share their wisdom. People gain more knowledge when they work through an experience. Wisdom results. A seasoned fisherman shares his wisdom when he guides his son to reel in his first large Northern.  When elders share their wisdom, they are making this world a better place.

Processing the past experiences of their lives can be another fruitful undertaking for elders. In our busy lives of dealing with the issues at hand, we most often do not have the time to process what happened. Processing may take the form of enjoying simple reminiscing or one may work through a need to forgive or to grieve a loss.

I learned recently, that at every age, there are latent talents in us, even in our retirement years. Elders may ponder on what those talents are and bring them to life by using them to serve others. Recently, I tried to think of what that might be for myself. The result is that I now enjoy writing these blogs.

Elders may also remember something they had always wanted to do and, if possible, pursue it.

Quiet time reflecting on how God has been guiding us all through our lives deepens our relationship with God. Despite pain and handicaps, a positive outlook on life helps us to   think less about our suffering.  

I sometimes think that these aging years remind us that we are not here to stay. When we accept our aging years and reflect on God’s great love for us, we can look forward to the day when we will be with the God who loves us so much! 

Janet Thielges, OSB

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Listening as Cross-Pollination

According to 1 Corinthians 12.—a gift is given to you not just for your own self, but to build up the community, to build up the society. As an individual, you don't have the full responsibility of putting it all together, as the false theology of perfectionism claims. All you have to do is discover your one gift and use it for the good of all. [ROHR, Daily Meditation, April 8, 2016]        

          So today, I’m pondering what my “unique gift” might look like at age 77.  If it’s true that the emptier the container, the more it can receive, I figure life may have offered me opportunities to release one or more self-packed spaces along the way.  Certain outmoded activities have morphed into activities that take up much more of my time these days. Things like, sitting longer at table and hearing stories that reveal a unique aspect of my friend, or even a stranger, can definitely expand my personal “vision” of them and/or the world within and around both of us.

          As a spiritual director, becoming a silent presence can allow the directee space for heart-felt expressions of truth without being edited by the director. Each of these encounters become “transpersonal spaces” in which both persons are able to be changed by sacred listening.  If only one is changed, then the other must not have been in a space in which true listening was possible.  True listening requires a stance of mutual openness so that the Wisdom of the Spirit can “cross-pollinate” both the listener and the speaker.  Each time I listen, tell a story or become attentive to any aspect of creation, God-ness shows itself as wisdom and grace.

Sister Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck