Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sunrise, Sunset ,,, A New Chapter Dawning

I'm back .... As I begin this blog entry I realize it has been way over a month since I last wrote "Lost in Transition"! I am reminded of the song from Fiddler on the Roof when Tevye sang:
Sunrise, sunset ... swiftly flow the days. Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers, blossoming even as I gaze.
Sunrise, sunset ... swiftly fly the years. One season following another, laden with happiness and tears.

In many ways that is how I have felt the past month and a half! The days have swiftly past as I have moved from Portland, Oregon after 21 years, to Spokane, WA and a new ministry. I am about to begin my third week as Spirituality/Healing Arts Program Director of the Franciscan Place at St. Joseph Family Center here in Spokane. My first week my head was spinning having a new job, moving into a new local community of Franciscan Sisters and being in a new city, although I lived here in the late 80's as well as when I was a college student at Gonzaga University.
Anyway, all of that is part of the reason I haven't posted recently ....

Along with moving I was able to take some time to try and renew and refresh myself before starting something new. At the end of August I made my annual week's retreat. This year I spent the week at a beautiful spot overlooking the Puget Sound. It was a preached retreat and a little bit busier than I would have liked, but God was good and graced me with peace and insights as I prepared to move into my new ministry. I was gifted with many gorgeous sunsets during that week including the one above. I saw the sun in the morning, but never was quite up for sunrise ...

After Labor Day I finally got some vacation time. After traveling so much over the last eight years as a Vocation Director I treated myself to some "miles" and got to go to Hawaii! Of course I enjoyed the warm Hawaiian breeze, the beautiful ocean water for swimming and reflecting, some gorgeous sunsets and a wonderful day snorkeling ~ a prayer experience for me as I was awed at the colorfulness and diversity of the stunning tropical fish and sea creatures including a sea turtle! All of that just added to the great experience to visit and spend time with two of my Sisters in Community, Sr. Joan (L) and Sr. Rochelle (R), who live and minister in Honolulu. They were the perfect hostesses and tour guides! We had fun and shared many conversations ... it was very good to be with them and connect :)

There is soooo much more I could write, but it is getting late and I want to get this long delayed entry posted before another sunrise and sunset go by! I close with a Hawaiian sunset and a quote from Ignatius of Loyola that I happened upon yesterday as I walked through the campus of my alma mater - Gonzaga U. yesterday morning ....
"Let your soul hold itself tranquil and peaceful, ready to submit to the action of God."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

"Lost in Transition"

The end of July ... the beginning of August marked the end of my vocation ministry and the transition into something new. After eight years as a Vocation Director for my religious community, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, I have "closed up shop" in my Portland vocation office. Two other Sisters are moving into the ministry on the west coast - Sr. Christine Still located in Tacoma, WA and Sr. Elaine Thaden who will have an office in Spokane, WA. I have really enjoyed the ministry which has allowed me so many opportunities and the chance to meet many wonderful people, so this ending is kind of sad for me, but also exciting as I anticipate a new ministry. It is not totally settled right now what the next ministry is going to be so, for right now, I wait patiently.

Shortly after I cleaned up my office space and had the adventure of taking furniture and materials to Tacoma in a big U-Haul for the new vocation directors, I had my last "official" trip east to meet with the Formation Team one last time bringing closure to my ministry with a beautiful prayer service and blessing, to celebrate and share in the joy of the renewal of vows for one of our Sisters, Sr. Rose Mare Eve and connect with with our new members especially our two novices, Srs.Sara and Simona before they left for St. Louise to begin their novitiate time at the Third Order Regular-Franciscan Common Novitiate (TOR-FCN). Whew, I had some good, but whirlwind days at the Motherhouse the first week of August!

