Weekly Word

Be inspired and encouraged with a weekly reflection on God’s Word and every day life.


 

Blessings for the Thanksgiving Day Table

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

Recently, I rediscovered a book, now out of print, 99 Blessings by Br. David Steindl-Rast.  I thought about writing just about one or two of these short poetic gifts, but I realized that the book contains wonderful words of thanksgiving for this time of year. So below is something you can use at your Thanksgiving Day table —whatever form it takes —- and with whomever you spend time. I hope that it helps you express your own gratitude for all that we have, in all the ways we are gifted, and all that we are called to be.

You can also download it here. (Green bold type indicates the work of Steindl-Rast)

Thanksgiving Day Prayer

[READER] Let us pray in gratitude for all that has been placed before: through the work of our hands, the hands of farmers, truck drivers, store clerks and cooks. We begin by remembering the source of all blessings.

SOURCE OF ALL BLESSINGS, you bless us with breath. In and out, in and out, ever-renewing us, ever anew making us one with all who breathe the same air, may this blessing overflow into a shared gratefulness, so that with one breath [we] may praise and celebrate life.

  • As we continue to navigate this season of pandemic, may we know the gift of the breath, of life, of all living creatures with whom we share life.

SOURCE OF ALL BLESSINGS, you bless us with kitchen noises—with the sound of chopping carrots, the rumbling from washing pots and pans, the clinking of silverware, the clang of glass on glass, the whistling of the teakettle, and all the homey rattle and clatter produced by preparing food and washing dishes. May [we] drink deeply from the blessing of being at home that rings in these sounds and make all whom [we] meet today feel a bit more at home in the world.

  • In this circle we share today, may we know the peace and blessings of having a welcoming place, a home, and a shelter from the storms around us.

SOURCE OF ALL BLESSINGS, you bless us with angels— those spirit messengers who come in ever new and surprising forms. To the ancients they were “the Powers,” overawing presences. No image can do justice to their mystery, but when we are alert, we meet them everywhere. May [we] sense them, heed them, and myself become a messenger, for we are all meant to be angels to one another.

  • As we share this meal and time of gratitude, may we be mindful of the angels who surround us, both visible and invisible.

SOURCE OF ALL BLESSINGS, you bless us with friendship— life’s supreme gift, rare, precious, and fragile. May I show myself worthy of my friends by being faithful, patient, and affectionate while I have time to do so, aware that all things are passing, even firm friendships.

[READER: Take a moment to remember friends, those present, and those afar, and those who have passed to eternal life.]

  • All:       On this Thanksgiving Day, may we breathe deeply of all of life, grateful for the gift of breath, grateful for kitchen noises and sounds of home. May we know the angels around us as messengers of a loving God. May we treasure the gift of friendship that nourishes us more than food. And on this Day, we acknowledge and celebrate the meal that is before us, thanking God, the source of all blessings, for all good gifts that surround us.

 

Amen.

All green bold are quotes from 99 Blessings by Br. David Steindl-Rast. Copyright © 2013 by Br. David Steindl-Rast All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Image, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

 

Posted in Weekly Word

An Autumn Finale

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

Yesterday it happened. The Great Whirling Dancing Drift of a million leaves. Outside my window, for about a month now, a large maple has made a graceful turning in tones from greens to yellows and golds, and in yesterday’s warm breeze,  it presented a  dazzling show of leaves descending in what seemed almost a choreographed performance.

This particular tree seemed to hold on longer, not following the earlier varicolored trees  around it showing briefer glory, but held its dappled lemon-yellow-gold,  bestowing its  glow over the  yard, the garden, mottling the deep shade it offered all summer and magnifying the slanting autumn sunlight coming through my window.

Its moment arrived.

The stage was set, the lighting just right,  the sky a clear blue,  and the breezes  calibrated perfectly as the show began with  rippling and waving and fluttering, then drifting into slow descent. I didn’t want this finale, and then I didn’t want it to stop,  I myself was in golden glow, transfixed by the beauty. Every leaf seemed to do its separating with personal flair, highlighted for a moment as it took its leave , shivering, surrendering, wafting, waltzing, whirling,  It was a world of dance: there was jazz, tango, ballet,  hip-hop, jitterbug, the twist. There were the gymnasts, tumbling, summersaulting, forward and backward flips, spirals and nose-dives. Each wore its brightest raiment, putting on the show of their lives as they detached and flew, stage-lit from the angles of morning sun that kept every tone of gold and yellow in constant flickering.

