Uncontrollably Unabashed

By Melodious Monk

This past Sunday, our marching band was part of a parade celebrating the 350th anniversary for a nearby town. Marching down the narrow streets, I noticed a particularly happy group along the side of the road — young kids! It’s fun to see how the rhythm of the drums, or the sparkle of the uniform, or the sound of the instruments, the twirling flags, or just the sheer size of the long marching unit makes kids smile.

You know when a toddler or infant is excited and they just start flailing their arms and body with lots of energy and smiles?  They aren’t controlled enough yet to do much else, but when something inside is sparked to life, they respond with a type of dancing (of sorts!) and there is absolutely no care of what they might look like! Some of us older kids, I’m afraid, are often too embarrassed to follow this impulse to dance. We care what we look like, and perhaps we are afraid we might look like the uncontrolled toddler trying to dance. The young child doesn’t care about pride, or how they look — they’re just excited and want to express that innate joy. Marching in the parade, I wondered if this instinctive response to express, to dance, to let oneself be sparked by joy, is part of what Jesus means when He tells us to live child-like.

So I wonder, what form of control often robs me of this unabashed joy as an adult? Is it simply pride?

The Community of Jesus

 

Sunset

By Renaissance Girl

I visited my grandmother yesterday for her 95th birthday.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen her.  She was in her bed by the window, mint green sweat suit with embroidered flowers peeking out from under the covers, hair in wild curls against the pillow.  I gave her a hug and kiss and said “Wow, Grandma, 95 – Happy Birthday!”  She smiled and answered “I know….., I don’t know what’s next from here.”  The comment caught me off guard.  It wasn’t depressed or negative, really just a musing but so much was held in those words.

We sat together and ate the pepperoni pizza that was her birthday request.  We talked about family and birds and books and food, and we talked about giving up her apartment and giving away her things and the fact that she might not actually be able to walk again.  The time went by fast and when it was time to go, I wanted to take her with me – to whisk her away from those sterile halls and build her a room full of color, surrounded by trees that birds could sing in. As I headed home, I pondered how our perspective changes from childhood to adulthood – how the things that seemed important as a kid, like who gave the best Christmas presents, which grandparent was the most “fun,” who let you eat candy – are along the way rendered irrelevant by a new awareness.  Here was a woman who suffered and kept going, who loved her husband and watched him die first, who raised her children with the best she could instill in them, who made mistakes and picked back up, and who loved her grandchildren and great-grandchildren with all her heart and now is graciously awaiting “what’s next from here.” Somehow I feel that, on her birthday, I got a gift too.

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Photo By Kate Shannon

 

Perspective

By Renaissance Girl

This past Sunday was the 14th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church of the Transfiguration. I can hardly believe 14 years have gone by since that incredibly hot day in June of 2000 when we filled the church with family and friends to celebrate the event that only a few short years earlier had seemed both thrilling and daunting!

The homilist on Sunday had us stand up with a series of questions – “If you were baptized in this church, please stand. . . If you were married here, please stand. . . had the funeral of a loved one. . . have come in for private prayer, . . . etc.” until everyone in the church was on their feet. It was a meaningful moment as we reflected on how we have filled the church with worship over the past 14 years and the church, in turn, has inspired in us a desire to raise our worship to meet the God who made this building possible.

What made me pause and think on this day, though, was when I looked around and realized there is a generation under 14 years old who have never known anything different. This has always been their church, the only one they have known. They were in strollers while their parents were having their faith stretched believing for this building and the art that fills it. They were learning to walk as the newly vowed walked the mosaic processional path to make their profession. Their generation will see other change and growth but they will never stand in the concrete shell of this new church celebrating the Easter Vigil.

I felt suddenly small in the face of how quickly time goes and how, to each generation, God brings the challenges and blessings that are perfect for them. And I felt a wave of gratitude and found myself whispering a prayer of thanks to have been part of the generation to build this house.

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Unity

By Sr. Nun Other

We recently celebrated a special birthday for one of our Sisters. It was a lovely party, with many sisters sharing in preparations, and contributing a variety of creative gifts. It was beautiful. It was delicious. And it was fun. But more importantly, it was a unifying moment, when we each brought the best of who we are. I was reminded of Psalm 122:2,3: Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem stands built up, a city knitted together. Other translations use the word compacted, having all necessary components or features, and yet another reads a city that is at unity in itself. I find inward unity elusive; anxiety where I could have faith, anger when I need compassion, fighting for my own way, saying yes when I really mean no. At unity within myself – that’s my hope, prayer, and personal journey.

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Special Beer Batter: Recipes From A Monastery Kitchen

By Gourmet Nun

When it is a Sister’s big birthday at the Convent we try to make it as special as we can.  Last week for her 60th birthday the Sister celebrating it chose for a theme “Spring on Cape Cod.”

Decorations included a variety of spring flowers and plants, forsythia and pussy willow and beautiful sea shells.

The menu was “Fish and Chips” served in divided little baskets. The atmosphere was purposefully casual with lots of fun and merry making. The food owed its success to this simple yet “Special Beer Batter” used for frying. 

Special Beer Batter
1 cup flour
1 can beer
1 egg
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon mustard
2 cups crushed potato chips

Pour beer into flour ’til thin.  Add 1 beaten egg, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Dip fish or chicken in the batter and then roll in potato chip crumbs. Fry at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 3-4 minutes. 

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Puff Pancake: Recipes From A Monastery Kitchen

By Gourmet Nun
 
Birthdays in the convent are  quite celebratory centering a great deal around the meals. Today one of the sisters is having a birthday, so instead of eating breakfast in  silence as we normally do, there will be much laughter, chatter and  many exclamatory “Oohs” and “Aahs” as her meal is brought to her.
 