Following those busy days at the Motherhouse, I did take a few days to spend with some Franciscan Sister friends who have just moved to the Maryland country side to live on a farm. Sisters Kathy and Libby have the desire to live a simpler, more contemplative and sustainable life-style right now and found the perfect place to rent. They don't have the whole farm as they do have other ministries, but have the farmhouse and a fair amount of land around it to have a great garden which was lush with tomatoes when I was there! A few weeks before I was there they had a "party" of others sisters there to help harvest their nice little potato crop ~ I did get to enjoy the fruits of that harvest while I was with them :)The "farm" was a great place to be for a few days. I enjoyed sharing in their new endeavor and just having a little down time. The past week I have been on the road quite a bit ... down to Southern Oregon, a quick trip to Spokane and now tomorrow I head off for my annual retreat. I am so looking forward to that retreat time! I need that quiet time and space apart to be with my God and to continue my own discernment about my next ministry and where God is leading me. There is a quote by Dr.
Howard Thurman that I have come across several times in the past week or so, and which actually has been a good thought for me and anyone who is discerning something in their life. I think it is worth sharing and so close with these words to ponder: "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." That is how St. Francis lived his life and that is what God desires for us! Pace E bene ... Peace and All Good!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sometimes Life Can Be Just a Blur

It has been about three and half weeks since I last posted right before I headed to the east coast for a week of meetings and Community gatherings. The picture here, taken a couple of weeks ago at a retreat for single women kind of shows what the past few weeks have felt like - full and a blur! They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so since I still seem a little pressed for time to write too much right now I am adding pictures of my life the past few weeks ...
On June 25th Sr. Mary Beth Antonelli - the other vocation director in my Community - and I gathered six of our Sisters together for our annual Congregational Vocation Committee. We had an excellent meeting with prayer and some wonderful sharing of ideas.
I was back in Aston, PA at our Motherhouse for a week which not only included this meeting, but a beautiful Jubilee celebration for our Sisters marking 25, 50, 70, 75 and 80 years of commitment as Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia ~ wish I had a picture to share, but didn't have my camera :(
Our Jubilee celebration was followed by our Community Assembly in which almost 400 Sisters gathered for three days of prayer, input with some excellent speakers, sharing and celebrating around the theme "From Blessing to Blessing"! ... and it was indeed a blessed time together!

I returned back to the west in time to take a little break in southern Oregon to celebrate the 4th of July with some members of my family. Here my nephew enjoys a bit of relaxation after several of us took a fun canoe ride ~ it was a beautiful day up at Rocky Point! It actually was a wonderful and needed ahhhh time for me.
Then it was off to Olympia, WA for the first annual VIVA retreat for women interested in knowing more about religious life. Meet the team of Sisters from various Congregations and the participants .... It was a wonderful weekend and event!

Finally, this past weekend I went to a potluck picnic with our Franciscan Companions ~ those who belong to our Associate program here in Portland. It was kind of rainy here in Portland, so the picnic was indoors, but that did not dampen the spirit of this group. The sun did shine a little bit and we could go outdoors. Meet Sisters Theresa, Florence and Companion Marti with St. Francis!
So, I would say it has been a busy few week! None-the less, it has been good ... filled with many blessings! In the Franciscan spirit I say, Pace E Bene ~ Peace and All Good for now!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A quick hello from the City of Roses!

It is the month of June, the month of leaves
and roses, when pleasant sights
salute the eyes ... and
pleasant scents the noses!
~ Nathan Parker Willis

I am suppose to be packing at the moment - I'm heading to the east coast in the morning for some meetings, the celebration of our Sister Jubilarians and a Community gathering. It will be a busy week, but no doubt a good one as I connect with many sisters and friends! Anyway I wanted to share briefly before I leave. It seems that spring ... oh I mean SUMMER has finally arrived in Portland. We have had so many grey rainy days this year. I am ready for some good weather! Close to my office there is a lovely little rose garden and last week I was able to take a little walk in that direction. The roses were beautiful! Wanted to share a couple of them ... getting late, lots to do before I lay my head on the pillow.
Please remember though , in the busy-ness of everyday ... don't forget to stop and smell the roses. Contemplate their beauty and praise the creator! Peace and Blessings!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Overflowing abundance!

