Thursday, February 18


Greetings, dear friends!

Yes, it's sad but true...apparently the economy has hit the retreat business HARD...we are not the only ones having to cancel an art retreat weekend...

However it makes me sad...I was SO looking forward to it! Ah well, creative madness can happen right here in the "Magic Cottage." For the few of you who have paid deposits via paypal, we will be returning said deposits right away.

I now return you to my Lenten silence.

Hugs and kisses,
Paula Clare

Wednesday, February 17


Greetings, dear reader! A Blessed and reflective Ash Wednesday to ye all!

For those of you who, again, may not know, I am a Franciscan monk belonging to the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans. As such, it is my privilege and joy to be able to prepare and preside at our annual Ash Wednesday service at Grace Community Church here in Mt. Vernon, IL. Ours is an interdenominational, somewhat charismatic, very protestant church, so anything that allows me to engage in liturgy and "high church" practices brings great joy to my life.

As a bit of background, I've been doing the service since 2006 and have seen increasingly growing numbers in attendance...often with tearful comments from participants afterwards:

"This is my favorite service of the year...thank you so much for doing this..."

"This service reminds me of my days in the Lutheran (Catholic, Episcopal) church...thank you so much for sharing."

I do not say these things to "blow my own horn," but to let you, dear reader, know that not all protestants are anti-liturgy, anti-ritual, anti-high church. I find great comfort in knowing that the readings we read, the rituals we practice have been done for thousands of years, and that we are joining in the true "Catholic" (Universal) Church when we partake in such holy occasions.

I have just found out that we (GCC) has appointed a "Minister of Decorative Worship" who will begin to keep the sanctuary in keeping with the colors of the liturgical calendar! I am SO GRATEFUL to have a pastor who appreciates, understands, and embraces the age-old practices of the liturgical calendar! WOOT! (WOOT is not a very spiritual comment I realize, but I am certain the term constitutes as a worshipful, holy expression!)

One thing I most enjoy about the service is our time of taking communion (The Lord's Supper, Eucharist, pick one) together. As in the OEF, we serve one another while standing in a circle. No one is "higher" than anyone else, and we practice true "Protestantism" by exercising our privilege as the "priesthood of all believers." Again, I belive this is in keeping with the TRUE spirit of the Church Universal, and the brotherhood/sisterhood of all humanity. :-)  


I purchased this gorgeous, and (yes, I think VERY Franciscan looking) hand-thrown communion set from the good folks at Ocepek pottery. Theirs is truly a MINISTRY and not just a business. Each set comes lovingly packaged with a note of prayer and thanks for your purchase. I just love it.


I will hopefully have pictures to share of our service later on. 

In other news, I am praying about what God would have me abstain from/give up for Lent, and I'm feeling strongly urged to give up my time on the computer and instead spend it in silent meditation and prayer. If this urging becomes reality, I shall not be posting for the 40 days of Lent and will return to blogdom to regale you with tales of my days of internet free reflection on Easter Sunday! I am hoping to go away on retreat during this time, as well as host a Silent Retreat for local folks who may feel so inclined.

If you have any questions regarding my monkdom, Ash Wednesday, or my leading a retreat or service for you and/or your church group, just email and let me know! I'd LOVE to drag the canned ham (my monk mobile) and visit YOU...whereEVER that may be!

Hugs, prayers and blessings upon you!
sr Paula Clare, OEF

Monday, February 15


Greetings, dear reader!

As promised, here are the pics of the groovy hippie-esque art community found in Matlacha, (Mat-Luh-Shay) Florida...I could SOooo live there!

THIS was my favorite place...Leoma Lovegrove's Gallery and Garden...a true blast from the FAB 60's!



Another great gallery: The Wild Child! I LOVED it!



The Matlacha Menagerie:

This is my friend Meleah...sitting in front of the other end of the Menagerie...


This is the shoe shop...note the shoes on the roof! What fun!

This Fisherman's Diner was our choice for lunch...unfortunately, it was open only for dinner. :-(

And HERE is the house I found that I wanted to buy, move into and become a full time resident of Matlacha:


Isn't it wonderful? The gingerbread, hand painted tiles  and quaint picket fence just KILL me! I actually got the number of the realty company  that's selling it...I'm going to call just for grins and see if it's even in the realm of possibility. 

The house is only a few hundred yards from this:


An artistic, tropical, hippie like community...I'd fit right in, don't you think?
Hugs and tropical kisses,
Paula Clare

Sunday, February 14


Greetings, dear readers!

Be sure to be looking in the mail this week for a package from yours truly...between all the gnome hub-bub and the Valentine's Day swaps and such, I am afraid I have been working frantically to get everything together and in the mail...but it's on the way! PROMISE!

