Newsletter - Winter 2006


   All Places with

     Light in them truly are


Jessica Powers

Dear Friends of Carmel, Christmas, 2006

Christmas! The very word stirs up all kinds of images and many more memories. One image for us is the Christmas newsletter to all our devoted friends. In her book, A Tree Full of Angels , Macrina Wiederkehr has a chapter entitled “Finding God in the Mailbox”. We certainly hope this happens with this letter. Letters are stories of our souls, she says. Unlike telephone calls, a letter can be picked up again and again. It can be pondered. On our part, we say that letters should always be served with hot tea and a good foot rest. As to actually composing our own letter, we agree with Emerson. He says that it is the good reader who makes the good letter. Thank you for being that.


And, so we begin. It is Christmas! There is that special feeling within us, telling us that all shall be well, and every manner of thing. For a brief time, we forget about the bumps in the road, and secretly believe that they, too, may have been a blessing in disguise. There is the sense that each Christmas catches up every Christmas that has gone on before. This means that every joy from the past is still able to touch us, no matter how old it is. Indeed, joys get better with age. As we begin our letters, we usually light a candle asking God that we might say something that will lift up the hearts of our readers. Some years ago, we put out a brochure stating that we are ordinary people with a prayer and a dream. This has not changed. We know that you, too, have a dream. May you touch your own dream as we write on, and may your dream touch you.


Every once in awhile, in our simple life together, unexpected humor has a way of visiting us. Reinhold Niebuhr says that humor is a prelude to faith and that laughter is the beginning of prayer. Since we have Niebuhr’s permission to enjoy the humorous, we would like to share the following with you. The story goes something like this. Being out here in the country, we are never real sure that the Three Kings will find us in any given Christmas season. However, this year, we are not worried. On Halloween, the Queen of Sheba paid us an early visit. Donned in remnants from our sewing room and topped by an elegant head gear, never seen by holy men, women, or children before, the Queen claimed she was related to the Manning brothers. Some of us had the discourtesy to ask who the Manning brothers were. ( ‘Sorry, Peyton and Eli.) The next day, due to the cleverness and genius of our computer experts, we learned the Queen’s mode of travel. In a spirit of homespun fun, a picture was compiled with this same Queen sedately perched on a rather placid camel while the Manning brothers looked on. We were fortunate enough to have a picture of the Manning brothers taken from a Ritz cracker box. Isn’t God good?

By the time you receive this mailing, there will be a candle in our window, welcoming the stranger and the friend - the Christ Child, too. The candle also welcomes anyone who may feel called to our life. Currently, there is a fine woman, who has seen our candle and is here experiencing our life. Another will come in January. We try to keep this candle burning as a reminder that, deep down, everyone is a contemplative.


Be Assured that we will be praying for you during our nightly processions to the crib in the days before Christmas. Know, too, that we will be carrying all your intentions in our hearts as we sing the traditional “Our Lady of O”.

Jessica Powers, a Carmelite poet of our day, recalls the day in her youth when she found herself on Michigan Boulevard in Chicago . She states that there was a star over that street. It was her star, she says. She could only bring her hunger, loneliness and poverty that snowy night. These were her gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Because the Child was asleep, and the radiance was too bright, she gave her gifts to the Mother, who had tears on her face. What a message for us. When going to the manger, we come as we are, and offer whatever we have, joy or pain. There will always be a gift exchange.

Dear Friends of Carmel, may you see, again, the star above your own heart and home, and may you feel, again, its comfort and assurance that you are on the right path. God~Emmanuel is always with us. As always, prayer is our gift to you. May this be the best Christmas ever!

Your Carmelite Sisters in Eldridge Iowa


Soon, all the hallows

of the world

will be filled with God.


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