Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Poetry Perks


Monday, the 6th grade boys started thinking about poetry. There is going to be an all-school poetry contest at the end of the month! All the boys 5-8 are going to get a chance to perform their poems...but first we need to find the poetry that best fits each young man.

Today, we spent about an hour during language arts time in small groups of four. The groups looked at different books of poetry, practiced reading some of the pieces aloud while focusing on volume, vocal inflection, or one of the other 4 aspects of poetry performance that the teacher had mentioned. It was wonderful to watch them have fun with the poetry.

They laughed about some of the silliness of the poems or skipped over the romance poems. Quite a few of the guys had questions about who the poets were or why they might have written about the topic. Near the end of class, the gents were supposed to be choosing a poem to work on and as for a photocopy. The teacher proofed the choice and I was stationed at the copy machine...I saw Poe, Whitman, Shakespeare, Silverstien, Frost, Confetti, Soto, Carroll and many, many more.

It's my secret hope to hear the "Saint Crispan's Day" monologue from Henry V or "The Jabberwocky" from Alice in Wonderland. I know I should have more deep and meaningful tastes, but I love the power in Shakespeare's poem for King Henry and Carroll's nonsense words make wonderful imagery in his lines. Ah well, back to my own homework.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010



I've hit a bit of a flurry in paperwork this week! All of a sudden the department paper I had been writing went from a relaxed discussion of "Oh, just follow the general rubric. If you tell a few stories about your teaching, you be fine" a series of reminders.

"It's due by April 1st! Have you had anyone read through your paper?" I had been asking about this for some time previously and was phoo-phooed. Now, I'm going to be hard pressed to get a 'reader'. "There will be several readers." What! Readers! I didn't know where the paper was going or who held all the grading power, but I wasn't expecting multiple readers for this paper. I know it's a final paper or Capstone, but it's nowhere near the level of a thesis...paperwork blizzard.

Then I have a happier paperwork. Amid all the schools to whom I sent interest letters, a few would like my transcripts! Yeah, a bit of paper blizzard in contacting all the colleges/universities, but I'm very excited. I hope that this helps them see me as a part of their charism.

And all these flurries just in time for Holy Week.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Palm Sunday


I know I'm a bit early on the Palm Sunday posting...but I was one of the readers for Mass this evening and long readings leave time for lots of reflection time between lines.

There was alot of action going on during this Mass. Extra folk were trying to squeeze into pews, while finding missal and song numbers. After we had all found a place to sit, Father invited us to the gathering space to hear the first Gospel, bless our palms, and process outside around the Church building. It was a nice part of the service, but I'm glad I reserved my seat with song book and my Lector papers taking up my space in the pew. Many other folk lost their spots tonight.

Little kids are always a blast to watch with the palms. There are the pirates playing sword fight behind Mom's back. The future dress designers making bows for their hair, tying the palm around their sleeve, or threading them through their belt loops. A few kiddos were watching their parents or grandparents make crosses out of the palms during the proclamation of the Passion. Some tried to imitate the process, but it was usually up to grandpa to fix it in the end.

How did I see all this? I was the Lector for the reading to the Philippians and so by default Lector number three for the Passion. The Passion in the books we were given was written out so each Lector and Father were given long blocks of reading (2-3 paragraphs); no Jesus voice, narrator, and other voice. You read the whole block; each of us had 4 to 5 blocks of reading. So, I had time to look out into the congregation and see what was happening when I wasn't reading.

One of my parts was near the end. Joseph of Arimatheia is taking Jesus' body away to the tomb and the faithful women are following. They stay with Jesus while He is being wrapped and placed in the tomb; only after the stone is in place do they go to prepare the oils and spices they will need to anoint Him after the Sabbath. I am always struck by their courage and dedication to follow Him to the end. They care so completely for Jesus that they stayed after all the other disciples and apostles had left. How dedicated am I?
Tough question to ponder during this Holy Week.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Feast of the Annunciation


"...for Nothing Will Be Impossible for God."

The English teacher in me found great comfort in the future tense of the verb "Will Be." I know, I know--it is scripture and not an grammar test, but that promise of the future held my attention.

Mary's "yes" needed support against the impossible not only at that moment of the Annunciation of her conceiving Christ, but also during the many difficult days and years that followed this revelation. I need God's support too. My "yes" to community, to new ministries, and whatever else might come doesn't need support only at the moment of decision, but also in the days that follow. The impossible moments sometimes sneak up on me and surprise my faith long after I thought the tough decisions had been made.

