2109 Fall Foliage Map

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We love this thing! You are looking at the 2019 Fall Foliage Map - the ultimate visual planning guide to the annual progressive changing of the leaves. This tool is meant to help travelers better time their trips to have the best opportunity of catching peak color each year. It is made available on the Smoky Mountains.com website - a site promoting Smoky Mountains tourism.

We are including a link to the website because it is an interactive map. Once you are on their page, you will see a bar with dates beneath the map of the US. You can slide a bar to see how the peak foliage spreads all across the country over the coming weeks. We thought you might want to use it to figure out the right time to do some leaf-peeping in our area…or on a weekend trip…or get an idea of the color of the leaves while we are away on retreat. Just click here to visit the website.

As you can well imagine, no predictions are 100% accurate. So here’s an idea - simply step outside to see how accurate the Fall Foliage predictor map really is! Which leads us to our next topic…seeing…and how it can be divine…


Visio Divina in October

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God speaks to us in many ways – through relationships, our experiences, Holy Scriptures, and many other avenues. At this time of year, God can certainly speak to us through the beauty of creation and the changing of the seasons.

Visio divina is Latin for divine seeing and is a practice similar to lectio divina but is practiced with images. It is a prayer practice that allows us to encounter God’s presence in what we see and embraces multiple aspects of ourselves. We are drawing from a variety of resources to bring you this brief post on visio divina - and invite you to consider joining us in this prayer practice during October.

Tim Mooney in his post about visio divina on Patheos notes the following:

“With our culture becoming more and more visually oriented, an intentional way of praying with images is needed now more than ever. Visio Divina invites us to see at a more contemplative pace. It invites us to see all there is to see, exploring the entirety of the image. It invites us to see deeply, beyond first and second impressions, below initial ideas, judgments, or understandings. It invites us to be seen, addressed, surprised, and transformed by God who is never limited or tied to any image, but speaks through them.” 

An important thing to keep in mind before beginning this practice is your expectations of what might happen.  We encourage you not to have any!  You may or may not have any grand revelations. The point is to practice and to offer quiet time to be attentive to God’s presence, to spend time with your Creator and the lover of your soul.

Like lectio divina, Latin for ‘divine reading’, visio divina has four steps:

1. Look at the image and let your eyes stay with the very first thing that you see. Keep your attention on that one part of the image that first catches your eye. Try to keep your eyes from wandering to other parts of the picture. Breathe deeply and let yourself gaze at that part of the image for a minute or so.

2. Take a second, deeper, look. Let your eyes gaze at the whole image. Take your time and look at every part of the photograph. See it all. Reflect on the image for a minute or so. Where is there movement? What relationships do you see? Engage your imagination. Where are you in the photo? What do you see from that perspective? What deeper meaning emerges?

3. Consider the following questions: What emotions does this image evoke in you? What does the image stir up in you, bring forth in you? What deeper meaning emerges? Does this image lead you into an attitude of prayer? If so, let these prayers take form in you. Write them down if you desire. Respond to the image with prayer. Did the image remind you of an experience, place or moment for which you’d like to offer thanksgiving or intercession? Offer that prayer to God.

4. Find your quiet center. Breathe deeply. Relax your shoulders, arms and legs. Rest in this quiet. Let God pray in you. God prays beyond words.

How this works

We are hoping to offer you a variety of images with which to pray...images provided by you, the Band of Sisters. As you are out and about during this beautiful month, keep your phone camera or traditional camera handy - and grab a shot of what catches your eye. Send it to bandofsistersraleigh@gmail.com and we will post it on the visio divina prayer page.

Feel free to send a description of your time in prayer or your prayer request - along with your picture. We will be most happy to post them together…anonymously, of course…unless you request otherwise.

You are encouraged to check back for new images throughout the month of October. As Christine Valters Paintner says in The Artist’s Rule : Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom: “there are a multitude of layers that can't be exhausted with just one sitting. Honor the art as an expression and allow it to continue to reveal its meaning.” Just as we revisit Scriptures and find various levels of meaning, the same is true of art. Consider practicing visio divina with us in October - at whatever level of involvement feels right for you. We’ll be watching for those images of Fall…


Also upcoming this month

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Dipped and Dyed in Prayer - our Fall retreat - will be taking place on October 21, 22, 23 at St. Francis Springs Prayer Center. We currently have 32 women registered. As members of the Band, we ask that you keep all of us in your prayers during this special time away.


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Our visit to Historic Oakwood Cemetery comes right on the heels of our retreat. We hope you will make plans to be with us as we remember our beloved departed and then take a guided tour of the cemetery. Our focus for the tour will be on women of note from the community who are buried in Oakwood. That gathering is scheduled for Monday, October 28 at 10:30am. Please visit the calendar page of the website and scroll to the event. You will see a place where you can sign up - so we know to expect you. We will meet outside the main office of the cemetery - which is located inside the front gate and up a little incline. Oakwood Cemetery is at 701 Oakwood Avenue.


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A prayer for our earth

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A prayer for our earth

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.

Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.

Pope Francis


Remembering when...tea parties

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Posted from Maureen Leahy

In our first year's offerings, the Band of Sisters gathered at Avila Retreat Center to reflect on the lives of some of the consecrated women who walked before us and among us in faith. We did this monthly. At the conclusion of our time together, we sat quietly and meditated on a cup of tea. A cup of tea you ask?

As we began our meditation, each member selected a cup and saucer from the table - which had been set with a pretty cloth and flowers. Many of the cups were donated by members of the Band of Sisters, family, and friends. Some held special meaning as they had belonged to our mothers, grandmothers, and aunts…as well as ourselves. They were all lovely - and quite special. We selected our cup carefully - as it was to be taken home as a reminder of our time together. Those who returned in the following months knew to bring their carefully chosen tea cup and saucer with them.

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The meditation encouraged us, first, to have a grateful remembrance of the past. Noticing the uniqueness of our cup, we became conscious of our unique selves - like a cup resting in God's hand. Next we reflected on living in the present with passion. Placing the teabag into the cup we recalled the stories of our lives and the lives of those we loved. As the warm water of God's grace seeped through the teabag, we came to know that God's grace transforms the ordinary of our everyday lives into extraordinary life in Christ. Finally, we reflected on our embrace of the future - with hope. We were invited to sip often from the Divine wellspring. Our cups, once filled to the brim, now had the space needed for us to be compassionate - holding others in the love of Christ.

As we concluded the guided meditation, all were invited to partake of baked goods, more tea, and each others’ faith filled presence. It was a sweet time!


The Way Wings Should

What will
our children do in the morning?
Will they wake with their hearts wanting to play,
the way wings
should?

Will they have dreamed the needed flights and gathered
the strength from the planets that all men and women need to balance
the wonderful charms of
the earth

so that her power and beauty does not make us forget our own?

I know all about the ways of the heart - how it wants to be alive.

Love so needs to love
that it will endure almost anything, even abuse,
just to flicker for a moment. But the sky's mouth is kind,
its song will never hurt you, for I
sing those words.

What will our children do in the morning
if they do not see us
fly?

~ Rumi ~

September newsletter

Lord who calms the storm, we pray for those anxiously watching weather forecasts, preparing for wind and rain, wondering if destruction will come yet again. We feel so small in the face of nature’s powerful forces, but we know that you never leave us alone. Surround all of those bracing for the storm with your abiding peace. Equip leaders and first responders with wisdom and courage. Empower those of us with the luxury of watching from afar with a compassion that spurs action - immediate and sustained.

Envelop us all with your Spirit that grants discernment, gives vision, and motivates deeds of healing, wholeness, and love in response to the suffering of others. Amen.

Learning from a hurricane

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With the end of El Nino, NOAA has increased the number of predicted named storms to 10-17, of which 5-9 will become hurricanes, including 2-4 major hurricanes. Those of us who live on the Atlantic coast are headed into the most active part of hurricane season which opens in June and closes in November.

Hurricanes with strong winds and rain have wreaked havoc on coastal and inland areas in the past years. Living through a hurricane is fraught with danger, anxiety, and the possibility of life-changing damage to hearth and home. Always though the storm circles around an eye of calm.

Sometimes the storms in our lives are not physical but are spiritual, psychological, or emotional. This little story talks about finding peace and calm. It is one of my favorites. 

There once was a King who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The King looked at all the pictures, but there were only two he really liked and he had to choose between them. 

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror, for peaceful towering mountains were all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace. 

The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the King looked, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest in perfect peace. 

Which picture do you think won the prize? The King chose the second picture. Do you know why? 

'Because' explained the King, 'peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.' 

Author Unknown

How do you find calm in the midst of the storms of your life?



