Monday, April 30, 2007

Holy Ground

My Aunt Doris died two weeks ago, and I went home to south Louisiana for almost a week. When Mama called me with the news, it was snowing here. We had had a little intro to spring but the ground was white that morning. I stared at the steady snowfall for a long time after I got off the phone.

When I got off the plane in New Orleans, the warm air wrapped around me to welcome me home. The air smells the way air ought to smell. It feels like it should feel on my skin. The sounds of peoples' voices sound right. The food tastes right. The names of streets and towns are right. I love my life, but when I go home I realize all over again how hard it is to live so far away.

As I drove through my old neighborhood, it was destruction everywhere. And, in places, construction as well. But I don't want to dwell on the Katrina destruction now. We drove through Mama's old neighborhood as well. The home she and my aunts and uncles lived in on Congress Street is actually looking pretty good. Someone lives there and has it fixed up nice. St. Vincent de Paul Cemetary is not too far away. There, many generations of maternal relatives are buried, so to speak, in an above-ground crypt. (In fact, I was about 25 before I ever went to a regular cemetary with graves in the ground.) I read all the names of those buried in the Charbonnet vault. I pronounced the names... Almicar, Louis, Francois D'Assis, Dewett, Lucille, Eugene.... The remains of all these generations are mingled. It troubles me not all, though it troubled some of my family. It is not Aunt Doris going into a box, into a crypt, because she is gone. Our way of burying our dead in fact for me works as a reminder of the communion of saints. We are powerfully connected to all the faithful departed. The cemetary is holy ground.

I have returned to Trinita. While I was gone, the snow melted and the air warmed up--somewhat. There are buds on branches but still no leaves on trees. We had 50 people here this weekend for a Family Day. It was fun and very hard work and it took my mind off things. This is holy ground, too. I knew it the first time I ever set foot on this place, so long ago. So much life has been lived here, it has seeped into the soil. You can smell it. At least I can.

Friday, April 13, 2007


What does that mean, anyway? I have nothing to say tonight, but I thought I should at least mention that I am at this very moment dressed like a pirate. A very tired pirate.

Who would not want to be a pirate? Pirates are free, and they do bad things but they are not evil. And they have parrots. (Well, some do.) And the main thing is, they wear cool clothes. What is not to like?

We all decided to be pirates today. It is very fun. If you are ever bored, come hang out here for awhile, that will cure you. Six pirates, four of them are sisters and two of them are working moms. Arrrrr! Olivia hooked me with her hook. For that she shall pay. And Siena said something about the Yankees to Joan, so now Siena has a pegleg. Arrrrr. Pat's parrot is napping on the rolodex at the moment. Ellen sang a pirate song. I think I chipped a tooth when I clenched my cutlass in my teeth. Arrrr!

If you think I am now going to explain why the entire staff were pirates today, you would be wrong.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Enter if You Dare

We have these events every so often called Family Day. We can accommodate up to about ten families from nearby parishes for a Sunday afternoon of fun and sharing. There is some kind of activity for the kids, usually a craft of some kind, which relates to the theme of the day.

This past October, our theme was "SHINE" and all our crafts and activities involved pumpkins somehow. Ever heard of Oriental Trader? They sell these cheap but cool-looking kits for kids, lots of seasonal stuff. We found a craft kit that was a door hanger. You know how a kid might put a "Keep Out!" sign on his door--this was a Halloween doorknob hanger with skulls and so on, with the warning "Enter if you dare!" We took them, flipped them over and made something nicer on the reverse side that fit with the pumpkin motif and the "Shine God's love" message.

However, I kept the sample that Ellen made. It has the original scary warning on it. I hung it on the inside of my bedroom door. So before I go out in the morning I often pause and think.... do I dare? But I always do. After all, the coffee is out there.

We had another planning meeting for the summer program this afternoon. It has become apparent that Wednesdays are going to be a bad day for me: I'll have to cook a hot breakfast for 50+ people, help campers get supper ready, and do the evening meeting and the reconciliation service. In addition to my normal everyday tasks. I said I would do it but only if I could whine a lot about how much I have to do. I might need to think about taking down that little sign on my doorknob. Otherwise some Wednesday morning this summer, I might just decide that I do not dare.

Nah.... I think I will just add a sign on the outside of my door: "Caution: Whining Zone."