Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Theo Course Insights


The theology course is beginning with the transition from the Jesus Movement to the Church. The reading has been very thought provoking. While most of the text has been about how the authors described Jesus, Paul's use of Old Testament language, and the revelation about how little we know of the early Church celebrated in the homes, one section about Jesus' key teachings has held my attention. While many of His teachings were part of the contemporary debate in Jewish tradition, five of His lessons showed a clear change in theology.

1. Approach God as a loving father, to be in intimate (family) relationship with God.
2. Love not only God but also their neighbors (which was defined as everybody) and their enemies.
3. Be concerned for the marginal, those left behind.
4. Follow a radical ethics, find the value that goes to the root of the problem.
5. Always forgive, always.

I've been returning to these five teachings from Jesus and asking myself how well I'd be assessed by Christ. Thank God that lesson five would give me a second chance, but I do have so much to learn and practice. It seems an overwhelming and impossible teaching when I try to put it all into action and expect success. Thankfully, St. Francis de Sales had some sage advice from a letter in 1603 in my breviary on his feast on January 24th.

"Know that patience is the one virtue which gives greatest assurance of our reaching perfection, and, while we must have patience with others, we must also have it with ourselves. Those who aspire to the pure love of God need to be more patient with themselves than with others. We have to endure our own imperfections in order to attain perfection...In truth, we have to admit that we are weak creatures who scarcely do anything well; but God, who is infinitely kind, is satisfied with our small achievements and is very pleased with the preparation of our heart...I don't mean that we shouldn't head in the direction of perfection, but that we mustn't try to get there in a day...In order to journey steadily, we must apply ourselves to doing well the stretch of the road immediately before us."

I think he said it quite well. Oh, the springtime picture of Bishop Marty Chapel? Well, the course readings have been about Church and I'm hopeful that spring will return to the Monastery soon. I also believe that those five teachings from Christ are best practiced where there is someone to help you up and dust you off if (when) you fail in the attempt. I'm sure you (my Sisters) would be there with a helping hand, smile, and sage advice to support me along the way.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Night At The Symphony


After I learned not to believe all you read about the weather, I accepted an invitation out to the symphonic orchestra. While most of South Dakota has been soaked with a winter rain, only parts of the state have been experiencing the freezing rain and destruction of power lines. My Sisters and family are among the soggy but still electric section of the state. So, I shall just transfer said prayers of concern for heat and health to those who have been left powerless...and go to the symphony.

One of the Franciscan sisters had been given a gift card to the symphony's performances. She shared her gift with the whole house and we were blessed to share in her gift last night. First the orchestra symphony was joined by the symphony chorus and two guest soloists for Faure's Requiem, Opus 48. After the intermission, the orchestra symphony returned with a guest violinist for Edward Elgar's Concerto in B minor for Violin and Orchestra Opus 61. The music was amazing!

The Requiem was very smooth and mellow. The chorus was beautiful and the soloists divine (get it). I was struck by how their singular voice could be heard so clearly above all the chorus and orchestra. They were without microphones as far as I could tell; yet, their voices were crystal clear up to the farthest balcony (our seats). The second half was more energizing, the violinist was brilliant! I don't have the musical language to explain how awesome he was, but it was like listening to a family dynamic in full swing. The interplay between the orchestra and the violinist seemed like so many conversations happening at once; a family's chatting leads to exclamations of joy, lively disagreements, and loving reconcilliation.

I don't know what the composer's storyline was for the piece, but I could hear us in the music. When I am blessed enough to enjoy music like this, it amazes me. God's gifts that are present in the composer, each musician, and the conductor...amazing.


PS...Don't worry, I am also working on my course reading and writing! I also return to the middle school tomorrow!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Prayer for Safety


South Dakota has been going through another round of wild winter weather. I've been following the storm stories about the freezing fog and freezing rain all over the Eastern side of the state. So many folk are without power or stranded with slick roads. There was a storm similar to this not too many winters hometown was out of power for about a week! So, I've been keeping my Sisters, family, and friends in prayer while the rain and ice continues to fall on the state.


Prayer to Saint Joseph for Protection
Gracious Saint Joseph, protect me and my family
from all evil as you did the Holy Family.
Kindly keep us ever united in the love of Christ,
ever fervent in imitation of the virtue of our Blessed Lady, your sinless spouse,
and always faithful in devotion to you.

Photos borrowed from the Aberdeen American News

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Chuckle at My South Dakota Heritage


A former student sent me this chuckle via e-mail...Jeff Foxworthy on South Dakota.

