Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent I, 2009

Advent I, 2009

Will it be
like the potent natural urge
of moon and gravity
to loose the sea
and let her praise?

Will it be
like the smooth and traveling warmth
in my hands, my fingers,
when I hold a stone
that has rested with the sun?

Will it be
like light and silence-
the fullness of color,
the fullness of sound,
like the awe of recognition?


Friday, November 20, 2009

Talkin´ Turkey Friday Five

The Cure

Lying around all day
with some strange new deep blue
weekend funk, I'm not really asleep
when my sister calls
to say she's just hung up
from talking with Aunt Bertha
who is 89 and ill but managing
to take care of Uncle Frank
who is completely bed ridden.
Aunt Bert says
it's snowing there in Arkansas,
on Catfish Lane, and she hasn't been
able to walk out to their mailbox.
She's been suffering
from a bad case of the mulleygrubs.
The cure for the mulleygrubs,
she tells my sister,
is to get up and bake a cake.
If that doesn't do it, put on a red dress.

--Ginger Andrews (from Hurricane Sisters)

So this Friday before Thanksgiving, think about Aunt Bert and how she'll celebrate Thanksgiving! And how about YOU?

1. What is your cure for the "mulleygrubs"?

Cooking or baking for others is always a good one for me. So too a trip to a coffeeshop--a large mug full of something strong, a journal, a seat by the window to look out onto the streets of NYC, a favorite pen, a book, and music in my ears. Another too is simply the courage to say You know what, could I please have a hug?

2. Where will you be for Thanksgiving?

In Reñaca Alto, Chile. No Thanksgiving this year--or next, for that matter, now that I think of it...will be in Rome with an international group of rscj. Ah well. Am glad for the memories I do have and the hope for those to come!

3. What foods will be served? Which are traditional for your family?

Greenbean casserole! Break out the crunchy onions! Mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, turkey, and my Great-Grandmother´s orange date bread--and her Bing Cherry Salad--always served on one leaf of iceberg lettuce. Let´s hear it for the midwest and jello salads!

4. How do you feel about Thanksgiving as a holiday?

Love, love, love it. Love the time cooking in the kitchen with friends, love the smell in the house, love the warmth inside on a cool day outside, the gratefulness, the gathering of people who want to be in one another´s company to share a meal. Favorite memories include using a staircase as extra seating while in grad school and playing wordgames in the kitchen afterward while the whole bunch of us cleaned dishes. Also, learning to make cranberry sauce from scratch from a friend in Louisiana...zesting the orange, the port wine heating, the pop of cranberries as they split and offered up their tangy zing. Can´t forget either, the Thanksgiving around a community member who was dying though still awake and alert. Her bed was in the livingroom and we gathered around her to eat...such laughter, such joy...the passing of food, the passing of life, and gratefulness for all.

5. In this season of Thanksgiving, what are you grateful for?
Too much to contain here, to be certain. I am grateful for what I have learned in life so far, for the people I have met and loved along the way, for those who have loved me, for my sisters, my friends, the opportunities I have had to share what I have been given... for so many many things.

BONUS: Describe Aunt Bert's Thanksgiving.

I can see Aunt Bert remembering that in the bottom drawer of the breakfront where she keeps her dishes, there is the good tablecloth that she has not used for a while. She gets it out, spreads it on the table, and lets the wrinkles settle while she bakes. Then, she thinks about Uncle Frank, lying in his bed, and remembers that somewhere she has a record of music from WWII that they listened to while they were courting. She finds it when she goes to check on the table cloth and looks up to see the photographs of her family on the shelves between books, knickknacks, and some dust that she doesn´t notice anymore. On the edge of a low shelf was a stack of LPs. Finding one that she recognized, she put it on the player and lifted the needle. The dinger rings, she pokes the cake with a knife--clean! And takes out the cake to cool. Meanwhile, she heads to her room--they have had separate rooms now for some time...just easier that way--and finds her red dress, wrapped in plastic from the drycleaner where she took it last Spring--or maybe two seasons ago? It is a little big on her in some places and a little snug in others, but no matter. She slices the cake, puts a piece on a plate and brings the tray to Uncle Frank. Sitting carefully on the edge of his bed, she cuts bites and feeds him one bit at a time, so patiently and carefully. He can hear the music and thinks he might just remember the connection between it and the woman who is offering morsels of warm chocolate cake. Aunt Bert, when Frank has eaten all he can, goes back to the kitchen, pours a glass of milk, cuts another slice or cake, and sits at the table with the now smooth cloth, and watches the snow fall with a smile on her face.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In the beginning...

The theme of prayer the other night was the question Jesus put to the blind man—What would you have me do for you? The answer was easy for him—I want to see. And so he did, by his faith.

It was an interesting thing to think in what my answer would be—or better, what my answer is, to the same question. And, it came easily to me as well. What would you have me do for you? I would have you write with my life. I want to write more of your story with my life.

