“It’s Already Tomorrow in Australia”

australia-on-globe-mdI’m about to close off the night here at the front desk, and what an evening it’s been!!!

It started with a hospital visit, from which we arrived home late.  Then, when we were just finishing supper, I was paged and asked to help our aide upstairs.

Without violating HIPAA regulations, let’s just say there was a mess to clean up.  Sr. Elaine said she’d start evening Office, which we pray together regularly after supper.  As I hurried away, I said “Maybe, you’d better finish it, too.”  I was right; I had to pray privately this evening once I got to the front desk for my shift, a couple of minutes late.

It was good to be able to sit down and have that chaos behind me; but more awaited.  I was working on a project the computer, but had also been noticing that it was somewhat slow.  Also, the browser window was not displaying properly.

I tried various things, including restarted the computer, and ended up trying to “de-clutter.”  I thought I’d uninstall some unneeded software that may have been accidentally downloaded over the years.  Well, in my tired haste, I had accidentally started to uninstall our MS Office software – not good!

I ended up having to force the computer off to terminate the de-installation process!

I hoped no permanent damage was done and finally got back to my project.

I am very grateful for the Holy Spirit’s guidance lately.

It seems that I start out on these projects, overwhelmed and lacking clarity.  I pray for guidance and things seem to come around.  (Yes, I did remember to say “thank you.”)

The above-mentioned project involves some email correspondence on occasion, so I checked gmail again.  However, the “new message” was not the one I was waiting for.  Instead, it came all the way from Australia!

We get pre-written petitions for the “Universal Prayer” at Mass from a priest “down under” who writes and sends them out to various parishes.  This email was the coming week’s Mass petitions.

(I have to “doctor them up” a bit and modify them for our audience.  We don’t typically pray for “those in leadership among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.”

Anyway, this email from the other side of the world reminded me of a little quote Sr.  Elaine has used jokingly on occasion: “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.”

* * *

Even when things go topsy-turvy for me, and I’m afraid I’m going to crash the computer or get sick from cleaning an unsavory mess, I don’t need to worry.  The same One who made all seven continents (including Australia) has a handle on the craziness in my life as well.  🙂

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Hairspray?

P1010008Our Constitutions direct us to “use those things entrusted to [us] carefully and in keeping with their purpose.”

This passage comes to mind on occasion as I carry out my work, and I try to follow it.  It came to mind again this past week, this time in regard to my own attempts at cleanliness/ professionalism.

* * *

I headed over to chapel early, as usual for a Thursday.  I had my own private prayer, common Liturgy of the Hours, and sacristy duties to complete before coming to work at the front desk.  Plus, this was my “week for liturgy,” which meant setting up books for visitors in chapel and picking songs for Mass.

Unfortunately, I had done neither of these tasks had I done ahead of time.

In the course of the early morning, I noticed that there was something amiss with the pen I was carrying in my pocket.  Later, I also noticed that my hands were blackened.  I wondered if the black nail polish I had used a couple months ago on my discolored breviary cover was coming off.  That didn’t seem likely, though, after all these weeks had passed.

With my hurried, half-awake mentality, I simply washed my hands and finished what I needed to do before coming the front desk.

At some point, I finally made the connection: my hands were dirty from reaching in my pocket.  My pen was “amiss” because the had become unscrewed there – it had leaked!  You might say it exploded in my pocket!

As it would turn out, not only were the pen and my keys in the pocket this morning, but the space in my skirt was also shared temporarily by my magnetic name badge.  Also, I carry a rosary, and it, too, was tarnished.  I threw the culpable, dysfunctional pen out before it could do any more damage.

I vaguely remembered hearing that hairspray is supposed to be good for taking out ink; I confirmed this with two of my co-workers, recalling that I had a bottle of hairspray at home.

Actually, my novice mistress had given it to me years before, in case I might need it for any reason.  The bottle was now almost empty, although I don’t remember the last time I’d used it.

It’s been a busy few days, but I finally got around to my ink removal efforts this afternoon.  I hated to see my nice name badge ruined by ink spots and hoped the hairspray would live up to its reputation.

I applied it to the badge and remembered the soiled rosary as well.  It worked pretty well, but it looked like the rosary looked like it could still stand a little help, so I sprayed it again with hairspray and left it to set awhile.

This evening, I rinsed it out again and draped it over the handle of a bathroom drawer to dry thoroughly.

Good thing the drawer was not explicitly “entrusted to me” because I don’t know that I was really using it “in keeping with its purpose,” either.  However, I don’t think any harm will come to the drawer because of its unconventional use.

As I come and go, be it a busy Thursday morning or a quiet Sunday afternoon at the front desk, I pray that I use the life that’s entrusted to me “carefully,” in a way that will bring good to others.

I pray that, somehow, my little life can help others when things are amiss and make their days more bright and fresh.

“Coffee-Time Apostolate”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis photo is from the inside of the cupboard door in our kitchenette, near where the coffee cups are kept.

It is a little “cheat sheet” for Sr. Elaine who daily hosts “coffee-time” after Mass.

This little note is there to remind her of all the different beverage preferences of those who regularly attend this morning session.

Some like decaffeinated, some like “the real thing,” (Sr. Elaine refers to this difference as “leaded or unleaded.”   Some prefer cappuccino, and others like “half & half” (half water/half coffee).

She truly exercises a spirit of hospitality, taking time from her heavy workload to facilitate fellowship and provide beverages and treats to those who wish to gather and visit here after Mass.

Today, some of the fresh rhubarb we’ve received will go toward this cause in the form of sour cream rhubarb bars made by our baking team (Sr. Christina and resident[s]).

Checking in…

Thanksgiving serviceIt’s been a little while since I’ve sought feedback from readers of Our Franciscan Fiat.

I thought this would be a good time to do so again since I am not inspired to write anything (even after six days of retreat).

If you’d take a moment to share your thoughts and suggestions, I would appreciate it.

Also, I’ll put in a reminder here that you are welcome to share these posts with others and share your comments with me;  it’s always fun to hear from you!

I have a handy-dandy form (see below) which I would encourage you to fill out for me.

Thanks and God bless you!

And the Lord Gave Me…Rhubarb

Picture1

The title of this post derives from words in St. Francis’ testament.  You are right if you’re thinking: “Wait a minute…I don’t remember ever hearing St. Francis talk about rhubarb!”

The final word of the title is my own, but the first part, namely, “the Lord gave me,” is as accurate today as it was 800 years ago.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I had barely finished the first day of retreat, and was already starting to go bats…I don’t do well with silence and inactivity for days on end.  It strikes me nearly every year on our six-day silent retreat that I could never be a hermitess!

Silence and time for reflection are good, don’t get me wrong.  I truly see the value in them.  However, credit it to my own deficiency, but I struggle with too much quiet and solitude.

That being said, I was having a hard time this morning…I just needed a little something to do besides read, pray, and walk (three things that I normally readily do –  for shorter time periods).

Despite my offers, no one had given me any little projects; didn’t they know how much I needed them?

I had begun taking matters into my own hands a bit, implementing my previous library experience and checking the shelves for proper order (known in the library-world as “shelf-reading).

But, this didn’t really cut it.

I brought my disquiet, my interior difficulty, to prayer on more than one occasion within this short period:

And, the Lord gave me rhubarb.

What?!!!!

I’m serious and will explain.

Around midday, passing through the kitchen, I quietly (in keeping with the atmosphere of silence) asked if the cook needed any help.  After having me assist with dishes, she also said that if I could make some dessert, she would appreciate it.

I was surprised; I hadn’t expected such an offer!  When I asked what she would have me make she offered several options.  In the course of the conversation (oops, was I talking?), she mentioned rhubarb and I learned that they had both frozen and fresh (out in the rhubarb patch).

Thus it was that I ended up picking seven cups worth of rhubarb, thawing two bags of frozen, making a kettle of sauce, and baking a rhubarb upside down cake.

I don’t mean to scandalize anyone with this non-retreat-like report, but it was just what the doctor ordered!

The Divine Physician, whom I had been invoking, knew that rhubarb was just the medicine I needed on this retreat, as unconventional as it may sound.

Mark Your Calendars…Mother Daughter Days

Don’t forget…

Our Franciscan Fiat

franciscan associate 009.JPGThe date is set!  Our annual Mother Daughter Days will be held August 17-19 at St. Francis Convent in Hankinson, North Dakota.

Sr. Jean Louise has been leading this lovely event for over ten years, now.

It’s an opportunity for mothers and their daughters to get away, spend some special time together growing in their faith, and even have a little fun.

They join the Sisters for prayer, Mass, meals, and story sharing.

If you’re interested in joining us, please call Sr. Jean Louise at: 701.208.1245 or email: ndfranciscan@yahoo.com.

