Tag Archives: creation

Constant One – Video Prayer

I’m spending a few days of private retreat at the ocean.   Sometimes you just need to step away and renew your spirit, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to do so these days.

This morning as I was watching the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean (a favorite past time of my mother who I was communing with this morning through memory and action), I reflected on the amazing love of our creator. Sometimes it is easier to recognize God’s loving presence in the midst of it all than at other times, but looking back, God is there, one with us through it all. Later, as I was taking a long walk on the boardwalk while the sun continued to rise, the song “Constant One” by Steffany Gretzinger came into my heart and mind, step by step, which led me to make this video prayer, pairing her music and words with my photos and video of the sunrise this morning.

Constant One – Lyrics

In the moment I am hiding
Your love, it seeks me out
You hold me and You know me
From the inside out
From the inside out

Constant One
Endless is Your love
Like a river can’t be stopped
You’re faithful
Constant One
Who is like You, God?
Your mercy’s like the sun
Always rising
Over us

It’s amazing
How You take me just for who I am
In the valleys and in the mountains
I’m always in Your hands
I’m always in Your hands

Constant One
Endless is Your love
Like a river can’t be stopped
You’re faithful
Constant One
Who is like You, God?
Your mercy’s like the sun
Always rising Over us

There is no place that I could run
That You won’t chase me down
You won’t chase me down
There is no place that I could hide
That I will not be found
I will not be found

Constant One
Endless is Your love
Like a river can’t be stopped
You’re faithful
Constant One
Who is like You, God?
Your mercy’s like the sun
Always rising
Over us

(Bethel Music, Steffany Gretzinger, The Unfolding album, 2014)

Retreat Notes – Texture

I am back from retreat, slowly re-entering my day to day life, such as it is, where really every day is full of its own adventures, flavors and textures.

Speaking of textures, one invitation I experienced this week was to pay attention to the textures. Textures in the pictures I was taking of the beautiful landscape around the Trappist Abbey of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Oregon.

 

Textures in my life,  relationships, community. Textures in my deepening experiences of God’s love. Textures in my response to my ongoing call.

Some hard. Some soft.
Prickly or smooth.
Moisture on rock–sitting patiently
impervious, or maybe
not.
Some will sink into the deep.
It is in the textures of life
where we touch, feel, and know
We are together,
incarnating in our world
the love that has been given
Gift for all.

 

Retreat Videos – You Speak

Sometimes on retreat I read. This year, I barely cracked open a page. Instead I read the pages before me of God’s creation and took oodles of photographs.

I was also recently introduced to some new to me music, thanks to the wonders of internet algorithms which accurately (and a bit spookily) suggested music I might like.  That is how I discovered the Catholic singer-song writer Audrey Assad. I spent a lot of time during retreat listening to her independent release, Fortunate Fall. It’s available on Amazon Prime, although I highly suggest downloading your own copy.

I made a few videos matching my photos with her words and music.  I’ve shared one of them above, set to “You Speak” by Audrey Assad.

You liberate me from my own noise and my own chaos

From the chains of a lesser law you set me free.

In the silence of the heart, you speak.

And it is there that I will know you and you’ll know me.

You satisfy me till I am quiet an confident in the work of the Spirit I cannot see.

In the silence of the heart, you speak.

And it is there that I will know you God.

In the silence of my heart, you speak.

Her words so beautifully capture the desire to listen to our loving creator God and trust in the movement of the Spirit.  I found myself singing her words as I watched the sun rise and the birds fly and the waves crash.

Enjoy some of your own quiet time with the beauty of God’s creation speaking in your own heart.

Magnificent book of God’s creation

I am back from my annual retreat, renewed and refreshed after days of blessings with the Holy One.  I never made a silent retreat until I was in formation with my religious community, and now I truly cannot imagine what my life would be like without this regular gift of time and space and quiet to just be with my loving God.

Every retreat is different, with its own graces and challenges too. One grace of this year was letting this time spend itself, allowing myself to be open to God’s presence all around me in every moment.  I can’t really explain the movement of God in my life these days, other than to say that God is very good.

In his encyclical Laudato Si’, taken from the opening line of the Canticle of the Sun, Pope Francis invites us to spend time with God’s magnificent book of creation:

“.. Saint Francis, faithful to Scripture, invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness. “Through the greatness and the beauty of creatures one comes to know by analogy their maker” (Wis 13:5); indeed, “his eternal power and divinity have been made known through his works since the creation of the world” (Rom 1:20).” (Laudato Si, no. 12).

If I had to sum up this past week, it would be accepting invitation upon invitation to get a glimpse of God’s beauty and goodness.  And that, my friends, is gift upon gift upon gift!  Here’s just a sampling.

