Making Bread, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Image linked from http://www.delallo.com

This is the story of a lady known and admired for her gentle spirit and manner.  She had several children, and the family kitchen was a gathering place for her children, family, neighbors, and friends. It could be noisy when the children came home from school, but snacks were always ready and waiting, and the chatter lasted for some time as the jelly sandwiches were eaten.

Saturday was the day she found time to bake bread for her family and the others who came by.  One Saturday her son, Bob, came to sit in the kitchen.  He was so surprised to see his tender, gentle mother as she prepared the dough for the oven.  She pounded the dough, twisted the dough and threw the dough down on the floured table.  She picked it up and repeated the violent treatment of the dough.

Seeing this other side of his mother, Bob asked her why she pushed and pounded the dough so much.  Did she not like to bake bread?  She said she delighted in baking bread, and had to do what she did so that the bread would bake smooth and without holes.

Bob grew up to be a priest and told this story in one of his homilies. He said it has a parallel to what we need to experience to become smooth saints with souls that do not have holes in them.  We do not even have to go anywhere or plan the “violence” for ourselves.  It almost always happens that something occurs to pummel our complacency.  If we look at it as a way of preventing holey souls, we could be on the way to becoming holy souls.

Also we certainly do not want to be the source of hole making in others or ourselves. We might emulate the gentleness and tenderness of the mother and save the violent reaction for when it is needed “to make smooth bread without holes.”

My thanks to the late Fr. Bob Drewes for sharing his mother’s story.

Peace, joy, and everything good to you,

S. Sharonlu

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S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries, and her wisdom is now at work at Oldenburg Franciscan Center.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.

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Pebbles, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Pebbles ©Margaret Lois Jansen - SmallSmallActs.Com

There had never been a more scorching time.  All animals were suffering from drought because the sources of water had dried up.  Foxes and kittens, raccoons and dogs, all the animals said, “We will die because we have no water.”

When they did find a little water, it was in a tall narrow concrete vase attached to a patio step.  The vase was about 15 inches tall, and there were just about 3 inches of water at the bottom.  “No good,” said the other animals, “we cannot get to it.” And they wandered away.

A sly crow said nothing, but went about picking up little pebbles and dropping them in the vase.  Untiringly she dropped pebble after pebble into the vase.  When all the pebbles in the immediate area were gone, she crossed the road and found more. All were dropped in the vase.

She slept happily in her nest that night and the next day one or two of the animals came back and found the crow rested and fresh while they were on their last legs. “How did you do it?” they asked.  “Well,” she replied, “I dropped enough pebbles in the vase to raise the water level so I could reach it to drink.”*

How many things in your life are little, but gathered together they create a big effect?  There is not too much value in one feather, but a down coat or blanket will keep you very warm!  What about peas, chocolate chips, one piece of popcorn?  What would happen to symphonies if there were just one note?  Or how could we have masterpieces of art if there were just one color?

When you think of something big that needs doing, whether in your own life, or your family’s or in your town, city, or nation, break it down.  Find one thing about that situation that you can do. Do not try to do it all.   Try being a pebble.  Say something encouraging to someone; smile at a downcast face; write a little note; pat someone on the back.  Think of the little pebbles.  The purpose of their existence seemed very limited.  But combined with the wisdom and activity of someone totally unrelated, the pebble became a source of life!  Little things do mean a lot!

Peace, joy, and everything good,

S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF
(Tale adapted from Aesop)

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Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries, and her wisdom is now at work at Oldenburg Franciscan Center.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.

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The Oldenburg Franciscan Center and Convent are located in Oldenburg, IN.  Visit our website or call/write for directions!  Individuals and groups are always welcome to make retreats!  Also, you are welcome to join the Sisters for Mass in the Convent Chapel at 11 a.m. Monday-Friday or at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.

http://www.oldenburgfranciscancenter.org
812-933-6437 / center@oldenburgosf.com 

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That’s the Spirit! by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

A most wonderful insight came to me as I listened to a man with PhDs in Philosophy, Theology and Psychology relate the intricacies of the human being.  I was lucky in this.  With all his degrees, he still spoke in the words of the neighborhood, not the classroom.  It was easy to understand.

One of the things he said was that we separate things too much.  We try to categorize and sort things that should not be separated.  Then he went on to explain.

We believe that God created the Earth and all that is in it.  We also believe that God is everywhere…in the farthest reaches of the universe, in the deepest cavern or tunnel, under the highest mountain.  More importantly, God is all around us at every second.  That will never change.

The expression of God’s presence is made visible through our own human experiences.  We do not have to look for visions or miracles.  In fact if we just look, we will see visions and miracles every day.

Let’s take the truth of the Spirit.  We use the word in many ways.  When we speak of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, we usually capitalize the word Spirit.  But we also use the word in the small “s” sense.  “Her spirits are down today.”  “School spirit is at an all time high.”  “That’s the spirit, Anna!”  “Let’s try to raise the spirit of hospitality in our parish.”

My friend the professor would say, “There is no such thing as a small “s” Spirit.  If we think about what we are saying, we will soon recognize that fact that all the small “s” spirits are simply an expression of the capital “S” Spirit.

It is only a tiny amount, to be sure.  But it brought home to me how small I am, and how insignificant my actions.  Some people may say that we are reducing the Spirit to the human level.  I turn the telescope the other way.  I think we are looking at human activity from God’s point of view.

This means that something in the school spirit we feel is part of the Spirit of God.  Raising the spirit of hospitality would surely lend itself to opening ourselves to the Spirit, since Jesus told us, “Whatever you do for the least, you do for me.”

And if “my spirits are down” isn’t it possible that the Spirit is what is missing in me?  And when we say “That’s the spirit?” is it not the Spirit that energizes all we do?

For myself, I have too often focused only on the Father and the Son.  Now I am awakened to the constant activity of the Spirit in my life.  In fact I see more clearly: the whole world is under the Spirit’s wing!

God bless my friend, the professor!

Peace, joy, and everything good,

S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

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The Oldenburg Franciscan Center and Convent are located in Oldenburg, IN.  Visit our website or call/write for directions!  Individuals and groups are always welcome to make retreats!  Also, you are welcome to join the Sisters for Mass in the Convent Chapel at 11 a.m. Monday-Friday or at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday.

http://www.oldenburgfranciscancenter.org
812-933-6437 / center@oldenburgosf.com 

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Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.