I usually hate it when people ask me what my favorite season is—after all, each one is really beautiful and special and has amazing things that happen. Yet I will entrust my readers with this secret: my favorite season is undoubtedly autumn. I love it all: the colors, the smells, the food (I will eat
pumpkin!), and the clothes—I love sweaters and scarves and jackets and boots! It’s just the best season: not too cold, not too warm. As a kid, I loved it even more because it meant school was starting (and I got to go back to school shopping—I LOVE OFFICE SUPPLIES!). Now, I love fall also because it brings my duckies back to me and I get to be a campus minister again.
Bringing Fall into my House!
In Dallas, I never really got to appreciate fall. Only some trees changed—mostly it was just green (if we had rain) or dull brown (if not). My first year in Indianapolis, I walked around that whole season in a daze. While I certainly complained about how cold it was (seriously, it was Dallas Christmas weather in September—and still is), I was also marveling at the colors. I remember one day, I actually called my mom because I just could not contain my joy at the colors. All the hues: bright orange, burnt orange, yellow, gold, red… it’s all so beautiful!
Somehow—and I’m not sure how—I forgot all of this recently. I’ve been so busy and exhausted that I actually forgot that God, my favorite artist, was getting ready to bring out again my favorite of all his art shows. And, as usual, I have the sisters of Providence to thank for re-awakening me to my joy.
So, as you might have noticed, I am going to interrupt my re-telling of this past summer to update you about the now. I would never want anyone to think that my only joy came from living in the past.
This weekend (Friday and Saturday) was my first actual “weekend” since the students got back. They’ve been in classes for a full month now and today (Saturday) is only my third day off in all that time (I’ll probably post this Sunday—I’m writing from home and don’t have internet here at my house). I’ve been busy and while I love my job, I have realized that if I don’t force myself to take time off, not only will I never write for this blog, but I will also soon be committed in an institution or hospitalized. I’ve been “running myself ragged,” as a coworker pointed out two days ago. I’ve become my least favorite kind of person in the world—a workaholic. It’s a bad habit, but at least I come by it honestly (thank you, Willys and Ponzers).
But, I have managed to have some fun and rest in the midst of it.
Last weekend, my best friend came to town: S. Hannah Corbin (not to be confused with my other best friend Hannah, Hannah Mugel—who is living a rather fabulous life in Brazil right now). We spent parts of a wonderful weekend together, broken up by a trip to Chicago on Saturday for her and a full day’s work on Saturday for me (but Friday was my FIRST full day off since the kids got back, so yay for that!). Last Friday we spent the day doing all kinds of glorious things— mostly cooking (because when you get two gluten free people together, what else will they do but revel in food? Besides, Hannah is an AMAZING cook). We made granola, gluten free brownies, Edamame salad, and lots of other yummies (the Edamame was with the other girls that evening). Our friends (and sisters) Patty and Arrianne came over and we walked through the woods on campus, then Patty left and our friend Tracey came over, and we basically spent an evening together enjoying what must definitely be a foretaste of heaven—both the company and the food. Our conversations ranged from discussing potential solutions to problems some of us are facing to solving all the world’s problems (the solutions are love and peace for all of creation—you’re welcome). Every time I’m with Arrianne, Tracey, and Hannah (all together or just a couple of us), I am both encouraged and challenged to be a better person, to be more whole, more open, more loving. These women truly make me want to be a better human being—and I think that slowly they’re also helping me become one! Through them, God is truly molding me into a “more loving and human shape” as the prayer goes. I’ll write a lot later about the times we had together this summer, too, but Friday evening last weekend was exactly what the had doctor ordered for me as a cure for the blues and exhaustion I’ve been experiencing. There’s nothing like being loved to make you feel better about life in general!
So, that was last weekend. And I can tell you, I felt like a new person going back to work—and I hope that I was a better minister for it.
This weekend I got to experience even more blessings! I went to the Woods for the first time since I moved back (unless you count the two hour stop my dad and I made back in August to go to the book fair, but I didn’t get to see very many people that time and I didn’t get to stay or relax). It was just so nice to be home and talk with Dawn and discuss my upcoming Associates Commitment, as well as seeing many of my wonderful sisters (and a hug from Sister Denise!). I even got to hang out with Robyn from the White Violet Center (see two posts ago…)!!
