Friday, December 24, 2010

Incarnation is Fun

Years ago, I was home for Christmas and, since my family isn't Catholic, I headed off to the midnight mass alone: Holy Cross Church in Lafayette, LA, which at the time had an aging but wonderful pastor whose homilies were always as nourishing as fresh-baked bread dripping with real butter.

Alas, he was not the celebrant--some visiting priest was helping out, I suppose. It was standing room only, so I stood shoulder to shoulder with a few hundred others, enjoying the prelude of carols and the sight of candles and greenery everywhere. It was warm and comforting and inspired me to reflect on the Incarnation. Here it is, stretching out before me, the Incarnation is here in these folks packed in here waiting for mass to begin on a cold winter night. (Yes, it can get cold in Louisiana.)

The readings and the gospel were proclaimed and I was ready for a fine homily. But the priest... gave no homily. He stood there and laughed, and said, "Well, I know none of you really want to be here, I'm sure everybody just wants to get home so you can open presents, so we'll just move on now." Seriously. That's what he said. And we did. This was a failure to grasp the essence of the feast, to say the least.

One of our recent Gospel readings at daily mass was the genealogy of Jesus from Matthew. As I reflected on it in prayer, for some reason that incident returned to mind, and the subject of Incarnation has stayed with me day in and day out as Christmas approaches. I even re-visited the videoclip of the Simpsons "Catholic vs. Protestant Heaven." (As a former Protestant I must assert that the theology of incarnation is Christian, not just Catholic!)

A solid theology of Incarnation keeps us grounded, literally and figuratively. Holiness is organic, not pure otherworldly spirit. God was born in a weak human body in a barn that smelled of farm animals. Jesus is connected to us, one of us, located in our genealogy. A solid theology of Incarnation means that our starting point is not the sinfulness of the world, but the beauty of creation. It means Advent's Partner is Christmas, and Lent's Partner is Mardi Gras.

Google the Simpsons' clip on Catholic Heaven. I know, the material world is messy and painful and full of grief, but it is also so very beautiful. Incarnation is fun!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Three Candles

The third candle of Advent was lit in a parish church. We went to Harwinton today. Plain evergreen trees are up in front, and a tree overwhelmed with gifts for the needy is off to one side. A friendly, family parish with a small, nice choir. There were a few hundred of us. Two young parishioners were commissioned to be altar servers today. They stood before the assembly and accepted their new roles, were given albs, and were blessed.

The second candle of Advent was lit in a cathedral. Last Saturday, we took our youth group for a field trip to Manhattan. After a lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and some sightseeing, we ended up at St. Patrick's for the 5:30 vigil mass. It was fantastic. A visual feast of art and stone and vast space. There were large LCD monitors on the pillars so everyone could see the sanctuary. Skilled lectors, a cantor with a pure clear voice, good hymns. There were numberless thousands of us. Several minutes before mass began, an usher walked down the central aisle and recruited likely-looking assistants to help with the collection. Kevin, one of our teen leaders, must have looked trustworthy, because he was chosen to serve and handed a basket. We think perhaps at the Cathedral, they have to handle such chores creatively.

The first candle of Advent was lit in a barn. That is to say, the Lodge. Floor and ceiling, windows, a fireplace... but the place is still very obviously a made-over barn. We had mass there to end a special celebration of the Missionary Cenacle Family. There were about forty of us. After the homily, six of our friends stood before the assembly and declared their desire to become candidates in the lay branch of the Family, the MCA. They received their copies of the Apostolic Rule of Life as a sign of their commitment.

A simple New England parish church, a cathedral, and a barn. What strikes me about this sequence of locations is not the extreme differences, but what they had in common. A sense of community does not necessarily depend on ever having met the people you're sharing Eucharist with on any given Sunday. A call to service must be answered, or there is no Church.... well, not our Church, anyway. And when you stand up, when you say yes, when you answer the call... you get something! Something you need, like an alb, or a basket, or a book. Maybe even a blessing. But you don't go forth unequipped.

Where will I be for the fourth candle?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hats and Pins

Tonight I met with six women who are interested in becoming candidates with our lay brothers and sisters, the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate. Tonight there were many practical questions about what this would involve.

