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Attracting Peace . . .

There is a growing unease and anxiety throughout the world as the rhetoric between North Korea and the United States escalates around nuclear threats.  In response, Dr. Ericka Simpson, PhD and associate professor at Western University, is working with others to get a nuclear non-proliferation treaty signed.  She will be speaking at the Central Library on Wednesday evening in London.  Her presentation will begin at 7p.m. in the Stevenson & Hunt Meeting Room A.  The address is 251 Dundas Street, London, ON.

Come and learn what national and international peace groups are doing and learn some practical steps to support peace efforts at the local level.

There will be a large size petition for people to sign.  We hope you will join others as we seek ways to make our world safer.

Joan Atkinson, CSJ


Weekly Pause & Ponder

To be human is to belong. Belonging is a circle that embraces everything; If we reject it, we damage our nature. The word ‘belonging’ holds together the two fundamental aspects of life: Being and Longing, the longing of our Being and the being of our Longing.

John O’Donohue. Eternal Echoes: Celtic reflections on Our Yearning and Being. www.allgreatquotes.com/john_donohue_quotes.shtml


The Spirituality of Canning 

These late summer days, I await the showing of those first red tomatoes in my small garden. I anticipate their delicious taste fresh off the vine and the enjoyment of preserving them for sauces and soups for cold winter nights.

Participating in the ‘4 P’s of Local Food: Planting, Picking, Preparing and Preserving’* and following the 100 mile radius for purchasing local food continually raises our consciousness about care for Earth. We impact global warming by reducing long distance transportation; we foster relationships with local farmers; and by canning we provide local food year round, decrease food waste and reuse glass Mason jars. However, beyond the environmental impact how does preserving: bottling and canning, deepen our evolutionary spirituality? A few sisters** generously offered to expand my musings.

Julian of Norwich prayed, “Within us-as a sheer gift of God—is the capacity to bring forth what has never been before.” Canning is a work of art and in this creative expression we participate in new unfoldings of the Universe. Graced with Earth’s abundance we share in its cycles of dying and re-birthing as fruits are transformed into delicious jams and jellies and zucchini and cucumbers into zesty relishes and pickles. Our rootedness in Earth’s values of diversity, inter-dependency and intimacy is embedded in these sacred relationships with the natural world.

Inter-relatedness is also enlivened as we recapture fond memories of our mothers and grandmothers lovingly putting down garden produce. A sense of belonging to cultural identities and ancestral heritage is nurtured as we now carry forward generational wisdoms of the land. Even if we are not attracted to doing canning, we are steeped in these connections each time we enjoy tasty homemade preserves.

Essential to inter-dependency is community building. Nature manifests this in the intricacies of eco-systems. Canning embodies our charism of presence to the dear neighbour. Together, Sisters Sharon Miller and Pauline Guidon (SSM) make jelly from their crab apple trees for the community at North Bay’s ecumenical “Gathering Place,” which welcomes the homeless, disadvantaged and economically and spiritually challenged. Sister Gwen Smith (Toronto) makes preserves with the participants at the Mustard Seed Community Kitchen. The communion climax is, “Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord,” with all sharing a dish made from the fruits of their labour. Sisters Linda Gregg and Mary Rowell (In Canada) ensure that food from the Community Gardens at the Villa is preserved and used to nourish the many retreatants that come throughout the year.

Mary Oliver in her poem, Answers, writes: “How she (her grandmother) poured confusion out, how she cooled and labelled / All the wild sauces of the brimming year.”

Preserving the fruits of the earth is a holy activity. It takes time, patience and care and fosters joy. It invites us to attend the body of Christ with reverence and a grateful heart. Even the simple act of giving a gift of preserves to family and friends is a reaching out in love. Most importantly it is an act of hope and optimism trusting in the providence of the divine, bestower of fruitfulness, ever promising the flourishing of all life.  

Guest Blogger: Janet Speth, CSJ, Toronto

Photo: Making jelly...Srs Sharon Miller and Pauline Guindon (SSM)

* Planting, Picking, Preparing and Preserving … These are the 4 P’s of Local Food, as coined by Neil Tilley, an organic farmer and advocate for environmental stewardship from Newfoundland.  

** Thank you to Sisters Betty Lou Knox, Pauline Guindon, Sharon Miller, Gwen Smith, Linda Gregg and Mary Rowell



Reconnecting and Connecting

Can you imagine a reunion of your 62 sisters? Can you hear the gaggle of excited voices! The hellos. The echoes of 'what have you been up to'? The laughter echoing in the crowded hotel lobby full of bodies and suitcases at Peterborough's Best Western Plus ... I don't have to imagine this scene - I was in the midst of it.

On the picturesque banks of the Otonabee River – the river that beats like a heart, my religious Sisters and I met for our annual gathering. The 62 of us from our Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph came together to celebrate being in one another's company. Greeting each other was like coming home. We were warmly welcomed by the members of the planning committee attired in red cowboy hats in the spirit of Canada's 150th birthday. Our meeting room was also fittingly adorned with festive Canada finery.

As usual, our speakers were from our own ranks, with their own extensive life experience. Ranging in age from 50 to 90 plus, we pondered maturing with grace and graciousness. In my London home community, I recently had a first-hand experience of the 100th birthday of two sisters who model gracious aging. Here is the interesting paradox of aging. While our physical ability lessens, our spiritual capacity often deepens. This is the gift of community living and life experience.

To keep a wholesome balance, we spent leisurely evenings playing games, and enjoying each other's company. I can't wait to celebrate the 20th anniversary of our gathering next year.

Loretta Hagen, CSJ


Weekly Pause & Ponder

A wise test of right action is this:  What is the effect of this action on people seven generations from today?

Matthew Fox.  A New Reformation.


Copyright 2013. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada.