Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Holy Week to Alleluias

My gosh...

Holy Week seems like it was a forever ago. Easter vacation flew by. We are back into the swing of things again! Back at school...trying to remind the kids (and myself) that we have a "full quarter" left of school; when I think there is this internal clock inside of students that says end of Easter break = end of school is near...not this year! Thanks be to God we have such good kids; it was nice to see them again after our time off. I'm enjoying starting announcements with a different "Alleluia" each week. Last week it was the Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah...this week we have "Alleluia, Alleluia give thanks to the Risen Lord." It's a great reminder that Easter continues in and around us and we can sing our Alleluias for many reasons.

Holy Week for me was a particularly difficult one; I just had a lot going on, no spaces to breathe, and some difficult things to deal with. By Holy Thursday afternoon...I was so kaputt. I went to the Holy Thursday service at St. Roman's (my parish) and was a foot washee(er). I absolutely LOVE this liturgy. The symbolism and experience of having my feet washed is always very moving for me. At St. Roman's 12 of us get our feet washed by the Pastor and then we wash the feet of the community members who wish to have their feet washed. It is a beautiful ritual that I find myself reflecting on often.

I also found out on Thursday that my grandpa had a mild heart attack. That hit me hard; it was the "I can't take one more thing. OH MY GOSH IT'S ONE MORE THING." My grandma had a mild stroke in October of last year and she's been on the mend...and now my grandpa?!! WHAT THE HECK? I am very close with my grandparents and I don't think my family is quite ready for this life transition. Thanks be to God, he is ok!

Good Friday we had another ridiculous snow storm--15 inches!!!! We were home bound for most of it and I spent most of the day at the hospital with my grandparents. My grandpa had and came out of his procedure with flying colors and my grandma seemed to be hanging in alright. On my way home from the hospital (in about 10 of the 15 inches of snow) I knew that I needed some quiet and some space...I drove to our Motherhouse to sit in our chapel for a little while.

It was great...there was no one around, it was late afternoon. I went to the back, adoration chapel and I just sat for a long time. I was overwhelmingly grateful for my grandparents and all they are to me in my life. I equally grateful that although we had these unexpected warning signs--that they are both ok. It was nice sitting there and just being in the quiet space.

Then...strangely enough...I decided to walk our stations of the cross in the main chapel. Now...this is NOT my usual style of prayer nor a way that I'm familiar with encountering God. I don't know what possessed me to do it, but I did. Our stations are wood carvings from Switzerland and they are quite beautiful; they are one of a kind because the artist died shortly after finishing the commission for our order. Anyway...so I spent sometime just staring at them and quietly walking the stations. Thinking that this motivation was strange...I said in my prayer..."Why am I doing this? What do these have to say to me today?" I had some pretty powerful insights in relationship to the events of my week, thinking about my Grandparents, my commitment to ministry and focus on mission. It was one of those crazy, quirky prayer experiences that I don't think I'll forget. I want to take some time to really sit and think through some of what spoke to me that afternoon. I probably should write them down in my journal and revisit them sometime when life settles a bit for me.

Easter came and then ALLELUIA! VACATION!!!! Seriously....all I wanted to do was catch up on some sleep. I was sooooooooo exhausted. I planned on going to Rockford for a couple days of R&R or more like C&R&F (That's Creativity, Retreatishlike time, and FUN!). And if you are one of the hundreds scratching their heads and saying to yourself..."Why Rockford?" Let me tell you...

Two of our SSSF Sisters, Elaine and Dorothy started this AWESOME center called Womanspace a little over 30 years ago. It's a center that offers a space for women (duh) for personal and creative growth and/or outlets. They have an art studio and offer all sorts of classes and workshops for people. It's one of my most favorite places to be. Dorothy and Elaine are such cool people to be around. I enjoy talking with them and hearing their stories of the past. They are so passionate and committed to their "dream become reality" in Womanspace; I so much admire that. The people that I've met that are a part of Womanspace are great too. Sr. Lenora also is there...she has a private practice for Counseling that she runs out of Womanspace--very cool Sisters I'm talking about here!

I like to get to Rockford for a visit and some creative play time when I can. I thought given my life these days...that perhaps some "creative reflective time" would be a good outlet for me. Sometimes...I just need to get the YUCK out. I like to play with clay in the studio...and usually this is a good release for me too.

So...Tuesday afternoon I arrived. Hung out with Elaine for a bit. She showed me her and Dorothy's new digs (very neat...and I could just spend time sitting on the couch and admiring all of their artwork all day. Dorothy and Elaine are both artists too.). Then I walked to the center; the weather was gorgeous--50s and sunny. Rolled up my sleeves and started wedging my clay. I didn't know what I wanted to do. I know I wanted to sculpt and I know I needed to get some stuff "out". Wedging the clay is great...you essentially pound it and pick it up and wedge it vigorously. Pick it up and throw it and pound it again...it's a great aggression release! Then I got to work...I had my music going and just let it happen. I took a sculpture workshop from Dorothy a couple years ago. I made some pretty ugly things...including this lady whom Dorothy and Elaine call "perky". I also made a St. Francis whom I've just bonded with recently...now I even like him. I was trying to remember all of my Dorothy lessons and pointers when I was going at it with this piece. Every so often Dorothy would come by and give me some more pointers. I would just keep plugging along. Elaine had a pottery class that evening that I joined and continued to work on my lady. Her students and Elaine were very helpful in my progress; especially the part where you have to cut your FINISHED PIECE IN HALF AND GUT THE CLAY FROM THE INSIDE. It's terrifying...and then you put her back together and hope for the best.