Well, I can answer all those basic questions, but the truth is, you can never really predict where membership in a group like us is going to land you. Just the other night, as I stood singing "MaƱanitas" with my buddy Sr. Nancy at this party we crashed, I adjusted my straw hat and serape and said to myself, "How did I end up doing mariache in New England on a cold November night?" Yup, you just cannot know where you'll end up when you get involved with a bunch of missionaries.

We used to be called "The Hat Sisters," and not because we wore sombreros and sang mariache. It's because we never wore a habit and veil in the old days, we wore black dresses and black hats. Mostly, sisters joined our congregation for the charism and the work we do, but every once in awhile, you hear some elderly sister say, "I liked the hats."

Hey, you know, that's OK. Maybe she joined for the hat, but she clearly did not stay for the hat, since now, except for special occasions when a sombrero or Easter bonnet seems to be called for, we do not wear hats.

So, Ms. Strini, if you want to join the MCA because you think their pin is cool, then, for now, that is good enough for me!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Being Fire

There is a faint scar on the back of my hand. About an inch long. I got it last month during a weekend conference we gave for Catholic teens from several of our missions in the Northeast. The conference was called "Be Fire," and, ironically, the scar is from a burn.

We do all kinds of crazy things here. Someone gets an idea, and the next thing you know, it's on the calendar and we are making fliers and planning the menu. It's amazing how someone's thoughtful remark, if spoken at the right time and place, can grow into a big event, and even escalate into a tradition, a group, a movement. Like a spark which falls onto kindling, and grows into a blazing fire. I am pretty sure that the guy who suggested "some kind of jamboree for our teens," our friend Ed, does not even remember saying it last year at our Christ the King gathering.

So, I look at the scar and remember the teens, from Philadelphia, Parsippany, Hartford, and even New Hartford. I remember greeting them on a cold Friday night after their long drive here, feeding them re-heated pizza (which is how I got the burn). I remember standing with them in the Grotto later that night, watching them toss matches into a fire as a sign of willingness to Be Fire. I remember them laughing and becoming friends while they made posters, role-played hospitality scenarios, painted benches, hiked in the woods. I remember them, and I wonder what from that weekend they remember? What marked them? Did any of it? Do any of them have something like a faint scar to remind them of the fire?

Tonight, we had a prayer service to remember our dear sister Ann Miriam Gallagher. Her funeral was last week in Philadelphia, but so many here needed some way to mark this loss. Tonight, as I looked around the room and listened to the stories, I thought about Annie's gift. Annie was, to so many people, like the spark that would land perfectly on the kindling and become a fire. So small a thing, a request to help with the dishes, with the painting, with the gardens, with walking the dog. Little sparks that blazed up into relationships, into fire that marked us forever.

This is how it works. Father Judge, when he came here in 1923 and talked about what this place could be, he said he could envision Trinita as a light on Town Hill, shining out for others. And somehow, through thick and thin, this mission has hung on to that spark, and the spark has started many fires. Annie, she scattered a lot of sparks. Tonight, when I look at the scar on my hand, I know it's not from a teen conference last month, it's from a fire that has been burning for many years, a fire many people have stoked, many people caught and then passed on. As we stand here tonight and sing, we are following a great tradition. We are being fire.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Paving Day

They started very early this morning. I woke up smelling asphalt. It got up to 100 degrees this afternoon, but they did not stop til they finished. The picture above, Nancy watering the tomatoes tonight after supper, can hardly convey how different things look now.

Tim Traub is the man we have to thank for this major improvement of our property. He owns and operates Hemlock Construction Company.

I hate to break it to you Missionary Cenacle Volunteers, but we've lost some prime Blanket Time real estate to the handicap access. Sorry.

The playground area is going to look a lot better after the grass grows back. Tim took excess fill from the front and used it to level out the playground area. We can spread out around the campfire a little better now.

And I feel obliged to provide one more video. It might give a better idea of the noise, heat and smell the men endured all day. But then, they are professionals. We are very grateful to our many donors who made this project a reality.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day of the Steamroller

Well, it's probably not called a steamroller. I should ask Tim what all these machines are really called. This one showed up on our last day of business post-summer program. No one was around to tell us not to mess with it, and we couldn't resist sitting on it.

