Newsletter - Spring 2008




Faith is the bird that feels

the light, and sings when

the dawn is still dark.




Dear Friends of Carmel,

     Anne Lamott, a humorist, tells the story about her older brother who was ten years old at the time.  He was trying to write a report on birds, a report he had three months to write, and which was due the next day.  He sat there in tears before a mound of unopened books on birds.  His father, a writer himself, sat down beside the boy and put his arms around the lad’s shoulder and said, “Bird by bird, son.  Take it bird by bird.”


      If one were to peer around our dining room door, and the door to our Family Room, one would see little bits of paper containing notes describing the different events that have blessed our very ordinary life since we last wrote to you.  And, so we begin, not bird by bird, but bit by bit. 


     We waited until the last moment to write our newsletter, hoping we would have warm sunshine and promising new flowers to write about.  This hasn’t happened.  As we begin our letter, we are still surrounded with mounds of snow.  However, there have been some benefits with this.  We have perfected our skill in skating out to the mailbox. We even take turns.


          At the end of January, we were visited by a beautiful bald eagle, close up.  It came down lower and lower, and kept circling over the monastery.  We felt visited by God, and kept praying that it would return, which it did.  Poetically, a North American Iroquois Indian writes about an eagle, with great wing feathers brushing away the shadows of darkness and the chill of winter, while pulling back the blanket that hides soothing colors in the eastern sky. Although we have written before about visits from the eagles, we cannot resist doing it again, for each new visit is a new experience, both outer and within.


     This year, we had different ways of coping with the winter.  One Sister found an empty room and turned it into a temporary greenhouse.  On the Feast of St. Agnes (no connection), we served home-grown lettuce, harvested from under the grow-lights.  On another occasion, we staged a picnic in the kitchen.  This was probably the day one of our more inquisitive minds (someone not fully accustomed to our American ways) asked why people put those little red things in the middle of green olives. 


     And then, there is that special musical number high up in our chapel when the winds are overly energetic. We generally refer to the number as coming from the wood cutters.  One of our chaplains calls it the bees.   We have all kinds of erudite discussions as to why this happens.  We tell people that the buzz sound comes from the plastic that was left on the beams, or it could be the wind circling through the soffits.  Of course, we explain to every new person what a soffit is.  One of our members even generated a poem out of respect:

On it, or off it, nothing sounds like our soffit.  (Copyright pending.)


     Returning to our comments on the weather, we expect Holy Saturday evening to be crisp and chilly when we light the new Easter fire under the stars.  Like last year, we plan to carry your intentions with us as we process into a darkened chapel lighted only by the candles we bear.  We will place these intentions near the Paschal candle while we sing the traditional Exultet.  Know that you will be there.  We will be praying for you, especially that the light and the warmth of the Easter fire will find your home.  As Sarah Ban Breathnach says, “Expect your prayers to be answered. The winters of life were never meant to last forever.”


     Thank you for the good you add to this world of ours.  We have a little book containing all kinds of quotes on kindness.  Here is one special one for the road, until we write again.  “When a person does a good deed he or she didn’t have to do, God looks down and smiles and says, ‘For this moment alone, it was worth creating the world.’ (The Talmud)  We could write many poems about you, our faithful and kind friends.  We like to think that God looks down upon you, smiles and says, “Because of you, it was worth creating the world.”


We pray for you, every day.  Happy Easter.  Happy Everyday!

Your Carmelite Sisters - Eldridge, Iowa


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