Meditation for Women’s Day 2014, by Jarrett Meyer

Be hubme for you are made of earthOn Ash Wednesday, those of us who are Catholic received ashes and heard the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return.”  Let us take a moment in silence, eyes closed, to imagine our origins as dust… not as flecks of insignificant dust or dirt, but stardust!

There is a beautiful Serbian proverb that says:  “Be humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars.”

In the beginning, from a nebula of particles and a great spark of energy, God brought forth the universe through an explosion of light and matter… And so we imagine ourselves, long before we came into human being, whirling and twirling, colliding and generating heat as stardust… when in a brilliant burst of light, the cosmos were impregnated, and God began birthing life in a prolonged and ever-evolving expression of love and meaning.

We remember that at the beginning of Earthly time, our planet endured seas of lava, walls of ice, and rivers of acid. It survived volcanoes and earthquakes and floods. The earth stretched and compressed, creating the deepness of oceans and the majesty of mountains. Finally, when God was ready, the violence ceased, and so began peace for living things.

We are atoms fused from love. We are time and space. Just as we are part of the cosmos, the cosmos is part of us. We are made in our divine creator’s image. We are celestial, heavenly. We are love made self-aware of love.

We stand tall as the giant sequoia, and we are as small as an amoeba. We are as undying as the immortal jellyfish, and we pass in the few hours of a mayfly. We run as fast as the cheetah, we fly as high as the goose, and we swim as deep as the anglerfish.

God created an interconnection of beings. The animals and plants balance each other by breathing and expiring opposing gasses. Our bodies give nutrition for each other. We are a joining of all things. We are conjugation of all life past, present, and that yet to come. Just as God created us, we collaborate with our world to bear the next generation. God is a creative, loving God.  Our lives, being made in that image, call us to create and love.

~written by Jarrett Meyer (parishioner at St. Christopher, Indianapolis) for Women’s Day 2014 at Oldenburg Franciscan Center

Lenten Series: The Prophet Jeremiah

The Prophet Jeremiah

The Prophet Jeremiah by Michaelangelo (public domain, Wikicommons)

Christians throughout history have defined the word “prophet” in biblical terms as those who have been chosen by God and gifted by the Holy Spirit to share God’s message with the world.

To hear how people today understand the word “prophet,” Oldenburg Franciscan Center manager Angela Nevitt (Roesler) recently asked a multicultural audience on Facebook what comes to mind when people hear the word.  The first response that came in was, “Hope. [Prophets] are human, too.  They sin and doubt, too.  Yet, they were chosen and filled with Wisdom.  So Hope… The word gives me hope.”

Other responders provided names of prophets, including Kahlil Gibran and Thomas Merton, and still others defined what they understand prophets to be, including: teachers, oracles, messengers of God.

Scripture lover and educator, Lois Jansen of Indianapolis replied that a prophet is “one who listens to the times, hears the heartbeat of God in the ordinary, and speaks of God’s tenderness and justice.”

Beginning on Thursday, February 21st at Oldenburg Franciscan Center, Sister Barbara Leonhard, OSF will be facilitating a four week series on the Prophet Jeremiah and the role of prophets in our world today.

Sister Barbara explains, “Biblical prophets had two fundamental roles.  They were truth tellers, calling people to wake up to their responsibilities, to whom they were called to be.  They were also people who offered hope in times of great conflict and disillusionment.”

In this OFC series, Sister Barbara will use the Prophet Jeremiah as an example to encourage participants to look anew at the dual role of a prophet.

Sister Barbara explains, “Exploring the nature of the critical time in which Jeremiah lived invites us to face the questions and express the honest prayers that might come from our own experiences of loss.  One cannot read Jeremiah without also being mindful of the violence, loss and suffering that surround us on a global level.”

Topics for each week include:

February 21st: The role of a prophet: the difficulty of being open to the prophetic message.

February 27th: Jeremiah: a prophet in a time of crisis.

March 7th:  Jeremiah: a prophet who gives expression to the shock and grief that accompany great loss.

March 14th:  Jeremiah: a prophet who expresses hope in the midst of crisis.

When we begin to understand ‘being a prophet’ in terms of being truth tellers and advocates for social responsibility, it can help us to identify our own unique opportunities for prophetic living – particularly when it comes to addressing issues in local healthcare, education, community development, and simply being a good neighbor.

Individuals of all faiths and professions are invited to attend this series.  Community & business leaders are encouraged to participate!  For additional information, please contact Angela Nevitt Roesler at aroesler@oldenburgosf.com, 513-543-5368, or visit the OFC website: http://www.oldenburgfranciscancenter.org.  RSVPs may be directed to Annette at center@oldenburgosf.com or 812-933-6437.

