Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In the Gallery: "Together" by Nancy Earle, SMIC

Presently, in the Marie Louise Trichet Gallery are works which comprise the second of our three retrospectives to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the gallery. Each of the artists have had a solo show in the gallery since it opened in April, 1994. In the upcoming weeks, we will feature on our blog one of the pieces in the show and a brief reflection by the artist who created it.

Gallery hours are Monday - Saturday 10 am - 4 pm. The present show will run until August 22, 2009.


"Together" by Nancy Earle, SMIC

Through the use of figures, as well as patterns, associations and symbols, Nancy maps out stories around events in life as well as, reflections on nature. Images such as the moon, sun, water, mountains, pots, vessels, crosses and trees convey archetypes. These symbolic images help to dissolve barriers between cultures and spiritualities. Nancy weaves these images into more personal themes in order to create other ways of looking at the familiar so that experiences in life such as healing ,celebration, suffering, death, and birth retain their deeper meaning.

Monday, June 29, 2009

In the Swim of Things

Local youth enjoy swimming lessons offered by Litchfield Parks and Recreation Department and given in the pool at Wisdom House.

For further information call Litchfield Parks and Recreation Department at 860-567-7569 or email Director Brent Hawkins, hawk@townoflitchfield.org.

July 22: Feast Day of Mary Madalene, Apostle to the Apostles

Mary Magdalene, Apostle to the Apostles, is honored as a Saint in the Catholic, Orthodox Christian, Lutheran and Anglican communities. Her feast is celebrated on July 22.

Mary Magdalene in the past, was erroneously thought to be a prostitute who was redeemed by Jesus. This was a teaching of Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century, but there is no Biblical foundation for this notion. In fact, Mary Magdalene was a leader in early Christianity and is noted in the Bible to have been the first witness to the Resurrection and the first one to whom Jesus appeared after his Resurrection (John 20).

An inspiring image of Mary Magdalene (Mary of Magdala), shown here has been created by artist Janet McKenzie of Vermont.

The tri-fold card shows Mary Magdalene with the women, Mary with Jesus, and Mary with apostles John and Peter. These cards are available through Wisdom House for $5.00 each. For copies, email us at programs@wisdomhouse.org or mail to Wisdom House - Cards, 229 E. Litchfield Rd, Litchfield, CT 06759.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

In the Gallery: Hugh O'Donnell

Presently, in the Marie Louise Trichet Gallery are works which comprise the second of our three retrospectives to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the gallery. Each of the artists have had a solo show in the gallery since it opened in April, 1994. In the upcoming weeks, we will feature on our blog one of the pieces in the show and a brief reflection by the artist who created it.

Gallery hours are Monday - Saturday 10 am - 4 pm. The present show will run until August 22, 2009.
Artist Hugh O'Donnell says: "I made this painting of a Young Tree last year as the wind moved through it like a breath. The tree shook brightness off into the air so that I could not tell the difference between leaves and light. Painting this tree in the landscape has been the most direct and least abstract painting from life that I have ever done and I enjoyed the simplicity of creating it.
"Trees and other miracles of nature are my subject matter, and always they make me want to bring emphasis to something I can say about the sensation of seeing and feeling them. Usually when painting such natural elements they undergo a much greater degree of abstraction as I look into the heart of them to find out what makes them "go." I then work towards an abstraction of an aspect of that quality that emphasizes the struggle for light and space going on in the natural world and within our bodies, aiming to create an image that triggers a physical sensation of it in me. I edit or abstract out other aspects. This abstract process is fundamental to my way of painting."

Mementos of the Medieval Recorder Concert


On June 18, the faculty of the Susan Iadone Recorder Workshop gave a concert of Medieval Recorder Music in the Chapel to honor Wisdom House's 60th Anniversary.

Sister Rose Patricia Reilly, OP, and Sister Maurice Doody, OP, at Wisdom House

Sister Rose Patricia Reilly, OP (left) and Sister Maurice Doody, OP (right) were at Wisdom House the weekend of June 12-14. Sr. Maurice is the founder of the Office of New Directions, Bronx, NY. Sr. Rose is co-director of the office.

Sr. Maurice is a noted lecturer on spirituality and wellness. Her retreats
reflect her own "living of the program." She has been giving Women's AA/ALANON retreats at Wisdom House for the past 13 years.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Quality Summer Reading: A Friendship Like No Other

Summertime finds many of us moving outdoors to enjoy the sun, water, mountains, and clean air. In the spiritual life, it is a time to experience the friendship of God in the midst of nature and creation.

