“As a Child Finds Rest…”

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Familiar words from Psalm 131 came to mind for me after Communion this morning: “As a child finds rest in its mother’s arms, even so, my soul.”

It came as a moment of quiet, restful peace which I really appreciated.

I have been so gifted these last couple of days.  I have received such blessings and relief.  A burdensome situation (of many months) seems to have been resolved.  (Sometimes we don’t know what weight we are bearing until it is lifted.)

Also, we got a new oven so I can bake with “my ladies.”  (a few of our residents thoroughly enjoy helping bake; I have been limited in doing this recently due to a dysfunctional oven.)  I would have been happy with a used one – anything had to be better than what we had.  (The new stove’s maiden voyage of a pot of rhubarb sauce was a success.)

On top of all this, I had this quiet moment of grace this morning.

I am so blessed!  I have to be thankful to Our Lord for taking such good care of me on life’s journey.

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Give Them All

This evening, after a somewhat stressful day, I put on an old cassette tape I’d received from my mom.  (Yes, I still have some around!)

One of the songs gave me a nudge that I am still working to implement.  I’ve been dealing with a couple of challenging issues here, and have found myself feeling frustrated.  The vocalist, whose music I grew up with, encouraged her listeners, encouraged ME, to “give them all to Jesus.”

I think there might be something to the timing of me hearing this song.  I think I should be attentive to the beautiful words contained there.

In the near future, I need to set aside a moment to make a real effort at giving my present frustrations and concerns over to Jesus; I think He can handle them (better than I can).  It’s easier said then done, though.

Snow, Snow, Look at the Snow!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast evening, shortly before 10 p.m., I returned to St. Anne’s (the facility at which I work) to bring the dog back.  (Recently, “Zoe” has been an evening guest at our convent.)

Snow was falling; it was beautiful.  Something about a fresh snow fall tends to bring out the playful little girl in me.  That is, until mid-January when I am sick and tired of it.

While waiting for the dog, who wasn’t as quick as I was, I preceded to try drawing a smile face in the snow, something I often do when that “little girl” gets the better of me.

The snow was still falling, though, and I figured that my cheerful illustration would be covered up in a soft blanket of white long before anyone could see it in the morning.

When I got inside with Zoe and brushed off my feet, I saw a few of our residents gathered in the atrium, a room which my dad has dubbed “the perfect place to watch a snowstorm.”  (the room has an abundance of window space.)

To these lingering residents, I exclaimed: “Snow, snow!  Look at the snow,” quoting a book we knew and loved as children.  I continued on, quoting: “Do you like snow?  Yes, I like snow!  Do you like it in your face?  Yes, I like it any place!”

I’m not so sure I agree with all of that, but there is something beautiful about God’s gift of that fluffy white stuff!

What do you think?

Ancient Egyptian Technology

halloween.jpgWe had quite the day here at St. Anne’s!

Several of us enjoy celebrating “All Hallows Eve,” dressing up, partying, and what not.

As a follow up to our Bible study unit on the Exodus, in which we loved using the song: “Go Down, Moses,”  Paulla, our wonderful activities assistant, found a costume for an Egyptian pharaoh at a local thrift store.

Boy did we have fun, today!  We sang this fun song a few times, helped with a bingo party, and served hot dogs, cooked using ancient Egyptian technology (we kidded).

The activities staff actually used the oven in our kitchenette, but it did not work well.  We are having real problems with it, although it really isn’t ancient.

My pumpkin/jack-o-lantern costume (pictured above) is really more ancient, having been made years ago by my mom and me when I was in grade school.

I can tell that it needs a little mending work as the face is starting to come off.  (It was made using iron-on material.)

We should all sleep well tonight after all the excitement.  A little expression I’ve heard seems fitting for the occasion:  “Sleep with the angels; rise with the saints.”

After all, it’s All Saints Day tomorrow.

Borrowing St. Anthony

Preschool libraryYesterday morning, when I was working as receptionist, I got a couple of phone calls for Sr. Elaine within a fairly short time period, both from our evening receptionist, Carla.

I think I kind of wondered what was up, but “minded my own business.”

This evening, after finishing our semi-monthly community spiritual discussion, Sr. Elaine filled us in on the humorous details:

Carla had called, saying that her good friend was trying to find her keys, which she had lost.  She had recently been traveling.  She told Carla that she would have to have St. Anthony help her find the keys.  Or, she might try looking up some new saints to help since the old ones were pretty busy already.

Carla had advised her not to bother with St. Anthony since was too busy helping Sr. Elaine find missing objects.  Sr. Elaine told Carla that this friend could borrow St. Anthony for a while (to help find her keys).

