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Evansville, Indiana
September 19, 1997     The Message
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September 19, 1997

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September 19, 1997 The Message R for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 1 3 -- Ir By JIM and ANN CAVERA Some time ago, I followed mother through the crowded aisles of the dollar store, while she piled dusty candy bars, cookies at two bags for a dollar, yet another throw pillow for Dad's chair, a new lamp- shade, four place mats and assorted knicknacks into the cart. I kept telling myself that God's plan for me was to have infinite patience with my mother, that there really was nothing more important on earth for me to do than to be there, creeping behind her, stand- ing, waiting, waiting, while she considered the merits of one small treasure over another. At one point she leaned close and said, "See how much you could save by shopping here!" I am in agony. I want to scream. But women over 50 don't scream, at least not out Going under or staying afloat? loud. They smile, and wait on their elderly mothers. Jim and ! have been the primary caregivers for my mother and father (who live up the street from us) for more than two years now. Dad has been ill with cancer for so long that hospice has come and gone. Hospice is designed for six month care and after a year one hospice worker said, "We've decided he's not going to leave us until he's good and ready." Morn takes multiple medications for a variety of chronic conditions, including heart problems, and so we count each day with them now as a gift. In the beginning, we put our lives on hold and spoke of the time when things would get back to nor- mal. Gradually, we've come to realize that normal is whatever shows up on our plates each day. It's taken us a long time to arrive at this point of acceptance. Normal for us now is parents who need us as much and often more than the teenage daughter we still have at home. Normal is never having enough time to pour into the things that interest us the most. We have come to think of life as a wide stream, some- times bouncing us through perilous rapids, and other times letting us drift gently through back waters, and through it all, faith is the boat that carries us. True, sometimes faith carries us kicking and screaming, sometimes we even manage to row a little and other times we are so tired we curl up exhausted inside our boat and let it carry us where it will. Years ago the children and I read a book that I really liked. It was about a universe where things like houses and clothes never wore out. In fact, the more something was used, the stronger and more beautiful it became. Lately, it occurs to me that the things that outlast this world: patience, faith, hope, truth and love, actually do become stronger and more beautiful with use. Maybe that's why there really is nothing more important in the world than shuffling behind my sweet ancient mother down the aisles of her life. Jim and Ann Cavera live and work in Evansville. They are the parents of four children, ages 14 to 29. Jim has a Master's Degree in Social Work and is employed in the Senior Health Center of St. Mary's Medical Center. He is a permanent deacon at St. Mary's Church in Evansville. Ann has a Master's Degree in Education and works as an Admission 's Counselor for IVY TECH State College in Evansville. "Gardening Angels' tend monastery rock garden By MARY JEANNE SCHUMACHER Special to the Message The monastery rock garden at St. Meinnid Archabbey needed some attention when Benedic- tine Brother Flavian Schwenk was given a new assignment two years ago to restore the site to its original beauty. Trees and plants were overgrown, vines covered the walkways and rock walls, and poison ivy had' crept in. Brother Flavian faced a daunting task. But on his first morning in the rock garden as its caretaker, the Jasper native was greeted by a van with four women inside; each was armed with gardening tools and know-how. As Mary Helen Knapp, a member of Res- urrection Church in Evansville, recalL, "That's when he named us 'The Gardening Angels.'" Indeed, it may have seemed as if the Women were the . answer to a prayer. The idea to volunteer their time and energy in the rock gar- den came from Mary Helen, who had been to St. Meinrad many times before. When she Was growing up, Mary Helen noticed the garden was over- grown. To her, it seemed a shame the place that gave her so much pleasure as a child was being overlooked. Not long after that, St. Meinrad Archabbot Lambert Reilly attended