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Reflection on Saint Mary-of-the-Woods

The following reflection was written by Sister Joseph Eleanor Ryan (RIP):


O, the joy, the beauty of this place,

The friendliness, and O, the grace!


This Woodland is a glowing tapestry

Where are depicted all the lights and shades

Of God’s dear love, so that

Should we some morning miss the messenger’s

Swift pinions brushing dawn-tipped clouds

Or spilling silver ripples of spring rain,

We still might find their shadows, fugitive, between

White petals sifting gently down

Beneath a dogwood tree; or in the elfin touch

Of the first snowflake on a lingering brown oak leaf.


There is a benediction in the very breeze

That bathes the fleece-flecked sky;

A message in the tawny autumn air,

And in the homing leaves, that lie

Gold-tipped and scarlet-spangled at our feet.

There is a promise in each singing twig

Of every tree; and I shall take

Away with me its whisper, that shall break

Like morning ecstasy on tranquil dreams

Whatever be the distance and the dark surrounding me.


The loveliness of God has touched this place,

And lighted all its paths with grace.

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Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Roman Catholic women religious (sisters) who minister throughout the United States and Taiwan. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence in 1840. The congregation has a mission of being God's Providence in the world by committing to performing works of love, mercy and justice in service among God's people.

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  1. Avatar Bill Hughes on May 21, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Wow! Lovely! I’ve read it out loud and savored it several times already. Sister captured my experience of the sacredness and grace of the place. Can anyone tell me more about Sister Joseph Eleanor Ryan?

  2. Avatar Will Hine on May 21, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Poetry is so important in our lives an this poem expresses the beauty of this place.
    It is such a blessing to have te SP here.

  3. Avatar Jane Fischer on May 23, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Surely the Poet Laureat of Providence!

    • Avatar mary albers on August 22, 2016 at 9:18 pm

      That was beautiful .

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