Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Exercising the Positive

                I’ve been trying to regain my regular groove with exercise.  Exercises to raise my heart rate strengthen and stretch.   After a recently trying week (physically and mentally), I decided I needed some strength training for my soul muscles, in particular increasing positivity. 
                How does one exercise to strengthen positivity?  By savoring, 20-30 seconds at a time! Negative experiences stick immediately (think Velcro) whereas we need to savor positive experiences for them to work their way into the fibers of our memory.  I’ve been engaging in interval training of sorts for my soul by intentionally staying with these positive experiences when they occur for 20-30 seconds.  Here a few of my moments:
·         Sitting in my chair with a good cup of coffee
·         Watching beautiful rainbow out our back door
·         Thought provoking conversation with a friend
·         The pops of color beginning to appear on trees
·         An unexpected kind word
·         A few moments of quiet to take deep breaths in a full day
                  Benefits so far include moments of joy, gratitude, and awe.  The morning I saw the rainbow, I experienced one of the calmest and joyful commutes I’ve had recently!  I like this savoring and am realizing it is just as necessary as any other exercise.  What might you savor today?

         Sr. Kimberly Porter, OSB

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

St. Oscar Romero on the Future

       On October 15 Pope Francis canonized Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. Archbishop Romero was martyred by armed military while saying Mass in the cathedral. He was attacked for being a champion for justice for the poor of his country.
       The following is a reflection by Saint Oscar Romero which offers encouragement to those who work for justice against all odds. Let us be lifted up and moved to continue our work for those most in need of justice.


It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not

We are prophets of a future not our own.

           Sister Nancy Kordenbrock, OSB

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Seeing God's Handiwork

    One of the favorite poems by Gerard Manly Hopkins from my youth is about seeing.   
“The world is charged with the grandeur of God,                                                                                      but only he who sees takes off his shoes.                                                                                                  the rest sit round and pluck blackberries.” 

      If only we could see as God sees!

      A few yards from our Guest House front porch is a huge oak tree. Despite its age, the tree still continues to produce a multitude of acorns. Recently I was working in the flower bed in front of the porch when something hit the top of my head - an acorn  Within a minute a twig with leaves and then a second acorn hit!  I had to laugh!  A gentle nudge? 

    This dear old tree with its diminishing branches, will not last many more years, I fear, but its beauty, its shade, its “dwelling space” and, yes, even its bothersome seeds, have become a part of me and will live in my memory.  I am grateful.

     Let us seek your face, O God, let our hearts be open to embrace all creation, especially our brothers and sisters, made in your image and likeness.  Open our eyes that we may see as you see, with a  new vision  for our Earth, with compassionate and thankful hearts.  As we age, may the seeds you have planted in us bear fruit for the next generation.  Amen.
       That in all things God may be glorified!  
                         Sr. Sharon Portwood, OSB

Friday, October 5, 2018

A Seduced World

Searching for a way to make prayer more meaningful for the group of seniors with whom I pray, I “happened” upon AWED to HEAVEN ROOTED to EARTH a book by Wa lter Brueggemann.  It challenged me.  It also delighted me with his use of unique phrases and wonderful words. It seemed to be the catalyst I needed.
For Professor Brueggemann “Prayer is an exercise in faith, obedience and praise that cannot be done apart from God’s presence and guidance.”  In the 41 years that he taught in seminaries he steadfastly began each class with prayer.  AWED to HEAVEN ROOTED to EARTH is a collection of these prayers.  He offers these as “possible resources for those who habitually utter public prayer.” He says that prayer needs “to be figured in fresh ways and that that figuring is scripture.”  It must be “well said.”
                “I believe that in an intensely secularized context the task of prayer is to re-imagine our life in the presence of God and therefore offer direct address to God—that playfully said invites interaction with the God who has pledged to hear.”
                My hope is to read and re-read his ideas and put them into my preparation for prayer with my group of seniors.  As a retired teacher myself, I admire his honesty as he prepares to retire, “Over that time I have of course studied with a variegated assemblage of students.  For some of them I have been a treasured teacher, for others not at all.  But all of them, by choice or not, prayed with me, and some I have found to be more mature in prayer than I.”
                His use of scripture certainly “figures” in the following prayer.
“Ours is a seduced world”
God of all truth, we give thanks for your faithful utterance of reality.
In your truthfulness, you have called the world “very good.”
In your truthfulness you have promised,
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
In your truthfulness, you have assured,
“This is my beloved Son.”
In your truthfulness, you have voiced, “Fear not I am with you.”
In your truthfulness, you have guaranteed that
“Nothing shall separate us from your love in Jesus Christ.”
It is by your truthfulness that we love.
And yet, we live in a world phony down deep,
In which we participate at a slant.
Ours is a seduced world,
where we call evil good and good evil,
where we put darkness for light and light for darkness,
where we call bitter sweet and sweet bitter (Isa.5:20),
where we call war peace and peace war,
so that we rarely see the truth of the matter.
Give us courage to depart the pretend world of euphemism,
To call things by their right name,
To use things for their right use,
To love our neighbor as you love us.
Overwhelm our fearful need to distort,
that we may fall back into your truth-telling about us,
that we may be tellers of truth and practitioners of truth.
We pray in the name of the One whom you have filled
with “grace and truth.”  Amen.

 Sister Kathleen Ryan, OSB