Otis & Friends 3I’m Otis, Prairiewoods’ favorite squirrel, and I’ve taken over this blog for 2016 in honor of Prairiewoods’ 20th anniversary. You’ll hear from me or one of my friends each Friday.

In the summer of 2013, a Notre Dame sister from Nebraska participated in her fourth Silent Directed Retreat at Prairiewoods. During that time, she wrote a beautiful poem called Dance of the Aspen. She read it to the squirrels and birds, the beavers and rabbits and all other animals who find comfort in the bark of the aspen. May you find comfort in the aspen and in its story, as told by Sister Joan …

As I sat in chapel with my God today
I noticed the aspen outside the window begin to sway
A performance my God was giving to me
aspenIn the dancing leaves of the aspen tree.
To and fro the leaves danced, they twirled, spinned, then rested.
The wind is the music, the conductor is God.
Violins are playing the waltz while trumpets proclaim a dance more mod.
Now I hear the beat of the drums and an Indian from the shadows comes
A flute begins to play gently and at the sound,
Dancers are gracefully pirouetting round and round.
Now in my heart, I too am dancing
With a clang of cymbals, a bow to my God.
I thank Him.
What a performance God has given to me
In the dancing leaves of the aspen tree.

—Joan Polak, ND, retreatant