“Being Human,” a Poem from Nature

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Recently, during one of many zoom calls I attend, Carol Davis, OP shared with us a poem that turned my thinking and heart upside down.  It’s a beautiful way to understand the natural world —  I was captivated by it. Later, I shared the poem at two other meetings and it sparked a different kind of creativity in our conversation. Sometimes a gift like this comes your way and it stays with you a long time.

I share it with you now. Even if you feel self-conscious about it — read it out loud to yourself and imagine what the words are asking and be amazed.


Being Human

By Climbing PoeTree

I wonder if the sun debates dawn
some mornings
not wanting to rise
out of bed
from under the down-feather horizon

if the sky grows tired
of being everywhere at once
adapting to the mood
swings of the weather

if clouds drift off
trying to hold themselves together
make deals with gravity
to loiter a little longer

I wonder if rain is scared
of falling
if it has trouble
letting go

if snow flakes get sick
of being perfect all the time
each one
trying to be one-of-a-kind

I wonder if stars wish
upon themselves before they die
if they need to teach their young
how to shine

I wonder if shadows long
to just-for-once feel the sun
if they get lost in the shuffle
not knowing where they’re from

I wonder if sunrise
and sunset
respect each other
even though they’ve never met

if volcanoes get stressed
if storms have regrets
if compost believes in life
after death

I wonder if breath ever thinks of suicide
if the wind just wants to sit
still sometimes
and watch the world pass by

if smoke was born
knowing how to rise
if rainbows get shy back stage
not sure if their colors match right

I wonder if lightning sets an alarm clock
to know when to crack
if rivers ever stop
and think of turning back

if streams meet the wrong sea
and their whole lives run off-track
I wonder if the snow
wants to be black

if the soil thinks she’s too dark
if butterflies want to cover up their marks
if rocks are self-conscious of their weight
if mountains are insecure of their strength

I wonder if waves get discouraged
crawling up the sand
only to be pulled back again
to where they began

if land feels stepped upon
if sand feels insignificant
if trees need to question their lovers
to know where they stand

if branches waver at the crossroads
unsure of which way to grow
if the leaves understand they’re replaceable
and still dance when the wind blows

I wonder
where the moon goes
when she is in hiding
I want to find her there

and watch the ocean
spin from a distance
listen to her
stir in her sleep

effort give way to existence

-Naima Pen

Posted in Weekly Word

Our Laudato Si’ Commitments

Blog by Associate Judy Hardy

During the Laudato Si’ Special Anniversary Year, in response to the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM), comes the announcement of the launch of a new program and a public commitment for various institutions to begin a 7-year journey to sustainability in the spirit of Laudato Si’.

The Dominican Sisters of Peace are preparing to commit to the seven-year journey which includes seven Laudato Si’ goals:

These goals address a range of areas related to sustainability and ecological conversion:

  1. Response to the cry of the Earth
  2. Response to the cry of the poor
  3. Ecological economics
  4. Adoption of simple lifestyles
  5. Ecological education
  6. Ecological spirituality
  7. Emphasis on community involvement and participatory action around creation care at all levels of society by promoting advocacy and grassroots campaigns

Religious institutes are invited on this journey as congregations as a whole, their founded ministries, individual Sisters, Associates, and others. Other bodies in the Church, dioceses, educational institutions, parishes, etc. are also being invited.

As we embark on the journey with the global Church there will be suggestions and resources forthcoming that can be undertaken toward achieving the final goal of an integrated ecology at the end of seven years.


Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Harvesting Peace: Heartland Farm takes hands-on crafting online



The Great Bend Tribune, Great Bend, KS


For 10 years, Heartland Farm in Pawnee Rock has been home to a secret gem. Each year, Heartland Farm, a ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, held FiberSpace, a two-day celebration of spinning, knitting, crochet and weaving. FiberSpace was usually conducted in January and February and was attended by local “fiber folks.”

The COVID-19 pandemic turned plans for the 2021 FiberSpace upside down, but as members of an 800-year-old mendicant religious order, Dominican Sisters are not ones to give up easily. Although the pandemic grew worse in the fall of 2020, Dominican Sister of Peace Jane Belanger and Heartland Farm Marketing/Media Coordinator Teresa Johnson Heartland Farm staff were determined to use a new approach to move forward with the 2021 event.

