Associate Blog

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The Coming of New Life

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

Amazing! The March 1 storm had sent two heavy branches crashing down on our house causing extensive damage. Already the next day, when Sr. Barbara and I returned home after supper, we were surprised to see the place cleaned up—the fallen branches and a close-by live pine tree were reduced to a pile of sawdust, the pierced window boarded up, and protective plastic covered broken places where persistent rain might leak into the house.

The insurance adjusters along with our maintenance men thoroughly assessed the damage both exterior and interior. A few days later they presented us with a plan to repair and restore the house to its former glory or make it even better. Several improvements are planned: better drainage to prevent basement water seepage, new landscaping including adding some colorful trees, a redesigned front porch, the removal of old wiring or hiding them in encasing before re-siding and painting both interior and exterior as needed. It will be like a ‘resurrection’ and new life! But that won’t happen overnight…

Life, death, resurrection. It is a recurring pattern in nature. We can see it everywhere—after every destructive storm, in the coming of Spring, in live seeds and bulbs dying to burst forth in colorful new life, plus countless other ways.

As we have witnessed after the many wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, and earthquake disasters in the US, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and other places, we know the “resurrection” does not always happen within a week!  Restoration to a former state may not come at all, but new life does surely come; and often its only when looking back that we can see it best.

Next week is Hoy Week, when Christians around the world will be focusing on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ and Savior. We reverence the retelling of how the Son of God willingly let himself and his precious life be ‘handed over’ into the hands of others. He accepted death by crucifixion, and as he promised, rose to new life.  His going before us through this living mystery encourages us not to lose faith as we each undergo our own daily dyings and risings to new life. May we take heart when our ‘resurrections’ are long in coming.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Something That Makes Me Go “Hmmm”

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

My daughter texted me recently on a cold Saturday morning: “Be Careful! BLACK ICE!” accompanied by the crying-laughing emoji.

I laughed out loud.

She knew that her text would get me going because I get a little miffed when people talk about “black” ice.

I remember the first time I heard a meteorologist mention “black” ice. I thought: what the heck is black ice? – ice is transparent.

As I listened to that weather forecaster’s warning about “black” ice, my speculation was immediately confirmed: black ice is more dangerous than any other form of ice.

Ridiculous, I thought, ice is ice. You can slip and fall on any kind of ice and your car can spin out on any kind of ice.

After doing a little research, I discovered that black ice, according to science, is almost perfectly clear and is only black because we can see the pavement surface underneath. It has no air bubbles or swirls (called occlusions) trapped inside.

White ice, on the other hand, has occlusions (or imperfections).

Since black ice has no imperfections and is perfectly clear, why don’t we call it clear ice or just plain ice?

For me, the warnings from weather forecasters can easily be translated into: “Watch out! ‘Black’ ice will sneak up on you and injure or kill you!” I can’t help but laugh out loud because it’s almost comical, except that it continues the historic association of white with good and black with bad.

I understand that it is called “black” ice because we can see the (black) pavement through the transparent ice; but my research turned up an interesting fact: before there were paved roads, motorists were never concerned about black ice. There was certainly ice without imperfections, but it would have been the color of dirt or whatever surface was underneath it. It seems the term “dirt ice” or “macadam ice” never really caught on. “Black” ice, however, has become a phenomenon.

Hmmm … I wonder why.

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Ready or Not!

Blog by Sr. Amy McFrederick, OP

Matthew 24:44  “You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Before computer games and virtual reality combats, when I was young my sis and I would often join the neighborhood kids in the game of hide and seek. The one who was the seeker would start by closing his/her eyes and count to 100, while all the others would scatter and hide.

As the seeker approached 100, they would count the last few numbers louder: “…96, 97, 98. 99, 100!” Then shout: “HERE I COME, READY OR NOT!” The seeker then opened his/her eyes and tried to find the hiders; the first one found became the next seeker, and the last was winner of the round.

Nobody liked being caught off guard—before finding a good hiding place, or when not ready or feeling unprepared.

Last Thursday around 8:45 p.m. a 50 mph wind whipped around our house and snapped off two huge branches of a two-pronged tree just a few feet from our house. Both of them came tumbling down onto our house with sudden thunderous crashes.

Shocked and alarmed at the suddenness of the noise, and not knowing exactly what was happening, I leapt up from the couch near a window and instinctively moved to the middle of the room. I could feel the house shake from the impact as one of the great falling branches hit the southwest corner of the attic, then land on the roof of our screened in porch. At the same time, the other dragged down gutters and molding on the north front rim and destroyed the roof of our front porch before landing on the ground just off the step.

