Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nearing Christmas


The Monastery has begun the decorating, baking, and overall preparation for Christmas. Just in case you're wondering if I've been lazing about while on break for school...here has been my time at home.

I've been tapped on the shoulder (and willingly volunteered) to put up trees all about the house. The care center tree was the most fun with the assistance of our elderly sisters. Another day I joined the bakery in preparing Christmas cookies. The morning included the particulary tempting peanut butter blossom cookies (with the hershey kiss in the center). This year the sisters joined the prision ministry in creating Christmas bags of goodies for the state prisons in our area. The assembly line was well organized! There was also general work like cleaning the Chapel and driving to meet other sisters coming home for Christmas.

My favorite job was decorating the hallway past the dinning room to the care center Chapel! Three boxes of red, green, blue, gold, and white satin balls were pinned to the ceiling. I did the pinning from a scaffolding while Sr. Kara "pushed me around". Sisters and staff wandering the hall offered a diverse panel of advice...some love it and others wished we had forgotten. But I love them!

Last night, sisters gathered in the Chapel to assemble trees for the gathering space and the sactuary. We also arranged the smaller wooden crib for Christmas this year. The greenery and poinsettas warmed and softened the space while the white lights brought in the 'stary' effect. It's beautiful...Christmas is upon us.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gaudete Snow


Gaudate or the third Sunday of Advent is usually a pretty festive affair, even at the church in my hometown. However, when you combine a few inches of powder light snow and 30-40 mile an hour winds you get an old fashioned South Dakota blizzard. Fifty-two faithful souls made it to church last Sunday...one of the ladies in the back counted just in case. We shared a full Mass with quite the intimate little crowd. We even sang without any organ and took up a collection without an church envelopes. Most of the folk had spent the morning digging out of snowbanks and scrapping ice from windshields, making it to church itself was a miracle.

After Mass the celebration continued, the cafe was open! Half the attendees plowed on over for coffee, carmel rolls, and a hearty breakfast. It was wonderful to hear such a hearty din of laughter, teasing, and winter stories. That is a part of small town life that I do miss...you walk into the cafe and everyone knows you, your parents, your siblings and their families, and they know what you or your family has done even before you do it! I myself discovered I was doing wonderfully at school!

I stayed with my family for a couple days and then came home to the monastery through Christmas. It has been a while since I've garnered so many hugs in one evening! It is good to be home...the 6:30 AM prayer is a bit of a shocker after a semester of a slightly later schedule...but it is good to be home.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Work and Play


The papers have been written and the power point set for the final presentation! I've even completed the reflections about how each of the classes has changed the way I look at teaching...ahem..."(insert course title here) has truly changed how I will approach the classroom when I return to teaching". There is still a presentation on Thursday. Since the group didn't want to plan too early, we are finalizing our 50 minute presentation tonight. I'm a bit uncertain about the time delay, so I have my handout, power point, and evaluation of the whole event already typed up and ready to go.

All of this preparation has left me with time to play some cards! Hand and Foot Folk!...do I have some crazy rules for you! I've been learning how to play Franciscan style! The game takes about an hour and a half minimum and you find yourself with a mighty fistful of cards the last two or three hands. It was fun to take time to play for a while. But quite quiet...they take their card playing seriously!

  • Play until someone reaches 10,000
  • Points needed to lay down depends on how high your score is
  • 100 start
  • 150 after the player has passed 2,000
  • 200 after the player has passed 4,000
  • 250 after the player has passed 6,000
  • 300 after the player has passed 8,000
  • General card point values remained the same
  • No picking up the pile for a desired card
  • 13 cards in the hand/foot
  • 2 bonus cards (not bonus points) for counting out exactly 13 cards

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Advent Choirs


I celebrated Advent with a concert of Christmas music at the University. The music department collaborated to provide a 'sampling' of voices and instruments. The concert began with the Gospel Choir singing "Now Behold the Lamb" & "You Are the Living Word". Both pieces were beautiful! The voices were so rich and blended amazingly well that the sound seemed to envelop you. The University Chorus performed next with a trio of pieces. "Children, Go Where I send Thee" has always been a personal favorite of mine, I had to hum along with the choir. They followed it with a piece in Spanish. The last selection was a humorous bit based on "The Twelve Days of Christmas", but it combines a variety of different church and secular Christmas tunes. The Orchestra and Symphonic Band each played two selections as well.

It was nice to take a bit of time to just enjoy the music and the day. I loved all the Christmas music! Since I have forgotten my Christmas CD's at home, I appreciated the choirs and bands all the more! The final treat was playing outside when we left the concert. The University's very own carillonneur was playing Christmas music on the "Tower Carillion". Apparently, this tower bell music isn't played by automatic computer, but a musician pulling ropes and levers to ring the bells for the song. Very impressive exit music.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pretty Distractions


The snow has been falling all day. Not a blizzard or driving snow, just a constant, light, pretty snow softly falling on the trees, bushes, and homes. It has been a pretty distraction all day. I love to sit with a cup of coffee and a good storybook and watch the snow fall. However, there are still two papers to complete and a presentation to prepare for my last week of school. To combat the distraction, I have tried to stay down in the office most of the afternoon, but I still know that snow is falling outside.