This is the parking lot now. It is so quiet. And so very, very flat. Yesterday the front lot looked like it had taken mortar fire. Today, in 90 degree sun, the steamroller guy made all the rough places plain. The house shook most of the day. Things fell off shelves. Really.

Now, it's all very pastoral. The crows are poking around looking for supper.

Tomorrow, the paving will begin, probably around 6 AM. Don't expect any photos of the first pour of asphalt hitting the ground.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day of the Conduit

This morning, from the dining room window, I stood watching Tim Traub and his men working two machines in conjunction to delicately extricate a mess of boulders that were in the way of a trench they were digging for the conduit. I reflected on the profound significance of it, the many layers of meaning unfolding before me.

No I didn't! I just stood there enthralled with the spectacle of it. I have no theological insights to offer. Sometimes, a trench is just a trench.

I was away when they prepared the Arts and Crafts parking lot. Probably not as complicated because they did not have to lay conduit. They did dig up some mysterious pipes however. But that was last week. Today, it was all about the front lot.

They dug trenches, laid conduit, and filled the trenches up all day long. As you can see, we had to use caution when using the cenacle door. I am sure there is something profound about that, but I got nothin'.
Nancy had to dig up the carrots prematurely because a conduit had to run right through the bed. We had carrots for supper. Yum!

But the most exciting part came while we were eating those very carrots. The entire house shook with a deep vibration. It's a steamroller, baby!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

After Day One: Interlude

No work on the weekend, so this is a good time to post a few pictures.
This is a view of our current parking lot.
This is a view of the location of our future Arts and Crafts parking lot.

Here he is! Jack has just dumped some old plywood on the ground, and we are ridiculously excited about this.

The real work has begun: Tim is moving the tin shed out of the way of future paving. Vinnie emptied the shed's contents into the Stable Chapel. Sorry, but what else could we do?
I have many more pictures but I am holding back. More later.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Day One: Preparing the Land

Day Zero consisted of Jack Traub arriving with a load of plywood which he dumped on our parking lot to prepare for the heavy machinery. It was a big deal to us because it was the first visible sign that we are about to have our parking lot paved, at long last.

Yesterday his dad Tim, the boss, came by to talk about plans. And today, the big machines arrived! I don't even know what they are called, actually. But they are big and they make a lot of noise and they beep whenever they back up.

The actual work on the actual parking lot has not yet begun. But the place is a mess anyway. They moved the little shed to the edge of the ravine, sending salamanders and frogs fleeing for their little amphibian lives. And they scraped up a foot or so of topsoil all around the firepit and playground equipment. The plan is to level that area with fill they scrape up from the parking lot, then they'll put the topsoil back over it.

So our world is changing. There is now a huge mound of dirt in front of Cabin 2. The Stable Chapel is now housing our snow removal equipment. The old tree stump on the way to Arts and Crafts is gone. But they rescued the flowers that were planted in it! I walked around and looked at the newly exposed earth, the white lines painted on the grass, the big machines parked randomly around the property. It's like seeing Trinita in its underwear. Awkward and undignified.

It will never be the same. But then
, it never is. Except where it counts.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Eating peaches

I have been far busier this summer than I ever have been, except possibly 2007 when we had no dining room coordinator. I am doing things I never did before: the finances, pool maintenance, and my favorite, stocking the snack koop. The big hit this summer is the fruit chillers, only 50 cents! It's been so hot, eating those things slowly is very soothing. They come in mango and strawberry, but the kids think the mango ones are really peach.

What bugs me is not being able to spend as much time out with the people. Paying bills and vacuuming the pool are solitary activities. So I am working morning noon and night, as I always do in the summer, but it's a little less rewarding this year.

The other day I had to run to the store to buy a new blender, since our antique one finally conked out. I was so exhausted, when I parked, I just couldn't bring myself to get out of the car. I leaned the car seat back and napped for about ten minutes. As I drifted in and out of sleep, I reflected on my early days at Trinita in the 80s. I am running myself ragged now as I did then, out of pure love of the mission. I had never felt that way about any job I had before, which is why in 1984 I knew I needed to quit my job and find something I could be passionate about. I had dithered for years about finding something more engaging, but at Trinita, I finally became ready to let go, plunge in, take a chance on something new.

