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originally uploaded by opxphile. is an effort by one artist (Nina Rosenberg) to increase awareness of the human cost of war: this Iraq war. While each sweater in the installation (which was put up on December 29) represents one U.S. service person killed in the war, the death toll has been, of course, much, much higher.

Thomas Merton once said, however, "Genuine dissent must always keep a human measure. It must be free and spontaneous. The slighter gestures are often the more significant, because they are unpremeditated and they cannot be doctored beforehand by the propagandist."

The sweaters in this installation have been provided by knitters from around the U.S.

I’m one of them.

Here’s what I’ve been up to this holiday season:
1. sleepingNaptime

2. knittingCnrxmas

3. enjoying my sisters and fambly: Merged_christmas

And there was feasting, praying, a little shopping and a lot of hanging out (all spiked with a bit of writing.)

Special thanks to RoRo (my sister, the rock star) who shared pics of me…

AdsfsealA new Archbishop has been named for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.  Bishop George Niederauer of Salt Lake City, Utah will become the eighth ordinary of the Archdiocese (the first of whom was a Dominican – the same one who brought my community’s founder from France to found a religious community, not that I claim connection, mind you… but, well… um.)

It is not my place to judge, of course, but I’m heartened by the following quote I found online from our new Archbishop.

"There are dark sides to everything," he says, "and there is a dark
side to humor. It can be sarcastic, hurtful and angry. But it can also
be gentle. You can give things a sense of proportion and help keep
things in perspective if you can make a joke about it. One of the
devastating things you can do is take yourself too seriously."

then Bishop Niederauer to desertnews.

There will be those who are in favor of this new Archbish, and those who are opposed from the start (human beings seem to find it easier to see things in dualities).  But, I think we might want to let God be the judge and meanwhile to be open to this "newcomer" to our city.  In his own words,

"I think for us in this city to be bigoted toward newcomers, it’s a
failure of the heart. And imagination."

Let us use our hearts and imaginations to pray for and with our new Archbishop that he may be God’s child and advocate and our good ecclesial shepherd.  Amen.

Dscn3485Okay, a quick roundup of the last week:

Monday (my 41st birthday) – celebrating quietly at santa cruz with my friend Denise.
Denise has been a friend-o-mine since 1974.  We met in fourth grade and have been so close ever since (even if neither of us is good at calling out.)

earlier that day (4:00 a.m.) finished a paper for a class (which though I LOVED the class, I’m sure the paper is sub-par.  Sigh.)  And sent it in. 

Had breakfast with Mom and Rose Marie (my neice) who had come down from San Jose to celebrate.  Here they are with Denise and wearing the green hats I’ve been compulsively making for the past month.

Aren’t they all so cute.  Guess why I say there are four people in the picture….

Okay, so back in the San Francisco, I head off to class on Thursday… Friday, lunch with Sisters Michelle (OSF) and Maureen (Mercy), good friends of mine.  Then to Mom’s to clean out the refridge, wrap presensts and package for mailing and then a few episodes of Angel (season 4) with my neice.  (lovely).

Saturday: big meeting with sisters in my congregation 60 and under.  Interesting, difficult, hopeful, challenging…. A little moment of the challenge of being "young" in religious life….  After which ice cream with a small gang of sisters was very healing.

Dscn3514Sunday: OOOOHHHH, the once a year cookie baking fest…. I host a small gathering of "young adults" to bake and take Christmas cookies.  So, Anne, Michelle, Jason, Annie, Heather, Alicia and I baked and decorated the following:

  • Frosted sugar cookies
  • Pistachio-Lemon drop cookies
  • Cranberry shorthbread
  • Mexican wedding cookies (aka Russian tea cakes)
  • Rum balls
  • Hello Dollies (aka seven layer cookies)Dscn3515
  • Big soft ginger cookies
  • Snickerdoodles

Dscn3498Whew, Doggie!  This was a day!  And such a great crew for the fifth annual Christmas Cookie Baking-Fest.  Fun and Christmas tunes. And time to reconnect.  Nice.  ( rocks.)Dscn3495

After cleaning up from that, we, the sisters here, did the "decorating" thing for the holiday.  While the prayer room remains Advent-y, the rest of the house takes on the charm of Christmas past, present, future.  Lovely.  Oh, and pizza.  yeah.

Off to bed now… tomorrow is Costco shopping for the community, thesis writing, and a birthday celebration with the sisters here and a few friends. 

Blessings to you on the pink week of Advent.


Your Birthdate: December 5

With a birthday on the 5th of the month you are inclined to work well with people and enjoy them.
You are talented and versatile, very good at presenting ideas.
You may have a tendency to get itchy feet at times and need change and travel.

You tend to be very progressive, imaginative and adaptable.
Your mind is quick, clever and analytical.
A restlessness in your nature may make you a bit impatient and easily bored with routine.
You may have a tendency to shirk responsibility

A few days ago I was gripped by the strong and all encompassing hand of sadness.  After four long years which have flown by, I suddenly realized as if for the first time that my Mom who has cancer is going to die.  Please don’t misunderstand, I know this about her and about all of us.  Somehow, though, I came to the realization anew on that Monday after Thanksgiving and I was sent spinning emotionally.  Normally, I tend to be of the positive attitude and of the optimistic outlook.  I’m generally grateful for my life and the gifts (even in the form of challenges) that God has so showered upon me.  I’m deeply hopeful and know that "everything works out in the end."  (Even when the working out is beyond my understanding, appreciation, or comprehension.)

