Archive for October, 2009

A Cautious Hope

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It makes me nervous to actually write the words…dare I say it? We’re in escrow! This is the northward view from our new house(!), which we’ll hopefully be able to truly call our own  in a little over a month. The air vent you see in the bottom right is on the roof of the root cellar on the property.

It’s a dream.  A dream I’m afraid can be snatched away at any moment…but, as I said before, there is value in any dream. So we wait and hope and prepare. It’s possible that just after thanksgiving we may be in a home with a greenhouse, a root cellar, and a chicken coop. Everything we’ve been working toward. Everything we’ve hoped for.

It takes a willingness to change–change jobs, change level of convenience, change the entire pace of life. But we’re ready. More than ready…we’re excited for it.

We’ll be moving two hours away from where we are now, away from the smog and traffic and LED billboards. We’ll be actual country folks, with an acre and a half to call our own. We can have chickens and goats and bees, and we’ll can and pickle and freeze our summer harvest so we can taste a little of July’s blessings in January. We’ve already decided what to call our little homestead: abbondanza. Abundance.

And if this dream is fulfilled, if we actually get to live here, then we will always do our best to share in the abundance. For it isn’t really ours in the first place…our breaths are on borrowed time, so how could we even think that we could actually own a piece of earth that has seen tens of thousands of millenia? But for this time on earth, let us be able to share the blessings. May it be a place of safety, of welcoming, and of community.

We wait and we hope.

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A Morning Prayer

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My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

 ~ Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude, Part 2, Chapter 2

Blessings of Bounty

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I’ve talked before about getting food from a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Here is some of our seasonal bounty, along with fresh baked rosemary potato bread. Shortly after we baked the bread, we spread some of our homemade butter over two (or three) steaming slices.

One of my favorite parts about getting food from a CSA is the challenge and surprise of seasonal eating. I love it. I probably would never have bought sunchokes or persimmons, and yet here I am eating them with delight.  Autumn is no longer the time for cucumbers or peppers (and certainly not asparagus!), although you’d never know it from walking into a supermarket.  It’s no wonder that eating seasonally isn’t a mainstream practice; it’s hard to even know what that means without being pointed in the right direction. All of the choice that is available to us in the grocery stores have actually stripped us from understanding the natural limitations of the seasons. We’re actually quite spoiled when it comes to our food choices, but we don’t know it–to most it’s just “normal.”

This is one of the beauties of eating seasonally–we become more attuned to the rhythms of the earth. No…we participate in the rhythms of the earth. We become part of it. We appreciate it.

And we are grateful.

Still Dreaming

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Our dream of a true homestead may be closer than we ever could have anticipated. I’ll post more when we know more, but for now, we’re saying some extra prayers.

Someone Else’s Life

Yesterday I happened to be in the neighborhood of the school where I used to teach first grade. I was walking to a local pharmacy, and as I walked by the school, I looked into the school yard. Some class was just walking back from the computer lab. Girls in little jumpers were skipping, boys were hopping–it was all they could do to contain their energy in those small bursts. Their teacher was giving them “the look” to keep them quiet through the transition. Ahh, a morning at school, a half hour before recess. It was all too familiar–and yet, I realized, it was someone else’s life.

It’s strange sometimes to travel the windy road of memory. I know I traveled the path, but it somehow looks different when I look back from the other direction.

I suppose this is what it feels like in the middle of one’s adulthood. The experience of college seems so important and yet my concerns from that period so irrelevant (of course, it didn’t feel that way at the time!).  They are someone else’s concerns now.  Likewise, my time teaching feels like yesterday and a billion years ago all mashed into one. My past, someone else’s present. Perhaps seminary will feel that way too, someday.

Recognizing my life in someone else’s and someone else’s life in mine is part of what connects us all. Out of our experiences come compassion, empathy, understanding. All of this is accompanied by bittersweet nostalgia, relief, yearning, and hope.  Just another way to connect.

The unknown path

These days are full of joy and uncertainty. As the nightfall arrives earlier and the air begins to cool, we sit at the kitchen table each evening for dinner and the talk inevitably turns to the future. It’s exciting and scary in a new way; in the past our anticipation centered around the wedding (in the early days), or a new job, or starting school. Now the talk centers around having children, buying a house, moving to a new town, and above all, our shared vocation. We know we’ve been placed on this journey together for a reason. It feels like we’re beginning to understand that reason a little more clearly.

Discernment is a lesson that I continually learn. What is from God? What is sourced in my own will? Am I trying to force the issue? Am I scared of what God really wants me to do? Do I even know what God wants me to do? Do I have enough faith?

It takes patience and trust to properly discern such heavy issues. Sometimes the answers don’t come for months. Sometimes they don’t come in the way I expect. So discernment of God’s desire is important, because if I was left to my own devices, I would craft for everything to happen now and under my terms. Of course, this would inevitably lead to disaster.

It’s a good thing God’s in charge.

In the meantime, I have to settle for the tension of uncertainty. Like the autumn days, there is inevitability in the air. “But not yet,” the night’s breeze whispers, “Not yet.” We continue to try to discern to the best of our ability, and I try to remain patient in the unknowing.

Thank goodness we’re in good hands.

These many beautiful days

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These many beautiful days cannot be lived again. But they are compounded in my own flesh and spirit, and I take them in full measure toward whatever lives ahead.

-Daniel Berrigan, SJ