Shortly thereafter, Carla called back to tell Sr. Elaine that she could have St. Anthony back now; her friend had found her keys right away after asking his intercession.  She thanked Sr. Elaine for letting her borrow him.

And I thank Sr. Elaine for letting me ‘borrow’ this delightful little story!

“Stay With Me, Lord!”

I’m not usually one to have a ton of little devotionals and prayer cards around, but I got one just the other day that is really “a keeper.”  My parents had come up to Grand Forks to help us with our annual fall sale and luncheon this weekend.  Their presence was much appreciated.

Along with their cherished help and company, they also gave use a few other treasures.  One of these was a simple paper given me by my mom.  She offered me St. Pio of Pietrelcina’s Prayer after Holy Communion entitled “Stay with me, Lord!”

This line grabbed my attention, as the scripture of the journey to Emmaus is one of my favorites.  The petition of those two early disciples to their companion Easter evening always strikes a chord with me.

On reading the prayer that followed, I was edified to see several of my own sentiments voiced by a canonized saint.  It was consoling to realize that someone who is now in heaven once shared some of my own heart’s stirrings.

Parts of the prayer that really touched me in this way were:

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You.  You know how easily I abandon You.  Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often.  Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life,
and without You, I am without fervor.  Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light,
and without You, I am in darkness…Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You
very much, and always be in Your company.  Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You…Stay with me tonight, Jesus, in life with all its dangers. I need You.

So, I gathered, St. Pio (commonly known as ‘Padre Pio’), known for holiness, also faced struggles with his own weakness.  He also keenly felt his need for Christ’s presence and help.

I guess maybe there’s hope for me, after all.

Organized Chaos

No time (or inspiration) to write more!! This post from last year will explain! 🙂

Our Franciscan Fiat

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It happens every year!  The twenty-four hour (plus) period before the conclusion of our annual sale and luncheon Saturday afternoon feels like a whirlwind around St. Anne’s Guest Home where I work.

We are busy hanging tapestries, putting out cards and knick-knacks, putting up tables for displays, cutting out price stickers, and countless other little details in preparation for our annual Craft, Bake and Variety Sale.

A lot of other work has already been done.  Our activities staff have been busy organizing and displaying various articles.  I have been busy promoting the event (which is held in conjunction with our luncheon), and the three of us sisters have been making extra efforts to get towels embroidered for the sale.

I’ve come to refer to all of this hustle and bustle as “organized chaos.”  We are organized and pretty much know what we’re doing, but, all the preparations and all the extra people…

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Stop in and Say ‘Thank you’

Crucifix from the St. Anne's Convent ChapelAfter our annual “Fire Safety In-Service” (not my favorite pastime), I stopped home for a couple of things.  While there, I received a phone call that was truly a blessing.  I have been facing a couple of challenging situations and this conversation was a cherished opportunity to share and discuss it with a caring confidant.

I was so grateful.

After hanging up the phone, I walked toward our little convent chapel, meaning to quickly genuflect (as I customarily do) before leaving to return to my workplace.

As I was about to hurriedly do this, it occurred to me to do otherwise.  I spontaneously told myself something to the effect of: “Don’t just hurry past; stop in and say ‘thank you.’ ”

~ ~ ~

Truly, I have so much for which to say “thank you.”  A beautiful fall day such as this makes me especially aware of this.

20170912_170538I had gone out with a couple of our residents for a walk earlier in the afternoon.  The beautiful temperatures and golden leaves around me helped put more of a spring in my step.  In fact, I gave into my childish whim and jumped in a pile of leaves.  (Some days, it seems I’ll never grow up.)

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Put in a Good Word for Me!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI work a few evenings a week here at the front desk.  Sometimes, when I see someone heading toward our chapel (if I know them well enough to be comfortable), I’ll encourage them: “Put in a good word for me.”  (There is one individual who I am especially prone to exhort in this way.)

I figure that I need all the prayers I can get, and what better place to find them than with someone who is on the way to visit Christ, present in our chapel?

It is wonderful that we can all work together, spiritually as well as physically!

The Catechism speaks of a wonderful phenomenon known as “the communion of saints,” which not only relates to those individuals who have been officially canonized, but also to the other members of the mystical body of Christ.

Let’s not forget that we can all help each other on our way, even if it is in as simple a way as just “putting in a good word” for a friend in need.

As you read this, I’d appreciate if you’d put it to practice on my behalf; after all, I need all the help I can get!

Sr. Christina M. Neumann, OSF

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