But, that Monday, it all hit me.  Not only the terminal nature of Mom’s illness, but the four years of her suffering and her strength and how it will end one day.  And the great gaping hole that will be left in my life and my heart.  And I was struck rather dramatically, though not ultimately regretfully, by the four years of weekends and other days I’ve spend driving the hour to and from her house and to the doctor’s office and to the hospital and back home and the four years of chores done in Mom’s home while neglected in my own.  I kind of hit the wall, as they say.  And I was so sad!  I kind of broke down and even posted here and at my friend Bob’s blog about the depressing mess I was feeling.  Whew that overwhelming wave of feeling. 

Since then several friends and blogpals have emailed and posted their prayers and support.  This has been so healing.  Knowing that people (and even people I don’t know but who I know are holy) are holding Mom and me in prayer has allowed an easing of the sadness.  And, after a few days swamped by the storm of tears and the wailing to God, I am feeling a whole lot better.  I’m even accomplishing some of the writing tasks I have for school.  I’m sort of smiling and laughing now and again and listening, and yes, singing along to those Christmas tunes I LOVE so much. 

And tonight as I work on one of my papers, I’m sitting here in Santa Cruz hearing the waves of the ocean, seeing the glowing fire in the fireplace and feeling so grateful for the current visit (planned long ago) of my longest friend, Denise (who, oh-mi-gawd, has known and loved me for 31 years!).  It’s her visit that makes this little respite possible even as I complete my paper and worry over my thesis and my Mom and all the obligations I’m blessed to have by which I am beleaguered.

And so I find that I am grateful and hopeful once again.  And the gratitude and the hopefulness are now infused with a depth, a spice of sad, that makes them even more rich.  I’m blessed.  I do know it.  And even after I forget for a moment and go crazy and reveal to others the mess that is me, the Holy sneaks in and continues the work it began in me long ago.  And, whew, what grace.

And did I mention that Denise brough a birthday present of our old high-school favorite, Remington Steele (two whole DVD seasons!) and these too are part of the heart healing laughter and love?

RevGal Friday Five: Oh, thank you Songbird
For this Friday morning, then, a few decorating questions:

1) Do you display a nativity scene, and if so, where?

We have um, four (yes, 4) nativity scenes we display. Used to be just three, but a new sister has
moved in who was given a beautiful set when she left her last ministry and so
we will be putting that out this year too. Of those three: one goes in the front foyer; one goes on the long
bookcase in our community room (living room) and one (a truly lovely white
porcelain set) will be placed in our prayer room on Christmas Eve night when we
pray in Christmas. I have no idea where
we will put the one being displaced by the new one. (We won’t be decorating until the 11th
– I always campaign for sooner, but others campaign for later and so this is
our compromise.)

In our house we have a tradition of the youngest sister
placing Baby Jesus as part of our prayer service. I’ve been planning prayers on Christmas Eve
here for a few years and have included others placing Mary and Joseph as
well. It’s a truly communal prayer
service. If you’d like to see them, you can: here are two
Download christmas_eve_prayer_2002.doc  and Download christmas_eve_prayer_2004.doc

2) Do you put a skirt under the Christmas tree? If so, what
does it look like?

We have a skirt that was made years and years ago by one of
the sisters who used to live in this local community, Sr. Anna Louise. Each year the sisters who lived here with her
reminisce about how she made it. It’s a
reminder of the continuity and larger-ness of our congregation. Sr. Anna Louise lives in another local convent/community
now and has for years, but she is still one of our “honorary” community members
here and her presence is felt each year very strongly with that old red and
green felt Christmas tree skirt.

3) Do you hang lights on the house or put them in your windows?

No, lights on the outside and the “house”
doesn’t put any up. Usually I put up a
string in my room in the windows. I’m
the most Christmasy-Elfish of the gang here!

4) White lights or colored lights on the tree? Big bulbs or  small?

Colored, small, twinkling/blinking if they’ll let me – usually they
don’t. But we all agree on colored
here. Which works well for me because I
can’t imagine a white light tree.  Well, I’ve seen them, but can’t imagine them in my home.

5) Do you have a tree topper? What sort? Who puts it on top
of the tree?

Oooh, this has been a raging debate for years. Debate may be too strong a term, really, we’ve
just been hunting for the right one for all of the six years I have lived in
this community! Last year we got “the
right one,” I think. But I can’t
remember what it is. I think it’s a
star. Though there have been angels we’ve

(I think it’s a star because that’s what I personally favor –
though when I put up my Great Grandmother’s little aluminum tree either in my
room or the study, I generally put a red bow on top and at Mom’s (where I’m decorating
coordinator) I put her “Santa” on top.)

Today is World AIDS Day – one fight, one hope, one cure – be one.

Good news; but if you ask me what it is, I
know not;

It is a track of feet in the snow,

It is a lantern showing a path,

It is a door set open.

 ­– G.K.

December 2005