All Things Being Equal

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 On the two equinoxes every year the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal. The September equinox marks the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the earth’s equator – from north to south. This year the equinox occurs on Monday, September 23, 2019 at 3:50 am EDT and then, in the northern hemisphere, the days grow shorter.

 Fall officially begins at the September equinox---so we are in the waning days of summer…

What can we learn from the rhythm of time? How will you take advantage of the remaining longer days of summer?

Gentle reminders as we approach Fall…

Join us as we remember our beloved departed and share in a tour of the Historic Oakwood Cemetery and the women of note who are buried there — Monday, October 28 at 10:30AM. Park alongside one of the main roads inside the cemetery property - then walk to the main office to meet us there.

December 10 at 7pm we will be at Sacred Heart Church on Hillsborough Street (the old cathedral) for Taizé Prayer in Advent. Plan to join us as we pray together in this season of preparation and waiting. Chants, prayers, candlelight - all combine beautifully for an evening of quiet prayer, contemplation, and reflection.

The core team has also been working on plans for 2020 - so let’s stay connected! We encourage you to invite your friends to do the same. Perhaps you know of someone who would enjoy hearing from us and learning about our upcoming opportunities. Encourage them to be in touch by writing to us at bandofsistersraleigh@gmail.com with their request to be added to the mailing list…or send us their address. We will be sure to add them. We love making new friends!

And remember - you can follow us on Instagram and like us on FaceBook - additional ways of staying current. Simply search for bandofsistersraleigh on either social media platform - and stay connected.


A Gift

by Denise Levertov

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Just when you seem to yourself
nothing but a flimsy web
of questions, you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands,
songbird eggs that can still hatch
if you keep them warm,
butterflies opening and closing themselves
in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure
their scintillant fur, their dust.
You are given the questions of others
as if they were answers
to all you ask. Yes, perhaps
this gift is your answer.

August 15 - National Lemon Meringue Pie Day

PHOTOGRAPH BY BAXTER MILLER

PHOTOGRAPH BY BAXTER MILLER

A day for pie! Just our sort of day. We think pie is way better when shared with someone - so whether you decide to make a pie or take yourself out for pie, be sure to invite someone fun to join you. Call up a friend and share a cup of tea or coffee together along with some good conversation...and a slice (or two) of lemon meringue pie.

We found this article and recipe in the February 2019 Our State Magazine and thought you might enjoy the local take on lemon meringue pie. It was written by Emma Laperruque who works as a food writer and recipe developer at Food 52 in New York City.

NC Pie Series: What comes at the end is always remembered: the goodnight kiss, the famous last words, the three-point shot at the buzzer, the homemade pie following a fine meal. What’s a plate of flounder in Calabash or oysters on the Outer Banks without a slice of lemon meringue, served on a Styrofoam plate with a plastic fork? Can you imagine a rib eye at the Angus Barn in Raleigh without the grand finale — that famous chocolate chess, drizzled with syrup, dolloped with whipped cream? What of the perfectly fried chicken at Mama Dip’s in Chapel Hill, culminating with a slice of sweet potato or pecan? Sure, we love our cakes, cobblers, and banana puddings, but pie provides the sweetest memories.

Harkers Island locals call it “lemon milk pie.” Half an hour away, in Morehead City, they know it as “Down East lemon pie.” Others simply say “lemon meringue pie.” But any way you slice it, same pie. What everyone can agree on is why this recipe is so prevalent along the coast: a belief that you shouldn’t have dessert after eating seafood, unless it’s lemony. No one quite knows how or when this idea took hold. “I started waiting tables when I was 13, and I couldn’t believe that people ate dessert after seafood,” Karen Amspacher remembers. “That was a shock.”

These days, Amspacher makes lemon milk pies at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center in Harkers Island for various events and fund-raisers. Just like ladies from her church did, she lines a pie tin with Ritz crackers — some crushed, others whole — then pours in a lemony custard made with sweetened condensed milk. Top that with billowy meringue and toss it in the oven until tanned and bronzed, like tourists sunbathing on the beach. In Morehead, meanwhile, Southern Salt Seafood Company is carrying on the legacy of the iconic Captain Bill’s restaurant. There, Albert Cowan styles the pie to “look like the beach.” Crushed crackers resemble the sand, and swirls of whipped topping look like the waves as they curl, then crash onto the shore.