a funer- al for one of Mary Helen's fam- ily members. When they spoke, she took advantage of the opportunity to mention the for- gotten garden and volunteer her help. A week later, she was invit- ed to St. Meinrad to begin reviv- ing the rock garden. Since then, she has been dri- ving to St. Meinrad three or four times a year to work in the gar- den, always bringing along help. "Gardening Angels" have included Diane Folz and Mary Jo Bacon of St. Philip Church, Donna Hamilton of Good Shep- herd Church, Patty Weinert of Holy Rosary Church, Lois Her- rmann of Resurrection Church, and Brenda Brown. The Evansville volunteers have pulled weeds, cut back vines, trimmed trees and, gen- erally, uncovered the garden's beauty. During one work ses- sion last fall, they trimmed back plants that were covering the garden's rock wall. came with her parents to visit According to Brother Flavian, I m Working in a garden .... It's that serenity that can't get fromYOUythin g else. .tyro Uncles who were Benedic- .e monks there, Father Gerarcl ,uspermann and Father Camil- m.s Ellspermann. During those Visits, she played on the grounds; the rock garden became her favorite spot. She muses, "I just remember so many times being in the rock garden and enjoying it." , On a visit a few years ago, she the garden was created in the 1930s from sand- stone leftover from the original construction of the Archabbey Church at the turn of the centu- ry. The garden, which frames the east side of the Church and part of the monastery, is again becoming a centerpiece of the Archabbey's grounds. As part of the Church renovation, which will be com- pleted later this month, three sets of new windows were added to the building's east side as part of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Worship- pers now will enjoy the garden view and a vista of the sur- rounding Anderson Valley countryside. Helping Benedictine Brother. Flavian Schwenk in the monastery rock garden at St. Meinrad Archabbey are, from left, Lois Herrmann, Patty Weinert, Mary Helen Knapp and Jeanette With the help of his "Garden- ing Angels," Brother Flavian, whose other artistic endeavor is mating plaques by woodbum- ing and the use of oil color pen- cils, has made considerable progress on his goal of turning the garden into a welcome place for visitors again. During a stroll along its paths today, one finds something interesting at every turn: a stone angel tucked among the ivy, a sturdy sandstone bench, a bridge being built next to the waterfall, fish swimming in one of three ponds, a hummingbird feeder placed where the monks can view it from the monastery windows, tansy bursting into yellow blooms, and new flow- ers and plants peeking out from every comer. The work has been so satisfy- ing, said Mary Helen during a recent visit to St. Meinrad to tend the garden with her sister- in-law, Jeanette Scheller of Evansville. "It's just peaceful working in a garden," Mary Scheller. Helen explains. "It's that seren- ity that you can't get from any- thing else." Jeanette, a member of Holy Spirit Church in Evansville, agrees. "Anytime you work in a garden, you get that." Volunteering in the monastery rock garden is a chance to enjoy a f00m00ghobby ing outdoors and alongside other gardeners. But the sisters- in-law also believe that their work is one way they can give back to the Archabbey. With her uncles living there, Mary Helen says, "I feel some responsibility to St Meimad. It's just my way of sharing and giv- ing back." Jeanette has relatives who are former St. Meinrad students, and she feels her work adds to the peaceful environment pro- vided for students of the Col- lege and School of Theology. In addition, the Archabbey is most grateful for the istame, as the volunteers have discov- ered when they show up to do Photo courtesy Barbara Crawford i some work. People stop by to, visit and admire the garden's newly uncovered beauty. According to Jeanette, "They appreciate it (our work) so much here." They both work in the gar- dens at their homes and at their parishes. Mary Helen, a master gardener, helped her son devel- op a meditation path at the University of Southern Indiana for his Eagle Scout project. Twice, she has won awards from Evansville's Operation City Beautiful for the landscap- in K work she did at her hus, band's dental office. But Mary Helen and her fel- low "Gardening Angels" don't garden to garner trophies. The attraction is more fundamental, according to Mary Helen. "You're doser to God in a gar- den than anywhere else on earth." Mary. Jeanne Schumacher is associate director of communica- tion, St. Meinrad Archabhr,.t