The Tolling Bell, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

More frequently than usual, the bell in our tower will begin tolling. We all know what that means. A tolling bell means someone has died, or occasionally, help is needed.

We toll the bell each time an execution takes place no matter where it is happening or to whom.

Why would a small town like Oldenburg Indiana, population just under 700 people, toll the bell for a convicted criminal in Texas, for example? There is most likely not one person in Oldenburg who knows the individual, or the crime committed. All they know is that there is a person whose life is being ended.

Prayers for the salvation of that person’s soul are sent heavenward when the bell tolls. That also includes prayers for the end to the death penalty.

Every person is entitled to have someone praying for him or her, especially at the time of death. The bell gives us the chance to know at a specific moment, the time some person’s life is being ended.

In classrooms, we taught children to pray every time they hear an emergency vehicle, fire truck, ambulance, police car. Someone needs help. To pray that the help will arrive in time and alleviate the situation seems to me to be one of the great acts of charity. It takes little time, costs nothing, and connects you to a brother or sister in need. Who knows, next time it may be you! If so, I will be praying for help to arrive in time.

Peace and Prayers,

Sharonlu OSF
Oldenburg Franciscan Center
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Vacation Thoughts, a reflective prayer by S. Karla, OSF

God of all activity, in your wisdom, you’ve given us a very energetic world.  Our minds and imaginations are all instruments that enable us to find you in quiet, prayer, and activity.  Yes, just now, that gift of imagination took my mind on a ferris wheel ride.  I was caught up in all the times we went round and round, and all the seats held people of various ages, cultures, and life styles.  I wondered why I was a part of this “gang” going round and round, and what this has to do with the quiet I was trying to experience?  Then it hit me, this “gang” symbolizes all who ride the ups and downs of a lifetime, all part of the grand scheme of the adventure we call life.  Give me a clearer vision that the activity that calls for justice, peace, and acceptance is within my reach.  God of all activity, clue me in to how all the ups and downs can bring substance and harmony to life.

 

S. Karla, OSF
Oldenburg Franciscan Center
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Prayer for Rain, by S. Karla Barker, OSF

Prayer for Coolness & Rain

Text:

Loving God, there are times when the discomforts we experience, as we do now with the drought and heat, can be a reminder to us of our dryness in prayer and our relationship with you.  The drought we allow in our heart can only be watered by our turning to You, our Creator.  We pray, then, that the severe lack of rain and cool air, the relief needed by Earth and all who are suffering will come bringing blessing.  Our prayer is in gratitude for your gifts of coolness and Sister Water.  Amen.

Prayer by S. Karla Barker, OSF
Oldenburg Franciscan Center

Save the Date! Italian Night Under the Stars 2012

Due to overwhelming demand, seating is limited!  Round up your friends & RSVP Soon!

Join us for an evening of Franciscan inspiration, live music, and hors d’oeuvres on the lawn, followed by wine, candlelight, and a delicious Italian buffet in our Assisi Room.  Our evening will be hosted by none other than St. Clare, portrayed by S. Norma Rocklage, OSF – beloved faculty member of Marian University Indianapolis.  We’ll be raffling special gifts to raise money for the Center and celebrate another year of our blossoming retreat ministry!  If you LOVE us, JOIN us!  🙂

Oldenburg Franciscan Center is a ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis in Oldenburg, IN.
RSVP to  812-933-6437 or center@oldenburgosf.com!

Resentment, by S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Have you ever held resentment in your heart?  Perhaps it was for someone who hurt you by insulting remarks, or by neglect of you, or even lies about you.  Every time you saw them or heard them or heard someone say something positive about them, you curled up inside and wished them something less than peace.

A few weeks ago, I was having my hair done, and picked up a magazine in the shop.  It happened to be Oprah Winfrey’s magazine, “O”.   Besides all the numerous ads there was a very interesting article about an interview Oprah had with Deepak Chopra while she was in India.

Almost at the beginning of the interview Deepak Chopra said, “I read a statement from Mr. Nelson Mandela that changed me forever.  Mr. Mandela said having resentment against someone is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill your enemy.  I never forgot that.”

This great man of peace, who has written 65 books, was ready with that quote during this once-in-a-lifetime interview.  That made me think.

Is there anyone toward whom I hold resentment?  I found in my memory two people.  Both have gone to their heavenly rewards, but I quaver inside when their names come up and I have to hold my tongue to prevent telling the hurtful situations in my life with them. I keep drinking poison hoping it will kill the memory of whatever it was that estranged me from them.  How ridiculous can I get?  I keep the memory alive and therefore, I poison myself!

I can just imagine what will happen when I meet these two people in heaven!  I will have to look at my own sins and hurtful actions and perhaps see what a fool I have been.

Thank heavens our merciful God remembers only how much we loved, and not what our sins are.  “Many sins are forgiven her because she has loved much!”