To try this pie, you’ll have to go straight to the source. But we’ve got home bakers covered, too. This recipe comes to us courtesy of Sheri Castle, an award-winning professional food writer, cook, and recipe developer.

Lemon Milk Pie

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Crust:
½ cup butter, melted

1½ sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed into coarse crumbs

Filling:
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk, such as Eaglebrand

4 egg yolks
6 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Meringue:
4 large egg whites

6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350º.

Stir together the butter and crumbs until the mixture is evenly moistened. Press into a 9-inch pie pan.

Bake until golden and fragrant, about 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

For the filling: Whisk together the condensed milk and egg yolks in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the lemon juice and whisk until smooth. Pour into the cooled pie crust.

For the meringue: Beat the egg whites until opaque and frothy with a mixer set to low speed. Add the vanilla, increase speed to high, and beat to very soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating to firm peaks.

Spread the meringue over the pie filling, making sure it touches the inner edge of the pie crust. Use the back of a spoon to make a few pretty swirls on top.

Bake until the meringue is golden brown with slightly darker peaks, about 10 minutes.

Cool to room temperature on a wire rack and then refrigerate until chilled.


August newsletter

from the Core Team

Summer Pavlova…my first ever (CF)

Summer Pavlova…my first ever (CF)

As our record-breaking summer winds down, the warmer (understatement) weather, longer days, and time spent outdoors all begin to fade. Thoughts around the start of school (or work), cooler temps, and shorter days begin to creep in before we even realize it.

So before we say goodbye to summer—and all the things that made this season so special—we thought it might be fun to hit the reset button and share with you some of our magnificent memories of the summer season. Take a look at the posts below - you might find something you would like to try or that you have been meaning to do before this splendid season slips away…


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from Ann O’Hara

I am heading out to Zion National Park next month - and in googling around for information on Zion, I came across this headline: “The largest bird in North America was nearly wiped out.  Here’s how it fought its way back.” You can click here to read the article, see the pictures and watch a wonderful video.

This story of the condor has become my feel good story of the summer. I find myself telling everyone I meet about it. It gives me hope. Here’s why. In 1982, when there were only 22 condors left on earth, scientists captured all 22 of them to breed them…and then in May of 2019 – some 37 years later - the 1000th chick was hatched --- in Zion National Park!

I plan to keep my eyes opened for the condors while I am there – and if any of you have any recommendations or stories from your travels to Zion, I would love to hear from you in the comment section at the bottom of this post.


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from Christine Miesowicz

This summer is our second in Florida so I am more heat-acclimated, if such a thing is possible. Even still, grilling, if I had a grill and a grill master, is a bit of a sauna-like experience that requires a change of clothes before sitting down to eat what one has grilled. Hence, my return to the practice of preparing dinner salads OR dinners that cook in under 30 minutes. I now also live close to my dad and his wife who have consented to be my “recipe testers” for our newly-instituted, healthier “dinners at lunch time”.

This one was a huge hit! (PS I left the skin on and baked skin side down.) Click here for a taste of this fabulous Sheet Pan Pecan Crusted Salmon.

As the fall approaches and the temperature and humidity moderate somewhat, maybe I’ll attempt the grill, but I sure will miss these summertime quick one sheet dinners. 


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from Linda Bedo


Linda offers a bit of practical advice for Grandparents of teens and pre-teens…”Learn to love Steak and Shake and to play Dungeons and Dragons.”

I think the picture below says it all…

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from Mary Morch

Unsolicited Quiet Time - I suddenly found myself at home, totally alone, for four days after a hectic June and beginning of July.  My husband was away, the grandchildren were in other states and volunteer commitments accomplished.

What?  Alone? I panicked. No one to cook for. No one needing my attention.

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Suddenly  I  felt God was laughing at me.  For years I knew well that contemplation, listening, reading scripture was an avenue to a relationship with God. I was also aware that I found busyness my prayer of choice all these years. Who had time? God was aware of my intentions. So why the need to sit quietly and just listen?

As it turned out, this alone time was a wonderful experience. Days turned into dusk and I was able to focus. I was able to sit still longer than imagined.  I fooled with chalk, listened to music and let my thoughts wander. There was no TV, no interruptions and I ate when convenient.

By day three the comfort of this “not doing” settled upon me like soft sunshine on a breezy day. It was a feeling of having been here before and re-remembering the world of just “being”.