I woke myself up enough to get out of the car and run my errand. As I walked across the parking lot I found myself grinning, and I realized... I found what I wanted. I could have wimped out. I could have gone home and shook it off and kept my sensible job. I had a choice back then. Things could have turned out very differently, but here I am--totally exhausted and as happy as can be!

When I got back, I tossed the car keys on the countertop and grabbed a peach before heading up to deliver the blender. Suddenly the line from that old T. S. Eliot poem popped in my head. J Alfred Prufrock. Do I dare, do I dare to eat a peach? That was a hard choice for me in 1984. But I chose. Peaches are delicious. So are mangoes.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The smell of bread

This morning I got up at 7, showered, and hopped in the car for a quick trip to the store. Even before having my first cup of coffee. We forgot to get bread for the closing prayer for the Week 3 people. I came back with some hoagie loaves.

At circle, Nancy and I broke the bread and slowly went to each person, giving them a piece of it and a blessing. This has been a hard week. Some of the folks, I think, did not really want to be here. But enough of them did to make it good. I looked into their eyes, touched them, gave them the bread, blessed them. Warm skin, warm hugs as they finally boarded the bus to return home.

Then, three more volunteers left. It seems I am often too tired or distracted to feel the impact of these goodbyes when they happen, and it's only later I look around and say, where's Megan? Where's Leroy? Where's Marco? But today, I felt the goodbyes. I have to say, it was hard for me to see Jenna, Erika, and Michaela all go. One by one, I just wanted to hang on to them. I hope they know how good it was to share this mission with them for these past few weeks.

And then, before I was really ready, the next bus arrived. So now I get to entertain everyone by hacking my way through announcements and explanations in Spanish. We got them settled in, we fed them, and then we introduced them to the theme for the week. As they entered the meeting room, the smell of bread greeted them. And at the close of the gathering, we fed them bread still almost too hot to touch, pulled from our bread machine before their eyes.

My hand still remembers the warmth of the people of Baltimore as I touched them to bless them this morning. And my hand still remembers the warmth of the bread we fed and distributed to the people of South Philly tonight. It seems odd that of everything this day has held, it is the warmth in my hands that is with me now.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Biting the Onion

I am supposed to be writing something about the virtue of patience. It's kind of ironic that this virtue was assigned to me to reflect on. I used to think patience was something I was fairly good at. When I worked in a lab, a friend of mine visited me at work one day and ended up watching me prepare a series of reagents. It required precision pipetting, slow and steady. She sat silently, waiting for me to finish so we could go. Afterward she told me she was amazed, seeing how the work required an assent to tedium as well as a steady hand.

I thought patience meant doing that kind of work. Assenting to tedium instead of resisting it or avoiding it. Just sit there, focus, get it done.

Well, that is a kind of patience, it's true, but in my later years, I think I need a different kind of patience. Hanging on my wall right now is an action plan our congregation arrived at at our last chapter, two years ago. It contains many elements we had already agreed to work on at the previous chapter five years earlier. Unfortunately, we did not make enough visible progress the first time around--many people did not even recognize the previous chapter statement when it was read out loud to them. We firmly resolved to do better this time.

And I think we are, in some ways. The rub is, I want more. I have strong feelings about certain things I believe we ought to be doing, and it feels like after two years, we ought to be further along than we are. In other words, I am feeling impatient.

A virtue can be carried too far. Patience must be tempered by zeal or it becomes passivity, even laziness. I think that my impatience for my congregation's progress on our plan is appropriate. Surely we can do more if we try harder! But this works both ways. Zeal must be tempered by patience or it becomes arrogance. So, my challenge, if I want to grow in this virtue (and I really do), is to discern where to draw the line. Where does my passion for progress need to be tempered? I don't want "patience" to let us off the hook to make real, tangible progress on our goals. But I don't want to be obnoxious and arrogant, either!

The theme for our summer program is "Our Daily Bread." Each day, we explore some bible story about bread, and on Tuesday nights, Nancy gives a presentation on "The Bread of Troubled Times." She illustrated a life lesson to the group by preparing a special banquet just for me. She sat me at a little table laden with prunes, parsley, an onion, and Tabasco water. Yum! Sometimes, life does not go so well. Things go wrong. An illness. A failure. A wrong turn. And we have no choice but to go along for the ride.

