For This We Give Thanks…

Fall – Winter, 2020

“Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death… You are with me.” – Ps. 23

We give thanks for the lives of our friends and family who have died:

+Father Gerard Kirsch, OSB
+Marita Herrera
+Johanna Mitchell
+Jeanne Martinsen
+Donna Brown
+Mike Anderson
+Margaret Cady
+Johanna Weber
+Terry Christiansen
+Clara Hamavand
+Sheila Holtgrieve

“Like the first women disciples who went to the tomb, we live surrounded by an atmosphere of sorrow and uncertainty that makes us ask, ‘Who will roll back the stone from the entrance to the tomb for us?’ How will we deal with this situation that has completely overtaken us?” Pope Francis asked. Continuing his reflection on the women disciples, the Pope said that despite their suffering and fear, they still went out to the tomb and did “not allow themselves to be paralyzed by what was happening.” While many of the apostles fled, the women carried their spices and oils to anoint Jesus’ body, much like the many men and women today who try to bring “the ointment of co-responsibility to care for and not risk the lives of others.” Pope Francis said that the current pandemic also has highlighted the need “to unite the entire human family” and that the only way to conquer the coronavirus is through “the antibodies of solidarity.” —from an editorial published April 17, 2020 by the Spanish magazine, Vida Nueva.

We all roll back the Stone. It could be said the Covid-19 virus is not unlike the stone barring the entrance to the tomb where Jesus was buried. At times it seems nearly impossible for it to be rolled away and brought to an end. Each of us, though, can ever so slightly roll back the virus
through our safety precautions. At the Priory we have remained sheltering in place and have allowed minimal staff and workers into the monastery. When going out for limited and emergent purposes only, we have donned masks and gloves and kept 6 feet apart from others. Liz Langeland, Peggy Hoffman and Larry Erickson are among those who have graciously given or delivered groceries to us. By engaging in safety precautions during this time, you too have been rolling back the stone of Covid-19.

Despite their sufferings and fears, health care workers and first responders persist in helping all of us these days. Whether it is a case of the coronavirus or some other health need, these professionals continue to care for us. We pray for them (and all of you) in our daily Liturgy of the Hours. We give thanks for their unselfish service.

We are not allowing ourselves to be paralyzed during these pandemic days. Sister Lucy at the Spirituality Center and Janice Ariza working from home, along with other program presenters have been creating Zoom programs and retreats that might have been “in person” in the past. They have had quite a response, telling us people are longing for connection and communion with one another. All the Sisters providing Spiritual Direction are busy too, as many people seek the Divine in these chaotic times. Volunteer Julie Ferraro has been helping, too, from home.

We carry our spices and oils. In addition to the ointment of our daily prayer, we are developing new spices and oils. Sister Monika has launched the Priory Arts Shop on the Priory website. This shop showcases many of her artistic creations including fiber arts, jewelry, and kumihimo braiding. She and other Sisters and Friends are making new things (like our classic little sheep) for this online shop. You can see what is offered at

Speaking of ointment and oils, we are using a little bit of cayenne pepper and other organic not-harmful potions to discourage our squirrels from eating from our bird feeders. Novice Mary Franklin has been busy ‘baffling’ the squirrels. Look at this clever contraption!


And notice our monastery Cat (she has many names, but a common one is Pretty Girl) closely eyeing the whole project! Or is she nodding off on the job?



Applying the Ointment of co-responsibility to care for and not risk the lives of others, we use masks and gloves when we leave the monastery and ask those who must enter the monastery to do so as well. We owe our employees and volunteers, our oblates, associates, affiliates and our local community a safe environment if and when they need to come to the monastery. Our Spirituality Center has been closed to prevent risk. Our co-responsibility has included our faithfulness to daily prayer for all the world. This year our annual retreat was held June 8-15, and in our silence we offered for our sick world prayers for global healing.

We live surrounded by Creation. We have been visited daily by a magnificent pileated  woodpecker. The bird’s sheer size invites wonder. Desiring something different from forest trees for its meals, this ancient creature has learned to wrap itself around a suet feeder, meant for
much smaller birds, on our patio just outside our dining room. Creation can bring us to contemplation and to gratitude.

Uniting the entire human and creature family we care for the needs of each other and our animal world too. Here’s a close-up of a young three point buck delighting in our rose bed.

From our window, he is almost hidden from view as he nonchalantly  chews our precious rose beauties. The buck’s creative use of the very food he desires as a place to hide himself and blend right into the environment reminds us of the unity of all creation: human, animal, vegetable!

Pope Francis notes that the only way to conquer the coronavirus is through “the Antibodies of solidarity.” All of us are those needed antibodies! In solidarity, we are the antidote for this virus and all its vicious repercussions. The very act of protecting ourselves from this virus simultaneously protects others. As we love, forgive, offer thanks, and as we offer compassion to one another, we are healers of the consequences of this virus too. And, as we join our hearts and souls in prayer we transform our ailing world into a healing world.  –Sister Julian Cleary