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from Maureen Leahy

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This is my little Maltese named Niki on his first birthday. Last month we celebrated 14 years as companions. For all the years that I worked I always knew that, as I returned home, he would be waiting at the door with wide eyes and a wagging tail that would not quit. At six months I took him to puppy training. Everyone would laugh as he raced in circles around the other dogs with so much energy. Now in his senior years he has become a little slower, sleeps more but never misses an opportunity to beg for a treat. Sounds a little like myself! The core team of the Band of Sisters meets regularly at my house. They have all been the recipients of Niki's greeting and begging for a treat. We may have a few more years together and I will always treasure the companionship and loyalty my Niki has shown. These furry friends are truly a gift from God.


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Pat is enjoying a week of vacation at the beach with her family - we are hoping it is one of her favorite times of the summer.


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from Cindy FitzGerald

Before you go - here are a few fun activities to consider if you want to get the most out of these final weeks of the season:

Journal About Your 5 Favorite Summer Memories

The act of writing accesses your left brain (the analytical and rational side). While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit, and feel. Writing in a journal about happy thoughts and memories from your summer can evoke a state of mindfulness. Use this positive spin of gratitude journaling and spend 15 to 20 minutes (or more, if you wish) writing about your Top 5.

Create a Collage from your summer photos - to preserve your memories

Surround yourself with fun photographs that will keep you in happy spirits for months to come. They're a great conversation piece when friends and family come to visit. Photos have a way of taking us back to “the moment”…they provide us with a form of time travel.

Put together a collage of photos from the summer that you can put on display in your home or office. Or look into one of those great apps that can turn your individual photos into a photo book for your coffee table or work station.

Devise a fun meal plan while your favorite fruits and veggies are still available

Revisit your meal plan and design one that includes fresh seasonal veggies and fruits, and explore new recipes you have been meaning to try - while you can still find the freshest ingredients.

Look for farm stands and road-side stalls. Stop by the Farmer’s Market. Check with your neighbors who garden - there is always and abundance of tomatoes and zucchini this time of the year. And remember to shop around the outside perimeter of the grocery store, where all the fresh foods can be found.

Get Social

Research shows that individuals who lack social connections or report frequent feelings of loneliness tend to suffer higher rates of infection, depression, and cognitive decline. Don’t let that be you. Plan some fun get-togethers with friends. Join us to walk the Labyrinth on 4th Thursdays of the month. Consider helping with Note in the Pocket…Band of Sisters volunteer on the second of the month.

Perhaps it’s time to create a FaceBook account - so many wonderful folks to stay connected with on FaceBook. Instagram is another way to stay connected - it’s quick and easy to follow people, favorite restaurants, bands you enjoy, view posts from around the world, behold incredible photos of natural beauty…

And here is some fun news - Band of Sisters is on Instagram. You can find us as bandofsistersraleigh (BOS). Want some help creating an account so you can follow us? Click here for a step by step…so you can follow us on FaceBook and on Instagram!

Update on our Fall Retreat

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We have begun a waitlist for our Fall Retreat - Dipped and Dyed in Prayer. We are headed to St. Francis Springs (just North of Greensboro) on October 21, 22, 23. You can read more about the retreat here…and can get yourself waitlisted by clicking here and scrolling down on the calendar page to October 21 where you will find retreat information and waitlist instructions.

A Year Along the Geostationary Orbit

reposted from Aeon

From 20,000 miles up, our home planet is a hypnotic swirl of the familiar and the sublime

The Japanese weather satellite Himawari-8 was launched in 2014 for a planned eight-year mission to collect forecasting, weather-monitoring and research data. For his experimental short A Year Along the Geostationary Orbit, the German filmmaker Felix Dierich used Himawari-8 data made publicly available by the Japanese and Australian governments to craft a timelapse that condenses one year into 16 stunning minutes. Orbiting some 20,000 miles above the Earth – much further than the International Space Station (245 miles) yet much closer than the Moon (c238,900 miles) – while perpetually fixed over the Eastern Hemisphere, Himawari-8 provides a unique perspective on the planet and its weather patterns. With the film’s haunting soundtrack and swirling imagery, it’s easy to get lost in the hypnotic clouds and forget that below them is half of humanity, rendered almost entirely invisible by the distance.


something important...

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“Say, Pooh, why aren’t you busy?” I said.

“Because it’s a nice day,” said Pooh.

“Yes, but - - -”

“Why ruin it?” he said.

“But you could be doing something important,” I said.

