Elizabeth Lowe is a native Baltimorean who joined the Catholic Review as a staff writer in 2012. Follow her on Twitter: @ReviewLowe

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Rolling out my yoga mat

One of my goals for 2013 is to slow down.

In the past few weeks I have thought about how to do that. Taking up yoga keeps popping into my head, so I’m giving it another try.

Over the years I have taken yoga classes and enjoyed them, but this form of exercise/meditation is not something I’ve stuck with. The reason is likely because I am not particularly flexible and do not have great balance.

I have been discussing with my husband the idea of me taking up yoga. Earlier this week, he surprised me when he came home with a yoga mat. As soon as I unrolled the mat, wiggled my toes and stepped onto it, the yoga positions I learned years ago came back to me. I was amazed – and slightly impressed.

I am enjoying a few minutes of yoga in the mornings after my run and additional time at night on the mat. The sense of tranquility associated with practicing yoga makes me wonder why I waited so long.

It is a great way for me to spice up my exercise regimen, improve my balance, flexibility and unplug from this overstimulated world we live in. It’s also an opportunity to be silent and another way to spend time with God in my daily life praying and counting my blessings.

Now, I just need to carve out time to take yoga classes.

February 06, 2013 12:03
By Elizabeth Lowe


Time with Jesus in the great outdoors - continued

This past weekend (Jan. 26-27) was different than last weekend (Jan. 19-20), as far as the weather goes. In the past week, Mother Nature has brought us light snow and frigid temperatures.

Last weekend, as I left the Northern Central Railroad (NCR) Trail, I vowed to head outside in the great outdoors - mainly the woods - more often. I'm already staying true to my word! My husband and I went to Robert E. Lee Park in Baltimore County this weekend and enjoyed a chilly hike on the snow covered trail.

Fresh air on a brisk morning walk must be good for the mind, body and spirit. As we headed home, I felt calm and refreshed. I enjoyed quality time with my husband, but also time with Jesus.

 

Photo credit: Elizabeth Lowe 

January 28, 2013 03:05
By Elizabeth Lowe


Time with Jesus in the great outdoors

Last weekend was beautiful, particularly mild for mid-to-late January. The sun was shining, the sky was a brilliant blue and the blast of frigid air had not yet traveled east. 

I took advantage of the nice weather Sunday afternoon – before the Ravens game, of course – and went for a 3-mile walk on the Northern Central Railroad (NCR) Trail in Baltimore County. It wasn’t too crowded, which is how I prefer it.

All of my cares melted away as fresh air filled my lungs. I relished the silence, hearing only the wind and snippets of conversations from walkers, joggers and bikers on the trail.

It was just me, Jesus and nature. As I spent time enjoying God’s creation, I prayed, deepening my relationship with him.

As I headed outdoors for my daily run this morning, in the arctic winter air, I found myself praying as I ran down the road. My morning runs have become my quiet time with Jesus and I cherish it.

After all, it is the Year of Faith, a period of prayer, reflection and renewal called by Pope Benedict XVI. How do you make time for Jesus in your daily life?

Photo credit: Elizabeth Lowe 

January 22, 2013 05:42
By Elizabeth Lowe


Peace on earth in 2013

The holiday season is over and millions of students and educators across the country have returned to school.  

Students and educators from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. returned to school today, 20 days after a shooting which killed 26 people.

Students and staff went to a different school building, several miles away from Sandy Hook.

A heavy police presence is reported outside the school and police said this is likely the safest school in America. 

I recently finished reading “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult, which is about a 17-year-old male high school student who killed 10 students and staff members at his fictional New Hampshire high school. The book concludes with students and staff returning to the school with new security measures in place, similar to Sandy Hook.

The gunman in this novel had been bullied by his peers since his first day of kindergarten. One of the lessons in this book is the importance of treating others with respect and the impact of our words and actions. 

Last Sunday, Dec. 30, was the Feast of the Holy Family. The second reading, Col 3:12-21, reminded us about kindness and pardon:

“Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.” 

One day shy of the three week anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, churches across the country continue to pray for the victims of the tragedy. This community needs our continued prayers as students and educators return to school in Connecticut and across the country. Let us remember the importance of forgiveness, kind words, gestures and pray for peace in 2013.

January 03, 2013 10:46
By Elizabeth Lowe


Praying for peace in schools

There there has been another school shooting, this time on a beautiful, sunny day at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

About 20 people, including the shooter, are believed to have been killed, according to news reports. Information about the shooting continues to come in.   

Schools should be a safe place for students to learn. Students and staff shouldn’t have to worry about whether violence will erupt in their school.

Growing up, I don’t remember feeling anxious about whether there would be violence in my school. I remember coming home from school in April 1999 and hearing about the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.

In April 2007 I was a student at a Virginia college. I remember returning to my dorm room after class and learning about the shooting that took place across the state at Virginia Tech.

During the Christmas season we hear about “joy to the world” and “peace on earth.” I pray for peace on earth, good will towards men and an end to violence, particularly in our schools.

December 14, 2012 01:19
By Elizabeth Lowe


Keeping students, administrators safe in schools

NBC News aired a story Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 about how children at an Atlanta school were taken to the hospital Dec. 3 after their school was filled with the colorless, odorless and tasteless gas known as carbon monoxide.  

That school reportedly doesn’t have carbon monoxide detectors.

In 2011, a Baltimore City school was shut down twice in one week after children and adults were reportedly exposed to the gas. Following that incident, carbon monoxide detectors were expected to be installed in all Baltimore City schools.

Maryland and Connecticut are the only two states that mandate carbon monoxide detectors in schools, according to news reports. This seems like a no-brainer.  

Carbon monoxide detectors should be as basic as smoke detectors to protect people from this toxic gas. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include headaches and nausea.

Installing carbon monoxide detectors may cost schools money up front, but they can save lives in the long run. I am hopeful that school officials in the remaining 48 states will install carbon monoxide detectors.

December 04, 2012 11:59
By Elizabeth Lowe


The season of giving is upon us

Tomorrow is the fourth annual Back On My Feet Bash. This will be the second time I have attended the fundraiser and I am looking forward to it – a swanky evening with a silent auction, delicious food, drinks and dancing!   

The best part is that event proceeds benefit Back On My Feet, a nonprofit that works with the homeless to build independence and self-esteem through running.  

Founded in Philadelphia in 2007, the nonprofit’s Baltimore chapter has four teams, each at area shelters. One of the teams is at Catholic Charities’ Christopher Place in Baltimore.

This fundraiser comes at the beginning of the holiday season, a time when many organizations are seeking monetary donations – from the people ringing bells for the Salvation Army outside grocery stores to the solicitations you receive in the mail.   

This is the season for giving. Besides donating money to your favorite organization(s), what about giving your time and tutoring a student at a local school or helping to beautify your community?

With Back On My Feet, volunteers give their time and run with members four mornings a week, some members training for 5K races and 10-milers, others marathons.   

For some, this may be more gratifying than writing a check.

What will you give this holiday season?

November 28, 2012 07:00
By Elizabeth Lowe


'Tis the season comes earlier than ever

I was in Ocean City last weekend to cover the Baltimore Youth Catholic Conference, which attracted about 450 adults and youths from across the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Driving down Coastal Highway in Ocean City, the weekend before Thanksgiving, I was surprised to see hotels and condominiums already decorated for Christmas. “Happy Holidays” was spelled out across balconies and red and green Christmas lights adorned almost every building I passed.

I have even seen photos of Christmas trees for sale posted on Facebook. Will these trees still have any needles on Dec. 25?

The holiday season seems to start earlier every year. Some retailers are opening their doors for Black Friday as early as 8 or 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, only hours after gluttonous holiday meals have been consumed. How can we enjoy the company of our family and friends when we’re distracted thinking about false idols?

Shoppers should reconsider consuming an extraordinary amount of food before rushing out the door to purchase the latest and greatest material goods. This detracts from the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Can’t it wait?

Our focus this Thursday – and every day – should be on thanking God for the abundant blessings in our lives.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
 
 
Photo credit: Tom McCarthy | CR Staff 
 
 

November 20, 2012 09:25
By Elizabeth Lowe


How you can help St. Frances Academy boarders

St. Frances Academy in East Baltimore opened the Father Joubert Boarding House for Boys Oct. 21. The house is a stone’s throw from the East Baltimore school.

There are 11 boys living in the house, which had been home to the Christian Brothers, who had a mission at St. Frances.

The homey three floor townhouse has 17 beds, bathrooms, a kitchen, family room and study hall room with computers.

In April, St. Frances learned it would receive a $157,400 grant from the Abell Foundation to pilot the program, thanks to its successful track record of placing students in colleges.

The grant, which paid for the house’s renovation, includes furnishings, security and tuition, food, clothing and haircuts for seven boys, said Oblate Sister of Providence John Francis Schilling, president of St. Frances. An annual grant from the Abell Foundation will sustain the program.

Seven boarders from Baltimore City were homeless, evicted or in foster care, Sister John said. Four other boys, who are Nigerian, live in the house through separate funding.

St. Frances is accepting clothing, monetary donations and gift cards to fund items for the boarding school students.

Their needs call to mind Matthew 25:35-40: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

While donations are always accepted, the holiday season – traditionally a season of giving – is nearly upon us. Consider donating money or items to St. Frances, which will help these young men. 

I was at the house Oct. 26 and spoke to some of the boys who live there. They are excited about this opportunity.

Sophomore Damarius Lewis, who lives in the house, likes its atmosphere.

“It’s fun living here,” said Lewis, 15. “It gets you ready for college because in college you’re going to be meeting different people. Everybody in the house (is) cool.”

To donate, call 410-539-5794.

October 31, 2012 04:07
By Elizabeth Lowe


My return to the classroom

A college graduate for more than four years now, my first time back in the classroom at a higher education institution was Oct. 23 when I shadowed a seminarian in his fourth and final year at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Roland Park. 

I am writing a story, slated to run in the Nov. 15 edition of the Catholic Review, about a day in the life of a seminarian, instructor and non-Catholic in the Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary’s. As a part of a day in the life of a seminarian, I was lucky enough to attend classes with him at the seminary, a 300,000-square-foot building that resembles the Palace of Versailles in France.

I attended three classes – Theology of the Eucharist, Eighth Century Prophets and Patristics – and it felt so good to be back in the classroom. The classes, each one hour and 15 minutes, flew by. The instructors captured my attention.

Attending classes weeks into a semester meant that I didn’t have a full frame of reference, but I was able to piece together enough of what the instructor said to understand what the class was about and the day’s discussion.

What I learn deepened my faith and provided me with an even better understanding of and appreciation for the Catholic Church.

I also changed classes and ate in the cafeteria, both of which I have not done since my days as a coed.

While I do not necessarily miss the homework associated with school, I do miss the instruction. My day in the classroom was a reminder that learning is a lifelong process and does not end with a degree – or two or three.

As a reporter, I learn new things daily, on topics that I may not otherwise have any particular reason to delve into. As an education reporter, I am especially lucky because assignments like this one take me back to the classroom.

October 24, 2012 04:14
By Elizabeth Lowe

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