...Dear Friends of Carmel,
In one of his works, Charles Dickens has the character exhorting the audience to keep Christmas in their hearts all year. We really try to do this here. In the fall, long before the trees are even thinking of changing color, we think about our Christmas newsletter. Many years ago, when we first started writing you, we used to look out for miles across the fields to the south of the Holy Family herb garden and ask ourselves, and God, what we might say to the world to help lift up hearts and to bring about a spirit of joy and hope. Back then, we used to introduce the different paragraphs with pithy sayings in an effort to spice up our very ordinary sharings. If the quotes didn't quite fit, we made them fit, with apologies to the original authors. This year, we thought we might try this again as a sort of Christmas Special. Some of the sayings that follow come from a group of professionals who posed the question, "What is love?" to a group of young children. Others are from various sources. Some are even "a-nun-ymous."
Great hopes make great people. Thomas Fuller
As this letter begins, our writer is sitting near the kitchen window looking out at a pink and advent- blue dawn. In another direction, a curious rabbit on the parking lot is doing the same. The cornfield to the north is now shorn. Our chaplain told us that the field looked much like a little village with all its straw huts. Those who know about such things call them ricks. Having the fields down is a real holiday for the far-sighted and visionary. To help the change of season, we turned our clocks back the end of October. Those who forgot about this little detail were early birds at Morning Praise the next day.
There are two kinds of love. Your love and God's love. God makes both kinds. Jenny (Age 4)
Leading up to November 13, we celebrated our Sister Rozanne's 90th birthday for three days with cakes, balloons, cards, flowers and ice cream, closing with a community Mass on "thee" day. We quoted Wordsworth "words worth" by reminding ourselves that "trailing clouds of glory, we come from God who is our home."
Love is what makes you smile when you are tired. Terri (Age 4)
Several good and faithful friends helped us put our garden and roses to sleep for the winter. There was one small disappointment, however. The early unseasonably cold weather prevented us from completing our task of raking our leaves and putting them in piles according to color! Speaking of laborers of prayer in God's harvest, on December 6, another fine woman from Michigan plans to visit us. She tells us that the monastic way is attractive to her. Please pray for her and for us.
When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. Billy (Age 4)
We have added two new images to our Gift of Prayer enrollment cards. One of them is Our Lady of Mt. Carmel from the stained glass window in the former Bettendorf Carmelite Monastery chapel. The other is "Christmas Morning," a monastery scene of light coming through the trees. The Christmas Angel and the Christmas Rose are also available . Please see the enclosed brochure for details. It's true. The best things of life are close at hand.
Take off your shoes. This is holy ground. Exodus
Here is a bit of humor to add to your day: We receive many calls and letters asking us to pray. One caller, actually a light-hearted and fun- loving friend, began her request with a very unique Australian accent. We were told that she was trying to imitate the Sister who answered the phone. She figured that if she were talking to a nun, out of respect, she should talk like one.
Love is what is in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen. Bobby (Age 5)
We like Bobby's definition the best. With that, we would like to close with a special Christmas blessing. May the good God cradle your hearts and homes in love. May you be shown a star that is just for you, and may you come to know that all the good you have ever done lives on and is still at work. As always, you remain in our love and prayers.
Your Carmelites, Eldridge, Iowa