Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Thanksgiving Thought for Women

S. Jane Weber preparing vegetables
I have a wonderful quote for you who work so hard to prepare for family and friends.  It comes from a book entitled FOR WOMEN WHO DO TOO MUCH by Anne Wilson Schaef. (Men, maybe you fit the bill too!)  Here it is:

“Women’s normal occupations in general run counter to creative life or contemplative life or saintly life.”  (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)

“Women’s work is always toward wholeness.” (May Sarton)

“When we women do our work, we move toward wholeness.  The world is in need of wholeness.  The world is in need of women’s way of working.

Too long we have doubted ourselves and tried to fit comfortably into a male modality.  To have wholeness, we need to make our contribution, too. To have wholeness we need to know our values and value our knowing.

We have reneged on our responsibility to our society and our planet.  It is time that we courageously put our thoughts, ideas, and values out there and let them stand for themselves.

 When I do my work, my work is wholeness.”

Happy preparations and celebration of THANKSGIVING and all the loving work you will put into it!  I’m grateful for each of you!

Renée Domeier, OSB

Friday, November 22, 2013

On Dying

Monastery Cemetery by Nancy Bauer, OSB
I find it fascinating that many churches in the catholic tradition designate the entire month of November to remembering those we have loved and are now on the other side.  Many of us remember, as well, some persons, also on the other side, whom we have only come to know through the stories we’ve heard about their courage, generosity, compassion, joyfulness or selflessness. Those persons remain imprinted in our memories typically because they have touched our lives in some lens-shifting way. 

As I walk through the end of November I sometimes envision my own readiness for the final journey.  One recent Sunday morning I stopped brushing my teeth long enough to listen to the words of Ira Byock, MD, as he spoke on American Public Media [APM] in an interview for Krista Tippet’s “On Being”. Byock is the author of Dying Well.  I was startled to hear the brevity of what he invited us to do in order to die well.  He, as a palliative care physician, hears people somehow utter these four phrases when they are “terminally ill but doing fine”:

Please forgive me.

I forgive you.

Thank you.

I love you.

When those I love dearly are standing with me and accompanying me in my final walk to the other side, I pray that I will have let each one know how important they are to me by hearing myself say out loud to each of them these four freeing-phrases.  And maybe I’ll vividly remember the words of Winnie-the-Pooh “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” Then I can freely choose the other side.

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hot Issues

Hot issues: Immigrants.  Differing peoples.  Reform.  Deportation.  Fear of language.  Family break-up.  Exchange of gifts and life.  Why? Oh why do we keep kicking against the goad? 
In June of this year, Archbishop José Gómez spoke to the Catholic Media Conference in Denver claiming that immigration is more than immigration, that it is a question about America, that it is about our national identity and destiny, about our national “soul.”  He quoted  G.K.Chesterton  who said: “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.”  Now that is an amazing statement: that our homeland, America, is the only nation in the world founded on a creed!

According to Archbishop Gómez, chairman of the USCCB Migration Committee, every other nation in history has been established on some “material” foundation, on the basis of borders or territory, on race or ethnicity, the same kind of people living in one place.  But America, he said, “is different.  America was founded on a vision, a dream.”  (Maryknoll, Nov Dec /2013)  Have we not read, sung, and heard those words often: “the American dream?”

So what is at stake as we continue to judge, discriminate or exclude brothers and sisters of differing races, religions or national backgrounds?  The future of the American Dream is at stake! The dream of a nation where all children of the same God are welcomed and given the opportunity to exchange gifts, whether on an economic, cultural or spiritual basis.

It seems difficult for us to have faith in these times!  On the one hand, we continue to believe that America was founded on a vision, a dream, but, on the other hand, we do not trust ourselves sufficiently to address the issue of comprehensive immigration reform? 

Catherine Doherty of Madonna House used to say “Dreams dreamt in God come true.”  Will our wounded hearts be healed so that, one day, we can embrace the one who is different from us?  It is reassuring to hear this Russian sage go on to say: “God speaks quietly, very quietly, but He does speak. . . . He will make known to you what he wants you to do.” (Restoration 66#9, Nov. 2013).  Amen.  So be it. ¡Que será, sera!

Renee Domeier, OSB

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sacred Symbols

Chapel dome by S. Karen Streveler
I've been reading some material lately about the symbolism of our chapel dome, reaching up toward heaven from the flat land of central Minnesota and about how the opening of the great doors to the Gathering Place and Sacred Heart Chapel symbolizes an invitation and welcome to people seeking God in our sacred spaces.

It set me to thinking about the importance symbols have in our life, especially in the life of faith. Faith is about mystery, not a belief in an object or knowledge of a fact. Faith leads us into darkness where the only light is the mystery of God. Symbols are what make the infinite, unknowable and incomprehensible approachable for us. We can understand what light and darkness are; we understand the contrast and that makes it possible for us to catch a glimpse of Who God is - the light shining in our darkness.

Karen Rose, OSB