Saturday, June 29, 2013

Of Wrens and Turtles

  The other day I went to the tool shed to get out our tiller for the garden, and was startled to see a mess of pine needles perched on top of an upright shovel.  The handle of the shovel was braced against a very narrow shelf (just the width of a 2 by 4), making a slightly wider platform. “Who put that handful of mulch there?” was my first thought, swiftly followed by my second, “Why would anyone put that there?”. I called it a“mess”, yet it had a certain, strange cohesiveness to it.Cautiously I put out an exploring finger and gingerly touched the “mess”.  Phtt!  Out flew Momma Wren from the side of her home nest.  I had to peak around to the right to see her clever, tubular entrance. Isn't this so much like life?  A seemingly chaotic mess ends up having a lively purpose.

Yesterday, I decided to take a picture of the Wren’s nest to share.  Then, I thought to take a walk and what did I see but a turtle making a visit to our cemetery.  With fully outstretched neck and front legs,it looked for all the world as if it was lost in ecstatic prayer before the crucifix there.    
Good thing I had the camera!  Upon finishing my photographing,being a good Franciscan, I gently picked up Brother Turtle and brought him close to the pond.  However, my devotion stopped short of braving ticks, chiggers and snakes to go right up to the water.  So I put Turtle on the sloping ground and hoped he would get the idea. No sooner than I let him go than he scuttled off toward the pond faster than I had ever seen a turtle move.  

You just never know what adventures await a nun when she steps outside her monastery on Mt. St. Francis!

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Today, Poor Clares celebrate what we call “Covenant Day”.  When St.Clare was alive, her monastery was in danger and she turned to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament for help.  She heard a voice from the Sacred Host say, “I will always take care of you”.  So faithfully has He kept His covenant promise that we are here over 800 years later to tell the story!  Our Postulant Sarah recently wrote a poem called “Covenant” which I would like to share:

(From Bethany the people sniff the breeze and listen for the shatter of Denarii thrown away)

As a wedding day blooms with this new dawn
I hold again my yet unbroken jar
Of self-smell perfume
Facing my choice anew

Do I save, like a miser, my greatest gift to give?
Or do I anoint now
Grimy feet and the thirsty dust
With fragments of
And blood?

But do I ask, at this high hour?
When, from the cross, my Bridegroom gives
His fragrant heart
Poured out like
From a broken alabaster jar.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Great Puddle of Galilee

Blessed Father's Day to all our Fathers, especially our Poor Clare Dads who have given their daughters to the Lord!  It is my pleasure to share a story written by our Postulant Mary about St. Joseph, Jesus' own foster Dad:

The Great Puddle of Galilee

It was a bright and clear midsummer's morning when Joseph stepped out of his carpentry workshop. He leaned against the frame of the door; a light and pleasurable smile seemed to augment his face as he watched his wife tending the gardens and his little son playing in the sand from afar. He fixed his eyes on the child, squinting slightly to see what the lad could be doing. When his curiosity intensified, he finally resolved to leave the comfortably shaded lintel frame and walk out to discover the reason behind the child's amusement.
His wife looked up as he came her way, her rosy face questioning him as he put a finger to his mouth and then pointed towards her son. She silently turned towards the object of his attention and then turned back to give him his favorite illuminating smile that always reached her eyes. He smiled back and then continued on his way as she continued happily on with her work.
When Joseph drew nearer, he saw the child drag a bucket full of water and empty it out into His freshly made hole.
“What are you working on, son?" He asked as he came to his knees and peered into the water just as the child was placing a small boat, made with leaves and twigs, into His newly made puddle.
"It is the Sea of Galilee and this," He pushed the tiny makeshift boat, "is the boat my twelve fishermen will use."
Joseph smiled; he was used to his son's peculiar speeches, and tapped the "boat" with his callused finger.
"I am afraid, son, your boat will not be able to stand the storms that will pursue it. Especially with twelve men on this little thing ... "  Joseph's voice died out as he became enlightened by an idea. "Come!" He scooped up the child and tossed Him onto his shoulders while the boy laughed with anticipation. "I will take you to my workshop and finally start teaching you our trade. And your first lesson, Jesus, will be how to make a toy boat."

Monday, June 10, 2013

Garden Update by Pictures

I thought I would share a Poor Clare garden update by pictures. Our cloister patio has really grown up! Here are pictures of the river birches and another view of a flowering bush. Peaches are growing on our fruit trees out back. Two of our dog patrol brigade are here pictured. Our Lady's outdoor shrine has been newly refurbished. Summer squash is beginning to produce in the vegetable field. Last week's tropical storm gave our gardens a thorough watering!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What are these Wounds?

For the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I would like to share a poem by one of our Sisters who meditates on His Holy Wounds:

What are these Wounds?

“What are these wounds, my Lord, upon Your breast?”
Asked one among the household of His own.
“These wounds are made by those I favor best.”

He who replied, the King upon His throne,
Bore wounds as well in hands and feet and side.
With light resplendent all the bruises shone,

And as he held their mirror to His bride,
A sadness infinite was in His eyes.
Yet love and lasting pity flowed full tide

And broke upon the shores of her disguise
To wash her gently back against His breast.
“Am I not more to you than self’s vain prize?”

Then she through whom the sword of shame had passed
 Asked not, “What are these wounds upon Your breast?”

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Hidden Hearth

      Every time a Poor Clare comes into the presence of the Eucharistic Lord, she prays the prayer of our Father St. Francis:  "We adore you, O Most Holy Lord Jesus Christ, here and in all your churches which are in the whole world!"  Today, at 11AM, when we gathered in our monastic choir, it was literally true that everywhere the whole Church was adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.  It was such an awesome moment!

Of course, adoration is a way of life for us.  Every day we have the privilege of worshiping the Holy Eucharist as He is exposed on our altar.  One Sister expresses the intimacy of our daily gathering in this lovely poem: 

The Hidden Hearth

When six flickering flames
Gradually hush the quiet noise of intellect.
Beacon home the wandering heart
            To rest in You;

When dawn-lighteases dark from this room,
Earnest with the stillness of prayer,
These walls become the walls of the world
            Over Your house of gold.

Listening, I know Your love is
            Greater far than our desire,
Great enough to take the look
Of bread and weakness
            To be our food and power.

Godhead gazing from this open door,
You know what destinies hinge
            On this hearth fire gathering,
What sparks fly to kindle new fire
            Across the face of earth.

What You do to unresisting
            Wheat and wine,

            O, Work in us.

Exposition on our altar