Perhaps because I have an October birthday, I am most susceptible during autumn to a flood of feelings spanning the entire spectrum from exhilaration to desolation. I know. The year turns. The show must go on. At some point, I will concede its  inevitability. The whole of creation is caught up in continued  dying and rising, as Mary Oliver* puts it, the  “rich mash” of  one year’s vivacity begetting the vitality of what will be. Bare branches and bleaker days will follow. For now I stood as grateful recipient of  this grand farewell,  seeing the pattern of Paschal mystery  here in  nature’s  expression: life gives way to death from which life sprouts again. Did I just hear an Alleluia?

So many other crises are roiling around us in  the twenty-four hour newsfeed. Amidst the skyrocketing corona virus and the unending upset of the latest political machinations, the terrible destruction from fires in the west and hurricanes in the Gulf, the economic burdens of so many. But yesterday, a single tree enacted its autumn obligation in stunning grace and beauty. I’m grateful to have been there, a witness to the “gay great happening illimitably earth” (e.e.cummings). **

*Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness

** I thank you god for most this amazing

Posted in Weekly Word

Black History Bootcamp

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

Recently, I registered for an online class entitled Black History Bootcamp. It comes in daily and is geared primarily to women and even more so to Black women in an attempt to give them more background on their worldview and also to provide Black female role models and heroines. For me, it allows me to gain more insights and understandings of the world in which I live and relate to and connect with Black women. The story below was part of one of the lessons one week, and it seemed fitting to share:

On the night that Gwendolyn Brooks learned that she would become the first Black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, she was sitting in her living room on the Southside of Chicago with her nine-year old son in the dark because the light bill had not been paid. By morning word had spread. A 32-year-old Black girl genius had secured the highest literary award in the land. Reporters descended on Gwendolyn’s home and as they came, she sat petrified, not wanting to reveal to the journalist and cameraman that they would have no place to plug in their equipment.

But when one of them came into the house and flipped on the switch without her knowing, the lights came on! Someone had gone down to the light company and paid the bill in full.

Somebody in this world right now needs to hear this story. Somebody needs to be reminded that it is darkest before dawn. Somebody needs to be reminded that there is hope all around.

“We are each other’s harvest;
we are each other’s business;
we are each other’s magnitude and bond!”

Many of our blogs these days have reminded us of the need to have hope. We are quick to say our hope comes from God, but how does God show us that hope? Through other people? This month we celebrated the feast of Teresa of Avila who wrote that Christ has no body, no feet, no hands, no voice but ours. From thence shall come our hope!

Posted in News, Weekly Word

How to Heal the World

Blog by Sr. Anne Lythgoe, OP

I heard a story the other day that gives me hope that the world can be healed of its illnesses. And I am looking for hope and hoping for hope. I hope that we will have another occupant in the White House come January.  I hope that a vaccine for Covid-19 comes soon and is effective and people will not be afraid to use it.  I hope that every country can come to the same healing place.

But more importantly than that, I am of the mind to thank God for the healing ahead of time. To thank God for a new moment in our country, to thank God that healing is coming to all of us, not just those who are sick with coronavirus. The world needs healing. It’s a big job, bigger than you or me. The world is ill, and we need to find a way to heal it.

So I’m offering this story that shows us how to put the world back together again.

The World Is A Puzzle

There was a man who had a little boy that he loved very much. Every day after work the man would come home and play with the little boy. He would always spend all his extra time playing with the little boy.

One night, while the man was at work, he realized that he had extra work to do for the evening, and that he wouldn’t be able to play with his little boy. But, he wanted to be able to give the boy something to keep him busy. So, looking around his office, he saw a magazine with a large map of the world on the cover. He got an idea. He removed the map, and then patiently tore it up into small pieces. Then he put all the pieces in his coat pocket.

When he got home, the little boy came running to him and was ready to play. The man explained that he had extra work to do and couldn’t play just now, but he led the little boy into the dining room, and taking out all the pieces of the map, he spread them on the table. He explained that it was a map of the world, and that by the time he could put it back together, his extra work would be finished, and they could both play. Surely this would keep the child busy for hours, he thought.