“I am,” said Pooh.

“Oh? Doing what?”

“Listening,” he said.

“Listening to what?”

“To the birds. And that squirrel over there.”

“What are they saying?” I asked.

“That it’s a nice day,” said Pooh.

“But you know that already,” I said.

“Yes, but it’s always good to hear that somebody else thinks so, too,” he replied.


An Acoustic Ecologist Takes You On a Guided Walk In the Hoh Rain Forest

posted by Ann O’Hara

Silence is an endangered species, says Gordon Hempton. He defines real quiet as presence — not an absence of sound, but an absence of noise. The Earth, as he knows it, is a "solar-powered jukebox." Quiet is a "think tank of the soul." If you visit the On Being website (click here) you can hear an interview with Gordon Hempton. There is also a thumbnail from the full length interview on the same website. Whether you choose to listen to the full interview or the small segment, from the interview by Krista Tippett, you can take in the world through Gordon Hempton’s ears.

A bit about On Being - we learn the following from their website:

“It began with a controversial idea for a public radio conversation, Speaking of Faith, that would treat the religious and spiritual aspects of life as seriously as we treat politics and economics. On Being, as it has evolved, takes up the great questions of meaning in 21st-century lives and at the intersection of spiritual inquiry, science, social healing, and the arts. What does it mean to be human, how do we want to live, and who will we be to each other?

The show launched on two public radio stations. Even as it grew year over year, it remained fairly hidden on the dial, consigned, as the New York Times wrote, to the “God ghetto” time slot of Sunday mornings. When podcasting came along, On Being took its place among leading podcasts. It has been downloaded and played over 200 million times.”

The short footage below, from National Geographic, provides us with both the sights and sounds of the Hoh Rainforest - and the sense of quiet…According to Mr. Hempton, “quiet is quieting’…give a listen…and a look.

The gift of quiet
is that it allows the faint meaning of sound
to gain its original importance.
— Gordon Hempton

Remembering when...

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Posted from Pat Legere-Hicks

The Band of Sisters has held three October retreats at Laurel Ridge Retreat Center in the beautiful North Carolina mountains.  Many of you joined us for these retreats.  During the first retreat in 2016, “Dorothy Day- Seeker-Sister-Saint”,  Maryann Crea presented us with meaningful insights on the life and times of Dorothy Day. 

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In 2017 at “B’s in a Bloomin’ Bonnet”, Christine Miesowicz and Regina O’Connor led us in an exploration of balance gleaning insights from St. Benedict and Brené Brown.  This retreat started off with torrential rains which produced tornadoes in the area.  Luckily, Laurel Ridge was spared and we were graced the first evening with a double rainbow. The retreat that followed was just as spectacular.  

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Christine and Regina joined us again as presenters for our 2018 retreat, “That We Might See”.  All attending were blessed with insights on how they viewed their faith journeys.

As you you can see in the pictures, our time together for all the retreats has always been spirit- filled and full of joy and exploration. 

This year we will be hosting our retreat on October 21-23, 2019 at St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, NC and hope you will consider joining us.  Space will be limited so the sooner you register the better.  Visit the Fall Retreat page to learn more.

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

- Mary Oliver


Immigrant Picnic

BY GREGORY DJANIKIAN

It's the Fourth of July, the flags

are painting the town,

the plastic forks and knives

are laid out like a parade.


And I'm grilling, I've got my apron,

I've got potato salad, macaroni, relish,

I've got a hat shaped

like the state of Pennsylvania.


I ask my father what's his pleasure

and he says, "Hot dog, medium rare,"

and then, "Hamburger, sure,

what's the big difference,"

as if he's really asking.


I put on hamburgers and hot dogs,

slice up the sour pickles and Bermudas,

uncap the condiments. The paper napkins

are fluttering away like lost messages.


"You're running around," my mother says,

"like a chicken with its head loose."


"Ma," I say, "you mean cut off,

loose and cut off being as far apart

as, say, son and daughter."


She gives me a quizzical look as though

I've been caught in some impropriety.

"I love you and your sister just the same," she says,

"Sure," my grandmother pipes in,

"you're both our children, so why worry?"


That's not the point I begin telling them,

and I'm comparing words to fish now,

like the ones in the sea at Port Said,

or like birds among the date palms by the Nile,

unrepentantly elusive, wild.


"Sonia," my father says to my mother,

"what the hell is he talking about?"

"He's on a ball," my mother says.


