We at Mercy by the Sea have so much we want to share with you:

  • Inspiring and transformational quotes, prayers, poems, videos and books we discover or rediscover
  • Conversations with upcoming  presenters
  • Resources and thoughts on contemplative prayer, spiritual direction, the second half of life, emerging leadership, creativity, our relationship with nature and much more!

You'll find seasonal photos of the grounds — vegetation, trees and winged and four-legged creatures that make their homes here.  We'll capture changes in the light and colors as the seasons change.  So bookmark this page and come back regularly.  Or subscribe to receive an email each time a new blog posts. Just scroll down and type your email address in the field provided then click the SIGN UP button. 

Spirituality and the Arts

“Creativity and spirituality are intimately connected. We speak of God as creating or bringing being out of nothingness. Our creative endeavor is the search for the apt expression of being. The poets tell us that art, music and poetry have to do with what is real, with expressing what is.  The artist has a drive to plumb reality, to wrestle with its expression, to find a way to touch and reveal the inner nature of things. In the creative process one is challenged to become vulnerable, to express one’s true self, and thus to know God’s invitation to that self.  Spirituality also has to do with the real, with touching what is real in the depth of my being and in the being of my experience, expressing it in the presence of others and therefore touching, connecting with, relating to others. I believe in doing this, we also touch, connect with, relate to the Other who is Being, who is God. So by nudging us, pushing us, attracting us to what is real, in ourselves and in life, God allures us into the very life of God’s own Self.  Creativity in any form has the potential to lead us more deeply into God.”   — Sister Mary C. Daly, RSM

Janet Weber and Sister Mary Daly created and facilitated a great many programs in the “Shalom Creativity Series: On Spirituality and the Arts” that have inspired and continued nearly 20 years of Spirituality and the Arts programming offered to the present day by program presenters.

Do you have a memory of nurturing your creative spirit? 

Do you have a memory of the creativity and art room or reflecting before an artist’s offering in the Mary C. Daly RSM Art Gallery? 

Do you have memories of Following the Celtic Muse; Stones that Talk; The Quiet Light:  The Art of Contemplation; praying with Artists, Poets and Musicians; Singing the Songs; Sacred Spaces; Spatter me a Picture; Catching Memories and Moods in Color; Playing with Paint; mandalas; reflecting with Rembrandt’s “Return of the Prodigal Son”; being drawn into the deep mystery of God’s love for us by the paintings of German artist Seiger Koder; nature journaling; weaving; mask-making;  music;  poetry; art journaling;  Light and Dark: Landscapes of Contemplation?

Email your reflections to Sister Genie Guterch.

The Garden of the Rose……A rose is a rose is…

A rose is arouse --- awake!  The gate is open, always open, take a few steps, the rose awaits.

A rose is arrows---so many pointing, guiding us along the path, so many flying ahead, calling out to follow: this way!  this way into the Mystery of the Rose.

A rose is arise---enter the center where the scent, the color, the delight is the beckoning of Spirit,, the innermost Divine Self,  and very human self  each of us is,  the two at one,  freely together in Gift  each to the other.

As the Mystery--- like the Rose, unfolds  we can see ourselves  as we really are: becoming, the Mystery we behold.    — REW

Posted 8/23/2022

Dawnings: Gardens, Gardeners and Greenhouses

There were two greenhouses side by side in early years at Mercy by the Sea, but the prize was the Lord Burnham Greenhouse delivered to Marie Hotchkiss in 1909. This greenhouse remains to the present day. Sister Catherine Mary Sears, biology professor, developed the St. Anne Garden next to greenhouse and planted the pine trees alongside the second greenhouse during early Sister of Mercy years. Some trees are still standing. Slowly the glass dropped from the metal frames of the Hotchkiss greenhouse and ivy grew. In 1991, Chester Truax took on the renovation of greenhouse, restoring the metal frame with plexiglass and a forced heat blower furnace rather than coal. The greenhouse abounded with lettuce and flowering plants raised from cuttings as well as the boxwood for the labyrinth. Chester’s place to play in his retirement gradually emerged into a space where “the joy I have given to people is incredible to me. It is something I never dreamed of but now realize that the greenhouse is part of the spiritual mission of Mercy Center.”

Time spent in the Mercy Center greenhouse physically places me in the midst of quiet creation. My way of being and of creating is quietly. During this time of harmony, like magic, all I carry in disappears. A space for God to enter is created, a space where I became freer to listen… I feel new life.  My capacity for faith and love has deepened and I am enabled to continue serving others with gratitude and joy. I have experienced God’s presence in my day! What could be more fulfilling? All this from a few hours in a magical greenhouse, or is it a mystical greenhouse?” - KSB

There were gardeners too! Bernie Moran was gardener for Hotchkiss, Grant and the Sisters of Mercy retiring in 1979. During the “Sister Genie years,” the number of gardens increased with roses, irises, peonies and many other perennials. Mr. Moran often reminded her that he had seven gardeners working for him under Mr. and Mrs. Grant’s direction, keeping the gardens neat and weed free! Sister Mary Daly beautified the Shalom building garden space, and Ted Ozyck built a Yurt framed vegetable garden for Sister Mary Bilderback’s vegetable garden, finding a clever way to keep the deer from jumping in. Sister Mandy Carrier grew herbs and veggies for her soup kitchen ministry in the old vegetable garden, now overgrown with blackberries.

