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A Perfect Day

Today

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze
that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house
and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,
a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies
seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking
a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,
releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting
into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.  – Billy Collins
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On the Slant

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant –
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind – Emily Dickinson

What better time to add a chapter to the adventures of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Vase than Mother’s Day, celebrated here in the States on Sunday, May 13 this year.

The vase has traveled some this past year, filled through the seasons, occasions and just because, but, it had taken a bit of a hiatus until it reappeared once more this weekend at a visit to Jennifer and Jason’s house!

What a pleasant surprise it was to be greeted this Mother’s Day with the latest traveling arrangement! Nestled inside the clear, round vase were small wooden eggs, repurposed from a forgotten display. The eggs helped to hold up stock, Hypericum berries, and glorious calla lilies whose velvety petals added to the allure of the presentation.

Not only was I honored to be the recipient of this sweet arrangement, I was also impressed at my daughter’s floral creativity . . .

. . . and, her culinary flair. Jennifer has always employed an inherently unique ability to put a tasteful array of ingredients together that whet one’s appetite in flavorful bliss. Rosemary coated chicken breasts sat on a bed of sautéed arugula with lighted warmed grapes! Topped with shavings of Gruyère, it was quite delicious.

We ate, we talked, we checked out J & J’s emerging garden, and we visited a nearby gardening center before I headed back home, my vase travelling with securely on the floor of the car. I was sated, content, and grateful for a most “motherly made” afternoon.

The saga of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Vase begins here.

When I saw a notification that there was to be a spring concert at the Center in Palos Park, I marked it on my calendar in sincere hopes of attending.

My hopes were realized on a recent Sunday afternoon. As the day’s shadows lengthened, my dear friend, Kathryn, and I climbed the stone steps up to the The Center. Kathryn is an artist gifted in finding beauty in unexpected places. I hoped that she would enjoy the concert, but, I instinctively knew that she would appreciate the serenity of The Center and the Wayside Chapel.

Since my wintertime post about The Wayside Chapel at The Center, I have managed occasional walks around the grounds, taken photos as the season slowly changed from winter to spring, and subscribed to their online newsletter and notifications. I have come to realize that there are even more activities than I first imagined and vowed to take advantage of some of them.

I finally did.

 

Isn’t this a charming little cottage? It is a private residence on the grounds. I did not take photos up close, though I might have peaked in the windows. I could not, however, resist this appealing view.

We wandered about, enjoying the sweeping swathes of daffodils and Siberian swill (Scilla), the pathways and birds flitting about, and the quiet serenity of the space before us.  There is a certain calm and peace that envelopes pilgrims who wander these paths. It is hard to describe but quite palpable.

Soon, very soon, we walked over to the Lodge, following the sweet restrains of vocalists rehearsing for their performance. We were greeted by several women, one who I later discovered was the pastor. Kathryn and I found seats, chatted as long-time friends do, and waited for the concert to begin.

Oh, what joy this was! The Center Singers opened with “By Our Love”, accompanied with piano and percussion. As the concert carried us through gospel and jazz music, the old familiar hymns took on a celebratory air, with a sprinkling of hand clapping, foot tapping, and sighs of “oh, I remember that one”.

As the music ended, refreshments were offered – and we accepted. Who can say no to chocolate chip cookies? Two large trays of homemade delight along with comfortable conversation with other attendees added to the experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We casually wandered around the lodge, enjoying the ambiance of such a welcoming place, chatting, taking photos, content in the moment.

“I’ll Fly Away” is a favorite of mine. The Center Singers performed a medley of songs that included it. I have posted other renditions before, so offer you this rendition that I discovered on YouTube.

 

 

 

Illustration atop this post is from the concert’s program. 

Sweet Dispositions

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze
William Wordsworth
 
A “host of golden daffodils” has, at long, last arrived.
They were hesitant this year, poking tentatively through the soil, reluctant to display their papery blooms. It has been a particularly  long, cold interlude of expectation for which we are now being rewarded.
 
Glorious clusters of golden beauties are flirting, showing off in groups, alone, in rows and en masse.
 
They are, indeed, “dancing in the breeze” and a delight to behold as they brighten our days with their blousy skirts, vibrant colors and sweet disposition.
 Happy May Day (and Rabbit! Rabbit!)  to all.