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Morning Musings – Hudson River Edition

Today is a glorious day here at east coast groovy sister hq. Later this morning we will celebrate our Jubilarians. This morning I decided to take the fair weather and sunshine as an opportunity to enjoy God’s creation.

Our campus here is nestled on the top of the palisades,  essentially a mountain along the Hudson. Today I ventured down along the river, walking on the Shore Trail in the Palisades Interstate park, from below the GW Bridge to just below our property.

As I sat on a rock along the river, gazing at nature and iconic symbols of progress, I was struck by the juxtaposition.

Of fowl and frenzy
Of tranquility and transition
Of creation and commerce.

This land is home to so many for so long … birds and groundhogs and other creatures. The native peoples who must have been awed by the high cliffs above. The settlers and immigrants from across the ocean. The teeming masses, the hustle and bustle,  the poverty and prosperity.

And here I sit, on a rock, today gazing upon it all past, present, and that which is yet to come.

Simply amazing.

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Global Sisters Report: Earth Day Edition

GlobalSistersReportNext week is Earth Day … and so the theme of my latest column on Global Sisters Report is care of creation.

God’s creation is not only beautiful and awe-inspiring, it is also life giving! My experience as a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, in particular my own deepening understanding of our spirituality and charism, has reoriented my commitment to care for God’s creation. I am motivated less and less by a sense of obligation, and more and more by a desire to praise, reverence and serve God by protecting creation. I am a slow learner, but thanks to my sisters, I think I am finally starting to get it.

You can read the whole thing over at Global Sisters Report – and lots of other great stuff too!

Among the Trees

Looking up at the trees at St. Mary-on-the-Lake
Looking up at the trees at St. Mary-on-the-Lake

I will never forget the first time I drove on to the property at St. Mary-on-the-Lake, the west coast regional center of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. I had driven 3 hours from Portland to attend my first ever vocation retreat. While I had been in contact with the vocation director by email, I had not yet met any of the Sisters and was still a bit unsure about this whole becoming a Catholic Sister thing. Truth be told, I was more than a wee bit nervous.

And then I drove onto the property and was immediately calm and at peace. It was the trees. St. Mary’s is on a wooded property with beautiful tall cedars and evergreens.  When I say tall, I mean tall. They tower over our three story residence buildings. They are majestic and strong. They provide shade and endless green. They make for a cozy peaceful spot.  They speak to me of home.

This morning I arrived back at this sacred spot, flying to Seattle from New Jersey where I am living at our eastern regional center (also a beautiful spot to be sure – in its own way).  We have our Spring Assembly here on the weekend. It is always good to spend time with our CSJP Sisters and Associates, whether in the East, the West, or the UK. One benefit of my new gig is that it is now part of my job to spend time with them. How lucky am I?

I have moved around quite a bit in the past decade since I entered the community, and I will be spending the next six years or so living in New Jersey. But the Pacific Northwest is home. It is the place where my being is most at peace. Several of the Sisters greeted me in the dining room earlier today, welcoming me home, even if just for a short visit. I was lucky enough to live here at St. Mary-on-the-Lake the year after the Novitiate, and this community was my home base while I was studying in Chicago. They would always welcome me home for holidays and vacations or just for a visit. It is good to have a place like that, where people and landscape make you feel at home.

Some of you may realize that the title of this blog post is a nod to one of my favorite poems, by Mary Oliver. I’ll end this post with her words, inspired by a different landscape but entirely transferable:

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”
– Mary Oliver –

A patch of green

Walking by I see
what I have seen
for days and days and weeks,
just white
snow and slush and ice.

Or
do I see what I expect
to see
and miss
the small
patch
of green.

Because it is there
it has been there all along
waiting to break free
of the snow and slush and ice
and proclaim the good news
of Spring.

It makes me wonder
What else do you think
I miss
because I do not
expect it to be there?

Soaking

trees at st mary on the lake
trees at st mary on the lake

I’ve spent the last week at our west coast regional center nestled in the woods on the shores of Lake Washington. This morning I didn’t have to be anywhere especially early, and so I was able to stay warm and cozy in bed and listen to the pitter patter of rain on the roof. I know that I am a Pacific Northwesterner at heart, because oh how I have missed that sound!  I head back to winter on Monday when I go home to New Jersey (weather permitting), and so it was nice to be able to soak it all in.

I’ve also been soaking in the presence of people, especially Sisters who are dear to me here at west coast groovy sister hq. It’s been far too long since I was here, given that I was frantically trying to finish my graduate studies in order to begin my new leadership gig last month.  One blessing of my new role is that I will be back much more often. I know that, and it makes me happy, but this week has also done wonders for my spirit.  Relationships and landscapes can shape us in such a way that we carry them with us, no matter where we go.  Even so, it is important when you can to situate yourself in proximity to those people and places who hold a special place in your heart, soaking them in, refreshing and renewing your spirit.

God is good friends. God is good.

Peace