Serendipity and Sorrow: Soil and Spirit

It was serendipitous that on the “clean up” day for the Mercy by the Sea grounds, there coincided a retreat for individuals who had lost children. At first, the two gatherings seemed to be totally unrelated, until later that day. Volunteers had decided to concentrate on the new pollinator garden next to Seascape. Removing invasive garlic mustard and oriental bittersweet, the ground was prepared for pollinator-friendly plants.

Unbeknownst to the volunteers on bended knees, in the adjacent building a group of parents gathered to bend towards their own deeply rooted sorrow. Both groups dealt in their own way with a world scarred by unnatural tragedies. Despite their sorrow, one gathered to heal the land and the other to heal their hearts. Without ever exchanging a word or committing to a plan, the one group carefully prepared the soil and the other group lovingly cradled the box of butterflies they planned to release. The serendipity of these actions sprouted from sorrow yet blossomed in hope. These two seemingly unrelated groups shared a belief in a miraculous metamorphosis. Holding their sorrows and releasing their hopes.

“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.” - Psalm 30:11

As you follow your own path of transformation, consider it time well spent to sit in the gazebo next to the new pollinator garden, perhaps pondering which of your sorrows might be released and transformed into joy. Digging deep into the recesses of your soul, and on bended knee, lifting your sorrow to the sky where it will take flight, dancing in the light, transformed it into a gift of beauty. Become part of these serendipitous moments that take place at Mercy by the Sea where land and sea and sky meet and heaven and earth converge.

If you would like to contribute plants from your own gardens as you divide your perennials this spring, we are looking for the following; Wild Geranium, Spiderwort, Swamp Milkweed, New England Aster, Purple Giant Hyssop, False Indigo, Coreopsis, Purple Coneflower, Joe Pye Weed, Heliopsis, Cardinal Flower, Lobelia, Bee Balm, Beardtongue, Black Eyed Susan and Verbena.

Plants can be dropped off in front of the greenhouse on Tuesday mornings. Your contribution will be included in the Mercy by the Sea pollinator garden along with milkweed, the exclusive nutrient source for Monarch caterpillars.

The Sisters of Mercy are committed to revere the Earth and to work toward sustainability. Join the collective Mercy effort which, in addition to other organizations, networked along the migratory path of the Monarch. Pollinator gardens are being planted at other Mercy sites including Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut; and Mercy Farm in Benson, Vermont. The hope is to have 16 universities, convents and spirituality centers plant and maintain pollinator gardens along the Monarch migratory route. Be part of the serendipity!

For additional information on pollinator gardens, visit the following websites: The Forest Service’s Gardening for Pollinators, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and Monarch Watch.

By Jean Golicz, Master Gardener and Mercy by the Sea Volunteer  | 

Gifts of the Second Half of Life

 “The second half of my life will be ice
breaking up on the river, rain
soaking the fields, a hand
held out, a fire,
and smoke going
upward, always up.”

I begin this reflection on second half of life spirituality with an excerpt from Joyce Sutpen’s poem “Crossroads.” With so many poems on the topic from which to choose, I picked Sutpen’s for its evocative imagery and its outright acknowledgement that we can choose to thrive in the second half of our lives. In just a few lines, the poet describes some of the beautiful gifts we can anticipate.

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By Karin A. Nobile, Program Associate and School for the Second Half of Life Graduate  | 

Watering the Spirit and Soil During Droughts

Nurturing growth during times of scarcity is a challenge for the gardener and the seeker. Certain guidelines apply to both the quest for a bountiful harvest and a fruitful life. Here are just a few:

One must start with good soil. Watering land that is compacted and not fertile is wasteful.
Likewise, the soil of our spirit must be open to spiritual direction.

The gardener does not plant and then ignore the new seedlings. Instead, faithful aerating creates soil that can absorb water while weeding eliminates other plants that compete for valuable resources.
It’s a good practice to eliminate distractions from our life that crowd out the spiritual lessons we seek.

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By Jean Golicz, Master Gardener and Mercy by the Sea Volunteer  | 

Listening for the Song of the Sacred Earth

People came from 13 states and Canada to attend the New England School of Celtic Consciousness with John Philip Newell held at and in collaboration with Mercy by the Sea. The second annual gathering drew 170 participants; all seekers wanting to deepen their knowledge of Celtic Christian wisdom.

In 2016, John Philip founded the School of Celtic Consciousness with the conviction that Celtic wisdom is “urgently” needed at this moment in time. “The instinct for seeing the sacredness in all things is rising again,” he said. John Philip also observes a widespread spiritual yearning for a deeper integration of the feminine and the masculine.

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By Karin Nobile, Program Associate  | 

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