It all happened quickly without warning. But thank God, no one was hurt.

After assessing the damage and doing what we could to keep water, wind and critters from coming in through one window pushed in by an intrusive branch, and satisfied we could do no more, our Clarissa House community went off to bed. But sleep? Well, that was an individual matter.

This scary incident reminded me that at any moment, whether we’re READY OR NOT, God may come seeking us. In the child’s game of hide and seek, those  listening to the countdown have a fair warning when the seeker is coming. But in the game of life, there usually is no clear indication that one’s time is up.

Am I ready to go with God now or at anytime? Are you? What would you/I need to do to be ready?

Taking God as our Hiding Place, walking with the Divine Seeker moment by moment, and sharing with a faith companion and/or community day by day seems to me the best ways to stay alert and ready. What do you think?


Posted in Associate Blog, News

Youth Activists are Agents of Change: Will You Stand With Them?

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

I am inspired and encouraged by the young people who are currently speaking out against gun violence.

Their efforts to organize and protest in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida give me hope for a brighter future.

Their efforts also remind me that young people (students and teens) have been a vital part of social justice movements — perhaps most notably, the civil rights movement; but also the revolt against the Vietnam War and  the international fight against racial apartheid in South Africa; and most recently, the struggle against mass incarceration, the effort to end human trafficking, and the battle for immigration reform).

Like those before them, the young people who are part of the #NeverAgain movement are not afraid to call America to a higher national standard via civic participation and political action.

These young people are a shining example of what patriotism is all about. I applaud their steadfast determination to bring an end to gun violence, particularly in schools.

My faith in democracy has been reaffirmed by the young #NeverAgain activists, including:

Seventeen-year-old Cameron Kasky who said “we are on the cusp of our adulthood and ready to knock out the people who are not with us,” reminding politicians that he and his classmates will be old enough to vote in the 2020 election.

Eighteen-year-old Emma Gonzalez who said “we have to be the people calling for change, demanding change,” rallying her peers to focus on the removal of politicians who refuse to support stricter gun regulations.

Seventeen-year-old Florence Yared, who did not mince words when she said “To Congress, you are directly responsible for every community that has lost people to gun violence. You have the power to change this and if you don’t, we will change you. We will vote you out.”

Seventeen-year-old David Hogg, who said “now that you’ve had an entire generation of kids growing up around mass shootings, and the fact that they’re starting to be able to vote, explains how we’re going to have this change. Kids are not going to accept this,” telling politicians that his generation will use its growing electoral influence to affect gun reform.

Let us never forget that youth are agents of social change. Our history tells us that we should not be surprised by their activism, but we should be impressed by their fortitude in advocating for what they believe is right.

The question is: Do we have the courage to stand with them?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Just Pray

Blog by Associate Peggy Frank

I recently heard an excellent homily that made me think of our Dominican Prayer Associates. It was the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord. The Gospel was the familiar reading from Luke in which the righteous man Simeon and the prophetess Anna both recognize the infant Jesus as the long-awaited Savior.

In his homily, the priest, Fr. Michael Lumpe, likened Simeon and Anna, who “never left the temple,” to today’s monastic sisters and brothers in convents and monasteries world-wide, who have committed their lives to prayer. Prayer, Father said, is not only important, it is urgently needed amid the turmoil, confusion and sometimes just plain madness of modern times.

So true! And I agreed with his accolades for modern day monastics. Still, I couldn’t help drawing parallels to those dedicated Dominican Associates who likewise focus on prayer. They may not live in monasteries, but Dominican Sisters of Peace Prayer Associates provide a strong bedrock of prayer support for the many various and diverse ministries of our branch of the Dominican Family.  Every day they actively pray, for our crazy world yes, but also for us, our Order, our Congregation, our Sisters and Associates and our many vital ministries around our crazy world.

DSOP Associate guidelines provides the option for Active Associates to transition to the status of Prayer Associates if/when personal limitations restrict them from being active. Similar to those Sisters who change their primary ministry to that of prayer when they move to an infirmary or extended care facility, Associates too can change their primary ministry to prayer as their life circumstances change.

Sometimes, I guess because it is so often accompanied by age and/or infirmity, the importance of this form of prayer ministry is under-estimated. What a mistake! Jesus Himself has commanded us to pray, and to pray often, as he did.  I believe in the power of prayer, and today I especially appreciate the powerful prayer of our Dominican Prayer Associates, to whom I would like to say, thank you!

Posted in Associate Blog, News