Running Into Morning

In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

—“Song For Autumn,” Mary Oliver
And just like that, autumn came. Yesterday we had to come in from playing outside because the temperature was too hot. Today, I wore a flannel.

It makes running much more pleasant. I went for an early morning run today, my favorite time to head out on the open road. Last weekend I did the same, but we were…

Cover Songs and Cover-ups

What a treat! Last weekend we took a road trip to New Jersey. I went to celebrate the wedding of a dear, dear, dear friend who I met on the first day of college. My Erie friends joined. Who could pass up an opportunity to dive into the ocean in late summer? Especially when it’s your first time ever for one of them. So, we put on our cover-ups, got some sandwiches from Wawa, and headed out on the NJ turnpike. Below you see a true Jersey native, body packed with all things beach, getting ready for a day embracing sand.

Jumping waves for a few hours exhausted us, but we sang our gratitude to Mother Ocean.

One highlight of the road trip were two extended sing-a-long sessions. We cranked up an eclectic YouTube playlist and sang our hearts out. Here are three wonderful songs we belted, sung by someone other than the original musicians.

A Case of You — Passenger

Romeo and Juliet — Indigo Girls

America — First Aid Kit

This weekend, we are off to Villa Maria for a formation weekend with Nancy Sy…

To be of use, by Marge Piercy (aka An Ode to Labor Day)

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done

has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher …

The Big City, etc.

We are back from a wonderful time in New York, where we struck a lovely balance between the city and the quieter outskirts. Here is a bit of a photo journey through our week.

First (and most importantly!) the completed chocolate tart. It worked! (And it was decadently delicious!)

We spent our first full day visiting the Met (and the Cloisters) to see the highly popular exhibit, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination. The exhibit is on display in both locations and combines actual papal vestments with fashion inspired by the intricate and ornate designs. It was rather fascinating and over-the-top (in a few ways). These fashions were positioned between the usual art. Here is a statue of Mary and Jesus that I loved. It caught my eye because of Mary; the description spoke of the weariness of Mary that would cause her to lean forward.

Here is cardinal-inspired fashion, on a female (!).

The second day we visited Greenport, which is at the tip of the North Fork of Long Island.…

Adventures in Baking, Humility, and Community

As someone who loves spending time in the kitchen (My dream job in second grade was to be a chef.), I enjoy taking on a new culinary challenge. The newest challenge is a pastry, a tart to be exact—something I've never made before.

I found a delicious recipe for a salted-caramel chocolate tart, and a trip to New York next week was the perfect reason to finally make it, in order to be shared with our host. So, off I went.

Here is the crust after the butter had been incorporated. I kneaded it a few times and formed it into a disk shape to be chilled. Then, onto the salted-caramel filling.

Those are the pictures pre- and post-butter.

I got the first two parts done Wednesday evening. Thursday night it was time to bake the crust, again, something I've never done. But, I began rolling it out...

And, I was pleased with the results.

So, I got it into the oven, and when the crust was done, I looked at it, amazed at how beautiful it was. I was so darn excited about the crust, and I began…


Today I’m flying low and I’m
not saying a word.
I’m letting all the voodoos of ambition sleep.

The world goes on as it must,
the bees in the garden rumbling a little,
the fish leaping, the gnats getting eaten.
And so forth.

But I’m taking the day off.
Quiet as a feather.
I hardly move though really I’m traveling
a terrific distance.

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.

by Mary Oliver

Happy Sabbath.
Let us walk in the holy presence.

A Little Manual for Beginners

I have a dear friend who just moved to Erie, and with her she brought a “living artifact” of Benedictine life. It turns out that her grandfather was an oblate of the Benedictines in St. Joseph, MN. She discovered this treasure—with a copyright date from 1948!

How cool is this? Upon finding the Table of Contents...

I turned to the section on humility found in the “Benedictine Way of Life.” Here is the wisdom “of the day”:

St. Benedict could not have arrived at this beautiful thought of ordaining the monk to be, as it were, a courtier of the Great King, if he had not had a profoundly true conception of the relation of the creature to the Creator, of the Christian to Christ; and if he had not been prompted by this conception to make the monk’s life the expression, as perfect as human limitations may allow, of what ought to be the creature’s and the Christian’s attitude and manner of life over against God, so that it might be, in some measure, an expression of the service given Him by thos…