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Sharings - Starcross' Seasonal Newsletter

Sharings - Fall 1999

UGANDA MIRACLES

  We have all heard stories about how an action can have consequences we never dreamed of. That sort of thing keeps happening in Uganda. The latest example has to do with a small amount of emergency funds we sent. In a recent letter Ben Ssennoga told us how he used the money.

  “Among our kids Muzungu Casalina was admitted in the hospital when she was in a coma due to fever. She stayed in a coma for a week. The doctors fought hard and she came back to life. They said the fever had affected her brain and lungs and they almost gave up on her. Thanks, thanks, Julie. If we’d had no money Muzungu could be dead. She is now well with her grandmother. Maybe by the 20th of this month (September) she can start her studies once again.”

  As the season of heavy rains begins the kids at our House of Hope are well and dry. Ben has gotten a big tank for rainwater collection. They have completed the floor in the new section to prevent more invasions of jiggers which cause a lot of pain in their feet. And Ben proudly reports they are sewing outfits for the “Dance Club”. The children all sing and do traditional African dances. Their music is a way of keeping joyful in the dreary weather.

  Our sponsorship program has grown to over 60 children. But more children orphaned by AIDS need our help.

 

PRESERVING FOR THE FUTURE

 It was a wonderful harvest season. Everything seemed so manageable, and there was so much pleasure in seeing the finished products.

  First came the tomatoes. These go to juice, and whole tomatoes, and this year the ultimate tomato sauce, created and refined through many happily-tested experiments with much advice from everyone. Then come blackberries, which we freeze or make into syrup. The kids are most invested in these because they are fun to pick and everyone loves cobbler and syrup. The corn wasn't so good this year; it was a cold summer. But we still had many meals of fresh tomatoes, beans and corn, and felt as if no one anywhere could be eating better food. This year the apples were better. We didn't get any last year. The kids love to put them through the squeezo machine to make applesauce.

  Watching the intent faces of the children as they work on the canning, I think of how they are learning to invest in the future, and I think of how they themselves are the future, no matter what happens. It all seems like such a worthwhile thing to be doing, so satisfying, picking and preserving food. It is a reminder that what we do today bears

 

GETTING OUR MONEY BACK

   This is a story we would rather not write but many of our friends have been concerned. Starcross is an independent non-profit corporation. Our connection with the Catholic community is a spiritual one through the Cistercian/Trappist monastic family. Although we are autonomous from the local Diocese of Santa Rosa we have many friends here and were officially recognized by a former bishop in 1982.

  Several years ago an official of the diocese invited us to deposit funds in a special high interest restricted account used by parishes. We deposited the funds we put aside in the first part of each year to cover operating expenses through the year. We were told the account was insured against mismanagement. But it wasn't.

  People in the diocese have recently had a number of bad shocks. The bishop resigned admitting a sexual affair with a priest. The priest, who admits stealing from his parish, claims the two years of sex were under coercion. The District Attorney is investigating. Next came the revelation that the diocese is $15 million dollars in debt and that money had routinely been wrongly withdrawn from restricted funds and used for various purposes.

  We thought it time to get our money back. An agreement was worked out with the local people. Then, some church official outside the diocese told them not to give us our money. We found this totally unacceptable, and we made our position known in very clear terms. Another agreement was worked out and all the money will be returned, in three payments, by the end of the year. The first check bounced because it was written on a closed account. Now things are going along alright and we do trust the local people.

  None of the funds any of you have contributed for Uganda or other specific purposes was involved. Those were sent to their intended purposes right away and were never in this account. We will be fine. But, the larger story is bringing pain to many good people in the Diocese of Santa Rosa.

 

Our friends in Northern California are once again invited to the benefit performance of the Holiday Ice Show, December 2, at 4 p.m. at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena in Santa Rosa. This is through the generosity of Charles M. and Jean Schulz. Proceeds go to the Starcross Children Fund. Snoopy was 50 years old in October, but still skates like a warm puppy!

SUDDENLY OFF TO ENGLAND!

  David, our 13-year-old violinist was, as you may remember, accepted to go to The Yehudi Menuhin School near London in September of 2000. But this September a fax arrived saying they had a place (only 4 were accepted this year from around the world) and thought he should come. School started in 6 days! David had the hard decision to make about going or not. Then we had to get him ready and over there. Our old friends Donald and Maureen Green, who have been patrons of David for some time, stepped in and removed all the substantial immediate and long-term monetary problems. David also has a partial merit scholarship.