To download the flyer, click here.

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What a Ditz!

img_0218This expression may not sound very dignified, but I did not feel at all dignified yesterday morning!

The June sun was already becoming hot at only 10:30 a.m.

Don’t worry; I was not using the above derogatory phrase against anyone but myself. One of my co-workers had offered me that I could come and pick her rhubarb – she did not want this first batch.

I had decided to take her up on the offer and thought I would take two of our able-bodied residents with so they could enjoy an outing and have a sense of being helpful (something they very much enjoy).

I had been to her place a couple of times before, but it had been a while, so I got some directions when she was at work the afternoon before.  She promised she would park out back so I would more readily recognize the place.

After tracking down the wheelbarrow and waiting for “my ladies” to finish their morning coffee, I headed out the door and toward “a blue house a couple of blocks down, by the ally.”

We must have kind of been a sight: two elderly ladies, a wheelbarrow, and a sister…walking down the sidewalk on the north side of Grand Forks!

Oh well, it was for a good cause!

We reached Eighth Avenue, the street on which our benefactor-to-be had her residence.  I was on the lookout for a blue house, blue garage, promised parked vehicle, and the rhubarb patch.  I spotted a blue house, and none other was in sight.

I wasn’t quite sure…did that seem right?  A gentleman was out in a nearby yard so I inquired with him.

Finally, I did spot a small rhubarb patch in the corner of that yard and, unable to find a house number, assumed it must be the right place.  I would have felt better if I’d caught sight of my coworker to confirm things, but what could I do?

We parked the wheelbarrow and I instructed my companions as to what I wanted them to do: I would pick and they should please tear off the leaves, putting the stalks on a pile on the ground and the leaves in the wheelbarrow.  (This would make transporting things back easier.)

Things went alright with the picking.  The three of us made a good team.  However, I did notice that it was starting to go to seed.

As we were finishing, I thought I’d try again to connect with my generous co-worker.  (Throughout the course of the escapade, I called her house a few times.)

I did finally connect with her and found out that I had, in fact, picked rhubarb from the wrong place!!!  Now what?

No one appeared to be home, as I had observed before.  I didn’t want to just leave the rhubarb out, but what should I do?

Oh well, we would take it back, clean it up, and try to make things right with the owner, whose identity I would have to seek out.

I felt like such a fool: here I was with two senior residents and a wheelbarrow full of stolen rhubarb!

My co-worker, bless her heart, did not leave me to my demise in the building heat.  She took her car out and came looking for the thievish trio.  Having finally found us, she offered the two ladies a ride back home.  Meanwhile, she had showed me where her rhubarb was so I could pick it before returning to St. Anne’s.

I ended up with a bigger load of rhubarb than I expected!  I had previously announced a “rhubarb-cutting party” for 12:45 that afternoon, and when it was all said and done, we ended up processing about 35 pounds of this “North Dakota State Weed.”

In closing, might I add that I am attempting restitution to the owner of the first rhubarb patch.  With help from the other rhubarb owner, I have sent a message and am awaiting a reply.   However, both of us doubt that the owner was really interested.  After all, he was letting it go to seed, and she said he is not often home.

If I thought I was done making foolish mistakes, I guess I had another thing coming!

Come, Father of the Poor!

PA310028.JPGToday, the feast of Pentecost, is one of the few times when we have a “Sequence” during the liturgical year.  In a couple weeks, for Corpus Christi, we’ll have another one.

This morning, I actually used the beautiful text of the sequence for Pentecost in my prayer.  This ancient prayer invokes the Holy Spirit under several different titles: source of all our store,  comforter, guest, solace, light divine, etc.  However, the one the stuck out to me today was “Father of the poor.”

A person could look at this several different ways, I’m sure, but it spoke to me in that I am poor.  On my own, I can do nothing.  As much as I may strive to “do good and avoid evil,” I fall very short.  Without the Holy Spirit’s help, I fail again and again.

We are all poor, completely dependent upon God.  Our consolation is that the Holy Spirit is the Father of the Poor; He can attend to our need and give us the grace we so need.

This past week, in preparation for this great feast of Pentecost, our community has been praying this same text as a novena.

When I lived in Rugby, ND, we actually prayed it every evening with Vespers, so I have it committed to memory.

As we celebrate Pentecost, praying for the Holy Spirit’s action in our lives, you may, too, wish to use it for meditation.

Sequence — Veni, Sancte Spiritus

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.
Alleluia.