Oh my gosh! It seems like it was just a couple weeks ago since my last post and now I am fully aware that it has been a whole month! Sorry about that :(
A LOT of water has gone under the bridge since then, or to go along with my visual aid - a lot of water has gone over the Falls ... My life has certainly been moving at a fast rate since May 6th! Almost a week in the Seattle/Tacoma area for meetings and gatherings, a trip to Southern Oregon for the wonderful occasion of my nephew's wedding and some fun family time, a trip to Philadelphia for meetings and "Sister" connections at my Franciscan Motherhouse, and a return to Portland in time for the Memorial Day weekend and some enjoyable time with east coast company. In the course of all my traveling around I have been blessed with some spring time "ahhh" moments of being in the Cathedral of God's beautiful creation.
As I was playing "tour guide" to two "Sister" visitors from the east coast - Sr. Pat and our Candidate, Sara, we spent a beautiful, sunny day at Cannon Beach on the Oregon coast and then spent a day driving up the scenic Columbia River Gorge stopping at a number of gushing waterfalls along the way. That day brought to mind a very powerful image of God that St. Bonaventure captured and that I was reminded of as we visited Latourell Falls (shown here).

I'm not sure right now of the exact words, but he said something like, "...the revelation of God is the outpouring of the 'fountain fullness' of God's self and of Divine love for us..." Or, as I read somewhere else, "God the Father is the 'fountain fullness' overflowing with goodness and love..."
All of the waterfalls on this day trip were gushing with water and were so beautiful and really did speak of God's outpouring of love and goodness! In all my busy-ness this past month God certainly has had a way to shower that love on me and to let me know I'm not alone! I celebrate the generosity of our God!
*Sisters Guadalupe, Pat and Sara enjoying the water spray at the bottom of Latourell Falls

Friday, May 6, 2011

God's Life Abounds!

"Everything that lives is holy, life delights in life."
~ William Blake 1757-1827

As we continue in this beautiful Easter Season, I wish you many blessings!
It has taken awhile, but it seems spring is finally making it to Portland. I love this beautiful season even if it causes a bit of a challenge to the allergies....

This has to be a quick post as I need to leave shortly for a five night stay up in the Seattle area. I'm heading up for several meetings next week, but first I am looking forward to a fun weekend to be with family and to help my great nephew celebrate his First Holy Communion! On Saturday morning St. Monica Church is going to be "a buzz" as 74 children participate in this First Communion - it will be a wonderful celebration! A good contrast to a couple of billboards I have been passing on my way to work each day...
I have been a bit disturbed by these billboards that say, "You don't need God to live". I know that there is and can be a lot of hope, love and care that non-believers have and show, but my question is about the "to live" part. I deeply believe that to live, to have life is so much a gift from the One who created us! I believe that our good and loving God has created all of life ... I have experienced too many affirmations and confirmations in my life to doubt God's presence. God's life and love abounds!
As I look around me every day at the miracle of life that surrounds me, especially during spring and in this Easter Season of new life, I pray and proclaim as St. Francis of Assisi did:
"Most high, all-powerful, all-good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honour and all blessing .... All praise be yours, my Lord, through all that you have made ...through Sister Earth, our mother, who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces various fruits with coloured flowers and herbs ..." All praise be yours my God! Touched by Your hand, O God, our world is holy!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The "Good" in this Friday leads to Easter!

The Lenten days are over and now we are caught up in the middle of the beautiful, holy day of the Triduum. I taught elementary school for many years and Good Friday was always a day I loved being in the classroom. Usually we only went a half day... For many years we made it a "whisper day" in the school to set the day apart and help the students to understand the significance of the day. It gave me the chance to plan quiet activities that helped my class know better what the day was about. Of course the students would often wonder why today is called "Good" Friday when it is the day that Jesus died on the cross. Part of my simple explanation was/is that we have to remember that THAT was not the end of the story ~ we only need to look to Easter to know more.
Today on my walk I was reflecting on that myself and had a few other thoughts. The events of Jesus' passion and death were horrific, but ... Jesus taught us about love and preseverance in his suffering and dying ~that is good. There were people who were faithful to him and stood with him to the bitter end~that is good. Jesus did not think of himself when he comforted the women of Jerusalem; a lesson for us~that is good. Jesus showed us how to forgive and also to befriend the one next to him~that is good. And greatest of all, Jesus gave us an example of total trust and letting go into God ..."Abba, into your hands ..."~ and that is good.
Hopefully today...tomorrow (and other tomorrows too) you have and/or can spend some time in quiet and prayer pondering the mystery of this holy time. The words of St. Clare of Assisi come to my mind. "Place your mind before the mirror of eternity! Place your soul in the brilliance of glory! And transform your entire being into the image of the Godhead Itself through contemplation." and
"Gaze upon Christ, consider Christ, contemplate Christ, as you desire to imitate Him."
Gaze ...Consider...Contemplate...Imitate
I suggest that we might need to do just that over these holy days ... gaze, consider, contemplate so that we can imitate Jesus ...Imitate ~ live bold, live with passion as Jesus did so that we may turn the world upside down and others will know that Jesus is Alive ~ Alleluia! Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Finding Treasures in the Gutter