Dearest Nan of "Retired in Alaska", your gnome package will include a valentine that I hope you feel is worth the wait! Dear friend Faith Lynn, your box of altared art goodies (from the giveaway a thousand years ago) has been found (GLORY BE!) and will be stashed in a "GIVE TO FAITH" box for the art retreat! I hope you are feeling better after your surgery!

Dear blog friends, Meri, Joy, Elizabeth, Vivian and others to whom I've promised a gnome tag, Valentine or SOMETHING...your packages will be winging their way to you right away!

Dear swap partner, Michaja: I have not forgotten you! Your sweet little spring package will be winging its way to France soon...oh how I LOVE IT that I got a french swap partner! It's just all too wonderful!

Off to tap, package and snap photos like a mad woman...OH! Speaking of photos...check out my Facebook page to find my pictures of Florida...I'll be posting them here tomorrow! Stay tuned!

ATTENTION: HIPPIE ALERT! I found the most CHARMINGLY wonderful hippie/artist community in Florida! My Florida update will include these photos...DON'T MISS IT!

Hugs to's good to be home...however, the recent blizzard makes me long for the palm trees, I must admit.

Paula Clare

Saturday, February 13


Greetings, dear reader!

Back from the islands (barrier islands of Florida that is) and here to wish you all a happy Valentine's Day! Because of my absence, I have been delayed getting valentines (and gnome tags) out to my dear friends who`await them in blogdom. Please know that I will be sending them "post haste" and will be including some extra goodies for being so wonderfully patient!

Meanwhile, I am to share a (some) lovely vintage Valentine(s) with you are a few of my KNOW how I love darling little cowboys:



And even little cow bears!


I hope your day is especially sweet! 

More soon!

Paula Clare

Monday, February 8


Greetings, dear reader!

I am writing to you OH SO BRIEFLY from the beaches of Fort Myers, Florida! The sun is shining on my face, and I rode through town today with a friend in her convertible. It's hard to imagine snow back at home when I am surrounded by palm trees.

Tonight we plan to dine at a beach restaurant, and then tomorrow we're off to Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Supposed to be the BEST for shelling...WOOHOO!

More soon, dear friends!
Paula Clare

Friday, February 5


Greetings, dear reader!

Just a quick note to let you know that I will be leaving this morning for the sunny beaches of Florida! (The shark-less GULF side!) for a bit of a respite before the Lenten season.

For those of you who do not know, I am a Franciscan monk, belonging to the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans. As such, I am quite an "anomaly" when it comes to being part of an interdenominational congregation with evangelical and charismatic leanings.

I generally "take on" more than I give up during me a rebel. lol

I will be doing the liturgical Ash Wednesday service again this year...this service impacts so many in our congregation who are originally from denominations that practiced and participated in liturgies, ritual and longstanding tradtions. This is one of two liturgical services offered in our highly Evangelical, charismatic church. I will also be teaching an Adult Bible Fellowship (ABF (replaces the term "Sunday School")) called "Bridges: A Guide to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton" For the Sundays during Lent I will be able to teach as a Franciscan from a Franciscan point of view, the spiritual disciplines and the "mechanics" of living a contemplative life (and engaging in contemplative dialogue...I will again lead us in serving one another communion with a common cup...a practice not typical to our particular hybrid interdenominational church.

I will lead this class in a Silent Retreat at some point during the Lenten Season...another challenge for those who are generally more "boisterous" in their worship! I will  be showing one of Gerry Straub's films and raising awareness for the San Damiano foundation as well as for the plight of those in poverty around the world.

I will also be joining my brother Timotheus and Sister Addison in a mission project for a Haitian family in Lexington. I will lead a small mission team to join Tim (and company) in painting, repairing, building and renovating a home for this dear family. This is (hopefully) one of many mission trips we will do with the Franciscan Urban Mission, Inc. I am excited to be both a board member of FUM, inc. and a deacon of missions at my church...the two servant roles seem a perfect fit for this particular ministry!

In preparation for said "taking on", I will be leaving THIS Friday morning (Feb. 5) for a 3 or 4 day respite on the beaches of Fort Meyers, Florida. A friend has offered to drive, another friend has offered use of their home on the beach, and so all I will have to spring for is food. Who could say no to such a deal?!? Please say a prayer for me that the time will be restful and reviving! 

I will be posting via remote while I'm in to you soon!
Paula Clare

Wednesday, February 3


Greetings, dear reader!

Here is a sampler of the kinds of AltAred Art projects we'll be making at the retreat. These kits will also be available for purchase with online classes! Details to come!


More soon!
Paula Clare