Monthly Archives: February 2014

Homeless: In the Shelter of our Hearts

The following post is from our Newsletter Archives. It first appeared in our Winter 1994 Newsletter.*

"da homeless mother and child" by the artofgriffin.

“da homeless mother and child” by the artofgriffin.

by S. Mary Margaret McKenzie, VHM

Homelessness happens: tenants have to move because a landlord can’t meet the mortgage payment; a single parent needs more space for growing children; a family of nine cannot stay indefinitely with already crowded relatives, but what the law requires for housing seven children is not affordable; a person in recovery from chemical abuse slips, loses his job and therefore, his apartment; a young woman volunteering her time and talent for the enrichment of children no longer has a place when the outreach is cut back; a young mother involved in some “activity” has to move before she is evicted or reported; another mother away from her abusive husband with two small children knows the quickest eviction of all from a catastrophic fire. Theres are our neighbors, our friends, and their options are few.

“..until we could enter into our own suffering, we would not be able to support others in theirs.” 

The man in recovery sleeps on a shelter floor for the first time. The large family is dreading the shelter, but if they go, they will get emergency help from subsidizing housing which has a two year waiting list. Without newspaper, phone or car the long search for a “place to stay” begins. We have never heard the homeless talk about a place to “live.

It did not occur to me as a child, even though I grew up during the Depression, that homelessness could happen. Children in North Minneapolis know that it does. The young boy whose name means, “heart of the valley” came home from school one day to find that he was moving that afternoon. His mother told him to come with his little sister to say “goodbye” to us. They appeared at the door during Evening Prayer in too much shock and pain to talk, just looking at us out of a numbness that was holding on to everything. They left with many embraces and a care package. Each time they turned to wave, another one of us began to cry.

“Prayer does bond us in our mutual suffering.” 

Archbishop Roach warned us that it would be “hard, very difficult, terrible, awful” to stand with such pain and be helpless. We were not expecting it to come in the homelessness that seems to have plagued the neighborhood this winter. We have often recalled the counsel of Bishop Carlson that until we could enter into our own suffering, we would not be able to support others in theirs.

“Windsock time” with the children has prepared us for “phone time” with some who use our phone to make real estate appointments. While they wait for calls to be returned, we pray with them or they join us for one of Hours of the Office. One woman brought her sister-in-law along just for the prayer. Prayer does bond us in our mutual suffering, and once prayer brought a friend willing to make his properties affordable to to any reliable tenants we could recommend. Also, there is that amazing grace that flows in and through and around us when the homeless stand by us, too, in our helplessness in helping them and we learn that the “heart of the valley” is not the terrain of hopelessness.

 

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Original article: Homelessness by SMM Winter Newsletter 1994

 

Weaving together Humility and Gentleness: An Invitation to Consider the Warp and Woof of Love

SMF warp woof

Weaving as Metaphor: S. Mary Frances shares a tapestry made by Mary Johnson at the SAORI Weaving Studio.

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

Through the slanted wood shades of the Girard House living room windows, morning light fell on the red, black, and white cotton and silk fibers woven together by our friend Mary Johnson.

As Visitation Minneapolis’ community leader Sr. Mary Frances Reis presented the tapestry to me, she spoke the following words:

“We are called to the practice of love, rather than austerity. Two virtues in particular form the warp through which the woof of love is woven. These are humility and gentleness.”

Quoting from the Companion to the Rule of Life of the Visitation Order, Sister traced her fingers along the color lines and weaving pattern, illustrating her metaphorical point.

According to wikipedia, woof and weft derive from the Old English word “wefan”  which means “to weave.” Warp is the lengthwise or longitudinal thread in a roll, while woof is the transverse thread. The warp and the woof ultimately form a fabric.  Figuratively, then these Salesian virtues of humility and gentleness, woven together become the fabric of love for our lives.

Can you imagine how humility and gentleness are threaded through love? Can you see the sisters in their urban monastery, “living Jesus” as consciously as possible: stitching together experiences at the door with neighbors in need or want of prayer – a meal, a bus token, warmth – all drawing on Christ’s love? Can you count the ways you practice living in such a manner — checking your ego, releasing anger or hostility in any given moment, and letting these virtuous acts knit you more closely with Love and Creator?

It’s not often that I get to meet one-on-one with Sr. Mary Frances. Convened to discuss themes emerging in our vocations and engagement work, our conversation took us to these Salesian elements that envelop the sisters’ ministry in Minneapolis, and inspire me in my own intentional, contemplative life.

Listening to “SMF” I am moved. I am reminded of how our co-founders Sts. Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal believed we were all called to holiness. The Sisters. Our priests. Our bishops. You. Me. The neighbor. We can all live and practice these virtues that are part of the Rule of Religious life.

In my next breath, I imagine this metaphoric cloth of virtue being the cloth in front of me: all red, and black and white perfection and blemish in its unique beauty. I can jump then and fathom the ordinary gray pants and purple sweater I wear as equally made, as intentionally stitched, as that which I don with a full heart and desire to live with integrity. I imagine myself gentle, humble and eeking love as I encounter each member of creation.

And this conversation, this fabric, becomes my prayer for the day.

I invite you to hold this meditation and consider what the warp and woof of your heart is this day. May Love bless and guide us all.

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RESOURCES

For more on Salesian Virtues and Rule of Life:

Click here to learn about the Pop Up SAORI Weaving Studio at St. Jane House.

Zen Weaving Studio @ St. Jane House

Join us at St. Jane House for this Zen arts meditation experience!

Join us at St. Jane House for this Zen Arts Weaving Meditation experience!

by Brian Mogren, St. Jane House Director and Visitation Companion

February 14-18, 2014
St. Jane House, 1403 Emerson Ave. N., Minneapolis

For five days in February, the St. Jane House will become a Pop-Up SAORI Weaving StudioThe fun begins with a special Valentine’s Date Night event on February 14th, and includes a Zen meditation retreat as well as opportunities for parents and children to create unique works of art together. 

Certified SAORI weavers Chiaki and Dan O’Brien will lead sessions in this contemporary Japanese style of weaving that celebrates self-expression, sees beauty in “imperfection”, facilitates healing, and reveals the uniqueness and dignity of each person.

Nine looms and a variety of threads and textures will be made available. If you wish, you are invited to bring your own materials as well to incorporate into your creation: cut up strips of worn clothing/fabrics, unraveled yarn, heirloom jewelry, shells, twigs…anything you might like to work into your piece to make it your own.

All workshops and retreats are donation-based, “pay what you can” (with exception of the Valentine’s Day fundraising event). A portion of the proceeds from all sessions will support the acquisition of a SAORI loom for the St. Jane House.

Some of the events include:*
Feb. 14th: Valentine’s Date Night Dinner Event
Feb. 15th: Two Mothers and YO MAMA Art of Mothering retreats
Feb. 16th: Zen Meditation Weaving Retreat
Feb. 17th: Family Weaving Workshops
Feb. 18th: “Be Who You Are” Open Weaving Workshop

Space is limited. Click to learn about each of the 9 sessions being offered and to register.

Personal SAORI Weaving Retreats at the St. Jane House 
If you are unable to attend any of these events, but would like to contribute to the cause, a tax-deductible donation can be made to help acquire a loom for the St. Jane House. As an expression of our gratitude, those who contribute $50 or more will have an opportunity to enjoy a personal weaving retreat at the St. Jane House during 2014.

Check out photos and get updates on Facebook event page.

*SELECT EVENT INFO:

Share the Love” Valentine Date Night Event
Friday, February 14, 6pm – 9:30pm
St. Jane House
1403 Emerson Ave. N., Minneapolis’

The popular Zen Box Izakaya Pub and Kitchen is teaming up with the St. Jane House and SAORI Studio Fun to create the “Share the Love” Valentine’s Date Night Event on February 14, 2014, from 6pm – 9:30pm. Enjoy drinks and a candle-lit dinner for two, complements of this local Asian restaurant, followed by a 2-hour couples weaving session with certified SAORI weavers Chiaki & Dan O’Brien. Leave with a beautiful work of art you and your sweetheart create together. Wine, beer and other beverages included. $125 donation per couple. The proceeds from this fundraising event will help acquire a SAORI loom for the St. Jane House. Space is limited. RSVP today.