So, I'll say a prayer for those sisters, family, and friends who are reading today...that the God who's future promises never run short, carries you through the impossible obstacles that come from your open-hearted "yes" to His Call.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Belate the Celebration

Happy Feast of St. Benedict...tomorrow,

Today is the Feast of the Death of St. Benedict; since it is Sunday, I know they are moving the celebration to Monday at the monastery...but here in Milwaukee, I'm celebrating a bit today. We are hosting Archbishop Weakland, former Abbot, Head Abbot of Benedictines, and Archbishop of this diocese. A grand meal with a tasty dessert is being prepared as I type at the computer. I get to plan our prayer for this evening. We will be using the Liturgy of the Hours from home...minus the chanting. It will be enough to add our slower pace and additional psalms and readings to the prayer. However, I cannot wait for the day when I will get to celebrate our feast at home in the monastery again.


A Prayer Attributed to Saint Benedict
(first given to me by Sr. Doris)

"A Spirit to Know You"

Gracious and holy Father,
please give me:
intellect to understand You,
reason to discern You,
diligence to seek You,
wisdom to find You,
a spirit to know You,
a heart to meditate upon You,
ears to hear You,
eyes to see You,
a tongue to proclaim You,
a way of life pleasing to You,
patience to wait for You
and perseverance to look for You.

Grant me a perfect end,
Your Holy Presence,
a blessed resurrection
and life everlasting. Amen.

Hopefilled Lent


I enjoy the readings from Isaiah, but I usually associate his prophecy with Advent and not Lent. I was surprised at the Old Testament readings for today...surprised, but glad for it. "...see, I am doing something new."

In the midst of my Lenten reflections of repentance and forgiveness, God reminds me that it is not good to continually dwell on the past. He has conquered all that stands in our way and He wants me to go forward with Him. This might mean I have to set aside not only the sorrows of the past that hold me back, but also the successes that I continually turn to.

"...see, I am doing something new." Isaiah reminds me that I need to look forward with Christ as my guide. God's plans are not my plans, and they can be infinitely more interesting. This reading was a gift this morning since I've been brooding a bit about finding a new place to minister. I continue to seek a new teaching position so that I can serve both students and my sisters, but I cannot rely on my ideas alone, God too has a plan and I need to continue to seek what that might be.

"see, I am doing something new."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Saint Patrick's Day...

Greetings or Top O' the Day to You!

Today, I've been substituting at the girl's middle school, and it's been quite the adventure on this St. Patrick's Day! I'm glad I had my coffee this morning...

We began the celebration with a presentation about mummies. Yup, mummies...a cardiologist from the area heart hospital shared his adventure researching heart disease in Cairo, Egypt. It was fascinating; the doctor had a 'slide show' of the team scanning the mummies in and out of their coffins! The doc and his partners were able to show that thousands of years ago even ancient Egyptians had heart calcifications. I'm not sure if the assembly was to interest the young ladies in different medical or science fields, warn them of the danger of poor diet and no exercise, or just share the interesting discovery with them. However, it was a fascinating way to start our celebration of Patrick!

The next assembly took over the 4th period of the day; one of Milwaukee's Celtic dance troops performed! The show included the brand new girls with the head of false curls and soft shoe jigs, all the various middle level performers getting in more practice, and was topped off with their competition level kiddos. The middle school girls especially appreciated the group of competition level boys...they were quite good and kept our attention with a hard shoe dance of stomps, mid-air clicks, and high kicks. The elaborate costumes were also a topic of conversation throughout the rest of the day. The older girls dresses were ornately embroidered and not just trimmed but bedecked with sequins.

Lunch? Well, traditional Irish fare it was not...Nachos and black beans & rice. A great way to top off the multicultural celebration of Saint Patrick. A good time was had by all and interesting it was. Now, I plan on stopping at Kopp's on the way home for a bit more "Irish" celebration. The flavor of the day is Bailey's Irish Cream Coffee: a vanilla cream custard is spiked with Bailey's Irish Cream, Irish whiskey, deluxe coffee, and a sprinkling of specialty coated walnuts. A wonderful way to wrap up my day.


PS...Yes, I prayed a bit Benedictine Breviary has a lovely reflection on St. Patrick.

Two Favorite Irish 'Blessings'

A Prayerful Blessing
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

A Tongue-in-Cheek Blessing
May those that love us, love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles
So we will know them by their limping.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Favorite Parable


Today, my favorite parable was the Gospel at Mass; Luke's story of the Prodigal Son. The Gospel story allows for the earnest reader to reflective listener to place themselves within so many characters of the tale. There is something to be learned from each point of view and each time the parable is proclaimed.

