Thursday, May 27, 2010
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
It used to be that the College was all in the Main Building and everyone knew everyone else. How many stories there are of Sister Enid Smith, academic dean and philosophy professor. There were times when her piercing eyes gave added stature to her petite frame, making it all the easier for her to look right through you. You didn’t come to class unprepared and neither did she. What a new world of ideas she opened up to her students. I remember well the first question on the first test: “Give the metaphysics of a dimple.” Then there was Sister Remberta Westkaemper, biology professor whom you ran to keep up with as she led classes to the woods, often on muddy paths, to find and stand in awe at the earliest spring flowers. Who could forget Sister Mariella Gable? Students lined up to register for her classes—Dante and Shakespeare, popular but daunting. No one wanted to meet her in the corridor because, as likely as not, she would stop you with a question to which you had no clue of an answer.
A favorite in the Main Building was Sister Hugh Lanners. She ran the café, and even though she had no academic expectations of you, she would dish out advice with the brownies and ice cream you ordered. A quiet, gentle presence in the building that was easy to miss was Sister Erminilda Schulzetenberg. Under her guidance, the building was spotless with everything kept in working order.
In 2010—494 graduates. The College has grown in significant ways. And the Sisters remain. Some continue as faculty and staff. But many of us who live here at present are more like Sister Hugh—a friend, a mentor, a prayer partner, a compassionate ear, a spiritual counselor. There is no doubt in my mind that the Sisters who went before us—like those mentioned above plus hundreds more—continue to care for the students who over four years come to call this precious place home.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Quinoa is a complete protein with an essential amino acid balance close to the ideal set by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It can be substituted for almost any grain in almost any recipe. It’s especially tasty in soup, as a pilaf, in stuffed peppers and various salads. The handy box of organic quinoa contains a booklet of more than 10 recipes. And of course, the web provides many more.
Just in case you like experimenting with new recipes, here’s the one I referred to above.
Black Bean Quinoa Salad
1 C. quinoa, cooked in 2 c. boiling water for 15-20 minutes
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
½-1 C. cilantro, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
1/3 C lemon or lime juice
1/3 C. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp coriander
Salt to taste
(optional: ½ tsp. chili powder)
Garnish: ¾ C. toasted pumpkin seeds. Adds great flavor
Tastes wonderful over fresh spinach
I think I’ll head to the kitchen right now.
note: image comes from http://www.phoenixgardens.net/
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
About twenty people joined together at the monastery for a pilgrimage to the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. Many of the participants called to mind past religious processions that bonded people together in prayer. Our pilgrimage began in the Gathering Place of Sacred Heart Chapel, where participants where handed lighted candles, colorful scarves and baskets of flowers. Before beginning the procession, those gathered could write a petition that they would later place in the cracks of the stones.
The grotto was designed by Raphael Knapp, OSB, brother of Sisters Felicitas and Justina Knapp and was built in 1910. In 1939 the grotto was redesigned and dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, and in 2005 it was repaired. Sometime in the 1960s the statue of Bernadette disappeared. This year, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the grotto, Oblates and donors Lynn and John Crowley generously decided to donate a statue of St. Bernadette to be placed at the grotto for its centennial. The statue arrived in Minneapolis from Rome on May 10. The Crowleys carefully put her on a truck for the trip to St. Joseph. Bernadette is permanently in place now at the grotto.
You are invited to visit the grotto, to bring your own hopes and prayers and place them in a niche in the stones. Spend a few moments at the grotto, and on your way back stop at the sculpture of the Crucifixion in our cemetery where Mary also is and pray for your beloved dead. Then stop at the fish pond and pray for the healing of our earth. You might close your pilgrimage by stopping at the statue of Mary in Sacred Heart Chapel. Sitting, waiting and wishing are good, and so are walking, believing and praying.
Friday, May 14, 2010
We were especially impressed by the spirit of the people, because they were extremely happy to see us and expressed pure delight that we came to visit them. In the village of Bhica, all 42 of the school children came on a Saturday to their mud hut school so they could see us and sing for us.
We witnessed a strong community spirit; not only were the children at school on Saturday, but so too were other villagers, especially mothers. In fact, they also entered into the singing and started moving and dancing to the rhythms. Even though the people have very little, they are happy. Our guide and friend, Bradley, used some of our fees to give the children two soccer balls that they immediately started using, since they had been using a homemade ball. Because they are building a kindergarten, he also donated R2000 (approximately $300) of our fee money towards that project.
Upon leaving this small village, we travelled on more dirt roads into Hamburg, where women from the Keiskamma Arts Project made a native Xhosa lunch for us. We ate deliciously cooked umxoxzi (squash), iimbotyi (beans), umnqgusho (samp with spinach), inkukhu (chicken), igusha (lamb), irostie (bread), ginger beer, juice, and kafi (coffee) or tea. After lunch, we learned a new dance and drumming on African Djembe drums. Our host proudly explained that this project empowers 40 people to make and sell their products at the craft centre. Our last stop at the Studio and Centre proved to us that these women and men are unbelievably talented.
Throughout our day, we had experienced the true meaning of the African spirit: ubuntu.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I am confident that there are many reasons as to why Mary holds our hearts in grateful wonder. We need only to search out the Scriptures or the many litanies written and prayed over the years to see that Mary has deeply touched the human heart, the human experience of God with us.
Holy is Mary, as a young Jewish woman of faith, her heart is open to the wondrous mystery of call. Echoing within her are the words you are chosen … blessed are you among women… Mary engages the messenger with a question, how can this be? The dialogue keeps Mary attentive as well as receptive to God acting in her life. In the exchange of promise Mary gives her fiat, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) And from this faith-filled response “the world is about to turn.” (Canticle of the Turning by Rory Cooney)
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us:
In the poverty of our spirit
In the cry of the suffering
In the ache of human longing
In the desire to be bearers of life
In the hope that the world will turn towards your Son, Jesus the Christ
Thursday, May 6, 2010
In these recent years, I have been seeing and reading much about Cinco de Mayo, a celebration particularly dear to those of Mexican descent. While I never actively participate, I am always aware of the event and happenings associated with it. This celebration was barely in my vocabulary even ten years ago. How nice to see that Minnesota is becoming ever more diverse!
May with its myriad events is a grand kickoff to summer and one rejoices at both spiritual and material blessings, those delivered and those anticipated.
photo: A wind chime hangs from a flowering tree in the monastery courtyard. Blossoms fill the drive by the old Cloisterwalk.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Last month on March 16, I had the experience of being present at the death of a very dear friend, Sister Janice Wedl. As the gravity of S. Janice’s illness became clear she became equally clear about the fact that she wanted only comfort care and wanted to go home to God. Knowing that she was approaching her death, she was able to say her good-byes to each of us. This was a profound experience.
She remained conscious a day or so longer, but Sunday forenoon, March 14, was the last time she was conscious enough to recognize us and respond when we greeted her. That morning I greeted her and was so delighted when she recognized me. The only words she said to me were, “Linda, you have to let me go.” I tried to assure her that I was letting her go and that I appreciated her good-bye to me. Those final words puzzled me because I felt that I had indeed accepted her wish to go home to God. In our good-bye I had told her that I would miss her, but that I wanted to bless her longing and her journey.
As I pondered her words, all I could come up with was the sense that she was conscious of my delight as I noted that she could still respond to me. Was she sensing the grief I would feel when that communication was no longer possible? Was she trying to help me face the coming deep sense of loss? I have come to believe that her last words were not about her needs, but about the concern she had for me as she prepared to go home to our Mother God. I consider her final words as a gift that I am trying my best to unwrap and study.