“The Dominican Sisters of Peace have been utilizing technology like webcasting and video calls for national meetings for several years now,” said Sr. Jane, a long-time member of the Heartland Farm community. “We actually had to move one of last year’s traditional events to a drive-through format and taking FiberSpace to the virtual space seemed like the next logical step.”

Sr. Jane and Johnson began planning three months before the planned date of the 2021 event. Given Facebook’s popularity with people in the event demographic and the many Facebook groups devoted to fiber arts, they determined that a Facebook Live platform would be the most effective medium for broadcast.

“Facebook was a real cross-platform solution for us,” said Johnson. “Participants could attend on phones, tablets, or desktop computers and all enjoy the same experience.”

Johnson asked a small group of former FiberSpace attendees to be part of the new “virtual” version. “Fortunately, many of them are either close friends or family members who were already in each other’s “COVID-cones,” Sr. Jane said, “so they felt comfortable spending a day inside at the Farm. Of course, we were all masked and maintained social distancing for the event.”

Johnson invited past attendees via email and used targeted Facebook advertising to promote the live event. She also asked the in-person participants to promote the event in their personal and crafter-centered networks, creating more viral organic outreach.

“We really didn’t know what to expect,” Johnson said. “Our first Facebook live event was basically a six-hour live instructional video – we had no idea how it would go over with participants.”

The team got their answer on Feb. 27, when more than 400 participants from around the U.S. began to log in to the event. Crafters from as near as Wichita and as far away as Maryland watched, asked questions, and learned new techniques. Participants were also treated to a video tour of the 80-acre Heartland Farm, where the Sisters and staff raise alpacas, organically grown vegetables and chickens.

“It was surprisingly personal,” said Sr. Jane. “People sent questions to us through Facebook, and the crafters were able to talk and respond to each other in almost real time. Fortunately, everyone was very patient with our little technical glitches.”

Suzi Rife, a novice crafter from North Carolina, found the event online and attended throughout the day. “I loved the weaving class,” she commented in the video’s chat. “It’s good to see how to manage the problems on the loom.”

The recorded videos will be used by the Farm for pre-recorded craft classes. Sr. Jane Belanger is looking forward to using these videos to make the classes available to other ministries of the Dominican Sisters as well.

“The Dominican Sisters of Peace have seven ecological and retreat centers across the country,” Sr. Jane said. “Using new technologies will let us each expand our reach and offer a wider variety of programming to all of our audiences.”

The unedited FiberSpace videos can be viewed on the farm’s Facebook page by searching for @HeartlandFarmKS.  Learn more about Heartland Farm by visiting HeartlandFarm.org.

Posted in News

Going Green in Spring – Prayer and Meals

These tips have been provided by members of the Dominican Sisters of Peace Eco-Justice Committee.


  1. In daily personal prayer spend contemplative time outdoors or looking out a window praying with and for the EARTH.
  2. Allow current issues, like climate change, mountaintop removal, Keystone XL Pipeline to be a spur to prayer.
  3. When you are leader of corporate prayer include EARTH in spoken intentions/petitions; or design a weekly prayer for EARTHs needs.
  4. Choose a location and time of day that can accommodate you or your group and which has immediate access to the outdoors (weather permitting).
  5. If your gathering space is indoors, plan to include EARTH elements in the setting—especially, EARTH, Air, Fire and Water.
  6. In your ministry–within parish, school, family or volunteer activities raise up EARTH concerns when you are gathered for prayer.
  7. Read Genesis – Chapter 1 and 2 reflectively. This will help us in our daily personal prayer spend contemplative time outdoors or looking out a window. praying with and for the EARTH.
  8. Spend time outside living in the present moment as you see wild animals, streams, blooming flowers, the earth, etc.
  9. Check the US Bishop’s website for a flyer speaking about Laudato Si’ or something on saving the EARTH. Seek permission to place a flyer in the church bulletin which hopefully will remind everyone that “we are all in this together.” in saving the EARTH.



