Back to School?

LFS-motto-300x225This morning, I received three digital Talking Books in the mail, postmarked “Free Matter for the Blind or Handicapped.”

I have been receiving talking books, from time to time, since I was in grade school, being eligible for these services due to a vision impairment.  These books are a great help in multitasking, as I learned in college.

Who knew you could clean your dorm room or take the bus to work while getting your political science assignment read?  “Vision Services” is great for enhancing time management skills.

More recently, I no longer have required academic reading but still find an occasional use for Talking Books.  Believe it or not, they help me fulfill an admonition contained within our Constitutions:

“We are open to the needs and concerns of the people…therefore, we should be concerned about furthering our religious, professional, and general education in an ongoing manner.”   (Constitutions 5.7)

Okay…maybe it’s a bit of a stretch, but not really!…

I had several years of Spanish, beginning in eighth grade.  I didn’t ace my way through, but, that’s beside the point.

I believe that keeping up on this is important. We do get Hispanic residents from time to time and it is good to be able to connect with them through language.  There are other times, as well, when it comes in handy.

I have ordered simple, easy titles in Spanish, such as the Baby’s First Words in Spanish and Cuentos y Rimas (Stories & Rhymes) which came today.  Actually, it’s been a while since I last ordered such materials.  When I’m done, I just send them back – free of charge.

So what inspired me to renew this means of ‘continuing education’?, you may ask.  A new resident of ours suffers from recent vision loss but enjoys a good story.  I just set her up to receive services herself.  What a joy it was for me to see her listening to a story contentedly, and even commenting favorably upon it!  This evening, doing my rounds as  an aide, I noticed that she was still listening to it and enjoying the story🙂

* * *

As we approach the beginning of September, we are hearing a lot about kids heading back to school.I, too, am revitalizing my commitment to learning, furthering my own education in an ongoing manner, as our Constitutions admonish us.

(Note: This is obviously not the only area in which I need to continue my education.  There are opportunities in other areas, as well, such as in-services, personal reading, etc.)

Let the Weak Say ‘I am Strong.’

31jqgtnqqwl-_ac_ul320_sr212320_This morning at Bible Study (which I hold each Tuesday for our residents), I again found myself to be the recipient of a lesson along with the others who gathered.

Our discussion, based on the readings from last Sunday, served to reminder and inspiration for my own spiritual journey.

In reflecting on the psalms we read (117-18), one resident simply yet poignantly pointed out that it was all about thanksgiving.  We expounded on this and pointed out our dependence upon God for everything.

I chose to follow up on this point of thanksgiving with the choice for our closing song.  It was one I learned as a child from tapes my mom used to play.  It is one that I have printed on an overhead transparency.

The words of this beautiful song were also especially pertinent to me as I am feeling my own weakness in my efforts to live as I feel I ought.  (Sometimes, just when we feel like we’re making progress, our weakness hits us again.)

Below are the lyrics and a video.  I hope they touch and inspire you as they do me.

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son
And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich
Because of what the Lord has done for us”

“I Received the Living God, and My Heart is Filled with Joy.”

P1010006.JPGAfter Communion recently the words of a simple hymn were poignant for me: “I received the Living God, and my heart is filled with joy.”

A simple truth of our faith had struck me again.  In receiving Communion, I just received God, the Eternal, who made all things.

Within my small, feeble and flawed being, I just had the privilege to hold Jesus!

In this life, we cannot see Him as He once appeared in Galilee over 2,000 years ago.  Nonetheless, we see and touch Him no less truly than the Apostles did.  Isn’t that amazing?

When I receive Jesus in Holy Communion, I can embrace Him, tell Him I love Him, and plead with Him for the needs that are on my heart.

At this amazing, yet daily, privilege, why shouldn’t my poor heart be “filled with joy,” as the hymn says?

Peace

P1010006A few days ago, while taking care of something in my bedroom, my eye caught upon this little scripture card, which I have had for many years.  I don’t even remember where I got it; I was still living at home, possibly in junior high.

I like the little passage contained here.  The translation is a bit different, more casual in tone.  Nonetheless, I like the little card.

It would serve me (and many others) well to glance over it more often.

Tomorrow’s (Wednesday) responsorial psalm of “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want”ties in beautifully with this card from Philippians.

