Friday, January 22, 2010

Excuse me?

As many of you know, we are building a new convent. The location is Harlem at 150th and Convent Avenue. We broke ground in June and hope to move in by mid August this year. The weather has been a bit better so we actually have three of the floors poured... things are looking good.

Except that we got a $3500 fine. The city wrote a ticket because our construction company closed off the sidewalk. The company had permission from the DOT to do this, and erected a walkway with barriers outside. If you live in New York you know exactly what these look like. If you don't here's a picture.

So... get this: the fine says we closed the sidewalk and did NOT erect a walkway. And a photo similar to this one was attached to the paperwork to prove it.


So the subcontractor went to court (the one who put up the wall around the sidewalk and erected the barriers for the walkway.) Result: The judge wouldn't take his not guilty plea, wouldn't even look at the photograph. No... they want the construction company to go back to court to enter the not guilty plea. That's two court dates to prove something any moron can see in the photograph, and apparently the person who wrote the ticket, took the picture.

What is it I'm missing? Well, here's another photo to show that some people can actually read the sign and use the walkway.
Is this where your NYC tax dollars are going?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Hundreds Protest Global Warming

A friend sent me this photo. One of our sisters who adores snow, (starts praying for it in August) would have been right there with these guys. Except... that this extreme cold is slowing progress on our new building. The workmen are doing what little they can, but their morale is as low as the temperatures.

Sunday, January 03, 2010


This morning our celebrant reminded us that one of the most important things the Incarnation of God came to prove and demonstrate, was... dignity. She elaborated... that the dignity of humankind was respected and valued so much that God became human. In spite of ourselves, in spite of the darkness, we were worth it.

When Jesus grew to manhood and began his ministry, he granted to all he met that same regard for dignity. To John, he granted the right of his own baptism. He granted Mary Magdalene the status of disciple because he recognized women as humans with value, not chattel. He saw his enemies as people worthy of his prayers. He recognized us only as lost, not evil.

She gave another example from the Broadway musical "South Pacific"... where the song by Lieutenant Cable explains that you have to be taught bigotry, you aren't born with it. So far ahead of their time in 1949, Rodgers and Hammerstein received a lot of criticism for their commentary on racial discrimination. They were accused of being Communists, a threat that would take hold and rampage artists and thinkers throughout the 50's and into the 60's.

How do we grant dignity to those who work for us?
to the poor?
to those we perceive as less intelligent?

It is a sad commentary that we still have so much to learn from the God who made us, who became one of us to give Himself as an example.

Saturday, January 02, 2010


I have no intention of trying to blog every single day in 2010. There, that said, here it is... January 2nd and I'm at it again. On a roll? Probably not.

Today is a day of silent retreat for the entire house. What a decidedly lovely way to start the new year. We have that kind of total silence so infrequently these days, we had to post signs in the elevators and the refectory to remind everyone. I have my "in silent retreat" badge on to remind myself.

Yesterday we explained to all the aides and live-alongside folks that they were not to speak to us out loud today, and for the most part they have joined in and have been wonderful. I think it was an unusual challenge for them. One aide in particular has been shisshing her charges when they forget. Forgetfulness seems to be our enemy these days. There is no longer such a thing as The Great Silence in this house. Normally it begins after Compline, or in our case, at 9:00 p.m., and ends after breakfast the following day. Not here.

The best we can manage these days are occasional mini silences, and, while those are refreshing, it's like trying to squelch a forest fire with a plant mister. To go deep, to hear the still small voice, that requires a block of undisturbed quiet. It takes time to withdraw from chaos.

For some sisters a silent retreat day means not only no talking, but also no electronic noise or communication. They turn off their computers, their cel phones, their radios or ipods. For others the quiet is less defined. For me, I want specifically to eliminate all input except the Holy Spirit's. Output is okay for me... it's just another way to weed out the clutter that distracts my focus. Each sister must choose what works best to align her soul closer to God.

Friday, January 01, 2010


A new year... a new decade... time for taking stock, time for making changes. It's what I love the most about New Year's, this motivation to look both back and ahead.

I tried to do it when the liturgical calendar changed, but without success. "Prepare ye the way of the Lord." it says in Isaiah. But Advent came and went last year. Even though I thought I would be prepared, I wasn't.

While it doesn't seem right that a secular holiday will hold more sway for me than the spiritual seasons, I will take whatever inspiration where I can get it... and run with it. Life is too short and my own gets shorter every year. I have no clue how long I have. None of us does. That knowledge can be both depressing and motivating. Today it's motivating.

Taking stock:
  • I spend too much time playing Happy Farm and Fish Town, even though I rationalize that these games are a way to relax and unwind. Maybe I need to rewind, not unwind. Time to look at that and either wean myself away or go cold turkey. Lent will be a perfect time for this if I don't get to it sooner.

  • I have let my own personal (creative) endeavors slip-slide away. Time to set a schedule to blog on a regular basis. Time to get back to the cartoons too. I miss those little boys. They give me great pleasure and satisfaction, not to mention they make my sisters laugh.

  • I noticed just this morning that my patience level has deteriorated (yet again). Maybe it's time to change the furniture around. That usually helps. That and weeding out stuff... from my closet, drawers, bookshelves. Weeding out is like getting a haircut. I feel so much lighter, less encumbered. Maybe it's some law of quantum physics the scientists have yet to discover, but getting rid of stuff actually produces energy. You think I'm crazy? Try it. No, really try it.

  • Okay this is a stretch, but I've been having a lot of bad dreams lately. I think it's time to write them down.

  • Just in case I've never mentioned it, here's a trivia fact about myself: five is my favorite number. I do everything in fives... latent OCD gene I imagine, but I believe it's basically harmless. So this will be number 5 in the stock-taking activity for today: I am way too bossy. This not-so-harmless-trait is going to take more work than I can even imagine. Acknowledgement is the first step. I did, I do. I'm done for today. Time to go empty some drawers... get rid of five things.