For the Beauty of the Earth

Our hymn at morning prayer today was “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

half dome, sunset, yosemite
Half Dome at Sunset

 For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies;
For the love which from our birth,
Over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the wonder of each hour,
Of the day and of the night;
Hill and vale and tree and flow’r,
Sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mind’s delight;
For the mystic harmony,
Linking sense to sound and sight;
Lord of all, to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.

by Folliott S. Pierpoint, 1864

Wisdom from Gertrude the Great

This morning’s reading (below) from the Psalter was from Spiritual Exercises by Gertrud the Great of Helfta.

Sunrise at Lake Tahoe
"You glow altogether red in the spring-like loveliness of the festival of your love."

“My God, you are my hope; you the glory; you the joy; you my blessedness. You are the thirst of my spirit; you the life of my soul, you the jubilation of my heart. Where above you could my wonder lead me, my God? You are the praise in my heart and mouth. You glow altogether red in the spring-like loveliness of the festival of your love. May your most outstanding divinity magnify and glorify you because you are the source of light and the fountain of life forever.”

Walk this Way

Today is the Feast of Saint Luke; the Gospel of Luke is attributed to him.  We read today from that Gospel:

"walkway in Toulouse"
St. Dominic may have walked this way through the streets of Toulouse

Jesus said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the mast of the harvest to send out laborers for the harvest.”

So today we pray for vocations to the service of God’s people. We Dominican Sisters pray especially for vocations to Dominican Life. We invite you to Walk this Way.

Gratefulness

Every morning I receive a daily quote from Gratefulness.org(it’s easy to subscribe). The quotes are always inspiring and uplifting. I look forward to them. This was yesterday’s:

beauty in a weed,
Why don't we expect beauty in a weed?
Talk about the joys of the unexpected,
can they compare with the joys of the expected,
of finding everything delightfully and completely
what you knew it was going to be?
Elizabeth Bibesco

Sometimes Watercolor is Preaching

This watercolor painting of Mount Shasta was created by Sister Joanne Cullimore, OP.  Mt. Shasta is a majestic snow covered mountain that is part of the Cascades in California. It is one of the state’s 14ers, and stands 14,161 feet high.

Cullimore painting of Mt. Shasta, Sr. Joanne Cullimore, OP
Watercolor of Mount Shasta

 Truly, this painting of Sister Joanne Cullimore does all the preaching that is necessary.
God is revealed in creation.

St. Teresa of Avila

Today is the Feast of St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582). She was a Doctor of the Church, also a mystic and writer – and truly a practical, down-to-earth woman who saw into the heart of God, and truly made a difference in her world. Teresa reformed the Carmelite Order during the very difficult pass in the Catholic Church of the Spanish Inquisition.

Through it all, she kept her marvelous sense of humor. Once, after being thrown from a carriage into the mud, she said to God, “If this is how you treat your friends, it’s no wonder you have so few of them.” She was serious about her spiritual practices and being observant to, what we would call, strict religious practices. Nonetheless, she enjoyed life to the fullest, and  encouraged her sisters to do the same. One wonderful story tells how Teresa danced on the table during recreation!

Perhaps it was the beauty of the Spanish countryside that gave her such a sense of passion and the joy of God.

Field of poppies in Spain. Might Teresa have feasted her eyes on these?

Teresa wrote:

Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you.
 All things are passing; God never changes.
 Patience obtains all things.
 The one who possesses God lacks nothing:
 God alone suffices.

Did she learn this from the poppies?

Letting Go

Only This

We need, in love, to practice only this:
letting each other go.
For holding on comes easily;
we do not need to learn it.

Source: Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke

Abandoned house, precariously perched on the cliffs over the sandy beach in Bolinas

This house is going. Eventually all the houses on the bluff will tumble to the sand below. No matter how hard we cling, they will go. Rilke’s right. I don’t need to practice clinging. How do I learn to let go, so that I can be prepared for the final letting go?

Building Monuments

Not long ago I spent a week in Springfield, Illinois, and had the opportunity to visit both the Lincoln Museum and Lincoln’s Tomb. The exhibit in the museum was sobering, and I only wish I had more time to take it all in. For those of us

Lincoln's Tomb

who think the level of rancor and vitriol in US politics has become the ugliest in our memory, if not in all time, it would be wise to walk down the hallways of that museum. This is a link to one of the political cartoons displayed there.

What a contrast it was to visit Lincoln’s tomb. (I hope I remember rightly that it is the 2nd most visited tomb in the US.) What a monument to a man of courage. Of course one is reminded of the Lincoln Monument in D.C., where Lincoln is seated so majestically. In looking at these monuments, it would be easy to forget how hated and despised Lincoln was by many.

In today’s Gospel reading from Luke we read, “Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets whom your fathers killed.” Prophets can make us feel uncomfortable for they shine a light on our actions and call us to live differently. If we don’t want to change . . . then let’s get rid of the prophet.

Who are the prophets in our time? On what activities are they shining a light? How are we invited to live differently for the sake of the poor, the immigrant, those living in their cars, the children enslaved in sex-trafficking, an our planet and all the beings on it?

Will we pay attention now? Or build a monument later?

 

Their Lives Are a Preaching on Forgiveness

The theme is forgiveness. We know that Jesus taught us to forgive, but when the rubber hits the road, we end up feeling like the sentiment on these bumper stickers that I saw this summer at Descanso Gardens in Southern California.

So, I ask you

  • Did the driver and the passenger agree with the sentiments reflected on the side of the car they were sitting?
  • If so, would you want to be a rider in that car?
  • Is this what we are experiencing as we travel through life today?
  • How is it riding in that car?
  • Are these the competing voices inside of the heart and mind of the driver?
  • How is it living inside my own skin listening to the competing voices?

Right now I’m reading the book Amish Grace, by Donald Kraybill. It’s all about forgiveness. “In the Amish view . . . people receive forgiveness from God only if they extend forgiveness to others.” In other words, they put the words given to us in The Lord’s Prayer into action. The lives of the Amish are a preaching on forgiveness.

Many wondered, following the tragic events of October 2, 2006, if the families of the West Nickel Mines School were merely putting on a show of forgiveness. But no, it is clear that this was something they practiced.So that when they found themselves between a rock and a hard place, their practice of the virtue of forgiveness won out. Thomas Aquinas, that great Dominican theologian from the 13th century would agree that if we practice the virtues, we will be able to exhibit them when it is difficult.

I wonder which virtues I’m cultivating . . .

There’s a wonderful Cherokee story called, “Which Wolf Will You Feed?”* I need to choose one or the other, or they may devour one another. It would be like sitting between those two bumper stickers!

*It can be found many places on the internet; here’s one link.

They’re singing our song!

The Prima Voce Choir from St. Mary's High School in Stockton

How wonderful it was to hear the strong and clear voices of the Prima Voce Choir from St. Mary’s High School in Stockton on Sunday at our celebration of 135 years of presence and ministry in the Diocese of Stockton. They sang a song that is special to the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, “Hail Holy Queen,” and English translation of a special arrangement of the Latin “Assumpta Est.” It was a delightful surprise to the sisters, and a culmination of an afternoon of celebrating our heritage in Stockton. (Here’s the You Tube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f01-H8ksA9M)

We also enjoyed a surprise visit from our foundress, Mother Mary Goemaere – remarkably well-preserved for a woman 202 years of age! Bishop Blaire presided over Mass. And as we listened to stories from our history, we were reminded that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.

What a joyous occasion!

Mother Mary Goemaere's portrait, circa 1860
Clearly, Mother Mary has improved over 150 years!