It’s nice today to a bit more sanity to ponder passages like this.  Yesterday, amidst 887 ears of corn, I was not afforded that luxury.

 

 

You’ve Got to Have “a Hense of Sumor”

Chuck, who works with me here at St. Anne’s, likes to give me a bad time, and this is well-reciprocated by the writer of this post.  Actually, maybe it goes the other way around; who knows who is the instigator!

In case you haven’t guessed “hense of sumor” is just a silly way of juggling the letters a bit in the common phrase “sense of humor.”

Today provided some opportunities to fulfill the prescription given in this post’s title.

* * *

143903This morning, after Mass and receptionist duties, I introduced some of our residents to a little game called “Smoke & Fire,” which has a similar principal to that of “52 Pickup.”  In this little devious pastime, one instructs the intended victims to say “smoke” when they see a black card, and “fire” for a red one.

After ensuring that the first several cards are black, the dealer shows a red card, upon which the participants say “fire!.”  At this command, the devious dealer shoots the cards toward the unsuspecting participants for them to pick up.  This morning;s game was enjoyed by all, with little mess made since the cards did not go far.

More humor came later when I had some fun with words.  I didn’t major in written communication for no reason.

Still called upon to do aide work about once a week, I still enjoy saying that I’m moving up in the world when I head upstairs to work on the floor as well as using other turns of phrase just for fun.

Humor really has an important place in life.  It can speak volumes. It can go a long way in sharing the joy of God’s love with those around us, with those who need it.  It can touch and open hearts in profound ways.

Scripture itself shares some words about laughter.  When looking into this, I recalled the movie Pollyanna (based on Eleanor Porter’s book), starring Hayley Mills.  In this inspirational 1960 film, the main character tells the minister that there are over 800 “happy texts” in the Bible.  She said something to the effect of “If God took the trouble of telling us 800 times to rejoice and be glad, he must have meant it.”

I am not saying that seriousness does not have it’s place, but it’s good to remember the spiritual value of humor as well.

Below are a few passages you might find interesting:

Proverbs 17:22
A joyful heart is the health of the body,
but a depressed spirit dries up the bones.

Psalm 126:2
When the LORD restored the captives of Zion,
we thought we were dreaming.
Then our mouths were filled with laughter;
our tongues sang for joy.

Psalm 2:4
The one enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord derides them

Philippians 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!c
Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.d

Luke 6:21
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.

Ecclesiastes 3
There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every affair under the heavens…
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

I’d Better Learn to Control My Temper!!!

IMG_0892.JPGThis afternoon, some “anonymous benefactor” again presented us with a plastic grocery bag full of rhubarb.  It wasn’t a huge amount, and, in order to make it more worthwhile I decided to supplement it with any that was ready in our own back yard.

When it was all cleaned, I had a cart top full of this “North Dakota State Weed,” as we like to call it.

I didn’t want to tackle the chopping all by myself, so again I solicited help from our residents.  I was feeling a little sorry for myself that more people had not come to lend a hand.  I went so far as to page one particular lady to the activity room to join us.

A few minutes later, to my delight, she came along, pushing her walker.  “Oh good, you came!” was my happy reaction.  But, alas, my hopes were not to materialize.  She decided to take part in a game instead.😦

This lady and I have a fun relationship and tease each other fairly often.  Therefore, I did not hesitate to pretend to aim a nearby stock of rhubarb at her in mock anger at her unwillingness to help.  Unfortunately, the stock left my hand but did not make it to its mock target.  Another lady, who was helping cut rhubarb received a little tap from thus flying vegetation!  To my relief, she seemed to be no worse for the wear, and the afternoon proceeded normally.

An hour or so later, I had stepped into our chapel when I heard the muffled sound of my name being called from the hallway.  I quickly headed out in search of who could be calling me.

It was Paulla, our activity assistant, who was looking for me.  She asked: “Have you seen Ann’s head?  We had to put a Band-Aid on it; it’s really getting a bump.”

I wondered, “Is she serious, or just giving my a bad time?”  Paulla kept her pose, however, and my concern grew.  I thought to myself, “She can’t be hurt that badly; I didn’t throw it that hard.”