Innocence

I laughed, not at Dee, but, at myself as I recognized my own unique abilities to trip, to stumble, to drop things. My own mea culpas emerged as I read of her many public ones in her time as a postulate, a novice, a nun, a scholastic.

I cringed, not at Dee, but at myself as I recognized in her words my own younger self; unsure, exacting, looking toward a sainthood neither of us could achieve.

I learned, from Dee, as I became transfixed at the strict order in the life of a Benedictine nun, especially in the 1950’s and ’60, and at the beauty, the solitude, the silence and the strictures of living in community.

I cried. In the end, I cried, not in sadness but in humbled appreciation for the well-wrought words and graciously shared memories of Dee Ready. Her journey in belief, her years in the convent, and her profound honesty expressing her life-long search for self makes this a compelling book to read.

As I closed “Prayer Wasn’t Enough; A Convent Memoir”, tears streamed down my cheeks as a surge of gratitude grabbed my heart in the gift of the blessing of Dee Ready’s book.

I first met Dee through her blog, coming home to myself, about eight years or so ago. I hovered around her posts for a time before finally commenting, appreciating her writing, her stories, her honesty and her kindness. Over a period of time, Dee posted memories of her life in the convent, as well as many other stories of her remarkable life. What shined in all her posts is her humility, her kindness, and her advocacy for those less fortunate. Over the years since I first discovered Dee’s blog she has become a friend and an inspiration.

I was, as all of her readers were, excited to hear that her memoir was about to be published and anxious to read it once the book arrived at my door.

“Prayer Wasn’t Enough . . . ” opens with a transcendent moment in Dee’s life that leads her to become a Benedictine nun. Her story takes us to the convent adjacent to the college she attended and through her many years at the convent and in the schools she taught at as a scholastic nun.

There is so much packed into this precious book, from the more intimate details of a nun’s habit to the intricacies involved in daily service when living in community, I found myself fascinated by Dee’s descriptions of the well-ordered daily life in the Benedictine nuns, the Hours, the way the sisters were sent out to teach in the Catholic schools in a wide area through many states. I was amazed by the support Dee received in going forward with pursuing higher education during summer months and I laughed out loud at some of the small acts of defiance the younger nuns in her order acted out.

This book is as much about Dee’s acceptance of self as it is about her life as a nun. It is a fascinating read that I hope you will soon discover.

For an insightful interview of Dee Ready, please check out Debra’s blog at https://breathelighter.wordpress.com/2018/04/16/dee-ready-an-interesting-read/#comment-30900

Prayer Wasn’t Enough by Dee Ready

Once Loved Things

Rescuer of Once Loved Things:

The Art of Donna Castellanos

Dressed to the 9’s’

On a blustery Sunday, half past high noon, heading home from church, I found myself annoyed at the inclement weather which seemed bent on bending me away from my walks in the woods. On the spot (well, actually behind the wheel) I decided to take advantage of the time on my hands. I wrote Tom a text so he wouldn’t worry, and headed over to the Elmhurst Art Museum to see Donna Castellanos’ acclaimed exhibit.

The Elmhurst Art Museum sits steps away from the Elmhurst Public Library in Wilder Park. It is a small but remarkable gem in the western suburbs and hosts exciting, innovative artwork, community programs, experiential teaching, gatherings and more. The museum also houses one of only three remaining homes designed by Mies van der Rohe.

Using rescued items as varied as train tracks and typewriter keys, encyclopedia covers to sheet music, brass rings and old musical instruments, Donna Castellanos’s work invites visitors to not only enjoy her artistry, but, to imagine new ways to employ old things.

I wandered this small museum, amazed at the spectrum of Donna’s work and in awe of her vision. I felt the challenge of her art that implores the viewer to see everyday items in imaginative, fresh ways and dare to envision a renewed look in the “things” we have, we find, we toss away.

Rather than ramble on with my words, I invite you to click onto the photos – once, maybe twice – and look at the mixture of media employed by this remarkable woman. Her masterful marriage of  encyclopedia pages, old lace and Lionel train tracks, acrylic paint, fibers and tattered lace all make for a happily ever after in the innovative exhibit. This is a mere sampling of what this exciting exhibition holds.

I also invite you to head over to the Elmhurst Art Museum to experience Donna’s artwork on a personal level. Bring your kids or grandkid. The exhibit has several experiential areas for children to make artwork of their own.

 

 

https://www.elmhurstartmuseum.org/exhibitions/rescuer-once-loved-things-art-donna-castellanos

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