"That's roll!" I say, throwing up my hands,

"as in hot dog, hamburger, dinner roll...."


"And what about roll out the barrels?" my mother asks,

and my father claps his hands, "Why sure," he says,

"let's have some fun," and launches

into a polka, twirling my mother

around and around like the happiest top,


and my uncle is shaking his head, saying

"You could grow nuts listening to us,"


and I'm thinking of pistachios in the Sinai

burgeoning without end,

pecans in the South, the jumbled

flavor of them suddenly in my mouth,

wordless, confusing,

crowding out everything else.


Newsletter for July 2019

Carlo Dolci

Carlo Dolci

It has been three years since the celebration of St. Mary Magdalene, July 22, was elevated to the level of a feast day. “What difference?”, you might ask. It means that Mary Magdalene is celebrated liturgically like the rest of the apostles. She is the only woman to be so celebrated and rightfully so.

“Who was she? From the New Testament, one can conclude that Mary of Magdala (her hometown, a village on the shore of the Sea of Galilee) was a leading figure among those attracted to Jesus. When the men in that company abandoned him at the hour of mortal danger, Mary of Magdala was one of the women who stayed with him, even to the Crucifixion. She was present at the tomb, the first person to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection and the first to preach the “Good News” of that miracle. These are among the few specific assertions made about Mary Magdalene in the Gospels. From other texts of the early Christian era, it seems that her status as an “apostle,” in the years after Jesus’ death, rivaled even that of Peter.”
— James Carroll

St. Mary Magdalene is an example of what it means to evangelize, to proclaim the central good news that Christ is risen. She serves as an example to all women that we, too, are sent to witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ.  

The Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee

 If you are ever in the Holy Land, visit Duc in Altum in Magdala on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. “Duc In Altum” exalts the presence of women in the Gospel. Thanks to Divine Providence, this idea was materialized in Magdala, hometown of Mary Magdalene. Mary was a follower of Jesus among other women who supported him with their own means (Luke 8).

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The Women’s Atrium features eight pillars, seven of which represent women in the Bible who followed Jesus, while the eighth honors women of faith across all time.

The honored women are: Mary Magdalene – follower of Jesus and present at his crucifixion (Luke 8:2), Susana and Joanna, the wife of Chuza – followers of Jesus (Luke 8:3), Mary and her sister Martha – followers of Jesus (Luke 10:38), Salome, the mother of James and John – supporter of Jesus and wife of Zebedee (Matthew 20:20), Simon Peter’s mother-in-law – healed by Jesus, then supporter of Jesus (Matthew 8:15), Mary, wife of Cleopas – follower of Jesus and present at his crucifixion (John 19:25), Many other women – the many women who followed and supported Jesus (Mark 15:41), Unmarked Pillar – for women of all time who love God and live by faith.

 See photo and above quoted description here https://www.magdala.org/visit/duc-in-altum/womens-atrium/

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 For more on Mary of Magdala and the Magdala Stone pictured in our July email go to www.magdala.org


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Our birthday celebration was magical. Linda Bedo warmly welcomed us to her home and Lee Werley amazed us with his magic. We extend our thanks to both. Cake and lemonade were enjoyed by all - and the rabbit, out of the hat, appeared to offer favors to those present. Our thanks to Linda’s grandson for entering into the fun. Scroll down to the June 19 post on this page to see photos of the event.

We thank all for their presence at this celebration. We also thank those who offered happy birthday donations and warm wishes via the website - www.bandofsistersraleigh.com. Our ability to provide opportunities to gather depends on your generosity. Donations are gratefully accepted at any time. Click here to donate.

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Registration for the fall retreat, “Dipped and Dyed in Prayer” to be held at St. Francis Springs Prayer Center, is open. Click here to see registration info and to register. Our August newsletter will provide more details.

Are you following us on FaceBook? You can find us as BandofSistersRaleigh. Once you are on our FaceBook page, simply “like” us (thumbs up icon) and we will begin to appear in your FaceBook feed. We have just begun work on an Instagram account … more on that at a later date.


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Gratitude


What did you notice?

The dew snail;
the low-flying sparrow;
the bat, on the wind, in the dark;
big-chested geese, in the V of sleekest performance;
the soft toad, patient in the hot sand;
the sweet-hungry ants;
the uproar of mice in the empty house;
the tin music of the cricket’s body;
the blouse of the goldenrod.