I hope.

Peace,
Sharonlu

Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg
Oldenburg Franciscan Center

Birds, by S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

As I make my way across campus to the Retreat Center where I have a little office, I love to take note of the birds I encounter.  My favorites are the wrens, so very small and active, darting here and there, seemingly always very busy. Their whole lives lie in the bushes, the lower branches of trees, and on the grass, pecking here and there for whatever will sustain them and their nestlings.  Today I noted their small wings, perhaps just 2 inches long, and I wondered of the difference between them and their huge cousins the eagles.  Six foot wing spans keep them soaring above the tallest trees and hills.  The wrens do not, cannot soar.  They dart.  And the even smaller hummingbirds’ wings flutter so rapidly, you cannot see them.

Why should there be such a difference of wings among the many species of birds?  The very large eagle and others such are birds of prey.  To sustain themselves they must search for food that can nourish and sustain their large bodies and powerful strength.  This will not happen by nibbling at seeds.  High above the ground they watch with their very sharp eyes for small animals that they can use to feed themselves and little ones waiting in the aerie. Flapping their wings rapidly would alert their prey, weaken their focus and make them clumsy to do what they must.  They float on air currents and are beautiful to watch even while hunting.

Now the very tiny hummingbird flutters because a balance must be maintained in order to reach the nectar it needs to survive.  They do not float like the eagle, but hover in one place to reach the flower’s center.  Their wings are just right for that.

As for my favorite, the wren, it just darts here and there on the ground, flying ten or twelve feet or less.  They are so small and earthen in color, it is easy to miss them.  Shy little creatures that go about their business without intruding on anyone’s time or space, they are small and precious.

We need them all.  The bold eagles, marking strength and power, are held as the example for our country.  The tiny rainbow-hued hummingbirds remind me of my mother as she prepared for guests.  This way and that way she went, getting things ready. Afterward she would be exhausted and collapse into her sofa chair.  The wren, and perhaps the robin and other smaller birds, are for me the mainstay.  They go about their work everyday, do it, and do not grudge the doing.  I think I would like to be like them.  How about you?  Are you an eagle, a hummingbird, or maybe a cardinal?!

Peace,

Sharonlu, OSF
Oldenburg Franciscan Center

Inchworm, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Old movies hold a special charm for me.  I enjoy the simplicity of the story line, the development of characters on screen, and the music.  New movies don’t have the same charm for me.  INVICTUS comes closest to what I call a really good movie.

I must admit that the musicals sometimes bog down into much music and not enough dialogue, but still there is something…maybe I am just getting old.

Some time ago I saw and old Danny Kaye movie on TV.  The story was a fictionalized account of Hans Christian Anderson’s life.  It was delightful to see how “Hans” could help a child who was different by telling the story in song about the Ugly Duckling.  Another time he eased the loneliness of a little girl by singing the tale Thumbelina. But the one short song that seemed to be inserted as an afterthought was Inchworm.  The melody has been going through my head, and I have a tendency to poke around in my thoughts to see why it is making an impact.  In the song, the inchworm is addressed:

Inchworm, inchworm,
Measuring the marigolds,
Seems to me you’d stop and see
How beautiful they are!

We had a short winter this year and spring came very soon, even before we had the chance to tire of the snow, of the cold, of the barrenness of the trees.  Some of us missed watching the snowflakes dancing and the glistening white of the snowfall.  But all of that is put aside.  We have forgotten it, because we have the loveliness of spring.

I know there are some of us, who hope the spring will quickly give way to summer.  We will have put aside the buds on trees, the daffodils, and forsythia.  We would like to make things move faster to get rid of the very things we welcomed not so long ago. The difference is not in the snow or the buds.  The difference is in us. We welcome the snow of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we do not like the snow of Easter. We delighted in the buds of spring, but we long for the roses and shade trees of summer.

Something very similar happens in our relationships; we welcome the differences we see in our new employee or caregiver.  But as time goes by those very things that seemed so great in her or him look different now.  The Employer or Patient inchworm measures everything, but doesn’t stop to see how beautiful the differences are.  This is also true of the marital inchworm.  A Spouse measures but does not look at beautiful differences.

We delight in our children, but if one of them decides to follow a path that is not in OUR game plan, or brings home a significant other who is definitely not significant to us, we measure with our own tape, with our own mindset and do not see how beautiful the relationship can be.

We also take things for granted.  The paper is to be at our door by 6:30 AM.  When it is not there, we are unset, disgruntled, maybe even downright nasty about it.  We do not even care WHY it is late.  We do not want to know of a crisis the distributor may have had.  We just want it when we want it.