  He is really happy and working like never before — classes, lessons and practice solid from 8 AM to 8 PM. He will be there for 4 or 5 years. The term schedule is good, we get to see him regularly during the year and he phones often. Still, we miss him deeply — especially on Sundays. In the chapel, the kitchen and in fact in every place David has become an awesome part of our lives! He has 3 weeks off at Christmas and we look forward to every minute of it.

 

MAY WE HAVE A SPIRITUAL TOUCHING WITH YOU

  AT THE MILLENNIUM MOMENT?

  By common agreement we begin a new millennium at midnight on New Year'sEve. Some point out that the millennium actually begins in 2001. Others suggest that Jesus was born about 4 BC so we are already 3 years into the millenium. But we all love numbers and we are not going to let 2000 AD be ignored!

  The secular plans for 2000 are tremendous. In Britain there is a giant dome at Greenwich where Greenwich Mean Time begins. In nearby London there will be a global village on both sides of the Thames, a river of fire at midnight, pyrotechnics everywhere and bells. Out in the countryside there is only the bells. That is more our speed at Starcross.

  We will have a quiet remembrance of the past and a dedication to hope in the future. For those of our friends who want a reflective facet to their celebration and would like to be in solidarity with us we provide the following schedule and invite you to join with us in your homes, churches, hillsides, street corners.

DECEMBER 24

2 PM (PST): A CHRISTMAS EVE TEA. This is midnight in Bethlehem. We will look back at all the conflicts this year among people and among nations. Then we will do the same for the decade, the century, the millennium. There is a lot of darkness. Some speak of a ACulture of Death. But there is always hope and tonight we will celebrate the coming of the greatest symbol of that hope. What can that mean to us. How can we protect this little light?

 9 PM (PST): THE CHRISTMAS LITURGY AT STARCROSS. Join us in spirit by singing an old carol or two. At the end of our service we leave a light on all night (the star at the chapel) as a beacon of hope for all who see it. Perhaps you can do this as well. Not an unattended candle. Be careful.

  This night at many Cathedrals the great Holy Year doors are opened for the Jubilee year. We here will let the heavens be our door and help us to open more this year to God and to our sisters and brothers. One of the great Christmas Eve moments for us is when we leave the chapel about 10:30 and see the constellation Orion right at the top of the sky. We like to think many of our friends are looking up to the sky at that time on this Holy Night.

DECEMBER 31

  We have been impressed with what the British churches have accomplished. It has been a wonderful example of ecumenical cooperation. The full text of their MILLENNIUM RESOLUTION is to be found at www.2000ad.org/MillRes.html/ The hope is to get everyone to join in a shared moment of reflection on 6 themes. We will use these themes at Starcross during vespers.

5 PM (PST): VESPERS.

I. RESPECT FOR THE EARTH

Psalm 24 - The Lord's is the earth and its fullness

Genesis 1:1 - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

II. PEACE FOR ITS PEOPLE

Psalm 119 (XXI Shin) - The lovers of your law have great peace

  John 14:27 - Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you

III. LOVE IN OUR LIVES

Proverbs 15:17 - Better a dish of herbs when love is there, than a

fattened ox and hatred to go with it.

Matthew 22:37, 39 - You must love the Lord your God with all your heart,

all your soul, and with all your mind .... You must love

your neighbor as your self.

IV. DELIGHT IN THE GOOD

Psalm 37: 3-4 - If you trust in the Lord and do good then you will

live in the land and be secure. If you find your delight in

the Lord, your heart's desire will be granted.

  Matthew 5:16 - Your light must shine

V. FORGIVENESS OF PAST WRONGS

James 5:16 - So confess your sins to one another, and pray for

one another,   and this will cure you.

Mark 11:25 - And when you stand in prayer, forgive whatever you

have against

  anybody, so that God may forgive your failings too.

VI. AND FROM NOW ON A FRESH START

Lamentations 3:22-23 - Yahweh's kindnesses are never exhausted

every morning they are renewed.

Revelation 3:20 - Look, I am standing at the door knocking. If you

hear me calling   and open the door, I will come in and we will eat together!

11:45 (PST): A MILLENNIUM AFFIRMATION

We gather in the darkness at the chapel. After a quiet moment when we think of the past

and the future we light a candle on the altar. Each of us lights a small candle from that.

Then there is a silent meditation and time of prayer.

11:58 (PST): THE OUR FATHER (we recite the Lord's Prayer together holding hands)

12 - 12:15 (PST): THE BELL RINGS (we take turns making a joyful noise unto the Lord)

 
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