Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Weird month.

I am in Louisiana. I am spending my vacation with my brother, helping my mother pack up her home and move into a small apartment for senior citizens. I was here only weeks ago, when my aunt died. This is a lot of transition in my family. We moved to this house when I was 4. But nevertheless, it's good to be home. Big sky.....

Last weekend, I had to coordinate the annual Work Day at Trinita on Saturday, and on Sunday I had to facilitate two different groups. It all went fine, but it's new territory for me and I was stressed about it. Monday, I took the day off, and I went and planted some pine trees near the Lodge, in what I now know must have been a patch of poison ivy.

So, even though I am home and involved in a rather big family project, I am thinking frequently about a lovely spring day last week in Trinita. Life at Trinita sort of follows me around! I have poison ivy all over, and it reached a peak of itchiness yesterday during the 12 hour road trip from my brother's home in Sanford to Lafayette. Lucky me.

What is home? That's a question I am pondering now, as I sit among stacks of cardboard boxes. As a Missionary Servant, I have lived in many places and thus have a lot of places where I really feel at home. Unfortunately, feeling at home is not quite the same as being at home. When you travel a lot, you need to know there is a place where you are going back to, where your stuff is. When I was a student, I felt kind of homeless for holidays. I was between cenacles. But it was good I had a number of places I could go where I felt at home.

Soon after I got to Trinita, a teenager at a confirmation retreat declared that Trinita was a place where he and his classmates felt at home. That is one of the very special gifts Trinita offers-- so many people can come and feel at home. Now it really is home. My stuff is there and I am going back. But this is home, too. I have been feeling kind of sorry for myself, I admit. But as I sit here and try to keep myself from scratching my skin off, I must admit, against all odds, that I am actually pretty lucky. I can feel at home, I can be at home, in a lot of places. Saying goodbye is hard, but I have a lot to fall back on. I gotta watch out for the poison ivy, however.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Time Warp

I recently had to do some work at our Archives at the Motherhouse in Philadelphia. While there, I took the opportunity to scan a stack of old pictures of Trinita, We acquired this property in 1923, and I found old photos dating back to 1925, before there was even the wing added to the main house. There is what looks to be a Model T parked in the front yard in one shot. (Someone who knows cars could probably correct me on the make of the car.)

I prepared a slideshow of the pictures after I had enhanced them as best I could, and I've showed them to everyone here. It's fascinating. Like seeing pictures of a friend you thought you knew, doing something unexpected like juggling or hydroponics. It seems Trinita has lived a full and interesting life.

I got so into this, that on my day off I went around with a printout of the contact sheet of photos and tried to get in the exact position to take the same shot. It was a gorgeous spring afternoon, and the leaves were only just beginning to come back (they are mostly out by now) so it was a lot of fun. I realized that Mother Boniface once stood right where the little garden fountain is. Trees have gone and new ones have grown up tall. The whole area must have been clear cut early on, since you can see the horizon in some photos where now you just see the tree line.

But a funny thing started to happen to my mind. I got so immersed, I actually would be startled by reality instead of by the pictures. In my defense, I stared at those pictures a very long and tedious time the night before, doing scratch removal and fade correction and so on, long into the night. At one point, I got in the right spot to reproduce a picture of the cabins, then when I turned to try for the shot of the lodge, I realized that the two shots had almost certainly been taken on the same day from essentially the same spot. I was not simply standing in the spot of the original photographer, I was actually retracing her footsteps. Once I got into the lodge, I realized that she was quite short, or else held the camera at waist level, because the only way I could get the correct angle was from my knees.

The oddest experience was shooting the back porch, which has changed the most over the years. This required repeated glances back and forth from photo to reality, until at one point I gave a start because I had expected to see Sr. Mary Peter when I looked up and she had vanished! Yeah, she teleported 60 years into the future and a few hundred miles south, since she's at the Motherhouse now.

I still have the lingering sense of our sisters from decades past, going about their business out on the grounds. The ministry here has changed over the years, and will no doubt continue to change, but there is a presence here that persists no matter where the trees are growing at any given moment.