And with that came the most marvelous imagery, the most beautiful pictures in my mind and heart. It was something like the wedding feast at Cana, but instead, people gathered around a fire at night, telling stories. All had told one except Jesus, who is laughing and looking deeply as he pokes the embers to stir more flame.

¨There is another tale,¨ he said between the conversations and good spirit…and as people began to realize what he said, they quieted slowly and turned toward him.

¨There is another tale,¨ he said again, ¨But it is not in my bag to bring forth and reveal, though it has its home in me. I know it by twist and surprise, grace and syllable, but again I say, it is not in my bag of stories to spin amidst these sparks and stars. Search your own.¨

Surprised and curious, people unbuckled or untied their purses and satchels, searching for some forgotten hint of the words Jesus might mean.

I folded over the flap of the bag always at my side and slid my hand in as well—moreas a matter of following suit than of hope in finding something new that was not there when I gathered my things for the day in the morning. My fingers touched the familiar edges and shapes lovingly. It was a perfect bag, a comfortable bag, that held all I needed in a day and I kew each ítem in it.

I looked and saw Jesus tilt his head back, pulling the person next to him to his front. Soon, they were both pointing at the stars and marvelling. Then, my fingers went into a far soft corner of my satchel where a coin often likes to hide. There was something new there—smooth and gently curved with a stopper in the top. It fit easily in my palm as I carefully withdrew my hand.

I lifted my own head, staring across the spark-lit darkness. This time Jesus was looking at me. And so were the others.

I held the vessel up to the moon and starlight to see more clearly. As I brought it closer to me, I found myself protecting it almost reverently, as one might the tender first flame of a newly lit candle until it gathers strength.
Jesus passed through the ash and flame, approaching me face to face. His hands wrapped my own for a moment before he moved behind me and put his hands on my shoulders. No one had spoken for several moments.

¨Ink?¨ I asked. I felt him nod gently. My thumbs loosened the cork plug and I tucked it safely in a pocket. That same hand reached again into my bag and found a narrow roll of cloth. Working free what the worn material protected, I brought out a freshly sharpened reed.

I felt Jesus smile and sit down behind me. Others also began to sit, leaning on one another for warmth and the pleasure of close company.

I dipped the reed inside the fine clay bottle and felt the refreshing confidence of river water moving through my being. I smelled lilacs as though I were napping in their branches and oh! A taste filled me entirely! Cinnamon, honey, and clove! The bite of curry, garlic, and pungent, warm, citrus…smoothed with a clean hint of something close to vanilla. The sound of drumming met in my hearing with the calls of birds whose songs were the light for flowers to open! Before my eyes was the very world! People standing shoulder to shoulder, weeping and dancing, people eating, sharing, walking together…

I heard myself sigh in wonder before I spoke. ¨The story I continue is old and true, according to all the faith I have. In the beginning was the Word…¨

Monday, November 16, 2009

La Iglesia del Mar-- The Church of the Sea

Yesterday morning I went to the iglesia del mar-The Church of the Sea. I sat on the beach and prayed my own version of the rosary and was accompanied by flocks of pelicans cruising in synch. I also learned how to tell which line on the water will become a wave. Before I guessed, but now I know. It changes color just before the lift and surge. The color is from the tidal pull that draws up the silt from the ocean bottom and causes the wave to form. God is good to show me a thing like that. Just the sort of thing I think is cool.

And the sort of thing I need to remember on low spirit days like today. So many people have asked me what it is that I miss most. It is not products or places or even particular people. What I miss is having a friend reasonably near...even near enough for a phonecall that doesn´t break the bank. I am grateful for the technology that allows for virtual connection, but it just is not the same. I have so much to say, so many thoughts, that don´t have a place at the moment.

I am reminded of a question from a movie I saw last summer in Mexico. How do you keep a drop of water from drying? Throw it to the sea.

I need to spend more time in that sancuary, I think.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mary by the Sea

Mary By the Sea

It was a question unexpected
while thinking by the sea—

¨Where were you a moment ago?¨

Out far on the mystical assumption of waves
where what the eye no longer sees
is cared for by the sun.
I arrived there, coppery wet
from this font of tidal glory,
full of awe and just a bit of seaweed
caught in a wrinkle of my sleeve.

I went there to pray.

You nodded, and pointed toward a fish
who in the merriment of evening light
seemed to be smiling.
And perhaps that was a wink?

c. MperiodPress

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From the Journal

From the Journal...

I am sitting here listening to the high school chorus practice in the sala de pastoral next door. They sing BEAUTIFULLY... guitar, not piano. Harmonies you could sleep on and from the heart, from the heart. I love listening to them. It reminds me of my kids in other places.

