Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Lingering with Mary

Oh do you have time
     to linger
          for just a little while
               out of your busy

and very important day
     for the goldfinches
          that have gathered
               in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,
     to see who can sing
          the highest note,
                or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,
     or the most tender?
          their strong, blunt beaks
               drink the air

as they strive
     melodiously
          not for your sake
               and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning
     but for sheer delight and gratitude—
          believe us, they say,
               it is a serious thing

just to be alive
    on this fresh morning
          in this broken world.
               I beg of you,

do not walk by
     without pausing
          to attend to this
               rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.
     It could mean everything.
          It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
               You must change your life.


Last Thursday a group gathered at The Writing Studio at St. Mary's to celebrate the life of poet Mary Oliver, who died in January. There were readings of Oliver's poems, stories about the ways that she affected lives, and anecdotes about the power of the late poet's words to make us think, reflect, and pay attention.

All in all it was a joyful evening, giving us an opportunity to relax and enjoy each other's company while sharing--a real gift of community. I have been thinking about this poem of Mary Oliver's, Invitation, as I continue to spend extra time with her words following her death.

To be attentive to the simple gift of life, all around all the time, always available to us when we stop. Yes, the world aches, and yes, the world is beautiful all the same. This Lenten season calls me to let go of my own agenda for myself a bit, with its self-created demands for personal growth, and to attend to the "rather ridiculous performances" which bring me out of my self daily--feasts for the heart and soul.

Thank you, Mary, for the reminder. And thank you to those who gathered to celebrate her.

Let us walk in the holy presence.


Monday, March 4, 2019

Patience Obtains All Things

My friends and I spend a lot of time wondering how we can speed along the process of becoming patient people. (Yes, we understand the inherent issue.) We spend a lot of time looking for answers. We spend a lot of time doing things that only come with faith in the Holy Mystery.

Having this poem (The Secret by Denise Levertov) show up in my inbox last week was an answer.

Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of
poetry.

I who don't know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me

(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even

what line it was. No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,

the line, the name of
the poem. I love them
for finding what
I can't find,

and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that

a thousand times, till death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other
lines

in other
happenings. And for
wanting to know it,
for

assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

staring at starlings

Monday, February 25, 2019

Two Stories

At the end of last week, I had two meaningful experiences while at ministry.

On Thursday, I worked the closing shift. After we had finished playing in the gym: balancing on a beam, playing basketball, and watching 4-year olds be more agile with a hula hoop than I am, we went back into the classroom. One of the kids changed demeanor quickly, and I asked him what was wrong. He started to pat his stomach. I held him, and I felt his head...burning up. We went to check his temperature, and unsurprisingly, he had a fever. So I spent the last 10 minutes of the day letting him sleep next to me while I comforted him.

On Friday, we went for a walk because it was *finally* sunny. As we got ready to round the last corner, one of the kids started to squirm. He couldn't hold it anymore and needed to go to the bathroom. And he definitely wasn't playing like some of my fourth graders used to do. But, we still had a bit farther to go. So I picked him up, held him, and started running to get him back to the building. (Yes, we made it back successfully.)

Ah, a day in the life.

Working with children is often weird, gross, sublime, and exciting...all at the same time. It makes me think of this poem from Naomi Shihab Nye:

Shoulders
A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world's most sensitive cargo
but he's not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,
HANDLE WITH CARE.

His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy's dream
deep inside him.

We're not going to be able
to live in this world
if we're not willing to do what he's doing
with one another.

The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.

Let us handle life with care and with love.

And,

Let us walk in the holy presence.

my newest plant friend that I will love

Sunday, February 17, 2019

NĂºmero 300

This is post #300! Yay! This little blog really started as a way for me to keep in touch with friends at home when I moved across the state three and a half years ago.

Oh, how life has changed.

Let me express gratitude for all the encouragement I have received along the way to keep up with writing even when my energy for keeping up with the blog has dwindled. It has always seemed that just the right words have come along when I needed them. (And not just about the blog!)

And, as always...