From the time we awaken in the morning until the time we crawl in bed at night we are surrounded by things and happenings that we take for granted.  Try making a list of things in this category.  To begin with, you take it for granted that you will wake up!  Then you take it for granted that water will flow when you turn the tap that the water will be safe to drink, that the water will flow down the drain, that the hot water will be hot and the cold water, cold.  We expect that there will be food for breakfast, coffee or tea or orange juice.  We take it for granted that the car will start.  We expect to see each other when the work day is over. And so on and on and on.

If we think now and then about how many people must do things to make our day go smoothly, we might have a different attitude about what happens.

Here is an example.  We turn on the tap and fill a glass with water.  In the Gospels Jesus says, “Anyone who gives a cup of cold water because of Christ, will receive a reward.”  Now if you work for the water company and make the intention of providing water for people in Jesus name, you have a good chance of getting a whopper of a reward.  After all it only takes a cup, and you are providing hundreds of gallons.  But you have to think about it.  Those of us who turn the tap would do well to remember that water made us Christians in Baptism, and your work for the water company keeps us clean, provides means for cooking and is a delight for warm summer days as we boat, fish and swim.

If on the other hand, we measure the gift of water only by the cost of the bill at the end of the month, we are like the inchworm measuring but not seeing what we measure.

When you must measure, be sure to look for the beautiful things. Do not be like the inchworm finding purpose in the signs rather than the message.

You are beautiful to God and to me!

Peace and Joy,

S.  Sharonlu, OSF

Clip art courtesy of http://www.gardenclipart.net/

Rainbows by S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Wishing you Rainbows!

As I drove through the Michigan countryside one evening after work, I came upon a large agricultural sprinkler. The water was spraying out steadily, and the wind blew it into a fine mist.  Behind the sprinkler, the summer sun was setting, causing a myriad of rainbows to appear here and there across an otherwise ugly structure.  It reminded me of the crystal that hangs in my window.  At certain times on a sunny day, little arcs of rainbows dance across my wall.  The sight never fails to bring a smile to my face.  There is something about these unexpected flashes of color that delights me.

Perhaps the reason is because they are so unexpected.  Oh, I suppose that someone in a laboratory could find a way to create rainbows at will.  And at least one hotel in Texas has made rainbows part of their lobby décor by placing prismatic windows at strategic points. But by and large, rainbows just happen.

Besides being a sign given to Noah that Earth would never again be totally flooded, I’d like to think that rainbows are a reminder that the unexpected can be very beautiful.  However, if we are locked into expectations of our own creation, we may miss the beauty that the unexpected offers.  We adults are most at risk of missing this.

Do you remember finding a rainbow in a little oil soaked puddle of water after a rainfall?  Children can become intrigued by such things.  Adults have a tendency to look at the spill and wonder there is an oil leak in the car that needs immediate repair and how much it will cost.  They miss the rainbow!

When did you receive your last rainbow?  Was it the time when you had a picnic planned, but unexpected company arrived causing you to cancel your plans, only for that visit to become the best thing that happened all summer?  Or perhaps your daughter had a dance recital that you really dreaded attending for one reason or another, but when you found everyone talking about how poised and graceful she was, you almost burst with pride?  Or maybe you experienced a rainbow when the dish you prepared for dinner was a flop according to the recipe, but the family loved it!  And my personal favorite: I am in a hurry to arrive to an appointment and there are no parking spaces in sight.  To make matter worse a car pulls out right in front of me causing me to slam on the brakes!   Just as I am thinking thoughts not conducive to gentleness, I find that she has just vacated a parking place right in front of me!  Rainbows!

Friends and spouses offer many unexpected rainbows.  But we must be ready to back off from our own ideas to receive them.  Isn’t it amazing how we expect someone to know what we are thinking, but we become incensed when they expect us to do the same.  If I am negative about what my friend or spouse suggests, I may be missing some of the most beautiful moments of my life.

Some RAINBOWS are whoppers.  People can drive and drive and never reach the end of them.  Some of the greatest rainbows might be like meeting the person who will become your spouse in a chance encounter simply because you made a wrong turn in a corridor of an office building.  Some Rainbows are medium sized.  Those might happen when you unexpectedly find an exact match to the china plate you broke at Aunt Bessie’s that you believed to be irreplaceable.  But most rainbows are little ones, like bubbles coming out of the detergent bottle, or finding a chocolate kiss when you thought there was no candy in the house.

All rainbows are wonderful.  Be sure to watch for those little ones though.  They keep you in touch with good things and attuned to the Medium and BIG rainbows.

When you are wished rainbows, remember that they are best when they are unexpected. Work at allowing them to happen.  Don’t fight them.  You will find joy, and your joy will spread to others.

I wish you rainbows, Rainbows and RAINBOWS!!!

Sharonlu, OSF
Oldenburg Franciscan Center