Just returned from reading in English to four year olds and continuing in Spanish the tales of the very small woman who appeared on my thumb one morning while I was walking, sipping my coffee, and looking at the flowers. This time, I told the kids about a group of us going to a Benedictine monastery this past weekend (true--it was lovely) and that the monks sang when they prayed. I went looking for my friend once and she was not to be found. I searched many places and finally found her in the chapel where the monks were singing. SO beautiful was the sound of their voices singing together to praise God, that she was able to float on the musical notes in the air! When I walked in, there she was, floating and sliding and rising on the music while sitting on the useful tree leaf she brings with her everywhere. She had the most wonderful smile on her face when she finally settled back down onto the pew beside me...her eyes were closed...and there were tear droplets on her cheek. I heard her sigh with happiness before she opened her eyes, then she hopped into my hand and we went into lunch.

The other thing that happened recently and that I found fascinating in a way that prompts others to raise their eyebrows and think, ¨Oh, you have waaayyyy too much time on your hands...¨ is that I heard an animal speak in another language for the first time! This monastery was named Lliu-Lliu (zjhew-zjhew). We wondered what kind of name that was and were hypothesizing about its origins as we drove there. We got out of the car and within moments, I said ¨That´s why! Listen!¨and sure enough, the birds that are so present there have a call that is precisely lliu-lliu!
I had always found it interesting that animal sounds are recorded differently in different languages... how your ear can hear either cock-a-doodle-doo or kir-ii-kee-kee, depending on what else your ear has been hearing for your life to date. And that both can be plain as day for those who hear it that way. I had not before considered the influence of culture on sound interpretation, but there you have it as well as in the more affective aspects of a personality and more obvious things like foodways, social norms, etc. Something new to contemplate.

Every day I find myself saying to God, ¨You are so amazing.¨ and ¨Wow, you mean there´s more??¨

Thursday, November 5, 2009

La chincha/The Ladybug

Primero en castellano, luego inglés!
First in Spanish, then English!

De mi diario hoy, 5/11/09
From my journal today, 5/11/09

E acaba de entrar aquí con un regalo para mi--una chincha en su mano. Ella me la pasó a mi mano y después de un rato la salió volando. Quizás un placer muy simple, pero uno que a mi me gustó mucho--especialmente porque ella pensó que tener una chincha en mi mano sería una cosa que me gustaría. Y en ese, ella tuvo razón.

Aquí, ahora, después de la salida de las alumnas, después de la salida de la mayoria de los profe, el silencio viene otra vez... barriendo el polvo de tantos pies saltando y corriendo, dando un masaje a los raíces de los árboles, agradeciendo el sol, y pidiendo la bendición de la luna.

En este silencio hay la promesas del viento de mañana. Los pajaros cantan en su honor, cociendo un hilo de cobre en su capa con tantas bolsillas pequeñas--una por cada estrella. Primero, el silencio las lanza al mar. A la llegada de la luna, la olas ofrecen las estrellas al cielo donde se chispean hasta que los rayos del sol las recogen al amenecer.


E {with whom I live} just came in with a present for me--a ladybug in her hand! She passed it to my hand and after a bit, it flew away. Perhaps a simple pleasure, but one that I enjoyed a lot--especially because she thought that having a ladybug crawl on my hand would be something I would enjoy. She was right!

Here, now, after the students have gone, after most of the teachers have gone, the silence comes again... sweeping the dust of so many feet jumping and running, massaging the roots of the trees, thanking the sun, and asking the blessing of the moon.

In this silence are the promises of tomorrow´s wind. The birds sing in its honor, sewing a copper thread through its cape with so many little pockets--one for each star. First, the silence throws them to the sea. At the coming of the moon, the waves offer them to the heavens where they spark and shine until the rays of the sun collect them at dawn.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Things Seen and Heard, 03-11-09

1. The silver frothed ocean through the green and craggy hills... I was riding in a micro and realized as I was watching the ocean pass by that the hills on the other side were reflected in the same window that provided my view. Both facets of glory were received gratefully in one sense-thirsty stare. It was so very, very, lovely.

2. A seemingly blind man begging on a street corner in perfect English

3. The exquisitely designed fuzzy inside of huge, huge, bean pods and the perfect little cradles that have the beans for dinner nestled within. The beans within the pod are removed, steamed or boiled, and served plain. They are eaten in a variety of ways--my favorite is to remove a tough but ultimately edible husk from the steamed beans, shake salt on the tender, buttery inner bean and pop in the mouth. Sort of like popcorn...

4. Monjita, ven acá, quiero darte un beso. Little/Dear/Sweet Nun, come here, I want to give you a kiss. I turned and there was a kindergartener all set to kiss my cheek...chocolate smeared lips and all.

5. ¿De verdad? Ella vive en su bolsillo? For real? She lives in your pocket? Yet another class of young children have met the verrrryyyy small, shy woman, who landed on my thumb one morning as I was walking and having my coffee. She had a fine and tiny hat on her head, a suitcase in one hand, and a tree leaf in the other. And yes, she happens to live in my pocket. Very shy, you understand... but awfully adventurous to come so far, don´t you think? Wait until you hear some of the other things she has done! I started this story in Grand Coteau and have brought it with me now to both Mexico and Chile... long live the imagination of young children.