It has been a good three weeks since I last wrote and that is way too long! My days have been full and involved with several trips to the Tacoma/Seattle area, visits to schools and a week in Spokane, WA at my alma mater, Gonzaga University, where I was helping with a Busy Person (Student) Retreat on campus ... a great week! The life of a vocation director ~ never a dull moment! Here the season of Lent is almost over and I feel like it has just begun because of so much activity and not enough reflection time ............................... I do find snippets of time and graced God moments along the way in my days though which I cherish and for which I am grateful. The whispers of God's voice come not only during my personal prayer time, but also in the miles of driving, often without the radio or CDs playing and almost always during my regular walks. So, this week the debris along the curbs in the gutter spoke to me and gave me fodder for reflection. There are not many sidewalks in my neighborhood so I usually walk in the street along the side. Lately, with so many rainy days the gutter along the curb can be kind of muddy and messy with leaves, sticks, candy wrappers, cigarette butts and tree cones (in the northwest they are usually fir cones). Every now and then though, ahh ha, I find a penny, a nickel, a quarter, or a pretty little flower growing! Treasures in the muck! I always stop and pick up the money, even the pennies with the reminder that, "In God We Trust". So, where did my reflection on my Monday walk take me? With this being Lent, the debris in the gutter reminds me of the "messyness" of my life sometimes ... how cluttered things can get ... It is important to take time (like this Lenten time) to get the broom out, or take the hose to clean things up a bit so there is a newness or freshness that will allow God to flow in and through me. In the process I might discover a treasure that was hiding under the clutter or in negativity... an insight, a new ability, a calmed fear about a project, an understnading to a problem ... What is a treasure that desires to be revealed to you as we move towards the end of Lent into the glorious season of Easter? The earth is getting ready for Easter, newness is all around. I pray that is happening in your life and mine as well!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Singing in the Reign!

... Singing in the reign, just singing in the reign ...
Oh, I think that is suppose to be ... Singing in the "rain" ....
But then again, maybe it can be both ways!
... What a glorious feeling I'm feeling today ....

It has been very rainy here in Portland the past few weeks. The other morning as I was walking, the sky was having a hard time deciding what it wanted to do~rain or not rain? That was the question! I was carrying my umbrella and would have it up ... and then notice I didn't need it so would put it down. As I walked along I started thinking of the classic movie 'Singin in the Rain' and of that great song that Gene Kelly made famous in the musical as he splashed around in puddles. I must admit I did start singing that song and it lifted my heart!

Lately we have been hearing a lot of difficult, sad news with the situation in Libya and the horrible reality of Japan. How I hold all those people in my heart and prayers! As I sang that song that popped into my head, I started to reflect on the notion that I was - I am - we are - always walking in the reign of God. The Kingdom (Reign) of God is here! Jesus told us, "For behold the kingdom of God is among you." (Lk 17:21)
Heaven touched earth, in and through Jesus, and THAT is Good News! God is with us in all things ...
Inspite of all the hardships, there are signs of hope and life around us as announced by the beautiful crocuses that are sprouting up ... and people reaching out to those in need ... and a person found alive in the Japanese rubble after days! There are good people doing wonderful things to make our world a better place all the time ~ bringing about the reign of God!

