Sunday, August 26, 2018

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. There is a taco restaurant there, which I thoroughly enjoyed!

There was also a lavender farm, complete with truly free-range chickens!

The next day we walked the High Line in the city, which was part of an old El line. The place was packed and gave you a great urban experience.

To continue the balance between city and “less-bustling areas,” we visited Dan Barber’s farm and restaurant, Blue Hill, on Wednesday. He has been featured on Chef’s Table on Netflix and is doing important work in the areas of farming and sustainability.

Here is another photo from the farm, inside a greenhouse.

We rounded out our time with a pool day. At day’s end, I heard something atthe hot tub. It was a poor bird caught in the water. After fumbling for a while, I learned about the filters and how to help lost creatures! We got our little friend to safety!

What a generous gift of time we had. When I lived on the other side of the state I was able to visit NY often, so I appreciated the past week. But, I must admit, it also felt great to get back to the monastery and the rhythm of life here. Back to work tomorrow!

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Friday, August 17, 2018

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 to pull it out of the oven.

And, here comes humility...

Because literally the next second...

Straight on the floor! I was stunned/devastated. Of course, just after it happened, one of my sisters walked by and immediately began helping me to clean it up. What a gift. Another sister came by with equal compassion.

I had no idea what to do. At first I thought I would just give up and arrive empty-handed, which would have been fine, but I also knew I could start again without too much of a hassle. ("Always we begin again.") I re-made the dough and chilled it last night. This morning I had a successful bake. Tonight I will fill it with the caramal filling and top it with a chocolate ganache.

Say a few prayers for me! As the cliche goes, "Life is the best teacher."

Stories from New York to follow—Until then...

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Sunday, August 12, 2018


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.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

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 those who are united with Him in heaven. 

But neither could he expect the monk, the model for the ideal Christian service of God, to carry out this mission faithfully, except the latter have a proper conception of his relation to God and strive to realize it in his daily life. No one seeks God except the light of grace has shown him his true relation to God as His creature, made to serve Him and destined to be united with Him in everlasting life; totally dependent upon Him not only for the present life, but also unable, without His grace, to obtain eternal life. The habitual recognition of this, not only in theory, but in every attitude and act of life, constitutes the virtue which we call humility.

How about that? Word choice and some theology aside, I found this an interesting and fascinating look back in time!

Let us walk in the holy presence.

In Honor of Valentine's Day...

Here are three things currently on my "love list." 1. This photo that Jen, a postulant in our community, took of a snowy tree...