1. If "vacation" to you means going shopping for the weekend in Rapid City, Sioux Falls , Spearfish or Sturgis (while the kids swim at the Comfort Inn). - You might live in South Dakota.
I remember taking these very same vacations as a kid and now my sisters take similar vacations with their own! If you got to go to the Comfort Inn in the winter time, your vacation was even cooler!
2. If parking your car for the night involves an extension cord. - You might live in South Dakota.
I thought everyone had a heavy duty cord to 'plug-in' at night.
3. If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through 8 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by. - You might live in South Dakota.
Um...Too chilly of a sport for me : )
4. If you're proud that your state makes the national news primarily because it houses the coldest spot in the nation. - You might live in South Dakota.
We've been colder than Alaska several times!
5. If you have ever refused to buy something because it's "too spendy". - You might live in South Dakota.
My mother, my aunts, my sisters, my religious sisters, and I have all used those exact words!
6. If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March. - You might live in South Dakota.
7. If someone in a store offers you assistance, and they don't work there. - You might live in South Dakota.
I've offered assistance to others in a store, haven't you?
8. If your dad's suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of his forehead. - You might live in South Dakota.
My Dad's suntan has a curve not only on the forehead, but also where his short shirt-sleeves and neck line end.
9. If you have worn shorts and a parka at the same time. - You might live in South Dakota.
I've worn shorts and parka, and during college--sandals whenever the snow was swept off the sidewalks.
10. If your town has an equal number of bars and churches. - You might live in South Dakota.
11. If you know how to correctly pronounce Pierre , Huron, Ipswich and Pukwana. - You might live in South Dakota.
I think they should add Belle Fourche to the list!
12. If you measure distance in hours. - You might live in South Dakota.
I grew up measuring distance in minutes and hours! We were two hours from 'everywhere' which included Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, and Yankton.
13. If your family vehicle is a crew cab pickup. - You might live in South Dakota.
14. If you know several people who have hit deer more than once. - You might live in South Dakota.
I have hit more than one deer in my own life : )
15. If you often switch from "heat" to "A/C"in the same day and back again. - You might live in South Dakota.
Oh yeah!
16. If you can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard, without flinching. - You might live in South Dakota.
I've done it in college, but now that I'm a grown up I wouldn't do it again.
17. If you see people wearing hunting clothes at social events. - You might live in South Dakota.
18. If you've installed security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked. - You might live in South Dakota.
He, He, He, He...I know folks who've done this!
19. If the largest traffic jam in your town centers around a high school basketball game. - You might live in South Dakota.
Actually, our town traffic jams tended to be around football games, it was a much more popular sport.
20. If you carry jumper cables in your car and your girlfriend knows how to use them. - You might live in South Dakota.
I was offened by this sexist remark. The women in South Dakota have their own jumper cables, we don't need to use someone else's...and yes, most of us know how to use them.
21. If your town's Christmas lights parade is actually called the 'Christmas Lights Parade' rather than the 'Holiday Lights Parade', and everyone in the parade actually greets you with 'Merry Christmas!'- You might live in South Dakota.
This is one of the things I love best about home. We might be a growing multicultural group in South Dakota, but we still share our faith and beliefs.
22. If there are 7 empty unlocked cars running in the parking lot at Wal-Mart at any given time. - You might live in South Dakota.
23. If there are more people at work on Christmas Eve Day than on Opening of Deer Season. - You might live in South Dakota.
The school my Dad works in takes off the opening day of pheastant and deer season...
24. If you design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit. - You might live in South Dakota.
My sister Joy regularly sets up Halloween costumes to be over warm clothes or to be warm themselves...Lisa is a bit luckier since her town is still warmer at Halloween time.
25. If driving is better in the winter be cause the potholes are filled with snow,- You might live in South Dakota.
26. If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction. - You might live in South Dakota.
27. If you can identify a southern or eastern accent. - You might live in South Dakota.
And those other areas think we have accents! Okay, a bit...we do have heavy consonants and a strong "O".
28. If you consider Murdo exotic. - You might live in South Dakota.
29. If your idea of creative landscaping is a statue of a deer next to your cottonwood,- You might live in South Dakota.
30. If the sunbelt to you means Mitchell. - You might live in South Dakota.
31. If you know where the 'banana belt' is. - You might be from South Dakota.
For those not from South Dakota, Yankton is the 'bannana belt'.
32. If a brat is something you eat. - You might live in South Dakota.
33. If finding your misplaced car keys involves looking in the ignition. - You might live in South Dakota.
This doesn't happen as often, but I've still done it in the past.
34. If you go out to a fish fry every Friday. - You might live in South Dakota.
This is more a Wisconsin thing! South Dakota folk do fish fry's during Lent for the most part.
35. If you find 0 degrees "a little chilly." - You might live in South Dakota.
36. If you actually understand these observations, and you forward them to all your South Dakota friends. - You must be from South Dakota.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Back to the Books


My final Spring semester has begun! Since I have completed my required courses and the electives from the EDPL program in the College of Education, I've chosen to diversify a bit this final semester.

I have one night course from the EDUC program in literacy in the content area. Dr. Burant was a full tenured prof. at the university when she decided to return to high school teaching! Now she teaches high school chemistry and this one course at the university. I'm hoping to learn more reading strategies and scaffolding.