William Barry, SJ, reflects on the nearness of God in his book, A Friendship Like No Other. Why not consider this for summer reading?

Fr. Barry will be offering a retreat by this same title at Wisdom House in January 2010 (click here and scroll down to January) His book ($15 plus $3 shipping) is available through Wisdom House. (programs@wisdomhouse.org ).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The U.S. food supply is controlled now by a handful of corporations that put profit ahead of food safety, the livelihood of farmers, the safety of workers and the environment, according to a new documentary, Food, Inc. The film investigates the unintended consequences and hidden costs of our current system of producing food.

This new exposé of our food-producing system is especially significant because it draws together the system’s many diverse elements in entertaining and informative ways and will be widely distributed in local theaters throughout the summer. Its producers hope the documentary will rattle the industry and shake up complacent consumers.

We have chickens with huge breasts, the perfect slab of ribs, insecticide-resistant, genetically engineered soybeans, even tomatoes that never spoil, yet we also have new strains of harmful bacteria that cause illnesses for an estimated 73,000 annually and spur meat and vegetable recalls that make headlines on a regular basis. (Click here to read the full story and to find the official movie site.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

In the Gallery: "Night Blooming Cereus I" by Judith Petrovich

Presently, in the Marie Louise Trichet Gallery are works which comprise the second of our three retrospectives to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the gallery. Each of the artists have had a solo show in the gallery since it opened in April, 1994. In the upcoming weeks, we will feature on our blog one of the pieces in the show and a brief reflection by the artist who created it.

Gallery hours are Monday - Saturday 10 am - 4 pm. The present show will run until August 22, 2009.

"Night Blooming Cereus I" by Judith Petrovich

The Night Blooming Cereus is an elusive flower with a single night's life span. After sunset on a midsummer's evening, the tendrils surrounding the bud will start to unfurl.

By midnight, the extravagant flower is fully displayed, emitting a seductive fragrance to entice the evening pollinators. Once you've had the good fortune to witness this event, it is something you yearn for yearly.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

David Skorka: Part of Two-man Show at The New Arts Gallery


David Skora of New Hartford, CT will be part of a two-man show at The New Arts Gallery which opens this Saturday, June 20. David is a member of Wisdom House's Gallery Exhibition Committee and is on the faculty of Western Connecticut State University, Danbury, CT. Visit The New Arts Gallery here for more information.

Monday, June 15, 2009

In the Gallery: "Afterglow" by Janet Sorokin

Presently, in the Marie Louise Trichet Gallery are works which comprise the second of our three retrospectives to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the gallery. Each of the artists have had a solo show in the gallery since it opened in April, 1994. In the upcoming weeks, we will feature on our blog one of the pieces in the show and a brief reflection by the artist who created it.

Gallery hours are Monday - Saturday 10 am - 4 pm. The present show will run until August 22, 2009.

"Afterglow" by Janet Sorokin

After many years of doing large oil and acrylic paintings, I have recently begun creating collages made with torn papers which have been painted with acrylics, enhanced by using sand and other interesting materials to add texture.

I then translate these abstract images into limited editions of archival prints where fine rag paper and permanent inks are used in transforming the colors and shapes of my collages into a whole new medium.

The Mary Garden at Wisdom House



The Medieval Mary Garden at Wisdom House was given in memory of Mary McCaffrey Kenel as the gift of the Kenel& Skeffington families.

The garden contains flowers named for Mary of Nazareth. They are arranged in crescent shapes to evoke the crescent moon, upon which Mary is often depicted in art.

The plants are native to Northwest Connecticut. The architectural designer of the garden was Barbara Putnam of Litchfield.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ewart Cousins, PhD, Dies on May 30


Dr. Ewert Cousins was a presenter at the October 2001
Casagrande Institute for Interfaith Conversation
on the theme of "Violence and Faith: Hard to Believe."

Ewert Cousins, PhD, theologian and pioneer in interreligious dialogue, died on May 30, 2009. Dr Cousins was a presenter of programs at Wisdom House. His presentations on Teillard de Chardin and on his book, Christ of the 21st Century, were always moments of theological exploration.

In 1999, Dr. Cousins was integral to the development of the Casagrande Interfaith Institute which is held yearly at Wisdom House. A full obituary for Dr Cousins can be read here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Practice of Tonglen



Sr. Jo-Ann was part of an interfaith gathering of over 500 persons who attended a weekend workshop at Omega Institute given by American Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron.

The theme for the weekend was the Tibetan Buddhist practice of "tonglen," a practice which means "taking and sending." This practice is known to aid in transforming difficulties into the path of awakening.