I sat there in front of the gathering, looking at the unpleasant meal set before me, and reflected while Nancy talked. I can sit here and wait patiently for a better meal to come around.... or I can accept that, like it or not, this is what's for dinner tonight. While Nancy talked, I picked up the onion, peeled it, and took a bite.

Well, it wasn't so bad, really. Patience is not passivity. Patience is not meek acceptance of less than our best. Patience is active. Patience is seizing reality and biting into it, chewing and swallowing. It's eating what is set before you.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Catholic is Catholic, part 2

As I was driving home from spiritual direction I found myself singing an old tune from my Protestant days, about the Transfiguration. It's to the tune of Agincourt, and our choir director used it to illustrate how polyphony came into use in liturgical music. You know, hundreds of years ago.

I am sketchy on the details, so bear with me. But Liturgical music, according to the story, started out strictly as chant, very smooth and ethereal and without great range. Then a second voice was added as an octave above, sung by the boys. Now you have two layers going. Then someone got very bold and added a third layer, only a fifth above, mirroring the melody precisely. After folks got over the shock of having a true harmony line, polyphony took off. And this happened most easily by hanging onto the melody line, but the second voice just comes in a bit later--like a fugue or a round.

Our choir director, Lucy Hudson Hair of University Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge, illustrated this little lesson using Agincourt, and what started out as a stately one-voiced melody got slowly transfigured into a beautiful, textured, many-voiced wonder.

And that, my friends, is one more way to make the point that we are fundamentally different in how we understand God and the Universe. Catholic is Catholic. The Triune God is not just our way of talking about the One Universal Consciousness that we ought to want to be absorbed into if we can only just totally empty ourselves of our petty individuality.

You can find this quote here. "When we chant Om, ... we start thinking universally. ...there is no thought. This is the state of trance, where the mind and the intellect are transcended as the individual self merges with the Infinite Self in the pious moment of realization. It is a moment when the petty worldly affairs are lost in the desire for the universal. Such is the immeasurable power of Om."

Could there be anything more different from Om than a good Bach fugue? Could there be anything more different from merging with the Infinite Self than a messy, juicy Trinitarian and Incarnational spirituality? We don't need to transcend the physical world, when our God inhabits the world as flesh and blood Himself. And we certainly don't need to lose our individual selves into the Infinite Self when our God is actually pure relationship, a God of distinct Persons in perfect community. Where is there anything about relationship, otherness, personhood, distinctiveness in a pure spirit of infinite self?

I am not saying Hindus or others are fools or evil for believing as they do. But why, why, why would I ever say "deep down we're all the same, one path is just as good as another"? Catholic is Catholic. We may well find common ground for dialogue in other faiths, but we will never, ever agree that our understandings of God and the Divine are "basically the same." Nope. We are basically different. And we need to claim that truth with pride.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Catholic is Catholic

Happy Feast Day!

This is the day all of us Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity celebrate as our biggest feast. And unless we are at a parish where our brother Missionary Servants are preaching, it is the day we cringe at the homily.

This Sunday, our parish priest gave the gentlest and most affirming homily I have ever heard on the Trinity in a diocesan parish. He did not make any of the standard opening comments we have begun to take for granted on this day. We did not hear a joke about Thomas Aquinas or an apology about being unable to explain the mystery. Even more importantly, we were not actively discouraged from trying to understand at least a little about the Trinity. How many times have I sat in the pew, in churches across the U.S, and heard some variation on, "The doctrine of the Trinity is a profound mystery which we cannot possibly understand, so instead I am going to preach about fill-in-the-blank."

I have never heard any one ever say, "The Eucharist is too profound a mystery to understand, so let's not bother about it and talk about something else." Or, at Christmas, "I don't know what to say about the meaning of God being born as a human baby in a stable." Or at Easter, "Well, the Pascal Mystery, ha-ha, I skipped that class in theology school." Man, the Trinity as a fundamental Catholic doctrine really takes a beating!

Our priest said none of those things. He did something I've never heard done from a parish pulpit in all my many travels: he encouraged, begged us to reflect on the Trinity! Preach it, brother! He did not make it seem arcane or boring or beyond our mere mortal grasp. He encouraged us to the simple discipline of daily reflecting on the nearness of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit in our ordinary moments of life.

