NEWSLETTER Winter 2004
Dear Friends of Carmel , Christmas, 2004
How shall we know it is Christmas? This was the theme of one of our Journey and the Joy articles, recently. The article, of course, was based on an old Hasidic tale in which the wise teacher asked his students how they would know that dawn had come. One of the first signs of Christmas around the monastery is seeing the wreath from Appalachia hung on the lantern by our entrance. We think of the people who made the wreath, and in a way, are united with them. Christmas also means an overflowing mail table and all kinds of deadlines we wish we had not made for ourselves. St. Teresa never liked deadlines, for she thought deadlines did a number on one’s prayer-life. Niebuhr (no relation) must have been a very busy person, also. He said that nothing worth doing is ever completed in our lifetime. What a cheery thought!
Actually, we know it is Christmas when we start realizing how nice other people are, and we get a certain feeling inside. It is as though something inside our whole being responds and says, “Yes, this is how I ought to feel more often.” It seems like Rabbi Kushner said something like this once. There is also a line in the Talmud that says: When someone does a kind deed he or she didn’t have to do, God looks down and smiles and says, “For this alone it was worth creating the world.” We certainly know this to be true. There are many people in our lives who have kept God encouraged this past year. God thanks you for this, and so do we.
Recently, one of our old-time friends reminded us that, some years ago, we used to dot our Christmas newsletter here and there with quotable quotes taken from our shoebox of trivia. We do feel that the Shoe Box Card Ministries got their idea from us. At any rate, we will honor this request as a sort of Christmas gift to you. “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted .” (Aesop) Besides, good quotes have a way of spurring all of us on to greater things.
On October 27, we saw the first part of the eclipse of the moon. Since clouds were predicted, the newscaster told us that we would not be able to see the eclipse. However, we knew how to get around this one. Since it was the eve of the Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude (one was a saint of the impossible), we prayed to them. The clouds parted and we did see the first part of the eclipse. It is such an awesome thing to see the shadow of our own earth up in the sky. Abraham Cowley (we have no idea who he is) said that God’s Place is everywhere.
On November 10 , our Sister Catherine Luth took up her new residence at The Alverno Health Care Facility in Clinton , Iowa, where, currently, our Sister Rozanne Heller is. True to her beautiful spirituality, Sister Catherine saw this move as God’s will and love for her, and had much peace in making this decision. She remains, of course, a cherished member of our group, as is Sister Rozanne. Now, they both have the task of bringing Carmel into a new setting, while at the same time imbibing the wonderful spirit of St. Francis of Assisi. Carmel and Francis will get along fine. We always say that one can be a contemplative anywhere. “It takes courage to listen to one’s own goodness and to act on it.” ( Pablo Casals)
After all our wandering, we arrive back where we began and see the place for the first time. So pens the poet. Using the words from the wise teacher in that Hasidic tale referred to above, and changing it a bit to fit Christmas, we will know it is Christmas when we can look into the faces of other people and we have enough light within ourselves to see all of them as our brothers and sisters.
Dear readers of this saga, know that you are brothers and sisters to us, as well as very dear friends. Be assured that we will remember you in our nightly Christmas processions to the crib. There, we will place your intentions near the Child in the manger - near Mary and Joseph. One last thought: “When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in another person.” Helen Keller
Merry Christmas! Your Carmelites ~ Eldridge, Iowa