Monday, June 8, 2009

In the Gallery: "Healing - Sign Language" by Kim Tester

Presently, in the Marie Louise Trichet Gallery are works which comprise the second of our three retrospectives to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the gallery. Each of the artists have had a solo show in the gallery since it opened in April, 1994. In the upcoming weeks, we will feature on our blog one of the pieces in the show and a brief reflection by the artist who created it.

Gallery hours are Monday - Saturday 10 am - 4 pm. The present show will run until August 22, 2009.


"Healing - Sign Language" by Kim Tester

I had received a grant to explore, through my art, my experience with ovarian cancer. I wanted to document the changes that took place in me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I printed my body on paper then drew images over the printed surface with color pencils and oil pastels. I
used the shapes found on box turtles' shells as the pattern around the figure as well as the "spine" found inside. I was most interested in that shape since it looked like ovaries and tubes at the end. As I worked, I wondered how turtles communicate with one another. Do the shell patterns look different to turtles? Is it a form of language for them? It made me think about my patterns. What do people see when they look at me? I then chose to add my version of American Sign Language to the work. The stylized hands drawn around the outside spell "healing."

Friday, June 5, 2009

June 5: World Environment Day

The United Nations has designated June 5 as World Environment Day. We encourage you to visit the website of the UN's Environment Program, the mission of which is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

Set in the rolling hills of Litchfield, Connecticut, Wisdom House has long sought to respect and protect the integrity of the environment. We appreciate the relationship between a healthy environment and a healthy mind and spirit. With this in mind, this October's Casagrande Interfaith Institute at Wisdom House will focus on the topic of climate change.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Elizabeth A. Dreyer Wins Catholic Press Association Award


Elizabeth Dreyer gives a retreat day at Wisdom House in
February, 2009, on the topic of "Spirituality for Christian Women.

At last week's Catholic Press Association 2009 convention, Elizabeth A. Dreyer, Ph.D., editor of the "Called to Holiness" series, won 1st place in the Gender Issues category for her book, "Making Sense of God." Dr. Dreyer is a frequent program presenter at Wisdom House.

The judges wrote about Dr. Dreyer's book: "This book reaches out to all women and helps them see themselves as grassroots theologians, whose specific experiences of joy and struggle, ecstasy and despair, virtue and vice, embodiment and sexuality are vital to a full Christian understanding of what it is to be human."

 Two other authors of books in the series were honored:  in Gender Issues,"Living a Spirituality of Action" by Joan Mueller took 3rd place and in the Family Life category, "Grieving With Grace," by Dolores Leckey, took 3rd place.

The series is published by St. Anthony Messenger Press. For more information
visit www.calledtoholiness.org.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thomas Berry, Environmentalist-Priest, Dies on June 1

Berry considered himself a cosmologist and 'geologian,' an Earth scholar
Jun. 01, 2009

Passionist priest and acclaimed cultural historian Thomas Berry died in Well-Spring Retirement Community, Greensboro NC, at 6:25 a.m., on June 1. He was 94. Berry was one the 20th-century's most probing thinkers on the human relationship with the natural world and its implications for religion.

Fr. Berry's remains will be sent to the Passionist province of St. Paul of the Cross for a Eucharistic liturgy and afterward to Green Mountain Monastery in Greensboro, Vt. for final interment.

Fr. Thomas Berry, described in Newsweek magazine in 1989 as "the most provocative figure among the new breed of eco-theologians," was among the first to say the earth crisis is fundamentally a spiritual crisis. His diagnosis of the negative effects of our religious views on our treatment of the planet rang true for many who were willing and able to work for a cure. Many created their own earth ministries, inspired by the work and life of Fr. Thomas Berry.

Rather than a theologian, Berry considered himself a cosmologist and "geologian," an Earth scholar.

He believed the only way to effectively function as individuals and as a species is to understand the history and functioning of our planet and of the wide universe itself, like sailors learning about their ship and the vast ocean on which it sails. "It takes a universe to make a child," he said, adding that he was "trying to establish a functional cosmology, not a theology." The amazing, mind-boggling cosmological perspective, he felt, can resuscitate human meaning and direction. The most important spiritual qualities, for Berry, were amazement and enchantment. Awe is healing. A sense of wonder is the therapy for our disconnection from the natural world.

William Nathan Berry (named after his father) spent his childhood roaming the woods and meadows around his home in Greensboro, N.C. At the age of 11, he says, his sense of "the natural world in its numinous presence" came to him when he discovered a new meadow on the outskirts of the town to which his family had just moved. "The field was covered with white lilies rising above the thick grass," he said. "A magic moment, this experience gave to my life something that seems to explain my thinking at a more profound level than almost any other experience I can remember."