Here are some photos of my sculpture lady. At first that thing around her was supposed to be like a blanket, but then I was so happy with how I did her back, I didn't want to cover it up completely. So Elaine and I devised a way to get this "shroud" to be removable. Then when we took the props out it looks like she's in a cave...which seemed more appropriate to what I was trying to express anyway. The cave/shroud has words stamped into it around the outside.

Actually...I know I"m not much of an artist and I have very limited experience with clay and sculpting...but I kinda like this piece...at least it conveyed what I asked the clay to help me with anyway! Now we pray and send her blessings that she survives her firing. Elaine and I did the blessing of St. Francis over her before I left.

I also worked on a collage. I was at Womanspace in March for this evening collage workshop that I just LOVED. We made these "Dreamscapes" (I should have taken a picture...hmmmm...) and I really got into the process. I like collage because it's another media that you don't have to be artistic to work with. It's a matter of putting things together rather than creating something arty. Before I went to Womanspace, I was talking with one of "my people" (you know...we all have PEOPLE...the people that just know with out you saying it, or can push you and you don't get mad because you know it's out of love, or the people that challenge and support you...those are your PEOPLE...oh yeah...People...people who need...ugh..I digress.)

Yeah...I was talking with one of my people...and she was gently reminding me that sometimes we have to move through the YUCK to get to that deeper place in ourselves. (I don't like this talk, by the way; makes me squirm.) And then she added...."you know...that's where God is." So as much as I wanted to go, "whatever"...it stayed with me. I started looking through magazines for images and words...no plan at all...I had no idea what I was going to do. And I just kept hearing, "Deep with in...where God is." And my collage was born. To the left is the outside/back. It stands up and has "doors" that can kinda close. It's purple and red--not because I belong to that silly hat society...but because Purple is the color that usually represents me and/or divine and RED is for PASSION and FIRE and YEAH. Then there are some spirals....spirals are my spirals--one of my images...I hate to love them; love to hate them. Then the flap that it sits on...unfolds and "I AM" is there. Oooh...didn't even think that this whole thing rests on I AM. Wow...

Then the "inside/front" part is a 3-D collage I'll try and get the pictures that show how this big spiral is coming out of the middle of the page. When you look at it head on you can't really read the words that are on both sides of the spiral...you just see this red spiral above the praying girl's head. If you hold the collage parallel to the floor, you can read all of the words on the inside and outside of the 3-D mega spiral. Then there are other images that surround the focus of the mega spiral and the praying girl.

So that was my creative 3 days at Womanspace. Actually, I really needed this space to just let my mind go and I usually do that best when I'm being creative. I had the time and a comfortable space to just let go. Again...lots to think about with some of the images and words that emerged on this collage...same with my lady.
And one last shot...this is Elaine harassing me because she caught me with a paintbrush in my hands. I am paint phobic and she knows it. SO I responded with the only appropriate comeback...the non-verbal. ----------------------------------->
Thank God for good days...Alleluia!

This weekend the sun was shining...I went for a couple walks...alleluias for spring and warm weather.

And right now...it's raining, raining, raining...which I don't like during the day, but I LOVE to listen to rain at night...so I guess that's my alleluia for the day today!

I think that's brings us up to date with all of the important events of this Fun Nun! Until next time...alleluia to you!


Lilledeshan Bose said...

Hello Sister Kate,
I'm a writer at MKE weekly newspaper, and I'm very interested in writing a profile about you, and maybe exploring what it means to be a young nun in Milwaukee today. If you're interested please write me back at lbose@mkeonline.com or call me at 414-224-2144 (at work).

Your blog is really very inspiring.

em said...

Hi Katy :) It was nice to see you last night! I am officially adding you to my long list of blogs! So update often!! ;)

Have a great rest of the weekend!


emhsssf61 said...

Hi, Katy! It was great to read your blog about those three days in Rockford and to enjoy the memory. I particularly appreciated the long and deep discussion in our living room after supper on Wednesday. You'll be happy to know that your sculpture made it through both firings just fine. Come again! Love, Elaine

Kelly_SSJ/A said...

I'm glad you had a blessed Easter and trip.

becca said...

Hi Sister Katy, not growing up Catholic I have not had much experience with Nuns. I came across your blog and love it. You do seem to be "One fun Nun" Keep up the great work.


Anonymous said...

You geek! You are so artistic, so quit saying you aren't!


-Jen H, a fellow artist