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!

Counterpoint Images – Photo Montage as Preaching

Omega, by Sister Adele, Copyright © 2011, Dominican Sisters of San Rafael

Sunday’s second reading from Philippians tells us:

“Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

In Sister Adele’s words (some forty years ago):

“My fifty years of life fall into nearly equal parts: a quarter of a century at Dominican college in the ministry of teaching, and a second quarter of a century at the same location in a ministry of preaching -“preaching” that is via the visual arts.

While awed by the world’s natural beauty, a real reflection of the Divine, I feel my kind of art must present more than a straight picture of nature. For this reason, I fracture my original image with another, carefully chosen one, enabling me to utilize the counterpoint capability of the montage technique, to create my Counterpoint Imagery.”

To fulfill the preaching component of this art ministry, the art must be made available for public viewing, hence it is available at this link:

Counterpoint Images

Sister Adele Rowland, OP

The Artist