My nephew"s wife - the mother of three beautiful children who was looking for a way to work from home, to share her talents and to help others, just started her own business ... the AMEN Jewelry Co. As she, Lisa, shares on her website, "Amen Jewelry places a priority on giving back to the community. Ten percent of the purchase price of each item will be donated to local charitable organizations." Check out her site - share the link with others! It is "a source for unique, high-quality jewelry inspired by religious iconography". Even if you only "window shop", it is a delight to see the artistic gifts of others! Good for you Lisa! May your endeavor be blessed.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Potpourri of Life

... discovery of the winter pine flower ...

How I love my exercise walks! Last week with snowy, cold weather here in Portland I discovered this new flower . So often my walks give me new insights and a different perspective on lots of things ... and on life in general.

I was glad to be able to go for my walk this morning. I don't always get out in the morning during the week, but on Fridays we have a 12:10 PM Mass at the parish where my office is, so I'm not rushing off for work quite as early. Anyway, often that exercise walk is a contemplative time for me.

This morning I was thinking how good it is to walk with open ears and eyes paying attention to life and the world around me ~ to hear the crows and blue jays squabbling and squawking back and forth at each other ... the robins with their hopeful song for spring ... the squirrels chiding from their tree tops. There were also the signs of everyday life that I started paying attention to ~ people going off to work ... the woman struggling with jumper cables to get her car started ... those who were out for quick walks with their dogs.

So often we rush about from this place to that without actually seeing and hearing those things around us. Many times people are running or walking listening to music on their iPods, texting or talking on their cell phones (which I must admit I do sometimes - talk on my cell phone when walking ... how else can I go walking with my sister in Florida?)....
I'm not saying that is bad to have the iPods and cell phones going, but it is also good to go out and about with only the sights and sounds that God, creation and the world around us have to offer.

For St. Francis the whole world was his cloister ~ the place where he met God in the ordinary and through those around him. If I had had earphones on listening to the radio this morning I would have missed the song in my heart that I kept humming, or the beautiful chirping of that robin that was speaking of spring, or the friendly voice of the woman I have passed many, many times on my walk that reached out this morning and said, "Hi! We keep passing each other ...Let me introduce myself ~I'm Ruth and this is Karen!" Last week I would have missed the little patch of snow cradled in the pine bough ... So, as a little piece of paper on my desk says, "Allow yourself to be interrupted by God." through the potpourri of life every day!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Finding God's Valentine in the Ordinary

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, falling in love in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything."
*Pedro Arrupe, SJ

This month of February is just zipping by! Since Valentine's Day was just Monday, I decided I could still start this entry with Fr. Arrupe's beautiful words above. I have visited several high schools in the past couple of weeks with other vocation directors and this quote is part of a power point we have used, so it is fresh on my mind. A good one especially for this time of the year!
... and the picture ...Well, I took that several summers ago when I was on my annual retreat. As I was hiking around Kairos House of Prayer just outside Spokane, WA which is run by one of my Franciscan Sisters, I happened upon this rock! It became a a great meditation for me and a big part of my retreat. The ways God shows love and sends little signs/symbols into my life never cease to amaze me!

Yesterday I had a chance to catch up on the
blog site, "Mascara and Prayer"
in which Sara - a friend and Candidate in my Congregation - writes about her candidacy year. I have so enjoyed her sharing and insights. Anyway, in the February 11th entry Sara quoted and reflected on the words of one of our elderly Sisters in a presentation for the Community year-end Retreat. This morning it dawned on me that they were the same words that caught my attention when I "retreated" in December with my local community. The words ... "Change is inevitable, growth is a choice!" resonated with me for a number of reasons. They are true, but it is a challenge sometimes to not let changes ruffle the feathers, to resist change and block growth that can come.
After more pondering on all of this - Sara's reflection on that quote, my own thoughts, and thinking of the "heart" rock picture above - I conclude .... There will always be change in things whether I like it or not, sometimes for better and sometimes not, but I must always allow, must choose growth to happen with the change! ... and that also means, allowing myself to rest in God's loving embrace (as the little tree growing in the picture) and align myself with the heart and mind of Jesus - each day! That way, change doesn't have to be fearful or an obstacle to growth ....

