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The challenge – and importance – of showing up

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It has been a struggle to find something uplifting to share in this blog. Although it is resurrection season, the news has been filled with excruciating stories of death and selfishness: the insurrection at the capital; 6 mass shootings since January;    3 million deaths world-wide from covid; the crisis at our southern border. But especially poignant and raw has been the agonizing murders of our black and brown siblings at the hands of law enforcement officers and other violent perpetrators.    How long will we tolerate these injustices? The sin of racism is imbedded deeply in our systems and institutions. But it can be uprooted with persistent and communal decisions and actions. Our Corporate Stance for Anti-Racism challenges us to show up and speak up in the presence of racism whenever it shows up where we are.    In this excerpt from the poem, “Here It Is!,” in her book,  Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart,  Alice Walker urges this further transformation:   Try to think bigger than

Diversity and Unity In Our Humanity

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For most of my 9 years as a Sinsinawa Dominican, I have ministered among women on the margins of society; margins set by poverty, sexism, racism, domestic violence, and addiction among others. I know firsthand the plight of working women and working mothers, having been a single mother myself. I didn’t know what this life would be like but quickly became aware of the many privileges we as women religious have. It was from that limited, therefore faulty, perspective that made me hesitate ministering directly with our elderly sisters – I thought they had everything they needed and had all the help they needed. Thankfully, providence intervened. Last summer, I began ministering with our sisters at an assisted living facility in south-central Wisconsin while taking Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) classes. I see more clearly now something I thought I knew well … that need is everywhere. Hurt and loneliness are everywhere. Longing to live a life of meaning is common to us all.    It has be

A Shot in the Arm

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A few weeks ago the three of us who live together here in Austin, Texas, got our first dose of the vaccine.     After weeks of frustration we received a quick hint from a neighbor’s daughter that vaccines were available, We quickly signed up and the next day we were among the 4000 people who drove over to the site—a huge car racing complex.  We were cheered by many young volunteers who guided us through the maze of cars and cones and eventually to the place where volunteer nursing students gave us the vaccines.  We simply put our arms up to the car window.  Then more volunteer EMT’s waited the mandatory 15 minutes with us. It was a relief to get the vaccine, but I was especially impressed by the many volunteers who made it all possible and easy.  I am so grateful.   As we begin to see the end of the pandemic, what are you grateful for?   Happy Easter LouAnne Willette, OP Austin, TX

“the river that flows through our heart.”

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As I was preparing to celebrate World Water Day, ahh that precious gift, I came across an article about a special river in Tibet that flows through hidden caverns and then eventually becomes a 3,00+ miles river in India.     That is a long trek.   It reminded me of this ‘sheltering in place ‘waterfall’  so many of us have experienced this past year.  What is this sheltering river we have floated on and in?  What and how does it flow in my/your hearts?     I have slowed down a whole lot this year.  I now take time to notice more and feel more deeply.  I walk more slowly and walk longer distances. Sheltering in place has invited me to do more quiet listening and to savor and pause.  I am less likely to jump to a conclusion.  I can even simply let myself be curious without having to formulate an answer.     Needless to say, this did not happen magically.  I have found focusing on staying in the present moment has been key in developing this ‘renewed’ state of presence.  Ahh, sure there ha

Spring Planting

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The seed catalogs have arrived!  This sign of Spring never ceased to thrill me as a kid and continues to be exciting even today!  There is a joy in choosing seeds to plant in the earth, believing that by burying them in the dark loam, life and color and fragrance and even food will be the result. Jesus reminds us of that paradoxical truth in an honest, visceral way.  “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain.”  The seed must be planted, must be buried, must face an unknown future to ultimately find the nourishment and energy it needs to break open to the light it seeks.  This metaphor, offered for our reflection on this 5 th Sunday of Lent, never grows stale, never lets us off the hook in our need to reflect on the mystery of dying and rising in our own lives, in our Earth, in our universe.    This past year we have all learned something about dying; now we face new beginnings in a changed landscape.  How can we be more than “single grains”

Let’s Celebrate!

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Let’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day—everyone is Irish on that day. Right? Though Ancestry.com testing might not indicate I’m Irish, the influence of the Irish culture lives within me. I will claim to be Irish by association.   On March 17 my “Spirit” circle will celebrate by sharing our insights from our study of Celtic spirituality. It’s my turn to choose our topic, offer resources, and facilitate our conversation. I’ve wanted to discover the essence of Celtic spirituality and I found it resonates with who I am.   Spirituality is a way of expressing who we are and how we live out what we believe. A central wisdom of the Celts is that all life is sacred and God is always with us, in us, all around us in the ordinariness of our lives.     The great discovery for me is how Celtic spirituality is so similar to Dominican spirituality. Celts have monastic roots. They pray always, not enclosed in a monastery but live in community wherever they are. Contemplation and study are elements of our D

Nourishment for Good News

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I never imagined that once I joined the Dominicans I would return to my hometown to live. Every place I have been called/sent has been an adventure—Suburbs of big cities, alternative school in Omaha, subsidized housing in Tulsa, Trinidad and Tobago, between black towns and white suburbs in Mississippi.  Each has been a place of learning and caring.  Each place and now Madison has been a place of community.   “Community” sounds like such an ideal place.  And yet It has both blessings and tensions.  We ourselves are blessing and tension.  Learning from each one gives us experience needed to live in a neighborhood, a parish community, a city of challenges, a polarized nation. I am looking at the back yard, where I brought the commercial composter from 3 other places where I lived in Madison. Each place had its challenges and blessings.  Each place had banana peels and vegetable leftovers to compost and turn into nourishment for garden or flowerpot. Community life composts the blessings an