December 22, 2015, Houston, Texas – In a moving video, high school student Kyra Link takes viewers into the new lives of formerly incarcerated women who, as residents of Angela House, are finding their way back into the community. Founded in 2001 by Sister Maureen O’Connell, OP, Angela House offers the women basic necessities such as food and shelter; therapy; education and job training; help in finding permanent housing; Scripture study and centering prayer; wellness and cooking classes, creative arts; and after-care. Watch Kyra’s video.
December 21, 2015, Detroit – Sister Nancyann Turner, OP, regularly shares inspirational reflections on her blog, based on her experiences as Director of the Rosa Parks Children and Youth Program at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit. Below are two of her blogs, especially fitting for the Christmas Season.
Bless the Work of our Hands
Daily, our community of Dominican Sisters shares Morning Prayer. A favorite psalm that occurs periodically includes the refrain, “Bless the work of our hands” (Psalm 90).
I was thinking of this psalm recently as our mothers group used their hands to create beautiful Christmas wreaths for their front doors. Clearly, having limited resources did not diminish their enthusiastic creativity. Is there not an urge in each of us to create something beautiful – the work of our hands?
Several days later, our children had a Christmas cookie workshop. Again, it was moving to watch their delight in cutting out cookies and adding mountains of icing and sugar sprinkles – the work of their hands.
Truly, I believe we give birth when we give – when we create with our hands. This Christmas, this New Year, bless the work of our hands over and over!
What Is Religious? What Is Sacred?
Recently, I had a lovely phone conversation with a woman interested in buying some of our children’s Christmas cards. After she had looked at the assortment on the Soup Kitchen web site, she asked if we didn't have some that were religious. I pointed out to her the many that I thought were religious: a beautiful angel announcing the good news that Jesus was born; a great star of hope celebrating the Magi and the prayer that we might shine with God’s love; and other card designs that urged peace and blessings of love.
As we talked, I realized her priority was a realistic religious image, whereas, I was promoting children’s imagery with a strong religious message. The dear woman did buy a large number of the cards and I was grateful for the opportunity to think about what makes cards (or anything) religious. In my experience, there is a lot that is religious or sacred without a religious image. It is the sacred that truly reminds me of God’s overwhelming presence and love.