Lenten Reflections: The Prodigal Son Welcomed

by Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

The Prodigal Son Among Swine - by Max Beckmann

The Prodigal Son Among Swine – by Max Beckmann

He’s standing in the mud, knee-deep in animal excrement when his conversion takes place.

The story of the prodigal son is a familiar one of forgiveness, redemption, and mercy that Christ offers as a way to illustrate his invitation to the tax collectors, prostitutes and murderers, and say, all are welcome at my table.”*

My way into this often-shared Gospel narrative is through the pig-pen of the prodigal son’s redemption.

I can see the younger son of the wealthy man. He has left his father’s care and squandered his inheritance. His fine clothes are now tattered after his journey to the bar — perhaps the brothel, and his hunger has taken hold. He is envious even of the pig’s meal of corn husks and vegetable skins.

I imagine the smells of that live stock yard, the waft of animal feces mingled with recent rain or warmed by sunshine. And there the son stands, utterly forlorn and contemplating the lunch of the lowly pig. As this creature of God feasts on the dregs poured into the animal’s trough, the wayward son finds himself in this humbled stance, and desiring the least of the pig’s meal. A corn husk, please? 

He knows what he must do. He comes to know the grace of God and his own goodness in taking his hungry self back to his father.  And the tale of love and mercy and a father’s generosity and forgiveness unfolds.  

As I listen to this gospel reading sitting in the Fremont Avenue House of the Visitation Monastery, I find my way into the story through the door of the mud-covered man who is the forsaken and forgiven sinner;

I think of all those welcomed to the table of the Visitation Sisters.

Mary Embracing Oshea Photo by Brian Mogren

Mary Johnson Embracing Oshea Israel
Photo by Brian Mogren

Oshea Isreal comes to mind as the name of one such prodigal son who has dined at the Monastery in north Minneapolis with the Visitation community.  Oshea, who at 16 took a gun to a party and shot and killed the only son of Mary Johnson. Oshea, who at 18, 20, 22, 24, was invited to meet this mother of his murder victim, and be forgiven.

Forgiven.

He picked up a gun and took another man’s life. He served half of his life in prison. And in some way, has  come to understand himself as more than his worst act.  Mary has forgiven him. And perhaps even greater: he has forgiven himself.  He has received this forgiveness.

It’s the pig pen and livestock yard that makes this such a radical story of redemption for me this Lent. Because I imagine not only the amazing grace claimed by the prodigal son, the Oshea Isreals of this world, who are invited to dinner, but of my own messy, in-the-mire self.

How have we stood in the muck of disgrace? Of poor behavior? How have we been leveled by an action that brought on our lowest stance? How have we known the dregs of shame?

And in the same breath, then, how have we known forgiveness? God’s love for us?

When we claim this grace, this mercy  afforded by God, we allow ourselves to be welcomed to the table, to dine fully with Christ and Love’s companions. We are counted.

***

Read Luke’s Gospel Story Here:
This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

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.

Honoring Our Brother Brian Mogren, aka. “Mr. St. Jane House.”

2013 Virginia McKnight Binger Human Services Award recipient Brian Mogren surrounded by family, collaborators and northside friends.

He’s making the news, this time being seen for his role in supporting our northside brothers and sisters. We couldn’t be prouder of our dear friend, lay companion and brother, Brian Mogren, who was honored this week with the Virginia McKnight Binger Human Service Award.

“I accepted the award on behalf of everyone I conspire for good with on the north side. It truly takes a village and I’m surrounded by a whole bunch of extraordinary people doing important and good work.” – Brian Mogren, Visitation Companion, St. Jane House Director

As director of St. Jane House, Brian exudes the charism of our Visitation order in and through his hospitality, service and quiet leadership. We can only imagine our co-founders St. Jane de Chantal and St. Francis de Sales smiling broadly down on our brother Brian this day — as he goes about building relationships and “Living+Jesus” in North Minneapolis — and beyond!

We invite you to get to know our dear friend and Visitation Companion who resides just two blocks away from our monastery in the St. Jane House. Come and pray with him on Tuesday morning at Centering Prayer. Or treat yourself to an afternoon of reflection or overnight stay under the hospitable care of brother Brian — and learn first hand what his heart and mind are up to as he seeks to “be who he is, and be that well”.

Read more about Brian and the Virginia McKnight Binger Human Service Award: