Archive for November, 2008

Thanksgiving and gratitude

Judging from the behaviors of many Americans at this time of year, I’m sure that many of my international grad students think that this American holiday is all about overeating, football and frenzied shopping on Friday.

So it’s good to pause and reflect on what I’m grateful for. A recent post addressed this, but I thought I’d give you, my dear readers, an opportunity to share:

What are you grateful for this year? How is God blessing you these days?

Have a blessed and peaceful Thanksgiving, all!

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Uhhh…not so much…

Here I am at National Airport in DC, the morning AFTER I was supposed to return to Detroit…it’s a funny story, so I thought I’d share the laugh with you all, and I have the blessing of the other person involved, as most of you who read this won’t know who she is.

So I spent a couple of nights with Sr. L after my board meeting in DC on Thursday, and yesterday we spent much of the day running back and forth to Circuit City trying to get what we needed to set up a wireless network for her and another sister to share….the brick walls turned out to be insurmountable, so that was time spent with no results… For my efforts, Sr. L treated me to a late lunch, which we enjoyed very much – so much so that we lost track of time and were running just a bit behind for the airport run.

So we hurried up and paid the bill, and then got on the road…we passed the exit for I-95 south, and when it looked like we were going to get on I-95 north I asked Sr. L about that, since National Airport is in Virginia, south of where we were. Her expression was priceless!

Apparently, I had never told her what airport I was using, and she never asked me. So she had worked out the timing for our airport run based on my flying out of BWI! Needless to say, the rest of the story is a bit reminiscent of the Keystone Kops. We got turned around, realizing that there was no chance for me to catch the flight unless it was significantly delayed. Sr. L was running a bit low on gas, which would delay us even more. But she kept driving like crazy while I got on the cell phone to Northwest to see what could be done… the reservation agent informed me that there were no more flights to Detroit that night, but that I should still show up at the airport and hope that the ticket agent would have mercy on me and rebook me without charging me the change fee and other costs.

So, we made the brilliant decision (this one really WAS brilliant) to drop me at Metro to get there faster, and guess what? It did pay off, as I approached the ticket agent with sincere contriteness and calm, and she took care of me.

Then back to Metro and Sr. L for the evening. I told the sister living in the next apartment that I came back just to say goodbye to her and to watch another video with them. We had a good laugh about the whole thing…just goes to show you that advanced degrees don’t guarantee simple common sense!

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So here I am in the nation’s capital, hanging out with Sr. L after a board meeting at the American Society for Engineering Education. Part of my reason for sticking around is to do some tutorial sessions for some of our sisters here on a networking web site (on the free wetpaint.com wiki site) that I set up in the hopes of enhancing our connections with each other and to facilitate our collaborations on our Chapter commitments. (No, we really aren’t as creepy as the nuns in that picture appear to be…)

Part of our charism as CSJs is to try to bring about union with God, among ourselves, among others. So as a “techie nun” I’m always looking for ways to put technology at the service of the charism. And with a little patience, I’m able to bring on board sisters who are a little unsure of themselves with respect to computers and hopefully give them a little confidence in using the tools I’m introducing to them.

We shall see how it works out…

On a side note…I read in a recent issue of Wired Magazine that blogs are so 2004….microblogging sites and social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are the place for amateurs to make their mark in cyberspace…more later…

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve been following the stories of a couple of my brother priests who are paying the price for standing their ground on matters of integrity to them. The interesting thing is that the consequences are coming, not from any civil authorities, but from the very Church they serve. Whether or not one agrees with the stands they are taking, it is notable that they feel these issues are important enough to risk all…

Here are some excerpts from the two cases, along with links to the full articles:

Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois has been threatened with excommunication by the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith for his support of women’s ordination, according to a letter made public today.

Roy Bourgeois threatened with excommunication | National Catholic Reporter

With Proposition 8 on the November ballot, and his own bishop urging Central Valley priests to support its definition of traditional marriage, Farrow told congregants he felt obligated to break “a numbing silence” about church prejudice against homosexuals.

“How is marriage protected by intimidating gay and lesbian people into loveless and lonely lives?” he asked parishioners of the St. Paul Newman Center (Fresno). “I am morally compelled to vote no on Proposition 8.”

Then Farrow — who had revealed that he was gay during a television interview immediately before Mass — added a coda to his sermon.

“I know these words of truth will cost me dearly,” he said. “But to withhold them… I would become an accomplice to a moral evil that strips gay and lesbian people not only of their civil rights but of their human dignity as well.”

Stand against Prop. 8 costs priest dearly – Los Angeles Times

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Looking back in gratitude…

At this time last year, I was a bit of a mess. A combination of season change, work stress, and brain chemistry conspired to catapult me into a rather intense and tenacious bout with anxiety and depression. One thing many religious communities have right is the encouragement and support for sisters to attend to all aspects of their health, including mental health. So when I realized what was happening, it didn’t take me long to seek help.

It took a while for things to get better, but I never doubted that God was with me and would bring me through. So when I look at everything going on with me now…possibly even more work stress than last year at this time, plus some other minor physical health issues, plus the coming gloom of winter making itself known in the weather… Sure, I have my cranky or blue days, but my general mood and outlook on life is remarkably brighter than it was at this time last year (and that was even BEFORE the election results of last week!)

So in the words of the “call and response” prayer in which we were led several times over the Call to Action conference:

God is good –
All the time!

All the time –
God is good!

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Well, I’m at the Call to Action Conference in Milwaukee these days. For the break-out sessions, I’ve focused on nonviolence training, as this is something about which I have a lot of passion, and it’s something that my CSJ congregation has made a deeper commitment to this past summer. (I hope we dare to follow through with what we have said!)

There are so many things I could write about, and probably will later, but tonight I thought I’d tell you about how I got my “Gesu fix” for the weekend. The conference itself is something I find a little more “white bread” (and white hair) that I’m accustomed to in Detroit. So I thought I’d go hear the Gospel Choir from All Saints Parish here in Milwaukee, who were invited to perform at the conference this evening. Boy, was I wishing I had my sax with me to go up and jam with them, especially since I haven’t quite gotten my voice back enough yet to sing the way I would have liked. But it did do me good to be there. (And I’ll bring the sax next year!)

As for the miracle, I thought I’d respond to the request on behalf of the drummer, Shawn Bost, who has been waiting a long time for a kidney. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote an article about Shawn’s plight last December (link below), and I thought I’d get the word out just in case any of you or someone you know might feel called to respond.

JS Online: Kidney failure brings life into focus

Thanks to those of you who have been praying me through my week of health challenges and work stress. I got a long overdue set of project reports graded, and made a good dent on reviewing my doctoral student’s dissertation. Still not caught up with everything, but not feeling as far behind as I was. My upcoming travel schedule is still a bit daunting, but I’ll have more time to work on the next couple of trips, so it shouldn’t put me further behind.

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Well, I’m sure most folks around the world know that we here in the U.S. are having presidential elections today. And it’s no secret that the weeks leading up to this day have been full of bombast and divisive rhetoric along party lines.

So I’m happy to say that everything about my voting experience today was pleasant. For some reason, the usual folks handing out fliers to voters as they arrive were not present. The polling place had additional booths and workers in anticipation of the large turnout. (There were only three people in line ahead of me at 9:45.) And best of all, for my precinct, there was a team of 20-30 somethings staffing the sign-in table. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the “old ladies” who usually draw this duty…I just really find it heartening to see younger folks get so actively involved.

On another note, you may not hear too much from me over the next several days, as I have a medical procedure that will tie up much of my day tomorrow, and then bright and early on Thursday morning, I board the Megabus for Milwaukee for a big conference of progressive Roman Catholics called “Call to Action.”

I’ll leave you with a prayer from the novena that our University Ministry folks have been leading in the run up to the election:

Give us, O God,
leaders whose hearts are large enough
to match the breadth of our own souls,
and give us souls strong enough
to follow leaders of vision and wisdom.

Give us the hearts
to choose the leader who will work with other leaders
to bring safety to the whole world.

Give us a government
that provides for the advancement of this country
without taking resources from others to achieve it.

Give us insight enough ourselves
to choose as leaders those who can tell
strength from power,
growth from greed,
leadership from dominance,
and real greatness from the trappings of grandiosity.

We trust you, Great God,
to open our hearts to learn from those
to whom you speak in different tongues,
and to respect the life and words of those
to whom you entrusted the good
of other parts of this globe.

We beg you, Great God,
give us the vision as a people
to know where global leadership truly lies,
to pursue it diligently,
to require it to protect human rights
for everyone everywhere.

We ask these things, Great God,
with minds open to your word
and hearts that trust in your eternal care. Amen.
Excerpted from “Prayer for the Elections,”
by Sr. Joan Chittister, O.S.B.

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