Ragan Sutterfield Book, Wendell Berry and the Given Life

We all get asked now and again, “What are you reading?” In the past year or so I’ve read, among other titles, Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life; Teresa of Avila, the Book of My Life; and Gerard Manley Hopkins; the Major Works.Of late, I’ve enjoyed Ragan Sutterfield’s wonderful new book Wendell Berry and the Given Life (Franciscan Media, 2017). I’ve never read any of Berry’s (prolific!) writings—for a garden lady in her sixties that’s hard to believe—and was delighted by author Ragan Sutterfield … [Read More...]

Joy in Dying, Looking Beyond the Light of Day

Short of a miracle, my friend will be gone within the year. There is no question about his diagnosis, cholangiocarcinoma. No question of the prognosis either—as of this writing, only five to ten months left this side of the grave. Surprisingly, while he is not happy to leave his wife and children, he feels blessed.Over the past several weeks he has shared this journey and his views at parishes as part of Lenten programs. I have not walked the path of a terminal diagnosis, and find some of w … [Read More...]

Cucumber Recipes for the August Garden

It’s August and in Central Michigan the farmers’ markets are in full swing. There are family reunions taking place and end of summer gatherings held at a moments notice.Its also time to pick up speed harvesting the veggie patch. I've tried to keep my garden under control with only one or two plantings of a vegetable type, and still there is plenty to give neighbors or donate to food shares—I’ve watered a lot during this year’s drought, so there's that adding to the abundance.The tomatoes … [Read More...]

Decompressing; Photos in a Garden

It's been all too much. We've heard, "The gates of hell will not prevail..." but Satan is sure having a go at it during this Year of Mercy! So much hate, intolerance, and violence.A cartoon making the rounds on social media says, "My desire to be well informed is at odds with my desire to remain sane." After reading that I stepped away from the computer, took my rosary and camera, and heading into the garden to rest my weary heart in the company of the Creator.Here are a few of the … [Read More...]

Impatient to be Fed

Mass was at a church that had been reclassified, rather, to use the Bishop’s words, “suppressed” as an Oratory. After a priest created a rift in the faithful the number of parishioners had dropped. The decline in the worshipping community never regained its former attendance.  I sat back and lifted the kneeler having offered the prayers brought with me. I looked at the many beautiful, although disparate images and statues about the modern octagonal structure. On the wall behind the altar a moder … [Read More...]

Prayers and Pies for Memorial Day

Are you gathering with friends and family after Memorial Day services? Wondering what to bring to the pot-luck? Bring a pie! Its easy to tote, doesn't need ice, can be made ahead and is a fun we-be-fancy dessert to share!Since the Civil War, Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, is a day to honor our deceased veterans. Much like All Souls and All Saints days celebrated in late autumn, families gather and remember the dead and pray for the repose of the soul.During May rhubarb … [Read More...]

This is the Way, Walk in it?

I was walking a river path in the northern third of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. My rubber half-boots made sucking sounds when, avoiding puddles, I walked on the soggy chartreuse grass. The thaw had left the ground and spring rains melted the earth. It was mud season.Near the end of my trek, on the low side of the path, was a narrowing between trees. On each side grew tangles of brambles. Across the whole of the path was a sizeable puddle…and a quandary. How was I going to get to the other sid … [Read More...]

The Increasing Kindly Light of Lent

A couple of decades ago, while employed at a large retail greenhouse, I met a lovely woman 12 years my senior, whose company made the hours pass quickly. We often worked together in the hoop-houses — plastic greenhouses framed with aluminum ribs — at the back of the retail area. Those production houses were the hottest of all 20, being low and lacking adequate ventilation.Each spring we’d spend 50 or more hours a week, often in 90-degree heat, hauling potting mix, containers and 200 feet of h … [Read More...]

Demons Love a Well-swept House

During Lent I place in the oratory a small plaque with two words: Vacare Deo, to empty oneself for God. It’s a reminder for spiritual cleaning.As it’s midwinter, and I’m already bored with being indoors, I am looking for things to do. This translates to “it’s time to clean up,” and I try to organize the attic recently assaulted with boxes of Christmas decorations. The basement could do with a bit of organizing too.When cleaning things up, indoors or out, we often open up space.As a ga … [Read More...]

Transformed by God’s Word

This is a lovely book by Stephen Binz about seeing anew the power of Lectio Divina when combined with Visio Divina, praying with icons. The images of icons are created by Ruta and Kaspars Poikans.Sometimes Lectio Divina can become stale, performed out of love for God's word instead of embraced with delight at what he might be saying to us. This book brings its readers to illumination, a visual sense combined with The Word brightening the mind.The author walks you along a path of … [Read More...]