  1. As you say grace before meals (and after) include thanking not only God but the EARTH and all who till and care for her for the food you have.
  2. Barbecuing
    • Use propane which burns cleaner than wood or charcoal.
    • If you’re wedded to charcoal try a more natural charcoal product.
    • When you’re done grilling, use natural cleaning products such as an organic grill cleaner.
  3. Perhaps consider a solar oven.
  4. Use a cloth napkin and remember why you do so. Be grateful for the trees saved by not using disposables.
  5. Shopping local is another great idea, and one that leads down the road to the green lifestyle.
  6. Choose locally-grown foods whenever possible—shopping at Farmers’ Markets, or buying through a CSA or buying club.
  7. Cook at least one meal “from scratch” each week, taking the time to be creative, learn new recipes, expand your taste buds and support your health.
  8. Try to eliminate processed foods.
  9. Use leftovers.
  10. Ask for locally produced food.
  11. If you eat meals prepared by others—whether a food-service, in-house cafeteria, or even a local restaurant (NOT fast food) ask kitchen staff/manager to utilize fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Be sure to compliment them when they do—and eat heartily!
  12. Read labels—note country of origin, number of long-syllable chemical ingredients, whether it contains GMO ingredients (or proclaims that it doesn’t since the US doesn’t demand fair labeling), as well as looking for Organic items.
  13. Don’t buy products with excess packaging (eg. wrapped “single-serving” items) or use single use paper and plastic ware, etc. Avoid Styrofoam always. If you must use disposables, take the time to locate recycled and compostable products—then do it!
  14. Never use hot, running water to defrost frozen foods, rinse vegetables and fruits in a sink or a pan filled with water instead of under running water. Plan ahead and place frozen items in the refrigerator overnight or use the microwave oven.

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog

Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice and for Discernment

Blog by Associate Mary Ellen George, OPA

What is it about journaling that is so appealing?  What are some of the benefits of journaling?  Can journaling help you learn more about yourself?  Can it help you discern how God might be calling you at this time in your life?

Journal writing (or keeping letters or diaries) is an ancient practice that many have found beneficial and useful for a variety of reasons and purposes.  When you are discerning where God may be calling you and how to respond to this call, journaling may serve to help you pour out your concerns and fears and to receive clarity and understanding with the path God is calling you to follow.  Journaling offers a freedom to be yourself, a “safe place” to put down on paper your experiences and all that you hold inside, all that is sacred.  You can jot down what may be opening or expanding or forming within you. It is a place for expressing what is important to you, what is happening in your life and how you perceive life.

As a spiritual practice and a spiritual discipline, journaling has many benefits.  Writing in a journal can offer us moments of clarity, of inspiration, of perspective in understanding our own selves and others.  Journaling can deepen our relationship with God and help us to go deeper into ourselves because “buried in the stuff of our lives, underneath the running current of daily activities, lies the treasure, if only we are willing to risk looking and seeking.”  This quote is from Helen Cepero’s book, Journaling as a Spiritual Practice: Encountering God Through Attentive Writing.”  The author also notes that “all spiritual disciplines and practices, including journaling, are about learning to be aware and awake, open to God, ourselves and the world around us.”

In my journal, I include passages from books and articles I have read that I want to remember and reflect on further. I use my journal to record daily events, musings, and insights that come from the stillness or the restlessness of wherever I am when I am writing.  I try to put aside judgments by writing quickly and not censoring what emerges. I use my journaling time to listen to the inner movements that are directing me or inspiring me.  In this listening to the thoughts that emerge within, I may remember a moment or situation that draws my attention, inviting me to look closer for a treasure or a message.

Journaling helps me to clarify my jumbled feelings and thoughts.  The act of writing seems to free my spirit to find its own way and voice.  Journaling is a personal experience, a personal encounter with the Spirit of God.  Journaling is an experience perhaps like what the psalmist writes in Psalm 139:1-2, “Lord, you have probed me, you know me: you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar.” In the probing to understand ourselves and in seeking to be understood through our journaling, we ultimately come to a deeper relationship with God, where we lay bare our lives to find forgiveness, compassion, and love awaiting us from the Divine.

Journaling offers us an opportunity to get in touch with our personal stories, our personal histories, and sheds light on who we are, where we are, and where we have been.  When we look back at our journal entries, we may see patterns and themes that depict what has been on our hearts, revealing insights about ourselves and about God’s presence and movement in our lives.  We may also see that our journal entries are love letters between us and God, revealing God’s faithfulness to us.

So, grab a pen and a notebook and begin a practice of journaling, where God awaits you.

If you are discerning your vocation, you may find that journaling helps you identify the joys, challenges, and resistances that you may be experiencing as you explore the possibility of life as a religious sister. Emotionally, journaling can help ease your worries about going into the “unknown” of following God’s call.  Let God speak to you through your journal entries and when you are ready to begin a conversation about where God is calling you, we invite you to contact us.

Posted in God Calling?, Vocations Blog