The theology of the church is a senior level course and I'm the old lady in the room. Most of the class is made of seniors who had a major or minor in theology, the others are just finishing up their third required theology course, but there are also a couple that should stir things up. The first day was spent sharing who we were and why we were there; one young man declared that he did not believe in suppressive religions and was only taking the least churchy of the courses offered and another tried to make a show of how his military aspirations were all misunderstood. Hmmm...the prof seemed okay with it all and took things in stride, but the theology majors chaffed a bit; it could be interesting : ) Today, I meet with the professor to discuss what readings she will add to my assignments to meet the graduate level. It will be interesting to learn more about the overall theological development of the church to the Church...we'll be moving from the earlier Christian to Roman Catholic views.

Overall it will be a good semester.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nieces & Nephews


There are moments that the nieces and nephews are sweet, and there are moments they are funny, but they are priceless all of the time. My favorite moments are the quiet ones.

Lisa's little Hope (1) decided she liked me after we played 'peek' for a while...her laughter is enough to make any heart melt. James (almost 5) was too busy to sit most of the time, but he did plop next to me in a chair at brunch and we chatted about his favorite cars. Lisa's other two girls, Rita (9) and Grace (almost 8), were quite taken with Grandpa and Nana, but I did offer a comfy shoulder to snuggle into after a long day of play.

Shyla is her mother's daughter when it comes to diplomatic gift reception. She may not have wanted a book (auntie is an English teacher) but she thanked me. After she realized it was all about her favorite ghostly stories, Shyla (almost 9) tucked in next to me on the couch to read a bit of the book together. Tate (5.5) colored me an Elmo picture of my very own to decorate my bedroom. Cade (also 5.5) was content to snuggle up in the evenings so I could scratch his back while told me about all he did that day.

I keep my sisters, their husbands, and all those kiddos in prayer. I love and miss you all already!

PS... Ahem, I am also reinforced in my celibate vocation as a Benedictine nun. I'm happy to return to my schdule and times of work and quiet. They are beautiful children of God, but they are energetic and filled with vim and vigor. Whew, I just pray my sisters, and their husbands, can keep up.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Another Snow Day


It is yet another snow day here in central South Dakota. Dad (a 38-year teacher) has been quite grumpy today. After a week and a half of Christmas break, school had classes on Monday and Tuesday, but 5 inches of fresh, fluffy snow and high winds closed school yesterday and today. The rural roads were easily blown shut since the previous 18-20 inches was never warmed above 10 degrees or so and was still easily blown all over creation. Tomorrow, it is supposed to dip to 20 below before the windchill and school would be late if it opens at all. Then I will have a very crabby teacher on my hands.

He woke up at 6:30AM yesterday and today after too many years of driving school bus and teaching kiddos. Instead of settling in and enjoying the day off, he fired up the snow blower and took on the block! He blew out our sidewalks and driveway, blew down to the former "pink" house at the other end of the block, and then blew his way over to the little-old-ladies on the other side of the block. He has re-done this route a couple times since the snow and wind started to make sure the older folk in our area have a clear way in and out of their homes. They don't know it, but he also checks their pipes and exhaust outlets to make sure all are safe and cozy.

This is the life I miss. Life in a small town is help your neighbor, you know your neighbor, and they reach back to you. My favorite part? The ladies know Dad accepts pay in baked pie crust : ) Here's hoping they 'pay' him while I'm still on my home visit!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Another Life Lesson


2009 was a year of lessons learned. Being away at University has been a chance to learn not only about academics of education, but also about living as a Benedictine away from the Monastery. However, the lessons did not end with the ball dropping on 2009.

After spending the last of Advent and the Octave of Christmas at the Monastery, I joined my parents in the city of the Corn Palace. The weather cooperated and allowed us to visit my sister Lisa and her family for a weekend. It was wonderful to talk with her and my brother-in-law and play with the nieces and nephews. The weather even allowed us to travel home in safety again...however, the wind blew and snow drifted in the sub-zero air all throughout the travel.

We made it home to the "Town with the Beautiful Lake" and settled in to enjoy a few days of quiet. While enjoying the quiet mornings and sleeping in at home, I started planning to visit my sister Joy and her family in the northern corner of South Dakota. Now the weather has reasserted its control. It is supposed to begin snowing again tonight and blowing below zero tomorrow through Friday or so. trip north just yet, but hopefully next week the sun will shine and the air will warm.

The Life Lesson? matter how much I plan or prepare, I am not in control. The weather might be a beginning lesson in letting God alter my plans as well. As I begin writing my resumes and applying to teaching positions, I need to remember that I do not need to be in control; God has a plan for me as well. This was the theme for my final Monastic Profession and hopefully I can continue to seek it in Life.

Jeremiah 29: 11 ~ For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.