Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Peace of God

UPDATE! I DID IT! I DID IT! It's not embedded, but I found a hosting just click on the link below where I give the song title and you can get the music!

So I've been spending the last few minutes (ok like 90) trying to figure out how to add an audio clip to my blog! Grumble grumble...I can't find a hosting site that gives me a Blogger friendly HTML code. HELP...blogger can I get my audio file embedded into a post? Know any good hosting sites? Know HTML well enough to help me fudge it? Jody...are you out there? You are the computer Yoda from my past.... :-)

Here's the text that goes with my song...I'll try and get the song soon!

Music is one of my outlets; whether I'm listening to it or singing--it's away for me to get outside of my head. I've had some pretty profound "God moments" on retreat, on my walks, or sitting in my room with saying to God " me know what to do here..." and then a song will come on and it's like WOAH...hellllll-oooo. Ok..gotcha God.

I had one of those moments during Lent. I was in a icky yuck yuck space and I prayed the night before trying to find a way to understand it. The next morning on my pray-as-you-go track, this song came on and it just got inside of me. It was beautiful and the lyrics were amazing. It was everything I couldn't say or figure out at the time and I swear it was God singing to me (what a beautiful voice she had too!). I think I listened to it 100 times in the next three days. I even brought the song to my spiritual direction and played it saying, "Here...this is where I'm at and what I'm thinking and feeling." (And in the back of my mind I thought WOO HOO...I don't have to say it; I'll let her sing it...even better!)

I have a Zune mp3 player (which I love by the way) and this song came up the other day when I was praying and had the Zune set on Random.

Peace of God by David Haas

The lyrics really tapped into me. Again, it was like "Katy argues with God again...and God wins...again." I had just said, "What do I NEED to get THROUGH this? GRRRRR AHHHHH GRRRRR **growl growl**" And then this song comes on and I think....oh superb. The God of the Zune does it again.

**Sidebar story--Related to "Katy Argues with God...again"***
I had some photos taken because MKE magazine is going to do an article on me. They wanted to know where my favorite place to pray is, so I told them smack dab in the middle of Sr. Marie's Director podium square block thingy in the choir loft of our chapel. It's my absolute favorite place (well...that's a favorite place is at the ocean, but that wasn't an option and neither was the lake that it's 3rd, but I still love it.) to sit and think and journal and stuff.

So I brought my journal and the photographer, (Maria Huebner)she got this hilarious shot of me talking to her friend Keith and I was joking about something with him. When she sent it to me I had to journal is open and seriously I thought...oh great a picture of me arguing with God. How perfect. (yep...that's me! Woo hoo!) BTW...Maria rocked! She was so much fun to be with and a very super duper talented photographer.

**Side bar story---over** **Continuing original train of thought**

For me the line that seems very present to me right now is, "Stay with all that you have learned..." reaction was *ugh* and then *duh* and then back to *ugh* that's usually a pay attention indicator. Sheesh...I tell ya.

So, I've incorporated THIS song into my life these days. I listen to it on my way to work and coming home from work. And then I try to BREATHE (2, 3, 4...right SMAM?) and keep plugging along on this crazy journey.

May the peace of God be with you too!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring....New Life...

Does anyone remember that SNL "commercial sketch" Deep Thoughts, By Jack Handy? I loved those! So I thought to kick off this post with a new series: And now Random Thoughts by Sister Katy: (Press the play button on the video screen below)

So yeah, I thought I'd open with some verbal reflections (plus it's playing with my camera). Actually...this is kinda cool. I set up my camera on the bench in our Mama Casa garden and propped it up with my cell phone. And just started take, nothing fancy schmancy (I did make sure that you could see me and not my forehead or adam's apple or something like that).

Embrace the randomness...and the extroversion--thought pop; mouth speak. What do you think? Should the Fun Nun continue the video series of Random Thoughts? Or should I stick to the written communication? Feedback appreciated... :-)

Personally, my favorite part of the video is that the first thing you hear are the birds chirping...I was aware that there were many birds talking while I was in the garden. Way cool.

Ok some pictures and reflection are what I promised and that is what you shall have!

This triptych is of the buds on the tree that is in our back yard. My bedroom window looks out at this tree. I used to have my prayer corner so that I could look out the window. I love seeing the transformation of trees through the seasons. This tree seems to take her merry little time budding every year, but is very nice when she's all green. We get visits by lots of birds to our little backyard tree and Sr. Phyllis is always aware that there is some bird food for them. I love trees.

A little context setting for this reflection...Before I became an affiliate (see Nunspeak); we had to write an autobiography. I chose to do a creative, visual interpretation of this assignment and created a scrapbook of sorts which took my 23 years of life and related different components to the seasons. The seasons and changing of seasons is a strong metaphor for my life as well as an important part of God's creation that I appreciate. I love living in a part of our country where I get to experience all of the seasons. I always LOVE the season that is beginning and am ready when we change. If I had to pick a would be autumn, but I really do love all of them.

For each season/section of my autobiographical account, I began with a quotation and an introduction to what that season describes for me in my life. For winter I used the following quote by Ruth Stout:

"There is a privacy about it [winter] in which no other season gives
you...In spring, summer, and fall people sort of have an open season on each
other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches
when you can savor belonging to yourself."
I wrote the following introduction to my "winter times" (As I reread this...I think...woah...these things are still very true to me):

"Winter is a season of solitude, hibernation, and dormancy. There is a
beauty in the simplicity of nature during the winter; however, days are shorter
and we are deprived of sunlight and warmth which is wearing on those of us who
long for sunlight. For me, winter represents the hard, depressing, and more
negative experiences in my life. As extroverted as I am, my introverted side
shows its face in times of trouble. As the quote states, "...when you can savor
belonging to yourself...," I savor in the hibernation of my "winters." Winter as
season and metaphor provides the necessary balance to the cycle of nature and
life. Winter flows out of the season of transition and has the season of growth
to follow. But as in nature, we have to pass through the winters, whether they
may be long or short, to get to the springtime."
Here in Milwaukee, we made the record books for the 2nd snowiest winter in history. Ironically, it was also the year that I decided to work 45 miles away from my home! I LOVE snow...and I usually am so disappointed that we don't have snowy winters...this winter was a bit over the top. It was Good Friday...our 15 inch blizzard that I said, "enough is enough"...I'm ready for spring.

It has been a long winter for other reasons too...Lent was very difficult for me this year; although I found solace in some of the readings and Lenten music that I haven't experienced before this year. Holy Week was very challenging...and then Easter came, but I wasn't really in the Resurrectiony/Alleluia mood.

I just wanted the sunshine and the trees to start budding and the flowers to start blooming. The warm weather...come just couldn't come fast enough. I did spend my winter hibernating on many levels and although in my reflection of 5 years ago, I used the word "savor"...I don't know that is how I'd describe this winter. And it's also interesting that I remember "belonging to myself" really spoke to me then and now...I have shifted. It's that whole moving from Independence to interdependence thingy that we talk about in this life.

Anyhey-so today...the sun was out and it was 65 degrees. I peeled potatoes outside listening to my Zune (ABBA is great potato peeling music!) and then decided to go on a little prayer walk. Coming out of my own "winter", I wanted to reflect on the signs of New Life.

I was thinking about the resilience of trees and bulb-type flowers (Um..side note...I appreciate very much nature and plants and things...I do not grow them and know very little about them). They make it through these harsh conditions and they always come back every spring. And it's so cool to day there's little green thingys shooting out...a couple days later they are budding...and finally gorgeous, cheerful flowerage. I love it!

I guess we too show resilience in our winter times...I have to remember that there is a spring coming...and NEW LIFE surrounds us.

I love the sounds of spring too. The birds are great, but it's also great to hear kiddos playing outside, families having parties, etc. I caught two of our sisters outside walking too! I think there is such an appreciation to be outside after being all cooped up.

The thing that I think I reflected on the most were these different, tightly protected buds. They already risked coming out of the ground, ready too bloom--where anything could happened! And yet...they aren't quite ready to show their fullest potential I guess. They are so well protected and yet there is a beauty to them in this state too. Of course there is the anticipation of their blooming that is exciting too.

In the midst of all of this happy new life thoughts I started having this whole "What if Litany" What if the flowers worried about blooming? (I know I'm a total weirdo dork, but I embrace it!) Or what if they decided that they'd be better off not blooming? What if it wasn't worth it to come up at all? Of if they have been too weathered that they won't be as beautiful or if they decided not to come back up from the ground at all? Or that they took the risk to come up again and then get lopped off by some crazy lawn mower or had your head bitten off by some squirrel--OUCH! see where my thoughts were today! A little too "down" for my taste...reframing here we come...but nevertheless I was thinking about these things.

I was so appreciative of this time too. It was really relaxing and revitalizing. I know God was speaking many messages to me and for that I was grateful too. I also know that another thing Wisconsin weather teaches us that winter may rear its ugly face another time...but spring and summer will follow; hold'll come.That's the bottom line and sometimes I wondered if "spring" was going to come. I wondered where my place was and what new life (if any) was in store for me. I worried that there was more wintering to come and thought...I can't handle another 15 inches of snow; or negative temperatures; or multiple days without sunshine! And yet today...I was just very aware of God's messages to me. NEW LIFE is all around and even out of the most difficult, record breaking winters--Spring comes. A chance to start over I guess.

Not to my Random Thoughts video...the whole "already bloomed" flowers by Mother Alfons and the whole community thoughts. I guess (and this is an unintentional bad pun) but the community reflections usually have a grounding effect on me. (ba dum dun) It often brings me back to why I do what I do in the first place. That's good...YEAH!

UGH...well at any rate lots to think about and be thankful for. I guess my mantra is "new life is around me...there is possibility for new life...I can bring new life is within me..." Those last two are the ones that I struggle with right now. I guess one of my favorite words plays into this...TRUST that this winter has passed and new life will emerge and unfold in and around me this SPRING!

I hope you enjoyed the photos; my "forced Sensate prayer" was uber fun today....I love play pray time! By the way...this last picture is the greens coming up and that marble slate in the background is Mother Alfons' grave. The orangy flowers are the ones that were the only ones in bloom in the whole garden. Neato!

#1 Fan!!

Last weekend, Sr. Jan's brother, John came to visit from California! I was particularly excited because I do believe he is Religious Life Rocks #1 fan! He reads regularly, calls Sr. Jan when I have posted in a while to see "what's up", gives me positive feedback, AND thinks that my blog should be a formation requirement for anyone entering religious life (cool...that makes me proud; I love formation! I really do! :) )! honor that I indeed have a #1 Fan...I have created the #1 fan award! The 2008 winner goes to JOHN RICE (wooo hoooo...the blogosphere crowd goes wild). To the left is John beaming at the realization that he's won this prestigious award.

We didn't make him give an "Oscaresque Speech"; that'll be for the 2009 recipient! (We work up to such things...)

And here are some pictures of his awards ceremony:

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. 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 essentially pound it and pick it up and wedge it vigorously. Pick it up and throw it and pound 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 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 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" stayed with me. I started looking through magazines for images and 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 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's raining, raining, raining...which I don't like during the day, but I LOVE to listen to rain at 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!