Week 5a: Unexpected Gems

by | Oct 10, 2018

Following the Ignatian Spirituality Project Retreat in Omah (Week 4 posting still to come), I was offered a lift to Cleveland where I was to stay the night before catching a Greyhound bus to Erie. Jena took me to two amazing places before dropping me at my hotel.

Edna House was conceived by and for alcoholic women, offering a long-term structured sober living and education program for women with an addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Edna house is founded in the belief that every woman, regardless of their circumstances could get sober if given the opportunity and that the existing recovery community offers the critical link to long term sobriety that so many fail to attain on their own. Amazing women, making amazing progress are a testament to this amazing place.

Malachi House is a beautiful and comfortable home for 15 terminally ill people who have limited or no financial resources. The inspiration for the House came from the ministry of Fr. Paul Hritz and the St.Malachi Church parishioners who often encountered homeless individuals dying under bridges, in cars, deserted buildings and other unsuitable places within the city. Truly inspirational.

I then had the wonderful gift of dwelling for 4 days in Edwina Gately’s little Hermitage, The House of Sophia, on the edge of Lake Erie, on land belonging to the Mount St Benedict Community of Erie. Sunsets over the lake, Canadian geese hooting and flying in formation in the skies above, babbling brooks, fascinating fungi, squelching grass as I walk in Edwina’s loaned wellington boots, evening prayer with the monastic community, a warm fire glowing on the cool days, books read, mandalas created, yes a little piece of heaven.

The real gift was the time and space to slow down, to stop. Time to hear some of the voices, some of the questions, some of the disturbances. A time to envision possibilities and dreams. A time to articulate fears and doubts. A time to linger. Dwelling in the House of Sophia.

With deep gratitude to those who have offered hospitality including Jena, the women of Edna House, the staff, volunteers and residents of Malachi House, the Benedictine Sisters of Erie- in particular Sr Carolyn, and a profound thanks to Edwina for not only making her hermitage available to me but for the generous way in which she provided for me in every way during my stay. I am also grateful for all the authors who inspired me as I dipped into the books on the shelves.

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