Archive for December, 2007

I hope all of you had a blessed Christmas, and that you look forward to the beginning of a new year in joyful hope.

I found the following quote attributed to the LTP Sourcebook 1996:

Perhaps the hardest thing to remember about Christmas is this. “It celebrates the incarnation, not just the nativity. The incarnation is an on-going process of salvation, while the nativity is the once-for-all-historical event of Bethlehem. We do not really celebrate Christ’s ‘birthday,’ remembering something that happened long ago. We celebrate the stupendous fact of the incarnation, God entering our world so thoroughly that nothing has been the same since. And God continues to take flesh in our midst, in the men and women and children who form his body today. And the birth we celebrate is not just the past historical event but Christ’s continuing birth in his members, accomplished by the power of the Spirit through the waters of baptism.

This certainly makes a lot of sense to me. It may be comforting to meditate on the historical circumstances of the birth of Jesus, yet it is the ongoing gift of the incarnation that is so meaningful to me.

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I may have mentioned earlier that my CLC community is making the Spiritual Exercises in a communal format this year, and our guides have planned our journey so that the past couple of weeks have been spent contemplating the birth of Jesus and the events leading up to that. In the whole picture, I found myself growing closer to Joseph.

For one thing, it occurs to me that Joseph is not the sophisticated type. After all, there are no quotes in the scripture that are attributed to him. Not the type to draw attention to himself…just a simple down-to-earth man trying to do the right thing. It seems to me that I’m most open to God when I can stop trying to figure out my relationship with God and just live that relationship from the gut. As they say in AA, K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid.)

I also found myself looking to Joseph for conversation about disturbing images and dreams, for dreams seem to play a central role in Joseph’s contribution to the salvation story. And in my own healing, I have a sense that dreams and images are playing a significant role in making me more whole.

Earlier this month, while reflecting on who we are as a Congregation, I had a rather disturbing image come to mind…it was of a pregnant woman who was carrying to term a baby that had died in utero, and she had to go through labor and deliver it, knowing that it had died well before. I shared this with the sisters I was sitting with at our meeting, but was unable to tell them what I thought it meant because I needed some time to reflect on it. After some prayer and reflection, I shared what was on my mind with one of the sisters whose wisdom and insight I trust very much. I found that she shared my concerns about some of what is happening among us, and concluded her e-mail reply with the following invitation: “I think this is one for prayer and fasting – fasting from despair and hopelessness and praying for wisdom.”

Now I know from my own experience that I am often on my worst behavior when I am on the verge of being given a profound grace. So I choose to interpret what I perceive to be crankiness and other fear-based (in my estimation, anyway) reactions among us as resistance to a profound communal grace that God is inviting us to receive. Could it be that the stronger the resistance, the closer God is to breaking through it all? That is my hope, anyway. And that hope, I realize, is a great gift! It’s like the optimistic child who, when given a great pile of manure instead of a more thoughtful gift, gleefully exclaims, “There has to be a pony somewhere!”

So my Christmas wish for you is that you will have the grace to always be able to see the pony behind the manure.

Christmas Blessings!

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I was riding in a car with someone the other night who noticed an outdoor crèche with Jesus missing. She was very upset that someone would steal the baby Jesus from the church that was displaying the crèche. It’s funny…I would not have assumed a theft, as I have lived in convents where Jesus was added to the scene on Christmas Day. In fact, in my last house, the Magi started a journey from one end of the house to the other, moving a little closer (with the help of one of the sisters) each day until the Feast of the Epiphany.

Interesting how the traditions practiced in different families/groups will vary. Do you have any interesting Christmas traditions you’d like to share?

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First, I have to wish a happy birthday to my Mom, who turned 75 today…I’m a quarter-century behind you, Mom, and I never seem to catch up…

The end-of-the semester push has had me hopping, but I finally submitted my last set of grades on Monday, and then took the afternoon off to have lunch and see a movie with a friend. Then joined some fellow AA-ers to go to a holiday potluck and gratitude meeting at a group I don’t usually attend. A long day, but good!

My journey of recovery from depression continues. I’m experiencing a lifting of the depression, and my energy is slowly but steadily returning, thank God! I actually cooked dinner for myself tonight, taking a step away from my recent bad habit of fast food ingestion. I need to get to work on losing the 5 pounds I put on over the last 6 weeks.

My hope is to return to the more thought provoking posts on this blog that have always been my intent. Thanks to all of you for hanging in there with me as I’ve had to draw back a little to conserve energy. I hope you’ll come back to this blog a little more now that I’ll be posting a little mre often.

I hope you are all having a blessed Advent!

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I spent this past Friday and part of Saturday in London (Ontario, not U.K.), where the Sisters of St. Joseph have recently moved into their new “green building.” One purpose of the visit was to meet with a Toronto CSJ who is soon heading to France to begin ministry on the staff of our Centre International St. Joseph. She is going to be the one to update the web site with new information, and I wanted to give her some training on how to work with the administrative interface I designed for the site a while back. So since London is about the halfway point between Toronto and Detroit, we both enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of our London sisters. Plus, it was an opportunity to have a nice visit with a friend of mine from that community. Nothing like being able to combine work and relaxation on the same trip!

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Well, the students in my “Fundamentals of Electrical and Computer Engineering” course had their last lab session yesterday, finishing up on building and testing the robots they’ve been working on for the last several weeks. I’m happy to say that everyone succeeded in getting the robot to meet the requirements, which were to:

  • avoid obstacles
  • dance when music is playing
  • stop when it encounters a bright light

So, despite some major frustrations earlier in the semester with circuits that didn’t work as expected earlier in the term, it ended well.


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Chapter is coming…

OK, so that’s a little “nunspeak”…let me explain. Every so many years, in our case, five, members of Roman Catholic religious orders get together to set future directions and elect a leadership team. This gathering, called “Chapter,” is the highest authority in the congregation. Ours is coming next summer, so we are in a Chapter preparation mode as the time gets closer. This means several trips to Baden over the next several months – just got back from a meeting this past weekend.

I wanted to share a spiritual practice that is a part of the CSJ (Sisters of St. Joseph) heritage, one that we were engaged in for almost the entire meeting. It’s called sharing the State of the Heart, and the Order of the House. Basically, sharing the state of the heart means that each sister shares what is in her heart with a small group of others. It’s like faith-sharing, but in many cases, at a much deeper level. We see it as kind of a prerequisite for moving forward together, as we cannot do that together if we don’t know what is in each others’ hearts. And then, when we examine the order of the house, we take a loving and honest look at who we are as a group, a community, a congregation, and share with each other our hopes and concerns.

It is out of this kind of prayerful practice that we have begun to surface questions that we may choose to deal with as we move towards and through our Chapter. I found myself wondering if it might not be more authentic for us at this time to end Chapter with one or two “big questions” to explore rather than a list of action strategies or initiatives. (That sure doesn’t sound like an engineer…)

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