Friday, January 21, 2011


Believe it or not, it really is not lunch or dinner time as I sit down to write this entry ... and, no I am not hungry either! It just so happens that I had my first experience of making homemade tamales on New Year's Eve ~ we had a Mexican Fiesta in my local house to celebrate the occasion! So, this morning as I was out walking (finally I am getting back into my walking routine after some leg surgery at the end of November), I started thinking about those tamales and some other similar foods I like ...You got it, the Italian ravioli and then a food I have not had for years, the Russian pirozhky or piroshki (I don't know how to spell it, only how we pronounced it as a kid, per-əsh-΄ke ??). These foods all come from different cultures and are cooked just a bit different, but all three of these have something in common. They are some kind of dough with a meat mixture wrapped up inside and to my tasting, are delicious! During my walk this morning, my thinking of the foods become a reflection on the beautiful diversity in our world and the varied practices of so many wonderful cultures! We do not need to go very deep in the news to find stories of peoples clashing and fighting and disputing because of race or religion. Wouldn't it be extraordinaire if all people could just see & understand that even if we have different outsides (like the tamale/ravioli/piroshki) and different ways of doing something, inside there is a goodness; we are brothers and sisters in/of the same human family! St. Francis knew that and worked to bring unity, bridge the gap, embrace all.
As we celebrate this
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, let us also pray for unity among all people (...Christian, Muslim, Jew... as well as clashing nations). It all begins with understanding and respecting the beliefs, practices, traditions of the other. How much better and more enriched our lives could be ...
So, back to the tamale making. I learned something new on New Year's Eve - the beautiful Mexican culinary art of making tamales from my friend in community, Sr. Guadalupe! I got to hear and understand a home tradition of hers, we had fun working together and we enjoyed a delicious din
ner at that, to celebrate and welcome in a new year! I present to you the expert tamale maker at work....

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Glimmers of HOPE in the New Year...

We are not quite at the two week mark of the new year so I think I can I still wish you a very Happy New Year! Hopefully 2011 has started out in a positive way for you!? Today definitely seems like a good day to post a new entry to this blog. There is just something fun or magical about 1-11-11 to me!
As we move into this new year I share with you the above verse that Sr. Joyce Rupp shared with us. I am an Epiphany kind of person and I love this quote, so I made a little Epiphany greeting with stars surrounding the verse - stars and hope ... some of my favorite things to dwell on. Stars that twinkle their light in the beautiful night sky, stars that kept the shepherds company, stars that guided sailors of old as well as guiding the Magi to the Christ child, stars that are for wishing upon! Then there is hope ... one dictionary definition defines hope as "to cherish a desire with anticipation". Aren't there so many things we hope for in life?, happiness, peace in our world, a job for our relative, good health .... How important it is to keep HOPE alive!
What brings you hope? How can you share it?
Before I sign off here I share with you a picture taken the other morning on a rainy day in Portland.... Rain drops hanging onto pine needles. That is a hope symbol for me! I remember many year ago, I was in a bad state of heart and mind and was out walking in the rain "crashing around"- knocking tree branches that happened to get in my way with my fist, thinking I DID NOT care about anything!! I came to an evergreen branch hanging low and laden with rain. I was getting ready to smash that branch when all of a sudden as if someone grabbed my arm and held it in midair, I stopped! I stopped and noticed how delicate a single raindrop was hanging on the tip of the needle ... and it was beautiful! I remember hearing myself say, "I guess I DO care about something!" That moment, that single raindrop became a hope sign for me and helped to change my attitude around - thank goodness! A lesson learned from nature right in line with the Franciscan spirit! Francis was often discovering things in all of creation ... He also is a great model of a person who desired to grow and change. Today I read in my Franciscan Prayer book ~ "Tireless in pursuit of holy newness, Francis constantly hoped to begin again ...(from the life of St. Francis by Thomas of Celano 1C 103)!
So as we begin this new year, consider Sr. Joyce's insightful words and the example of St. Francis ... in pursuit of holy newness ~ how appropriate as we journey into the months ahead that are full of life and possibilities ... Hope comes in little ways...