When he finished, I wanted to applaud, but I also wanted to leap up and shout, "But wait, there's more!" as if I were giving an "as seen on TV" ad. There's so much more to say about the Trinity. But there is one thing more I want to say here, for now, today on this feast day.

It's a simple thing, and on the surface it might seem kind of obvious or insignificant. But the Christian doctrine of the Trinity makes us fundamentally, thoroughly, unarguably different from all the other big world religions. Different, as in to the core dissimilar from Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Jews. The Triune God we worship is not just a different way of talking about God as other non-Christians might. If we pretend that it is, we deny our very essence. If you dig deep enough and get past all the language and culture and rules and clutter.... we still are not all "basically the same!"

I am sure I will write on this topic again at another time, but for now, suffice to say, that is my starting point. We need to quit pretending we are really, deep down, all one global harmonious homogeneous spiritual family. Cuz we ain't.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Off Campus

I live and work at the same place. Lucky for me, the place happens to be a great place. But still, this presents challenges. On weekends, we can have up to 50 people tramping around. Because it's such a short commute to my office, I often end up here at night working when I could be goofing off. And because we are sort of a public place and half of Litchfield County feels at home here, we have folks drop in even on Mondays when technically we're closed.

Mondays! I have posted about my days off before. Sometimes I get in the car and go exploring, just to get away. I have not done that in awhile, but this Monday, Nancy and I went to New Haven for the perfect day off. We had been given gift cards to Panera's so we had a great lunch. Then we ambled around in a dollar store. (I bought a bunch of cool toys for bingo prizes.) And last but not least, we went to Ikea.

I had never been to Ikea before. I would go back just for fun any time. We admired all the cool stuff, and I wondered what my dream bedroom would look like if I were not a missionary sister living in a subterranean cenacle. I did notice that furniture tended to be very low to the ground. I had to sort of roll over practically on my hands and knees to get out of the couches. But the whole experience was like going to a foreign land. It was just what I needed. I love it here, but it can get pretty intense to stay confined to the property for more than a few weeks.

When I was a novice, one of our sisters told us about her first mission. She was sent to some town in the deep South, I think it was Charlotte. She was from Fall River, MA. Within a week of her arrival, she met a young man at a workshop and proudly introduced herself as a missionary. He replied, "Wow, so am I! I have lived all my life here but in a few weeks my church is sending me to do a year of missionary work in Fall River, Massachusetts."

So there you go. There is just some attraction to go exploring someone else's home town. I am sure that as I write this, there is someone from Connecticut having a great adventure somewhere in Louisiana.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Body and Soul

This afternoon, as I was dutifully stirring the tapioca pudding, a turkey hen walked by the kitchen window, looked in, and went on about her business.

I often say we live in the basement, but it's only half true. We have normal size windows (though not enough of them.) But the windows, from the outside, are at ground level. These past few months I have been no busier than usual, and no less reflective, but I guess I have not been in a writing mood. But after awhile, all those words build up and they just have to come out. What I've mostly been reflecting on is the house. Not just the house, really--the lodge, the cabins, the grounds--the body of Trinita.

Living in a basement is not my favorite thing. Even though I get to look the occasional turkey in the eye. It's too dark, and it's too low, and it's right next to the boilers and the more intimate guts of the house. When the doctor comes to do a house call--the electrician, the plumber, the exterminator, the furnace repairman, the cable guy, the phone guy--whoever it is, they have to go through our "living room," usually multiple times.

And there have been a whole lot of house calls lately. A few months ago, in some impossible to describe dirt floor low beam black hole which is right next to where we eat supper every night, water began to flow out onto the floor. I climbed back there with a flashlight and a broom, whisking away cobwebs to get a good look. Yup, it's water. Coming up ... uh, out of the ground, I guess. Well, it is raining cats and dogs right now, but still, this never happened before. Later, Vinnie found a valve to an old pipe and shut it off, but where the water was actually coming from remains a mystery, since it did not seem to be connected to anything in active use.

This past month, Joe from the Motherhouse staff spent a week here crawling in dark recesses and prying open old junctions and fixing our wiring. He spoke in admiration of the antique wiring he found in certain place which is still perfectly functional. Some of the more recent work (i.e. done in the last thirty or forty years) was less functional. At the end of the week, Joe, being a man of few words, summed it all up for me. "Well, Sister, we found a number of ... anomalies, but everything is up to code now."