It was not only the lilies, he said. "It was the singing of the crickets and the woodlands in the distance and the clouds in the clear sky. … This early experience has remained with me ever since as the basic determinant of my sense of reality and values. Whatever fosters this meadow is good. What does harm to this meadow is not good." By extension, he said, "a good economic, or political, or educational system is one that would preserve that meadow and a good religion would reveal the deeper experience of that meadow and how it came into being."

Berry reflected, "It was a wonder world that I have carried in my unconscious and that has evolved all my thinking."

He entered the novitiate of the Passionist order in 1934, taking the name Thomas after the great scholar Thomas Aquinas. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1942.

Berry earned his doctoral degree in history from The Catholic University of America. His early interests expanded to include Asian history and religion as well as the culture and religious life of indigenous people. He studied Chinese language and culture in China in the late 1940s. He served as an army chaplain in Europe in the early 1950s. Berry then taught the cultural history of India and China at Seton Hall University in New Jersey and at Fordham in New York. He was director of Fordham's graduate program in the history of religions from 1966 to 1979. In 1970 he founded the Riverdale Center of Religious Research in Riverdale, N.Y., and was its director until 1987.

It was during this period that he began to lecture widely on the intersection of cultural, spiritual and ecological issues. His first book, Dream of the Earth, was published in 1988 by Sierra Club Books. This was followed by a joint effort with physicist Brian Swimme, The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era, A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos, published by HarperSanFrancisco in 1992. One of his key works, The Great Work, was published in 1999 by Crown Publishing.

He influenced many other writers, theologians and environmental activists, both within the Catholic church and beyond.

Mary Evelyn Tucker, co-director of the Thomas Berry Foundation and co-director of the Yale University Forum on Religion and Ecology, told NCR: "Thomas Berry will be remembered as one of the great figures of our time. He captured so powerfully the urgency of our current environmental and social crisis. His legacy of writing and speaking is immense and his poetic voice for the Earth community will endure for all future generations."

John Grim, who is Tucker's husband and co-director of both the Berry foundation and the Yale Forum, said:

"A line from the Kentucky poet, James Still, is also a tribute to Thomas: 'I was born humble, at the foot of mountains, my face was set upon the immensities of Earth, and stone, and upon the oaks full-bodied and old. There is so much writ upon the parchment of leaves, so much of beauty blown upon the winds. I can but fold my hands, and bend my knees in the leaf pages.'"
Fr. Diarmuid O'Murchu, author of Quantum Theology and Reclaiming Spirituality and popular lecturer, told NCR: "For me, Thomas Berry was the single greatest disciple of Teilhard de Chardin, who initially awoke in me a profound sense of the sacredness of God's creation.

"In Thomas's own writings one almost feels the sense of an evolving spirituality, capturing the beauty on the one hand but also the birth pangs which beget the evolutionary process at every stage. Perhaps in his death, the wider Christian churches, and the Catholic church in particular, will wake up to this great prophetic figure of our time. His legacy will certainly endure, but as with Teilhard before him, more in the spiritual ferment of the 21st century rather than among either the scientists or theologians which his vision challenges so strongly."

Holy Cross Br. Dave Andrews, former director of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference who currently works with the Washington-based NGO Food and Water Watch, said:

"I came to ecological thinking via concerns of production agriculture and through Berry's work came to see a new view of history, culture and religion that included agriculture in a whole new context. It was a breathtaking vision that encompassed so much richer a framework than I had previously."

[Rich Heffern is an NCR staff writer. His e-mail address is rheffern@ncronline.org.]

Monday, June 1, 2009

In the Gallery: "Twig Field IV" by Amelia de Neergaard

Presently, in the Marie Louise Trichet Gallery are works which comprise the second of our three retrospectives to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the gallery. Each of the artists have had a solo show in the gallery since it opened in April, 1994. In the upcoming weeks, we will feature on our blog one of the pieces in the show and a brief reflection by the artist who created it.

Gallery hours are Monday - Saturday 10 am - 4 pm. The present show will run
until August 22, 2009.


"Twig Field IV" by Amelia de Neergaard

I am drawn to the linear peculiarities of twigs and branches and their similatities to calligraphic markings when viewed individually. When massed they created texture and form. By connecting them with man-made elements and structuring volumes and shapes, I seek to emphasize their naturalness and individuality. I have been influenced by the woods around me - the somethimes chaotic arrangements but consistently ordered patterns and textures of plants and trees; the endless decay and regeneration. By focusing on the details, I hope to bring attention to the whole.