Friday, October 28, 2011

The Wernersville Wave: The landscape

Last Friday people gathered in the library of the Friends Meeting House to enter into silence before we split into our spiritual groups.  The leader asked us to think a moment about the landscape of our spirituality, I thought of riding a wave that emerged while I was in silence at the Jesuit Center.

I made a list of blog posts when I returned, but made no rush to get through them.  One by one they have merged into being here.  My return to the nightly examen has remained strong, and then there is the designs I came up with while in silence.

The one transformed into glass then travelled to Japan.

And then there is this one:

I wanted to come home from the retreat with mandala designs.  I am not sure how many I will get to, but am so glad that I was in the midst of making this when I was asked about my landscape.  The Wernersville Wave is here.  I am upon it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

and in the end...

Mom Mom's way

after gluing down 67 pieces of glass
... after meeting friends for breakfast, who desired a glass penguin
... after buying apples and cabbage from local farmers
... after getting the kitchen prepared
... after making 8 doughs (which didn't bother my bum wrist at all)
... after grating potatoes and cabbage
... after greeting mom, dad, and aunt
... after turning the oven on
... after stretching and topping and rolling 8 strudels (2 of each, those mentioned plus grape)
... after greeting sister here and saying hi to sister out west
... after eating with family as the last strudels baked
... after greeting friends
... after seeing my family to the door with hugs and thanks for carrying on the tradition
... after greeting more friends
... after finally turning the oven off
... after serving plates of food and glasses of beverages
... after sitting back and enjoying the presence of friends
... after maybe one or two snarky comments
... after saying good bye and your welcome
... after a few moments alone with Mosaic Woman in the living room

I stretched out on the couch, awake enough to hear jazz.  And I realized that I almost never stop and just listen.  So I did.  I closed my eyes and listened.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What happens at Wernersville... goes to Japan

This all happened because I take a mug to the Jesuit center in Wernersville...

A friend, who is a friend because I blogged about that mug, told me she had a commission in mind.  As my retreat neared it seemed to be the perfect time and place to draw the design.  Digital photos were sent my way.  I was taken by the wood, the iron tea pot, the fire.  I took those images in my mind and went to Wernersville.  And picked up a pencil and erasure.

I didn't want the tea pot to be shaped like a pot.  I didn't want it to be black.  I thought of Youghiogheny and drew flames.  I imagined the earthtones of the lizard as wood.  I thought of a piece of unused glass and imagined steam. 

and when I came home I cut the wood, the steam, the flames.  Then I searched for the iron.  Apparently I found it.

My friend traveled to Japan with the finished piece and handed it to the owner of the tea pot, Nakamura-san.  I am told that he held it and gazed into it.  Quickly he recognized it as stained glass.  Then he smiled when he saw his tea pot and took the group into his kitchen.  There are days I feel so blessed that I spend time in a place where what happens does not stay there, but travels with you when you leave.

in a way I traveled to Japan

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Best Seat in the House

The phrase was just shared by a friend as she read her memories of going to baseball games with her dad. We were asked to reflect and write a memory.

I went back to two nights ago as I sat with my eyes closed listening to Brad Mehldau and Joshua Redman. It didn't matter where I was in the concert hall. What mattered was that I could stretch out my right arm and hold Mosaic Woman's hand.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

tennis, tropical storms and the ground hog as the prodigal son

I was sitting on the steps by the well  (see yesterday's post for cool well photos) because as Tropical Storm Irene approached, I wanted to see a tennis player.  I met her a year ago while on retreat and had thought she was rather graceful with a tennis racket.  I hoped that I would get to see her play.  So I marveled at the speed of the clouds and the tennis when up popped a ground hog.

Ground hogs are near the top of my critters which need to be called varmints list because of the feasting they have done at the school's garden.  The varmint may have sensed my distaste and popped back down out of my evil eye zone.

Then it popped back up.  The tennis player and the clouds were doing their things but my eyes were on the varmint as it approached me.  It passed the well and neared the bottom of the steps, at which point I decided that it was plenty close.  I made my presence known.  Now really it should have fled from one whose heart has been filled with much hatred in the past, but it didn't.  Maybe it sensed I was not in a killing mood.  It eventually turned right and walked away.

and it made me think of the prodigal son walking home and I was the father.  The son and groundhog were brave to approach what could have been a very ugly scene.

as I sit here I think how brave it is for my students, who have less than stellar days, to come back into my classroom.  But they march in like a foolish ground hog, knowing that even though I have no reason to forgive them, I really have no other option if I want to be their teacher. 
I guess that is what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.  

and it is not like the days I hold a grudge against imperfect students or despise hungry groundhogs. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

My desire is my hope

all the fruits of the spirit

what I desire:

To remember what I wrote in silence:  the gifts of the spirit are present in my life.

I want the gifts to flow into my art.

When eyes come across my art, I want brains to be lit on electrical fires of joy. 

And I want to be grateful for having the hope to think this is possible.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nick Hornby and two of the fruits

self-control in green and black

I don't take novels on retreat.  In fact I tend to read very little on retreat.  In fact I rarely pick up a novel at anytime.  Apparently I have decided that novels are a distraction while art supplies are a path to God.

However, this summer a new assistant popped up in my classroom, who was just a bit enthusiastic about reading novels.  So when I was at the library a week before retreat, I checked out a Nick Hornby novel and then made the mistake of opening it before packing.  But with the exact number of short chapters left as days of the retreat, I figured I could treat myself to one chapter a day.  Then prayed for self-control.

How To Be Good, gave this man of silence some things to think about while on retreat.  The family centered in the novel needed some of my hope and while the last paragraph begins with a promise of that hope, the last line sends one into despair.

But that is life, isn't it.  You hope and hope and sometimes you are given a gift that lifts that hope; than an e-mail, a blog post, a news story, or a random thought can send you in the opposite direction.  Somehow those moments are generally not as strong as my desire to live in hope.  And that is a blessing I don't care to forget.

And I only read one chapter a day.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Psalm 139 revisited by a goof-ass

calling spot

Psalm 139:  Verse 13:  You created my inmost self, knit me together in my mother's womb.

Several years ago, maybe 8 or so, I entered the Jesuit Center in Wernersville for my first 8 day retreat and was met with a note suggesting I read Psalm 139.  Verse 13 would bring out tears waiting over 30 years to emerge and I ranted at God for dropping a stitch when he created my urethra.

As this year's retreat neared an end, I told the director who I love, that I wanted to revisit the psalm.  and she said, "Yes, why not thank God for creating you as a goof-ass."

and thus I knew she had been listening to me earlier in the week.

so I did.

(the wall in the photo is where I break away from silence in the evening to say howdy to Mosaic Woman)