Sunday, February 28, 2010

The second Sunday of Lent. At this point I'm begining to waver in my resolve - it happens every year. The excesses of Carnival have been forgotten and I'm starting to think longingly of Easter feasting. The next week and a half are ideal times for me to plan my Easter meal, if I wait too much longer, I'm completely in Lenten mode, and my Easter planning begins to look decidely penitential - not exactly festive.

I love this time of Lent, because it is such a challenge. The scents of meats and cheeses are so much stronger, and I begin to appreciate aromas in a way that is impossible during the year. The scent of heaven in these weeks is meatier than it ought to be.

These days are ideal for projects which otherwise might be interupted by meals - throwing, sewing, writing, and of course, deep cleaning. During Lent, my writing and reading take a serious turn and I try to infuse my reading and writing time with ritual and beauty. Tea is essential, partially because it is warm, soothing, and has lovely steam rising from the cup, and partially because it is the only thing I can consume on every day of Lent. With my cup in hand, my icon around me, a good pen, a good book, and good music, I feel almost sensually indulgent - even fasting.

Monday, February 15, 2010

"I believe in nights."

~Rainer Maria Rilke

For some reason, I love roaming the house while my husband is sleeping. I like the dark quiet around me, I like sipping tea and reading, or writing. I like cleaning best of all. When I clean at night, I know it will last til morning. I know the empty sink will greet me and the swept floors will welcome my feet. I know the spider living up under the cupboards will welcome the fresh Verbena scent and weave it into her late-night web. The spider only comes down from her tucked-away home at night. She's delicate and lovely. She weaves her webs while I clean, and I am alway careful of her work. A single spider seems to belong in the kitchen - many spiders in the kitchen is problematic - but one spider, essential.

This night I am getting my week in order. Tomorrow is the last day of Carnival, and I have to prepare for Lent. I am making peirogi to store, cutting fabric to cover our statues and images. I am changing the sheets and the tablecloth to purple as well, baking bread, and starting krupnik so that it will be ready for Easter.

In the stores, Easter candy has just replaced Valentine's chocolates. It never ceases to amaze me at how quickly we switch from one holiday to another - with no interest at all in the times between celebrations. How can we truly rejoice at Easter if we skip over the darkness and denial of Lent? Lent for me is a time of reflection and cleansing of body, mind, and soul. I enjoy throwing myself into the fasting. I enjoy the time of reflection, and of course, I enjoy decorating, and dressing for Lent. But enjoyment is only a part of it; through my reflection and cleansing, through fasting, prayer, and even through the Lenten theme in my home and clothing, I come out of Lent renewed, refreshed, and closer to my Lord. The season that prepares me to live out the Easter season well and joyfully.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"What fields are fragrant as your hands?
You feel how external fragrance stands
upon your stronger resistance.
Stars stand in images above.
Give me your mouth to soften love;
ah, your hair is all in idleness."

~Rainer Maria Rilke

St. Valentine's Day is on its way! This year it is on Sunday, and outside of Lent, so we want to enjoy it fully. I am still without a gift for my beloved, but I am close to done choosing what to do for him, which is most of the struggle.

We have been missing out on the storms that have buried our neighbors to the south. I miss the snow, this not-quite springtime thaw is warm and bright, but it has none of the cozy winter feeling I like so much, and over all my enjoyment of the warmth is the constant threat of bitter cold coming again. It is only February after all.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Love's most intimate union
is through eating, tasting, and seeing interiorly"

Today is an absolutely lovely day. The sun is shining down and warming the whole world - at least, it feels that way. I am walking about with no coat on - only a sweater - and no hat. The sun comes in the windows of this little cafe I'm in and warms the table. I love the sun! This false February spring should have me longing for summer days and dreading the cold I know is coming, but I can't think beyond the warmth of today, I can't really think at all with this lovely light on my back.

I bought beautiful black boots today, thanks to my dear Matka, they are ideal. I did very little else but walk in the sun and smile, order glazes, and discuss with aquaintences whether or not eating ought to be seen as a spiritual act. It is, of course. Our Pope reminds us in "God with Us" that all our meals are "alive with the goodness of God;" that all meals point toward the supreme Meal, the Eucharist. That we are more than simply bodies in possession of souls, we are creatures of both worlds, and our spiritual life must exist in the physical aspects of day to day life, if it is to exist at all.

As Lent comes closer, I am thinking more and more on the relationship between our food and our spirituality. I always look forward to Lent, and each year I hope for the best possible Fast and preperation. We still have a couple weeks before it begins, I have no intention of "jumping the gun" but I do enjoy planning for the Fast. The Church does as well; this past Sunday, and the coming Sundays are for the purpose of preparation: Septuagesima, Sextuagesima, Quinquagesima Sundays ease us into the Lenten season. They remind me that now is the time for purple skirts and scarves at Mass, and now is the time to find purple and black fabric to drap over my statues. Now is the time to begin planning my fast.
Book List:
I'm reading Holy Feast and Holy Fast again, somewhat in preperation for Lent, there are so many beautiful bits of writing from Saints and mystics collected in that book! I'm also re-reading Rainer Maria Rilke in abundance. His poems never get old or dull for me. At Christmas I was given the book Dakota, by Kathleen Norris. I finished it on the plane home and have been returning to it often as well. Kathleen Norris "gets" the Catholic imagination in a way that has been lost to too many actual Catholics, I love her writing, her sense of beauty, and sense of the sacred, her love of the natural world and her respect and love for the cloister.

I'm not reading anything new at the moment, any recommendations?