And most recently, we've had some concern about the Lodge. Once upon a time, long long ago, it was an ordinary horse barn. Then we got the property and began adding on, and adding, and adding. Now it's got 3 wings, a raised roof, a fireplace, and an attic. During our annual inspection of the property, someone noticed a certain skew to the Lodge. Hmmm...... Plumb lines and other arcane instruments were soon brought to bear. Is the roof properly tied together, or isn't it? I am happy to say, someone with professional expertise took a good look and said all is well. Yay.

Trinita is old. And I am feeling my age these recent years. My feet hurt. My knees hurt. I think I need stronger bifocals. Dang. But the body is what it is. It can shape my moods, even my attitudes. But even so. It is a good home for my soul.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Trinitarian Soup

This morning, I rolled out of bed with my mission clearly before me: make two pots of soup ASAP, because we have 15 people for lunch today! My body was really lagging behind my mission, since I was in bed all day sick yesterday and still not up to par today. Nevertheless. Feed the hungry. We'll all be hungry by noon or so, so I need to get on with my mission and maybe the rest of me will catch up later.

I got the black bean soup going first, and Nancy helped chop stuff for the sausage-tortellini soup, saving me some energy. Feeling under the gun and rather zombie-like, now is not the time to be creative. I actually followed the real recipes for a change. And I wisely chose recipes I have made before, so I was not exploring new culinary territory.

Yeah, too bad I even had to make the soup. But our RSVP for this event looked like this: Please RSVP by Monday for our Saturday event. On Tuesday, we have only 3 responses, so we tell our cook Diane she did not need to come in, we can handle 3 guests. Then, of course, we began to get more calls, up until yesterday. Wow, that was a useless RSVP, wasn't it. So here I am making two pots of soup, cause we canceled our cook!

Well, these experiences are what life here is composed of. We go with the flow. Once I had both pots bubbling, it was 10:15. We start at 11:00. I still have to get dressed (a skirt and panty hose day, sadly) and find some yarn and figure out what I am going to use as symbolic flower seeds and make copies and get out the fabric markers and..... A lot of stuff I would have done yesterday had I not been sick in bed.

But all unfolded as it should. We had fun teaching and sharing about the Incarnation, about the Holy Spirit, and about the Trinity. During our sharing about how to take counsel, Becky asked what the next step is in discernment. I found myself reverting to the first analogy that came to mind. "Discerning a decision is not a sequential procedure, it's more like a soup with a lot of ingredients. Prayer, learning, and taking counsel are all important ingredients in the soup." Given my dulled state of mind, I felt lucky I could stray from my script and give an intelligent response.

As our time drew to a close, Nancy emphasized the diversity of the Trinity. God being a relationship of distinct persons means we humans are called to reflect that as God's image: we should be distinct, diverse. Not uniform. Yeah, it dawned on me as I looked at our assembled group. Friends came from Massachusetts, Hartford, upstate New York, and from right down the road. Here we are, a little microcosm of the Church. Nothing uniform about us, we had to split into two language groups for sharing and into two age groups because there are kids here. We are like a nice tortellini sausage soup. How Trinitarian.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Knock Knock!

OK, I admit freely that I have a child-like sense of humor. My absolute number one favorite joke of all time is one I learned from the five-year-old nephew of Sr. Stephanie when her family visited our cenacle:

Why did the frog cross the road?

?????? OK, why did the frog cross the road?

Cuz he was stapled to the chicken!!!!! (followed by gleeful five year old laughter.)

How can you not adore that joke? Another favorite is, "Hey I know a great Knock-Knock joke! Go ahead, ask me Knock Knock!"

Oblivious victim: " Ok. Knock Knock."

Then you say "Who's there?" and stare at the victim while they slowly realize that this is so very backwards.

If they try a knock-knock joke on you, the appropriate response is, "Come in."

OK, so here is my first post on my blog for 2010. Knock Knock. Who is there? Who the heck reads my blog???? Am I dropping stones down a bottomless well, or is anyone really out there? I just gave you some great jokes you can use in any social setting. Your payment is to post a comment on this entry. Tell me who you are. I just want to know if anyone besides my three friends reads this thing.