Archive for January, 2008

The last few days, I’ve been worried about how I was going to get to the mothership in Baden (western PA) for our Saturday meeting, since my part of Michigan is due to be clobbered with 6 to 10 inches of snow starting at midnight tonight. I was planning to leave immediately after my 11:00 class on Friday.

Then it occurred to me that I could try something a bit different. If I left today, getting to Baden tonight, I could still meet my students for our 10:00 and 11:00 classes, but in an online, “virtual” classroom. So that’s exactly what I did. The timing was perfect – not one bit of precipitation! I got out of northwest Ohio before the snow hit, and arrived here in PA before the freezing rain that is supposed to hit here after midnight. So tomorrow, we’ll meet at the regular time – me in PA and the students in MI or wherever they want to be.


The beauty of this bit of inspiration is:

  • we can avoid missing a day of class, even if the campus closes tomorrow (not sure students would agree that this is a plus…oh well)
  • students can attend class in their pajamas, not having to leave the comfort of home (most of them I would guess have Internet access from home…we shall see)
  • I can participate in what I feel is an important meeting for us Baden CSJ’s without putting life and limb at risk.

Of course, on Monday we may need to backtrack to fill in some gaps that are better addressed face-to-face, but this will be a new experience for me, assuming the course server doesn’t go down in one of its rare tantrums.

I don’t call myself a “techie nun” for nothing!

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Graced uncertainty

Yeah, kind of like a sequel to the old hymn, “Blessed Assurance”…

question_mark.jpgAllow me to share with you this quote:

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

The idea of joyful uncertainty was a theme of this past weekend’s retreat, and the piece on quantum mechanics fit in nicely, as part of the theory says that we cannot know a particle’s position and momentum at the same time. If we know one, we cannot know the other – UNCERTAINTY ala Heisenberg. It seems to me that the more I know, the more I realize that I DON’T know! I know it is part of the human condition to seek absolutes and certainty, and yet, I coming to think that the primary absolute for me is that God is Love. When others insist on other absolute truths, I always have to measure them against this great absolute, and truthfully, sometimes what others claim as absolute seems to contradict (for me, anyway) the notion that God is Love.

So, how do I embrace the fundamental uncertainty that is part of the human condition? Can I live with the questions, actually love them? It seems to me that as my religious congregation prepares to meet this Saturday in preparation for our Chapter, we might want to consider this stance towards our future. Can we embrace the questions, and not be in a rush to flail about looking for answers? (Hopefully the winter storm that is going to clobber us tomorrow night won’t prevent me from making the trip to PA.)

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More on Emmaus

tat.jpgIn my last post, I mentioned the Emmaus story… “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road…?” That image of my heart on fire with God’s love has been for some time a foundational one for me. Sometimes the fire is more like hot embers, not flaming, but softly glowing and plenty hot, and sometimes I experience this love with more intensity. This image is so central to me that when I decided to get a tattoo several years ago, I chose the image of a heart on fire. It was in some way a desire to be marked permanently as belonging to God. (Don’t worry, I have no plans to cover my body with ink..for one thing, it makes me ineligible to donate blood for a year…)

The other image, related to this one, came as a result of a talk on quantum physics and the resurrection experience (huh?!! you might be thinking…) I cannot do Kuruvila’s talk justice, but just to give a quick stab, a key idea in quantum theory is relationship, that the very act of observing something affects what we are observing…there is no matter apart from the observer. And on Sunday, I had an experience of the atoms in my body cello.jpginteracting in a “quantum field” with some beautiful cello music I was listening to. Something about the rich voice of that instrument seems to excite a mode of resonance in the cells of my body, and I had a very concrete sense that the atoms in my body were quivering in response to the vibrations of the music. It seems to me that this was another experience of an Emmaus moment. Then when Kuruvila used similar words to describe what the atoms in his body were doing when he realized he was in love with Lois, I thought, “How did that man get inside my mind? Because I know exactly what he was talking about!” This may have no strict scientific basis, but I really think that the primary and most real quantum field is that of God’s deep and forever love for all of creation, and for me in particular.

I suppose this kind of talk might cause some who read this to think, “What a crackpot!” If so, then I am proud to be a “crackpot!”

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Yes, so it was at Columbiere, not Manresa. Silly me, not thinking to ask where the retreat was. Anyway, it was a retreat for CLC’ers in the Detroit area, and I’m really glad I went, even though I arrived late. Kuruvila and Lois Zachariah from Waterloo, Ontario were our retreat leaders, and the theme was the 4th week of Spiritual Exercises. emmaus1.jpgWhen I have more time, I hope to share more with you the graces I experienced in this short respite from the busyness of everyday life, but for now, I’ll just highlight one of the main ideas, which was that we can experience the grace of resurrection in many ways; for example, through joyful listening, joyful uncertainty, and having an Emmaus experience (Luke 24:13-35) of our hearts burning within us at the recognition of the risen Christ.

I know that’s just a taste, and perhaps not a very satisfying one, but after catching up on the work I had to get done for Monday morning, it’s all I can manage and still get to bed at a reasonable hour.

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So, I’m headed off to Manresa Jesuit Retreat House for a weekend retreat. I wasn’t planning to attend, because my budget wouldn’t allow, but one of my fellow CLC’ers let me know Thursday night of some scholarship funds the regional CLC sets aside for such purposes. So since most of the rest of my group is attending, I thought it would be good to go. It’s a little humbling to have to accept charity, but I’m trying to just see this as true gift and be grateful for the opportunity.

Here’s a photo from Manresa’s grounds, a beautiful spot.


I also offer you another video clip. Because I’m going to a Jesuit retreat house, I thought I’d post a clip on the Examen, a spiritual practice attributed to St. Ignatius, and one I highly recommend.

OK, time for some quiet time with God. Have a great weekend, all!

Vodpod videos no longer available. from yostsa.vodpod.com posted with vodpod

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dyer.jpgI happened to be home today and turned on the Ellen show. Wayne Dyer was a guest, and was talking about positive thinking and the truth about how we are all in this together, that it doesn’t make sense to have enemies when you realize that. Well, he said something else I want to remember…

Having a non-smoking section in a restaurant makes about as much sense as having a no-peeing section in a swimming pool.

It was funny, I had never thought of that before. But that is so true. I’ve been in non-smoking sections and still not had a smoke-free meal, because the smoke does travel.

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If you are thinking about hosting a blog, check out the latest news from the WordPress crew. Basically, they are upping the quota of free storage space from 50MB to 3GB, a 60-fold increase! Now I’ll have to start giving you more pictures to break up the text…

So how’s this for a random photo…? It comes from a sojourn I took with my parents a couple of years ago. Passing through Moline, Illinois, we stopped at the John Deere Pavilion. I couldn’t resist a pose in this huge combine…am I my dad’s farmer’s daughter, or what?


There’s a Cris Williamson song called “John Deere”…I think a phrase from the refrain is “sittin’ on my own John Deere”…so it is…

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