Zen Meditation Weaving Retreat
Sunday, February 16, 10am-3pm
St. Jane House
1403 Emerson Ave. N., Minneapolis

Certified SAORI instructor and meditation teacher Dan O’Brien will lead this retreat that incorporates weaving with awareness, as well as breaks for meditation and discussion. People of all spiritual traditions will find this a welcoming, ecumenical experience. Lunch provided. Participants will create a unique piece of woven art. In the Zen tradition, people donate based on their means. Space is limited. Reserve your spot today.

“Be Who You Are” Open Weaving Workshops
Sunday, February 16, 5pm – 8pm
Tuesday, February 18, 9am – noon
St. Jane House, 1403 Emerson Ave. N. MinneapolisEnjoy three hours of “weaving with a happy heart” with SAORI instructor Chiaki O’Brien. In this free-style form of weaving, there are no mistakes and beauty is seen in imperfection. Participants will create a unique piece of woven art that is an expression of their deepest self.Light snacks and beverages provided. OptionalCentering Prayer session at 8am precedes Tuesday morning workshop. Space is limited.Reserve your spot today.
Family Weaving Workshops 
Monday, February 17, 10am – 1pm, 2pm – 5pm
St. Jane House 1403 Emerson Ave. N., Minneapolis

These two special sessions on President’s Day provide an opportunity for parents and their children to weave together a variety of colors, threads and textures to create a unique piece of art that will become a family keepsake. Consider bringing meaningful textiles, fabrics, jewelry, etc. from your family’s history to incorporate into your creation. Also open to mentors and the young people in their lives. Space is limited. Sign up today.

“Team” Fremont/ Girard: Family Winter Olympics 2014

S. Mary Frances and Olympian Mom

S. Mary Frances and Olympian Mom*

by S. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

While “Windsock Time”* as we have known it has become a part of our Sacred History of “Vis in the ‘Hood,” our relationships with families continue to grow and grow, from one generation to the next!

The most recent family bonding time took place on Saturday, January 25, 2014, when we had 15 families come to our Girard house for an afternoon we dubbed “Family Winter Olympics.”   As guests arrived, each family made a banner with name and decorations and mounted it on a pole.   And then it was off to the Games!

“[O]ur relationships with families continue to grow and grow, from one generation to the next!” – S. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

Neighborhood teens ran eight different activities such as ‘Kick the marshmellow’,  ‘Light as a feather’,  ‘One yard Dash’ and ‘Eye on the Ball’….Each participant got a different household prize at every game, such as paper towels,  trash bags,  Kleenex,  laundry  detergent, bathroom cleaner and fun things like boxes of Valentines, cupcakes and cookies with the decorations  to decorate as a family project at home, canned goods, and breakfast cereal.  These were placed in a family box on the front porch.  What a stash of stuff!!!  Everyone needed a ride home on this day!

Vicki Bailey Winter Olympics

“Queen of all Party Givers,” Vicki Bailey surrounded by friends, neighbors and Sr. Suzanne.

The official Olympic music boomed out as each family joined a parade through the house complete with banners and tiny battery run torches.  (It was reminded of how the first chaotic Palm Sunday parade must have been.)  There were even some tears and goose bumps as our families marched together!

Not to be outdone, our Queen of all Party Givers, Vicki Bailey, ‘awarded’ each family member with an embossed Olympic medal on a red, white and blue ribbon.

It read:  2014 Fremont House winter Olympics Champion.  One of the youth exclaimed upon receiving his, “I’m going to keep this forever and put it in my scrap book!!!”  Later that week he and his family moved to St. Louis.  We believe that this young man will not soon forget this special family time in North Minneapolis.

Not only did we have a great time, it’s our guess that these young families will be watching the BIG Olympics this year.  We trust that this was an opportunity for all of us to grow closer.

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READ ON:
–To View More Pictures from the Family Olympics Event, click here.

–Click here for more from our Archives on the Windsock Time.