However, I saw my unintended victim and she did, indeed, have a Band-Aid on her head.  My concern did not last long, however; I was soon allowed the relief of knowing that they were just teasing me.

At supper, I decided to have a little fun with this with Sr. Elaine, who was sitting across the table from me and works in our business office.  I asked her if Workman’s Comp. covers injuries to residents if they are involved in accidents that are related to St. Anne’s’ work.  She told me it did not.

With that knowledge, in order to prevent any future liabilities, I guess I’d better learn to control my temper.  I can’t afford to let rhubarb get “out of hand.”

Sr. Christina M. Neumann

Watch Out!: a Fun Newsletter from St. Gerard’s Community of Care

15085749175_bf337a778f_bThanks to our Sister Sara Marie, St. Gerard’s Community of Care (Nursing Home, Independent Living, and Childcare has a lovely quarterly publication: News from the Neighborhood.  We received our copy Monday.

Embedded in this newsletter, we find hidden items; this time they are wrist watches.  Trying to find these miniature timepieces can be fairly distracting, actually.  (From experience, we learned that one should keep one’s eyes closed during Grace if a copy is lying on the table in order to avoid wandering eyes while praying.)

If you’d like to see this little publication for yourself, and maybe try to find a watch or two, you can check it out on their website.

Oh, Darn It!

P7030001.JPGOne morning, I noticed that the closure button on my left blouse sleeve was missing.  Not wanting to return home to change, I borrowed a safety pin from the reception desk to close it.

Yesterday afternoon, I thought I had better buckle down and sew a new button on.

On taking out my sewing kit, I noticed another thing I hadn’t gotten around to, that needed attending: a collection of stockings to repair.

Some of them had been there for quite some time; I remember thinking I would do it for Lenten penance last winter – so much for that…there’s still a significant collection waiting for me on this early August day!

I remember, as a novice, having lessons from our Sr. Alice one summer; I had wanted some pointers on stocking darning.  Since then, I have implemented her expert suggestions on numerous occasions.

Mending is not my favorite activity, but I think it is a good one.  It reminds us of our poverty.

Recently, I have been re-reading the Vatican II document on the renewal of Religious Life, Perfectae Caritatis.  This very document reminds us that we “must be poor both in fact and in spirit, [our] treasures being in heaven.”  It tells us that it’s not enough to say “I’m practicing poverty simply by using material things “in a way subject to the superior’s will.”

In the early days, when our sisters first came to Hankinson, they very easily experienced this poverty.  Times were hard.  Today, however, we are stilled called to follow and imitate Christ who, though He was rich, became poor for our sake.  We are still called a practice of poverty both in spirit and in fact, as the conciliar document says.

Living in a setting where we have plenty to eat (taking our meals from the resident dining room) and have our material needs met, we have to think about how we live poverty.  Our constitutions call us to reflect upon this regularly.

To me, the penance of darning stockings is one little way of following Christ in poverty.  Rather than just throwing away a pair of stockings once it gets a hole, I can stick it in my bag and repair it, whenever I finally get around to it.

We want to be like Jesus and be close to Him; that’s really what our life is about.  Although He didn’t have black leggings to mend, he did experience little sacrifices and trials because of His poverty “for our sake.”  We can do the same for Him.

A Powerful Lesson…A Call to Greater Love

P6220021These past few weeks have been a time of real grace for me.

I’ve been working one-on-one with one of our residents for sacramental preparation.

I didn’t want him to get ‘scared off’ by over-complicating things or requiring too much of him; nonetheless, I wanted to teach him what he needed to know in order to be open to receive all the graces waiting for him.

I also was conscious of trying to be kind to him and show him the authenticity of what I was teaching by the way I acted.

This second aspect has overflowed, in a powerful way, on my interactions with others.

For some time, I have been trying to be attentive to each person who come to the reception desk (where I work).  I want to show interest in them and give them my full attention.  I sometimes get engrossed what I am working on, however, and this is sometimes ‘easier said than done.’

The experience of trying to show kindness and give my utmost with the particular resident I have been helping has brought my efforts to a new level.

I realize, if I am making great efforts to show the love of Jesus to this individual, I need to be doing the same with everyone.  It has really helped me to stop what I am doing and give my utmost (even if it’s just a smile and a greeting) to each person.