This go around, I was struck at how the Father could see the son coming home in the distance. He must have been standing at the roadside everyday, waiting and hoping for his child's familiar shape to appear on the road; believing that one day he would appear and his child would be home. Do I wait with hope and faith for others on this road? Do I trust that God is waiting for me on that same road? Good questions for this fourth week of Lent.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Needed: A Wheedle


When we were little, Mom and Dad's Marriage Encounter friends from Seattle gave us a book that soon became a family favorite "The Wheedle on the Needle." I love the story of the Wheedle as he gets grumpy from the whistling and noise in his formerly quiet corner of the world. The story goes on to explain the Wheedle is the one who brought all the clouds and rain to Seattle to keep the people from whistling--Ah-ha! Later, the Wheedle is able to sleep and his red nose blinks as he snoozes on top of the Space Needle. This leads me to the topic of this post.

Milwaukee is foggy--AGAIN. For several days now, the city has been foggy, rainy, and gray. I didn't know it could rain and be foggy at the same time! As I was driving back to the house, I realized that I coudn't see the tops of some of the buildings or the water-tower; that is when I decided, we need a Wheedle in Milwaukee. We could ship a few in and settle them on the tall towers and nearby water-towers...snuggle them in and get those red noses ablinking.

I'm praying for a bit of sunshine for the city by the lake.


"Wheedle on the Needle (Serendipity Books, 1974), written by Stephen Cosgrove and illustrated by Robin James, was about a large, round, furry creature called the Wheedle who lived in the Northwest. Bothered by the whistling of workers first settling the city of Seattle, the creature was unable to sleep and became irritable, eventually moving to Mount Rainier to escape the noise. The Wheedle slept there peacefully for many years, his red nose blinking, until the region's growth brought people- and their whistling- to his doorstep once again. In an effort to silence the noise, the Wheedle gathered clouds in a large sack atop Mt. Rainier, returned to Seattle, climbed atop the Space Needle, and threw them into the sky to make it rain. With their lips wet from precipitation, the city's residents were unable to whistle, and the creature once again had some peace and quiet. Upset, the people sent the mayor to try and convince the Wheedle to stop the rain; when the creature explained his problem, the mayor had a giant pair of earmuffs constructed to drown out the disagreeable warbling. When they were presented to him, "The Wheedle placed them over his ears, and smiled for the first time in years." In appreciation, the Wheedle gathered up all the clouds, put them back in his bag, and fell fast asleep - and once again, his big red nose began to blink. The book ends with a short poem: There's a Wheedle/On the Needle/I know just what/You're thinking/But if you look up/Late at night/You'll see/His red nose blinking."~~Borrowed from Wikipedia.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Midterms and Prayer?


I have a midterm test coming up this week. Just one. However, we just received the study guide for the test, and I found myself protesting some of the material much like some of my own students in the past. Sigh, among the list of terms and ideas, there were a fair few that were not discussed in class. Thank goodness, I took outline notes of chapters as I read through them the first time...geeky, yes I know, but have I ever denied it? Ideas discussed during side-bars or inspired by random student questions, but in no way associate to the reading, were also included in the study guide.

My response, I'm not proud of it, was more than a wee bit whiney. I've read the texts and tried to understand the theology language behind the writing. And I admit, when I saw topics not part of the syllabus on the midterm study guide, I felt a bit cheated. This doesn't reflect a good side of me, so I'm trying to meditate a bit on how I might learn from those side-bar discussions and see the bigger picture.

Learning comes from what I anticipated and what I did not expect. I should listen to the wisdom that comes from those off the topic discussions in class, the students questions and answers can show me new ideas and points of view. So...I should not let this disturb me; in the long run, it is my choice whether to learn or be grumpy.

A Prayer from Teresa of Avila
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
For all things pass save God who does not change.
Be patient, and at the last you will find all fulfillment.
Hold God, and nothing will fail you.
For God alone is all.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Ladies Weekend!


It's final, they are on their about 50 days! My Mom and two younger sisters are coming to visit at the end of April! I'm so excited to have the ladies of my family come to visit me at school! It will be wonderful to get the chance to show them all around the city and university. Well...better go, I want to keep ahead of myself and homework!


ps...The Icon of the Visitation has always been a strong symbol of Sisterly Support for me. Mary goes to Elizabeth not only to serve her elderly cousin, but also to celebrate with her. Elizabeth greets Mary with joy as she realizes the presence of the Christ and recognizes that here is a woman whose life had also been touched by God's Spirit. The icon is an expression of how important it is to share our deep love and care for each other, and how God too celebrates with us during these moments.