Let us walk in the holy presence.

a new day at the monastery


You see,
I want a lot.

Maybe I want it all:
the darkness of each endless fall,
The shimmering light of each ascent.

So many creative who don’t seem to care.
Casual, easy, they move in the world
As though untouched.

But you take pleasure in the faces
Of those who know they thirst.
You cherish those
Who grip you for survival.

You are not dead yet, it’s not too late
To open your depths by plunging into them
And drink in the life
That reveals itself quietly there.

--Rilke

Monday, February 11, 2019

Prophets of Peace

We spent this weekend celebrating the Feast of Saint Scholastica, Benedict's twin sister. Each year the community gives an award called the Prophet of Peace to someone (or some group) working for peace. This year we celebrated the writer, retreat leader, social justice activist Edwina Gateley. It was a lovely celebration.

The next day, at Sunday's Liturgy, our presider gave an equally lovely homily about Scholastica, citing Gregory the Great's Dialogues where he writes of Benedict's sister, "She could do more because she loved more." Rather than celebrate the Liturgy for the Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time, we celebrated the Liturgy for the Feast, which led us to the Song of Solomon and the story of Mary and Martha, the quote, "She could do more because she loved more" tying in quite nicely as we reflected on the ways in which the two women serve in Christ's presence. Our presider reminded us that Jesus led Martha to love, not her anxieties about getting the work done. "There is need of only one thing," indeed.

Edwina has written a perfectly complementary poem, Let Your God Love You:

Be silent.
Be still.
Alone.
Empty
Before your God.
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God knows.
God understands.
God loves you
With an enormous love,
And only wants
To look upon you
With that love.
Quiet.
Still.
Be.

Let your God—
Love you.

Congratulations, Edwina!

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Another prophet of peace in our midst--the blooming amaryllis!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Darkness to Light

Two years ago we did some liturgical movement to a song about St. Brigid with lyrics that began "Darkness to light."

We have seen crazy switches in weather the past few days. Last Wednesday and Thursday we were off for sub-zero temperatures. This Sunday we sat outside on the back patio and enjoyed some snacks after our community meeting...sans jackets.

But these photos are from the last weekend in January when I enjoyed some solitude over at the lake. While I was there, there was a bit of a crazy storm with high winds and at least a foot of snow. (The kids certainly enjoyed splashing in the remnant puddles today while we went for a warm-weather walk!)

Here was the scene at the lake when I ventured out without realizing I shouldn't have been venturing during that weekend of solitude.





The snow blew in my face; my legs were red from the chill. It was unreal cold. I didn't even step outside last week when we had off; I have no idea how bad it was. We pray for those who have no choice but to be outside in those chills, for whatever reason.

That evening, though, it had already started to break. Look at the juxtaposition of the skies in the scene at sunset.


Darkness to light, indeed.

The next morning was also full of winter beauty.


As challenging as the winter months can be, there is such beauty for those of us blessed enough to enjoy it safely and in warmth.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Culinary Cultures

One of my favorite things about working at our community's child development center is the opportunity to work with people from cultures not my own. One of my favorite things is experiencing different food and flavors--literally an added treat. Tacos, tamales, enchiladas, and pozole, among other delicious dishes have been savored. Momos, it turns out, are also wonderful.

Of course, we've all had a taco before. But recently I got to have a first-hand experience making authentic Mexican tacos with a dear friend of mine. We prepared everything from scratch: tortillas, salsa, and all!

Here is our journey...

We had to cut up lots and lots of steak (bistec) and season it with salt, garlic, and lime juice...

To begin the salsa, we peeled the tomatillos...

And roasted them up, along with three types of peppers...

Maza, corn flour, mixed with a bit of regular flour, and water created the beginnings of tortillas...

And the press to flatten them into discs...

I clearly need some more practice...

Because mine turned into Pac-Man!...

Blending the salsa...

And serving up the toppings...

To create some truly delicious food!

Yum!

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Lingering with Mary

Oh do you have time      to linger           for just a little while                out of your busy and very important day      for t...