Friday afternoon, Dawn and I had a great meeting and chat and then we went to the Fall Equinox prayer service to welcome in fall. I have to say, that hour or so of prayer was really helpful for me to reorient me towards gratefulness. I was able to re-focus myself and see all the wonderful things around me. I loved hearing the wisdom from the older sisters, sharing their own gratefulness. At the beginning of the service, we were all called to “throw the circle” as the Celts would, only instead of drawing a circle around us, we each introduced ourselves and named one thing we loved about fall. Almost everyone mentioned the colors, which reminded me of what an artistic community it is that I have become associated with. But there were two sisters who brought up the science of the color change in leaves and I learned something new—that the colors have always been there, they were just covered by the green chloroplasts. When the chloroplasts die, the other colors are able to shine vibrantly. One of the sisters said in turn that if we allow our own chloroplasts to die, something even more beautiful can come forward. There is something so wonderful about being with a group of women of varying ages, some of whom are much older and closer to God than I, and hear their wisdom and their world view—more challenging, more encouragement.
At the end of the service, Sister Mo invited each of us to take one of the small pumpkins or gourds from the center table and to offer a prayer of thankfulness. One of my very favorite sisters came forward first and she picked a sweet little pumpkin then sat back down to give her prayer of thanks. Her words were beautiful, thanking God for the beauty of “this little creature,” her little pumpkin. I cannot capture any more of her beautiful words, but I remember too well how sweet and how gentle her prayer of thanks was—more “childlike” in the Gospel sense than any child. This sister in particular always reminds me to be grateful for little things. She’s the same sister who would leave the comic strips outside my door when I lived in the convent. She loves to make people smile and feel special—even little pumpkins.
After such a special day, I was sad this morning to leave the Woods. I’ve grown accustomed to a few tears joining me as I drive back through Terre Haute, down 65 and towards Indianapolis. But today, I was able to redirect my thoughts and bring back my gratefulness from last night, thinking of my next great adventure: a new community!
Today was the first meeting of my Providence Circle, and while our numbers were lower than expected, we still had a wonderful time (one of our members is traveling in Ireland—lucky duck!—and another had a death in the family—please pray for her and her friends/family). We didn’t spend much time talking about the book we’re discussing, but we talked about everything else! It was just so wonderful to have the support and fellowship of the two women that I was blessed to be with. I can already tell that they are going to be a huge blessing in my life—in fact, I think that they already are. Each of us are in a situation where it’s difficult to find community where we are and I hope that each of us can find community in this circle.
To bring the weekend full circle, I dropped by the store on my way home and while I was there, I noticed that there was a display of fall-scented candles. Now my house smells like fall. With my own little pumpkin, it is bringing my favorite season inside my little house and keeping me company (see picture above).
I’m also working diligently on my projects for the Oktoberfest in Rolla (in two weeks!): crocheted saint dolls. Right now, I have St. Francis of Assisi and Joan of Arc hanging out in my living room. Hopefully, they will soon be joined by St. Patrick, St. Kateri, and OL Guadalupe. I’m also going to try and have some Pope Fracis dolls and a few plain priest dolls (nuns are complicated, but I’m working on a St. Mother Theodore doll—it’s hard to get the habit just right). So, if you’re in Rolla and come to the Oktoberfest, check us out. If it goes well, I’m going to start an etsy shop. Heaven knows I need some extra income with the paycheck I get working in ministry, especially when you figure in those loans I need to be paying off.
St. Francis of Assisi
St. Joan of Arc (with removable sword!)
And, just so that you all don’t think I hate my job: I am loving having my students back and meeting the new freshmen. Women’s Ministry continues to be my favorite program in the BCC—I think it is truly where the women find their own community, their own safe place to be accepted. Our new program—Sol (Saints for Our Lives)—is also going well. And, I am also enjoying working with so many great people—the other campus ministers, mostly, but also a couple people from the Archdiocese who, when they’re not making things difficult for the sake of bureaucracy, are actually really fun to be around.
All in all, things are busy (sorry for the unreturned or long-owed calls, friends), but they are GOOD. And all the discernment I am doing about next year has absolutely nothing to do with how much I do or do not love my job, because I L-O-V-E it. Truly.
More about that later.
Back to last summer…