What did you hear?

The thrush greeting the morning;
the little bluebirds in their hot box;
the salty talk of the wren,
then the deep cup of the hour of silence.

What did you admire?

The oaks, letting down their dark and hairy fruit;
the carrot, rising in its elongated waist;
the onion, sheet after sheet, curved inward to the
pale green wand;
at the end of summer the brassy dust, the almost liquid
beauty of the flowers;
then the ferns, scrawned black by the frost.

What astonished you?

The swallows making their dip and turn over the water.

What would you like to see again?

My dog: her energy and exuberance, her willingness,
her language beyond all nimbleness of tongue, her
recklessness, her loyalty, her sweetness, her
sturdy legs, her curled black lip, her snap.

What was most tender?

Queen Anne’s lace, with its parsnip root;
the everlasting in its bonnets of wool;
the kinks and turns of the tupelo’s body;
the tall, blank banks of sand;
the clam, clamped down.

What was most wonderful?

The sea, and its wide shoulders;
the sea and its triangles;
the sea lying back on its long athlete’s spine.

What did you think was happening?

The green breast of the hummingbird;
the eye of the pond;
the wet face of the lily;
the bright, puckered knee of the broken oak;
the red tulip of the fox’s mouth;
the up-swing, the down-pour, the frayed sleeve
of the first snow—

so the gods shake us from our sleep.

~ Mary Oliver ~

Happy Birthday to us!

What fun we had at the birthday party. Linda Bedo and the core team hosted members of the Band for cake and lemonade and a warm visit. Lee Werley kept us smiling and laughing and scratching our heads - it was eye-popping as he taught us a whole bag of tricks that we could use with family and friends. We had quarters coming out of our ears, dimes disappearing, cards that magically appeared, and coloring books with pictures that could change color by whispering just a few magic words…

Greeting friends…

Greeting friends…

…old friends and new…

…old friends and new…

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Our friendly magician…

Our friendly magician…

Teaching us to put a knot in the rope…

Teaching us to put a knot in the rope…

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Practicing our lessons…

Practicing our lessons…

Studying the books…and figuring out how it’s done…

Studying the books…and figuring out how it’s done…

Passing a rope…

Passing a rope…

…right through her wrist!

…right through her wrist!

So that’s how he did that!…

So that’s how he did that!…

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The Band of Sisters…it’s magic!


Newsletter for June 2019

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June, the month of graduations, Father’s Day, and summer solstice, is upon us. This year Pentecost, the great feast of the Holy Spirit and the conclusion of the Easter season, also falls in June.

The Spirit’s work is helping us stay in relationship and building connection. The Spirit warms, softens, mends, and renews all the broken, cold places in and between things. Invisible but powerful, willing to be anonymous, the Spirit does not care who gets the credit for the wind from nowhere, the living water that we take for granted, or the bush that always burns and is never consumed.
— Richard Rohr

What practice increases your awareness of the Spirit with you? Here’s an easy one. Do you have a wind chime? Some love them for the music; some find them to be an annoyance. One symbol for Spirit is wind, gently wafting or violently blowing. Perhaps the movement of the wind in a chime might remind you that the Spirit is indeed with you.

How do you see the Spirit “warming, softening, mending, and renewing all the broken, cold places” in your life?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU - THE BAND OF SISTERS!!

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Remember our birthday party on Wednesday, June 19 from 1:00p - 3:00p. RSVP on the calendar page at any time by clicking here. Scroll down to the date of the event and follow the link. Once you RSVP, we will be back in touch with you about the Raleigh address of the party’s location.

NOTE IN THE POCKET

Next date is Tuesday, June 18 from 9:30a - 12p. The Volunteer Center is located at: 5100 Lacy Avenue, Raleigh 27609.

COME WALK THE LABYRINTH WITH THE BAND OF SISTERS

Next date for our labyrinth walk at the Millbrook Baptist labyrinth (1519 E. Millbrook Rd | Raleigh, NC 27609) is Thursday, June 27 at 9:30a. Plan on 60-90 minutes of walking, reflecting, and faith sharing. Ann O’Hara will meet you there.

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DIPPED AND DYED IN PRAYER

Save the date for our annual retreat: Monday, October 21, 2019 - Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at the beautiful St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, NC (only about 2 hours from Raleigh). More details to come. Registration is open - click here to be taken to the calendar page. Scroll down to the date of the event to see pricing and accommodations.