Memorial gardens were planted for many friends over the years as well as the Labyrinth Memorial Garden created for the 25th anniversary of the Center. Volunteers came and went, nurturing their creativity and spirit in this glass house and the gardens. And there were the weeders! Bless them! There is no staying ahead of a weed! In more recent years, the master gardeners worked to cultivate a vegetable garden and clean up many beds and invasive plantings.

Do you have a memory of gardens, gardeners, greenhouses? Email your recollections to Sister Genie Guterch.

Posted 8/16/2022

Dawnings: Meet me in Shalom

“Shalom is a small building on the property that has housed a wealth of people resources-- our spiritual directors - who have touched the lives of many persons through their programs, retreats, and spiritual direction both on and off site." 

Florence Trahan RSM; Mary Daly RSM; Judy Fortune RSM; Sue LaVoie, Jay Bowes; Connie DeBiase CSJ; Margaret Pearl Duvall SMSM; Claire Rusowicz; Elaine Deasy RSM; Mary Fahy RSM; Joan Bernard OP; Janet Weber RSCJ; Joan Linley; Patricia McAleese PBVM; Eva Schoell IHM; Patricia Cook RSM; Peggy Luby RSM…

“Shalom signifies peace or wholeness and it symbolizes the depth longing in every human heart.  The name helps focus Mercy Center’s faith vision that the quality of life deepens as we rediscover and embrace the religious and human values that move us toward wholeness, toward peace, and enable us to relate to others from an inner centeredness or depth that makes a prophetic difference in our world.  Shalom brings us in touch with the depths of both the Hebrew and Christian traditions.”  —Sister Florence Trahan upon the re-naming of St. Joseph Building as Shalom in 1988.

What is spiritual direction? Spiritual direction welcomes one to explore, discover and share ways in which we can recognize the endless presence of God within moments.  It is a moment of unique nurturing and transformation

Many persons have journeyed with spiritual directors at Mercy by the Sea and many have been trained as spiritual directors participating in the two year Spiritual Direction Practicum that has been a significant presence in spiritual formation at Mercy Center for nearly 25 years since its development by Sister Florence Trahan and partnered with a number of staff: Mary Daly RSM, Elaine Deasy RSM, Judy Fortune RSM, Joan Linley, Patricia Cook RSM, Julie Grey OP, Maria Decsy….

In the winter of our struggles steady groups of gifted persons are welcomed, supported, challenged and loved into empowerment for others. Like a long awaited rose they bloom in our midst and bring new hope.” A few reflections shared from participants in the depth of the Practicum experience:

“Spiritual direction is like a zen art of presence to the moment.  Taking each moment and comment and holding it out for prayerful respect.”

“I am realizing that listening with the intent of unveiling the power and presence of God’s love in someone’s life is not just a gift, but a skill that takes many years to hone and I am just beginning this process.”

“Each time we gather, it’s another Potter shaping time, or like the seed that gets planted by the farmer and then he (she) goes about living life and in the process the seed does its thing while no one can explain how.  Both these images fit so well for this program.  Someone says something that touches us, that frees us, that stirs us.  Well, all this ‘seeding’ is working.  Each verbatim holds another seed, another breaking open of the meat.” 

This opportunity in spiritual formation connected with other opportunities to grow as a spiritual director through Internships in Spiritual Direction/Spirituality and for experienced directors to develop their skills and expertise in an annual Institute in Spiritual Direction.

Do you have a memory of a Shalom experience? If so, please feel free to email it to Sister Genie Guterch.


Posted 8/8/2022

Dawnings: Holy Ground – This place called Mercy


“Now this is Holy Ground,
Now this is dwelling space.
Come Spirit, bearing life, show us your face”

—Sister Elaine Deasy, RSM

Mercy Center at Madison

The smell of the sea,
The hum of the bee
The sound of the gull
The waves’ rhythmic lull
They call me to Thee
In this place called Mercy.
Hospitality’s there
Welcomes with care
Given space to renew
My journey with you
In this place by the sea
This place called Mercy.
There I am fed
There I am led
Watered with hope
I am able to cope
I am grateful to be in
This place called Mercy.
Surrounded with beauty
I sense You with me
The labyrinth there
Tended with care
Reveals You to me in
This place called Mercy.
Invitations are heard
In the song of the bird
Challenges abound
On this Holy Ground,
This garden by the sea
This place called Mercy.

—Roberta J. Cote

Mercy Center

Your grounds invite soft reflection.
I listen to the landscape of God’s creation.
Love feeds.
Between head and heart there is always a gap seeking nurturance.
Fear and love intermingle
Heart burning
Sparks sheltered
Simmering silence
Strength in shared vision of trusting in a common Light.

  —Sister Ann McGovern, RSM

Where is your holy ground in this place called Mercy? Email your response to Sister Genie Guterch.

Posted 8/1/2022