Sunday, November 30, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope everyone has a day filled with family, friends, and fun. Wherever you are, know that you are in my thoughts and prayers today. Thanksgiving has always been about the celebration of hearth and home for me. It is a time to get together with Community whether it be Sisters or Family and share life together.
I will be joining the sisters in a trip to Sr. Marica's family gathering for dinner. It is very kind of them to invite me along to the family celebration, but I'll admit my heart is with you. I am taking time today to remember some of my favorite things about thanksgiving...
- Mom cooks the dressing with the turkey and there is this wonderful dark crunchy bit around the edges of the pan. We all vie for it at home.
- The Thanksgiving meal at the Monastery is served family style and we seem so much more aware of each other and willing to jump up to refill platters and cups. Time seems to slow down a bit over the meal as well, no one is in a hurry for a change.
- The VanDenHemels sit back and relax after the dishes are done. We tell tall tales about family stories while 'picking the bird' for turkey soup that night. Well, all but Dad, who is 'watching' either a western or a football game with his eyes closed.
- Prayer at the Monastery Chapel...I love the way our chant sounds in the open space of our upper chapel. There is a beauty in the simplicity of our space and sound together.
- Either Wednesday or Thursday night often becomes a 'game night' for the 'young' sisters. I love playing Scattagories, Taboo, and Cranium with the patio crowd while we laugh at each other's stories.
To counteract this bout of wishfulness, I've been remembering what I have to be thankful for no matter how far I am from Home and Hearth.
- There is a great deal of beauty in the snow on the trees by the lake.
- A beautiful new niece: Hope Jean.
- Franciscan support in my learning endeavors here at the house.
- "Life is Good."
- A Community of prayerful support to welcome me home at Christmas break.
- A Family of loving care to welocme me home at Christmas break.
- The gift of a warm meal and bed with a shelter over my head.
- The realization that there is a wisdom that comes with age
(compared to the 'young' college folk).
- A comfort in the prayer and pattern of our life together.
- A joy in the notes, letters, and packages from home.
Now, I must return to Larabee, Anyon, and Kliebard as I tear apart my former curriculum in light of the damage social mobility has done to the democratic ideal of equal access to education. Yes, I'll have some fun today as well, but I started the day with Ora at Mass and now I need to complete a bit of Labora before the fun begins.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
St. Eugene's parish held a family formation gathering last night and all were invited to join. So I went, I thought this would be another good way to get to know folk and prepare for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. There was a wonderful cross section of the parish present to celebrate "Gratitude". The youth group served chili and hotdogs and families brought desserts, the energy (noise) around the room was a welcome change from the quiet of my office and the library where I do all my reading. After supper, the kiddos and teens joined different classes to learn about gratitude and the adults heard a speaker from the diocese.
Jennifer Christ talked about cultivating a spirit of gratitude in our lives. I thought I would share the ideas I liked best from the presentation. Mind you, these are my 'translations' of her ideas.
- "Thankyou" is the recognition of the exchange of life and love we share with another.
- Gratitude is an orientation toward life, we need to actively cultivate gratitude.
- Disappointments are tied to our own expectations.
- Gratitude rejoices in the mystery of the gifts that have been given to you by God.
- If we are aware of God's constant gift to us, pain and suffering can lead to a deeper joy and gratitude.
- Do not deny suffering, but place it in light of the blessings that balance it.
- Our attitude is a light that will reveal that which we choose to see. Do you see with the light of gratitude?
It was good to visit with new folk and meet more people of the parish. The table I joined had a good sense of humor and told some wonderful stories about being grateful in their lives. When Mrs. Christ had us close with prayer, the good humor was especially helpful. She tried to lead a whole church basement of kids, parents, and grandparents in Tai-Chi movement as prayer...at 8 o'clock at night. I'll give her this, she was persistant! The 'quiet' of the movement was punctuated with the dashing about of kiddos, laughter from various tables (mine too, but I didn't start it!), and instructions as she tried to explain all the moves and what they were called. Really, I think the laughter was a wonderful closing, but not quite what she intended.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I wonder if God knows that it is easier to stay inside and study when it is gray, rainy, and cold outside? The last few days have been dreary and wet here in Milwaukee; yet, the rain hasn't frozen since we are close to the lake. The sisters say it does take longer for the ice and snow to get started where we are, but I'm suspcious.
So, I've stayed indoors curled up with "Un-Standarizing Curriculum", "Rethinking Our Schools", and a whole raft of studies and articles centering around African American English in the English classroom. Some of the material has been interesting. The AAE articles are for my literature review and presentation in the theories of learning class. I'll be proposing that a fictional school adopt a culturally relavent approach to essay writing. This would encourage the student body to use AAE in the discussion, prewriting, outlining...all the prepratory work for the essay. The studies have shown that this removes the barrier of constant inner translation that may slow or hinder the process of writing for AA students. The translation of the students spoken and cultural language into Standard American English (or Edited American English) would be done as the last revision and editing for the final copy of the essay. Interesting no?
The cold and damp has also crept into the Joan of Arc Chapel at school. It is the chapel where Joan received her call to arms...long story short, a rather rich family donated it to the university. I like the quiet and simple space inside the chapel. Even thought it is in the midst of campus, the interior is subdued and reflective like a little oasis. It has been a nice place for noon Mass on the days I have evening class, but now it is getting chilly. The building wasn't renovated for heat when it was moved on campus and the little space heaters aren't keeping up with the cool enough for me. Ah well, all the more time to spend in the library.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Today I started tutoring at Dominican. I volunteered to assist in the resource room on Friday mornings. They have a very clear process that qualifies students that are assigned to the resource room. It becomes a studyhall with structure and assistance available. The teacher introduced me to each class period and explained (sort of) who I was and why I wanted to be available to assist them.
The teacher encouraged me to float through the room and ask a few questions about what students were working on or why they had decided to work on that subject. They were an interesting bunch, a few of whom were on the B and even A honor roll with the study skills Claudia pushes. I ended up working with one young lady that was trying to type an essay for "Of Mice and Men" before English class in two periods. When I recommended she take the typing off bold since the teacher would notice she was doing it simply to eat up space. She stopped typing, turned in her chair, looked me in the eye, and bold as brass asked, "And you exactly are Sister Who?" (as only a sophomore could). Ahhh...the locations may change and surroundings can differ, but children of God remain the same.
I can't wait for next Friday.