Worthy Seedlings

By Sr. Nun Other

The Sisters do some early gardening work, and this morning, some of us planted seeds. When planting time ended, I washed my hands, changed clothes, and began my normal routine. Still planting seeds, but of another kind. It’s my belief that one day I’ll be accountable for the seeds I’ve sown. Because I follow Jesus and carry Him in my heart, I expect to discover some good fruit in my resume. But it’s the not-so-good fruit that worries me: the doubt, innuendo, anger, and unkindness I’ve spun into an unsuspecting environment. I’m a too-casual custodian of words and their impact, and on that point, I plan to change.

The Community of Jesus

Organ Prelude

By Sr. Nun Other
 

I’m now part of a team assigned to keep the inner workings of our E.M. Skinner organ pipes dust free. The prelude to dusting included a tour of the area where the pipes reside. It was an intriguing labyrinth of small spaces, some high up and some maneuvered on hands and knees. What I found most interesting about the tour, was our guide didn’t focus on what to do, but rather on what not to do. Although he apologized for his negative approach, we assured him that his “learned the hard way” advice was invaluable. The what not to do’s represented hundreds of possible work hours and thousands of dollars saved. It occurred to me how easy it is to do the wrong thing — to respond in anger, withhold forgiveness, and seek vengeance. And how difficult it is to do right — to consider God’s love for my current enemy, turn the other cheek and ultimately forgive.

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Time Deconstructed

By Sr Nun Other

Occasionally, I watch a TV cooking show on which a chef announces he prepared a deconstructed something or other. Let’s say Eggs Benedict. Or better yet, Black Forest Cake. In deconstruction, each ingredient is prepared separately, transforming presentation, texture and temperature. When served, the food is physically unlike the original, but with all flavors preserved and creatively intensified.

The word deconstructed caught my attention and I thought of it in relationship to time. I make wonderful plans, really great ones, based on common sense. (Mine of course) Frequently, such plans are “deconstructed” by circumstance. The productive sequence of events I envision are abruptly interrupted by e-mail, phone call, or unexpected visitor. And I deconstruct right along with my plans. Anger flares, fear dictates, and trust takes a leave of absence. I suspect, however, that it’s the unexpected parts of a day that enhance, refresh, and re-design my life.  God’s hand reaches down and deconstructs, rescuing me from self-scheduled boredom.

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Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

 
Chant: God’s transforming Word

 
At Lauds this morning, we had a little trouble keeping ourselves in tune during one of the first psalms. We did a quick “re-pitch,” and something much more happened than just coming back into tune. The Psalm came to life! What had previously been a string of syllables or words became meaningful text. Other things also took place. We started looking at one another across the aisle, audibly “handing” each other our verse endings. People sat up straighter in their chairs. Chant prayed like this was literally beginning to physically lift us up.
 
Dom Eugene Cardine of Solesmes used to speak of chant as “heightened speech” — the sounds of the chant were actually drawn from the sounds inherent within the words themselves. He also used to speak of the chant’s ability to draw us out of ourselves and into a trans-formative worship that would change us as we prayed. This morning God gave us a little glimpse of how, when we engage with the chant, it lifts and transforms each of us in preparation for the day ahead!  
 
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With Mercy, Not Prejudice

by Sr Nunother  

I occasionally cause trouble by rushing to judgment. When I have an unresolved grievance against another, I’m primed to strike and easy prey to gossip and innuendo regarding that person. I wish to believe the worst because it validates my personal sense of rightness.  This happened recently and I hurt a friend for whom I have considerable respect. John Henry Newman in Parochial and Plain Sermons wrote, “In truth, the all wise, all-knowing God cannot speak without meaning many things at once.” What an amazing thought! Unlike me, God views the world with perfect understanding and sees multiple possibilities where I see only my own narrow perspective. For example, what feels like love to the neglected, could translate as excessive control to another. Each interpretation would be true and valid. God’s love and mercy are creative and fathomless, and for that, I’m extremely grateful.

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Starting Over….

by Renaissance Girl

I am a “people pleaser.” I should say, my primary objective is to please people. The problem is, there are so many people to please that in the attempt to keep them all happy with me, I inevitably create situations that cause more of a problem and am a great failure in my people pleasing efforts. You know the scripture where Jesus says, “you can not serve God and man?” Well I looked at that one and said, yea, well, I think I can figure this out. I think God is finally getting through to me and saying, “No, you can’t.” So now it’s like re-learning how to walk – and to somehow replace my own voices that say “you should do that, that looks good” or “that sounds like a good answer”, with what is actually my favorite scripture: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21) It feels terrifying and unfamiliar. I was lamenting all this to someone yesterday when out of the corner of my eye I caught movement and turned to see a beautiful doe leap into some nearby brush and turn to look at me. It felt like a little nudge of encouragement – like Jesus saying, “I’m here and I am what it’s all about – this is the way.”

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The Forest for the Trees

I was reminded this weekend of how small my world is. Its not a pleasant reminder – in fact, it’s rather embarrassing. I get so focused on my needs and my little “to do” list that I lose track of the bigger picture – why am I here and what’s it all about. I miss the forest for the trees.

As I saw people streaming into the church on Saturday for tours, I felt quite small in the face of something huge that was drawing them. I was reminded that I’m not here to do my own thing, to get what I can out of life. I made a promise to God that I would do what He wanted. It’s an everyday choice and I fail all the time-but it helps to pick my head up and see the forest again.

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Late Have I Loved You

by Artist Eye

I have a friend who refers to mistakes and failures as “course corrections. ” Myself, I pretty much go down for the count when I mess up. After apologizing for the third time in one day for dropping the ball on a job (you understand — that’s three separate drops, three separate apologies, three separate nose dives.) I was considering the whole course correction idea. The key to this enlightened philosophy is knowing one’s destination. 

Saint Augustine, who apparently knew all about being wrong, famously said, ” You made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Remembering my destination is my best hope for standing up and setting out again.

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Late Have I Loved You

 
The problem with writing a blog is that then people who know you can quote you to yourself.  “Don’t be so discouraged, remember how you said you found peace last week . . . “
 
Of course they’re right. If only I wasn’t so forgetful. In one of his sermons Saint Augustine reminds us that Jesus is always within hailing distance: “Each one’s heart is a little sailing vessel. . . .When the winds blow and the waves mount high, the boat is in danger, your heart is imperiled, your heart is taking a battering because Christ is asleep in you. What do I mean? I mean you have forgotten his presence. Rouse him then!  Let him keep watch within you; pay heed to him.”

 
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Late Have I Loved You

by Artist Eye  

Recently we were digging up some very healthy shrubs from one of the Community gardens. We were making room for a whole new set of plantings. The process reminded me of a memorable exercise one of my drawing  instructors once set for his first year students: We were given a  drawing homework assignment and challenged to produce the finest drawings we had ever done. Being young and full of ourselves we labored long into the night to show off our drawing prowess. The next day we  proudly displayed the results to the class, each of us vying for our instructors approval. To our considerable consternation, we we’re not  commended but instructed to sit down and erase the work we had just done so that we could then create a new work on top of the first effort. Those people who accepted this rather sever course correction actually produced some very interesting pieces of work. Although I suspect a part of the purpose of this unusual exercise was to gain a new perspective on our rather inflated egos, the real life lesson it taught was that the accomplishment of some tasks requires being open to a radically fresh vision.    

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