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Welcome, loved & accepted

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Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me…”   Mk 9:36-37a Sunday’s gospel brings to mind a teaching memory from years ago.  Kenny was in my 4 th  grade once a week art class and he was, to put it mildly, a handful.  He was hyper, always moving, unable to focus – his classroom teacher couldn’t wait to send him to the art room. Although so exasperating he created some great artwork, and I displayed a drawing of his for the fall Open House knowing he would not have any other papers posted with wonderful comments or good grades.  Greeting parents and students that night saw I saw Kenny with an older man, gray haired, wearing bib overalls. I pointed to Kenny’s drawing and said to him, “Did you see Kenny’s picture?”  The man looked up at it with a huge smile and then putting his arms around this youngster looked up at me and said, “Oh, Sister, he is the apple of my eye.”   Celebrate a

Nurture Life’s Blessings

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The pandemic has distinctively changed my perspective on life. I find blessings that I used to take for granted and welcome new learnings. Relationships have strengthened and new ones formed. My spiritual life is deepening as well.   Each summer for the past 20 years I have participated in a retreat entitled  Nurturing Life’s Blessings . Last year we had a “virtual” retreat and I missed being together, in person, in a place that is  extra  holy ground at Siena Retreat Center in Racine, WI.    This summer we gathered at Siena Retreat Center. What a difference! We adapted to the new protocols for safety and also appreciated being together. The gifts of nature and being with others truly nurtured my spirit. I celebrate this sacred time. Being on the team and creating the rituals for each day expands my love of life. I am also privileged to companion women on their journey and learn from them. The Spirit’s presence was palpable.   Lake Michigan graces the sacred space and it attracts retre

Mourning Our Losses

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Since the beginning of 2020 and COVID following shortly thereafter, we Dominicans of Sinsinawa have said good-bye to 53 of our Sisters who entered eternal life.     Three of those Sisters left behind a biological sister who is also a member of the congregation.     This becomes an even more significant loss for those Sisters.     We, both as a community and also as individual human beings, are mourning our losses.     Our beautiful wake/remembering services and funeral liturgies do help.     Since COVID restrictions have become less stringent, we have been able to accompany a Sister’s remains to the cemetery.     This also assists us saying our “good-byes.”   Although we are happy for the Sister who has entered eternity, nevertheless, we are grieving.  Today, I gathered the memorial cards for all of these Sisters, held each of them and all of them in prayer, and recalled my connection and encounters with each Sister.  I recognize each person engages in the mourning process differently

Dominicans and the Harvest

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The cherry tomatoes on my sister Molly’s plant make my mouth water!     The first two tomatoes I pick are so beautiful; I do not want to eat them.     The Saturday morning farmer’s market during these last weeks of August is an experience in abundance.  Each fruit and vegetable demonstrates the mystery of sunlight and rain, of earth and air.  Hidden seeds become luscious food. As Dominicans, we are called to praise and to bless.  The taste of a crunchy cucumber, the tartness of a blueberry, or the drippy sweetness of a slice of watermelon make it so easy to exclaim God’s goodness. This past Sunday’s second reading from the Letter of James says, “Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you…” Even as this pandemic rages forward and the international scene speaks of injustice and oppression, James reminds us that we are called to be the harvest of God wherever we are, in any way possible.  The harvest of God’s love, mercy, joy, hope, and peace.  The first fruits of God’s providen

Are You an Edge Walker?

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I’ve been thinking about edges lately. The edge of night and the new day. The edges of land and water and all the life forms that find home at the edge. Are you walking by the edge of a road? Are you on the edge of a decision? Are you between this and that? We all walk the edge between what is and what is not yet.   How are you navigating those edges? These places of transition and transformation? Such liminal spaces, full of beauty and possibilities.  Can be scary. The edge of the proverbial cliff springs to mind. Can be lonely.   My own physical edges have grown much more rounded than sharp, thanks in some way to the pandemic.   And perhaps also thanks to Covid I am now more appreciative of life living itself in me and inviting me to playfully explore the edge of all things.   Along which edges do you walk?   Isabel Rafferty OP Madison, WI

Musings on Turning Seventy-five

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A few days ago, I celebrated my seventy-fifth birthday. Seventy-five is a robust number, a solid number. After all, it’s three quarters of a century, isn’t it! I have nothing against the number, but to have to attach it to my person seems bizarre.     When I think of a seventy-five-year-old woman I think of my grandmother, but that’s not who I am. There must have been some mistake in the records. But wait! What’s wrong with being seventy-five? I now have seven and a half decades of experiences to hold onto. I have, as we say, been there and done that. My bucket list is getting shorter, and I feel a deep sense of satisfaction in the realization that my life has been fruitful. I give thanks for friends and family and for my Dominican Congregation that supports me more than I deserve. Seventy-five is a ripe age and it’s time for the harvest – drawing in the wisdom and the gifts as well as the challenges that have shaped me into the woman I am. Come to think of it, I like being seventy-fiv

Called to Preach

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Did you awake this morning wondering “Where am I called this day? this week? This life?” In 1170 Jane de Guzman had a vision that the child in her womb was like a dog running with a torch to set the world on fire.  After his death in 1221 the world knew this child as Dominic, the hound of God, and the order that grew out of Dominic’s adventures as the order of preachers. The Order is to proclaim the word of God by preaching, teaching and example, while being sustained by community.  In 2021 preaching takes on many forms. How are you called to preach?   On this day I awoke remembering that today is my turn to write the blog for Catherine’s Café.  What a wonderful call to preach!   I began by praying to God’s Spirit.  “What do you want of me to preach today?   I found a life of Dominic.*    It is an adventure story and a mystery story too.  The events that led to the beginning of the order of preachers are amazing.   I am amazed that I am called me to spend this moment with you and with