Newsletter - Fall 2007

Novena To St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila)


O Valiant Woman of God,be my companion all

along the way.

In your holy presence,
I ask my heart

what it desires most at this moment. Within me, I hear a still small voice praying:

“O loving God,

change me into the person you created me to be. Send your Holy Spirit to make clear my purpose in life, my call. I am only one person. I cannot do everything. But, what I can do, I want to do. I

realize that in the end, Life always asks for the heart.


With full and joyful abandon,

I give you my all.”


St. Teresa of Jesus, pray for us.

I place this cause in your hands.



Fall 2007

Dear Friends of Carmel,

Sometimes, the best part of a book is the Preface. In one of her books, Barbara Johnson talks about the time she was the speaker at a bookseller function. She decided to close the talk with a line from her latest book. To her surprise, it gained for her a standing ovation. Here is the line: “Life is not always what you want it to be, but it is what you have. So, stick a geranium in your hat and be happy. ” We feel that every once in a while it is our task to encourage our readers to find a pretty weed, or just a colored leaf, to stick in their hats and to be happy. St. Teresa of Avila , herself, has many pages devoted to happiness, and only a wee page or so devoted to gloom. As for finding a geranium, we prefer the friendly zinnias or the lovely purple coneflower that is native to our area . Some of our zinnias were taller than the median height of our community. This is due of course to the rains of the season - the sometimes too abundant rains. St. Teresa wrote about the kind of prayer that falls like the rain from heaven. It is prayer that comes upon us through the quiet and gentle movement of God in the soul. As to over-abundance, things now seem to be working out. As one of our farmers used to say, “The rains came, or stopped, one day before it was too late.”
We can’t help gravitating toward the out-of-doors in the summer and autumn. It is so much a part of our lives. Connected with this, we have the good fortune of being able to scurry outside to get pictures of the sun rising or setting. It is always a surprise to see how quickly the sun “seems” to rise or sink out of sight into another part of the world. One evening, one of our expert photo-takers raced back inside the house, saying, “I can’t find the moon. All I see is corn!” Need we comment? This is Iowa . And then, there is the harvest moon. It is so faithful, calm and beautiful. We’re told that this kind of moon is called the harvest moon because farmers used to harvest by its light. It is so bright.
In the middle of the summer, we were surprised by a visit from Journeyman Pictures, a New York- based film company. The person in charge needed a space for a tent that would accommodate the staff in between filming. The setting was just a short distance from our monastery. We ended up offering our orchard to the west. The story (yet to be given a title at the time of writing) is about a young eighteen-year-old from the Dominican Republic who sees Field of Dreams , and as a result wants to play ball in Iowa . The young man is selected by a league team and is sent to Davenport , Iowa , to play for the Quad City Swing. We recall well how we used the popular line from Field of Dreams , when we built on to the monastery, now almost fifteen years ago: “If you build it, they will come.” There is another well-known line. One of the actors questions the farmer, “Is this heaven?” “No,” answers the farmer. “This is Iowa .”

No matter where we look, we see that God is good. On September 8, Sister JonFe Marie de Torres pronounced her First Vows. On September 15, Sister Susan Dreyer formally took part in the Rite of Initiation into Carmel , taking the name of Sister Teresa Susan. The call to this life is so mysterious and so beautiful. With open hearts, we welcome you, dear Sisters JonFe and Teresa Susan. May both of you be embraced by God.

When we look up and see the geese heading south, we realize that we will be celebrating Thanksgiving before we write to you, again. How can we find a way to thank you for being in our lives? Dear Friends, allow us to send you a blessing:
May you come to know that your own personal story is the story of God . May you weather those difficult times, for they, too, bring hidden and precious gifts. Most of all, may the warmth of the autumn sun remind you that God will always be there for you.

Please know that we pray for you every day.

Your Carmelites,

Eldridge, Iowa


What lies behind and what lies ahead are tiny matters compared to what lies within .



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