In this case she has selected a special puff pancake filled with fresh fruit, breathtakingly beautiful as it comes to her piping hot straight from the oven, all puffy and golden, with a whipped cream garnish and a crisp side of bacon curls.

What a happy entrance into the beginning of her new year. It’s hard to believe that so little effort could have produced something so impressive and delicious.
 

Puff Pancake

2 eggs

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
dash of vanilla or almond
pinch of salt
 

Beat eggs and milk together, Gradually stir in flour and flavorings. Pour into a buttered bake dish and bake @ 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 -15 minutes. Fill with fruit and garnish quickly. Serve immediately.

 
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With Unveiled Faces

By Renaissance Girl 
This past weekend was the Gala celebration of Gloriae Dei Cantores 25th Anniversary.  A culmination of 25 years of following the Holy Spirit, and watching him take a small group of people and transform them and their sometimes feeble efforts into an expression of God’s love and healing. The church sparkled on Friday and Saturday evenings, bouquets bursting with peonies, roses, snapdragons. Sparkling branches seemed to bring out the vibrant colors and light of the mosaic and I found myself constantly being drawn to look at the apse.  
 
Of all the pieces, “Lo, the Full, Final Sacrifice” by Finzi caught me off guard. It is a stunning interpretation of God’s love and sacrifice for us in giving his son. The harmonies literally seemed to carry the words through my skin and into my heart. The piece reaches a high point with this text, made all the more meaningful by the face of Christ overlooking us all from the apse. And it brought with it the overwhelming sense that this is where it is all heading — what we are all striving towards. 
 
“When this dry soul those eyes shall see,
and drink the unseal’d source of Thee.
When Glory’s sun faith’s shades shall chase,
and for thy veil give me thy face.”
 
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Recipes From A Monastery Kitchen

 
I had an unexpected surprise this week. I was invited to one of our Advent Teas for a friend’s special birthday.  I have always loved the teas and this one was especially lovely. So beautifully and tastefully decorated for the season with rich colors, varying shades of red and burgundy with a pomegranate tucked in here and there. Just sitting in the room drinking in the beauty and listening to lovely music presented by the string players was so enjoyable that I almost forgot food was going to be served until I spotted the menu.
 
In addition to the plated selection of special tea sandwiches and scones, a lovely variety of choice desserts was also offered.  It was a hard decision to make but after carefully surveying each of the various elegant creations, I chose the Lemon glazed sponge cake garnished with fresh raspberries and was so happy that I did….  a perfect ending to a perfect tea, and a perfect dessert to keep in mind when you may want something that’s not overly rich yet luscious and attractive for a holiday meal.

 Sponge Cake

6          eggs, whites and yolks separated
1          cup sugar
1          Tablespoon lemon juice
1          cup flour, sifted

Preheat oven to 325° Fahrenheit. Separate egg whites and yolks. Beat egg whites until peaks form. In separate bowl, beat yolks and sugar until light yellow. Add lemon juice to yolk mixture. Fold in sifted flour. Fold in egg whites just until mixed. Put mixture in ungreased tube pan or individual small cake or muffin tins. Bake 35-40 minutes for tube pan or 15-20 minutes for individual tins until golden brown or until cake springs to touch. Cool.

Lemon Curd
6          lemons zested to equal 2 Tablespoons + juice of lemons to equal 1 cup
½         cup butter, softened
2          cups sugar
4          eggs

Grate zest from lemons. Cut lemons in half; squeeze juice into a measuring cup. Beat butter and 2 cups of sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Gradually add lemon juice to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended after each addition; stir in zest. Mixture will look curdled. Transfer to a 3 quart microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high 5 minutes, stirring at 1 minute intervals.  Microwave at 30 second intervals, 1 to 2 minutes or until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon and starts to mound slightly when stirred. Place plastic wrap on top of warm curd to keep film from developing and chill 4 hours until firm.

Garnish cake as desired with curd, whipped cream and berries.

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Late Have I Loved You

by Artist Eye

My Godmother was the most creative person I knew when I was a kid. Handmade, never before imagined, uniquely crafted items arrived in the mail for Christmas and birthdays. A visit to her home always included a tour of the latest renovation, remodeling, or re-purposing she had dreamed up. No wall was too sacred to demolish, no paint color too outrageous to try, and no material too unfamiliar to hazard. She was not, as it happened, a Christian. I have often thought that God knew that that department of my little life was well in hand and so He gave me something else He knew I needed. My Aunt Dorcas had an eye for beauty and life. She was not about the status quo or worrying about what the whole neighborhood thought. She was what I now think of as a model of the “courage to create.” Being creative can sometimes seem like a dicey business so I thank God for those people I’ve known who were willing to run the risk.

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Of Thee I Sing

 
On the 4th of July, my sisters and I inevitably woke to the sound of popping fire crackers. A quick peek out the window revealed our father in action. He crouched low, put match to wick and ran, hugely amused with himself. It was his day and our day, and I suspect my mother loved it that way. Some years we went to my uncle’s farm for an afternoon picnic. A wagon was hitched to the tractor and we piled in, lugging a charcoal grill, hot dogs, potato salad, and baked beans slow cooked in molasses and brown sugar. We enjoyed a bumpy ride over uneven pasture land to some scenic spot my uncle had selected, leaving semi-interested cows in our wake.

In the evening, Dad took us to a local fire-works display, hosted each year by the volunteer fire department. The firemen raised money by selling such things as cotton candy, peanuts in the shell, and green pepper and sausage sandwiches. We pitched pennies at white china dishes and enjoyed numerous games of ring toss, then spread blankets on a nearby hillside for a great view of the fireworks.

We grew up small town, Middle America and were taught to love our country. My parents, who lived through the great depression and subsequent war years, understood the privilege (and fragility) of liberty.

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