About half an hour later the boy came to the man and said, “Okay, it’s finished. Can we play now?”
The man was surprised, saying, “That’s impossible. Let’s go see.” And sure enough, there was the picture of the world, all put together, every piece in its place.

The man said, “That’s amazing! How did you do that?” The boy said, “It was simple. On the back of the page was a picture of a man. When I put the man together the whole world fell into place.”  (Gabriel Garcia Marquez).

If we can help to heal one another the whole world will be healed.

Dear God,

We need healing and it’s a big job, bigger than any one of us. We need your help. But we also know that you depend on us to do our part to bring wholeness and healing to each other. Confident that the world can be healed, we thank you for the wholeness you are bringing to us and we thank you for giving us the courage and compassion needed to be part of your healed world.

Amen.

Posted in Weekly Word

Lessons from the Garden

Blog by Sr. Janet Schlichting

Riots, rampages. Disorder. Undisciplined behaviors. Right-leaners. Left-leaner…Lacking in control, The perky. The faded. The spent, chins on the ground. Deeply rooted. Weakly committed. The early and the late. The large and small. The tenacious. The stubborn. The overachievers. The strong. The weak. The intruders. The raucous crowds.

The always unpredictable.

Do you think I’ve been describing a political gathering? The state of our cities and institutions? Our nation in the present tense and tension?

No. I’m describing our garden as summer slips away.

It started innocently enough, with a plan.…

Top tier: creeping phlox, some bushes of no particular interest. Second tier down:  Dutch Iris, black-eyed susans. Coneflowers. Daisies. Zinnias. More dutch iris. Everything in its place—though the creeping flox had somehow snuck into the iris below. The bottom layer, larger, curved edges. Back: more perennials not all of which we could name, planted last fall (half-price!): asters, lavender, lobelia, maybe bee balm, anemones? In front of them, a carpet of wave petunias in purple, pink and white.  And no border yet where the daffodils had bloomed.

It was ordered and promising—but there’s a huge difference between planting and its results:

A criss-crossy every which way gangly tangly enthusiastic explosion glorifying God, coming from the front “border” into which we sowed a native-plant mix. We didn’t know exactly what we were getting. They didn’t have names and pictures on the seed packet. And every seed pluckily showed up.

So these later-planted whatever-they-ares, now moving into September in great blooming fervor, have largely brought a meadow into our planned garden. Those bright little petunias crumple, waving goodbye as the meadow drinks their water and blocks the sunlight. The perennials too dry and fade as  they bequeath their dark seedy centers to the breeze and the birds. But so much rejoicing is yet to be as the natives thrive! The the oddest, sloppiest, tallest most enthusiastic sun-drunk array of blossoms and greenery! We can name some: the tall trembling cosmos leaning into the sturdier zinnias, leaning over the parking lot as they twist to gather the sunlight, both such a prize for the bees; other poke-ups  of  small white ones and greenery not yet flowering, the small surprise of orange poppies, the blue bachelor’s buttons, four  kinds of gold and brown varieties growing through each other, (Rudbeckia? Coreopsis?) and the yet-flowering anemone, from garden plan One, peaceful and composed in rose-pink.

If my introductory description had raised in you a vision of today’s fraught human world, you weren’t far off the mark. These worlds intertwine, actually. But all versions of gardens and meadows wherever they are to be found echo that  never-to-be-suppressed song of grace and hope and delight as God gardens the living community of Earth.  If we but stop, look, smell, and listen.

Our sun-smitten blooms bring us a simple but bright harmony in contrast to the shouts and clashes and cries that sound in our world:  a sweet and lilting “consider the lilies” to remind us that the breeze of the Spirit is and will be always moving among us, and with and in Her we are Oh so frightfully contagious.

From the poet GM Hopkins: There lives the dearest freshness deep-down things….for the Holy Ghost o’er the bent world broods/ with warm breath and with ah! Bright wings.

And a prayer from the Mystic and Doctor Teresa of Avila: Teach me Lord to sing of your mercies. Turn my soul into a watered garden, where the flowers dance in the gentle breeze, praying with their beauty.”

Posted in News, Weekly Word