Live the Questions

“What does ‘heart of my heart’ mean?” asked a member participating in our prayer today with God’s Word (lectio divina). She was asking a rhetorical question, finding it difficult to comprehend how one could go even deeper within our heart, yet she was hungry to know the answer. We contemplated the depth of its meaning, realizing that the only way to go deeper in relationship is to spend time with them. It’s fairly easy to carve out time to be with our friends, but what about someone who is not physically or obviously present, like God? Prioritizing this kind of relationship can be challenging. That’s why it’s important to have faith and to trust that by living with our questions, answers will eventually be revealed.

I want to ask you, as clearly as I can, to bear with patience all that is unresolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves. . . . For everything must be lived. Live the questions now, perhaps then, someday, you will gradually, without noticing, live into the answer. ~Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

Enriched Lives

Visiting a friend’s farm this weekend, I took beehive bread to enjoy with their newly harvested honey. It seemed to be a fitting addition to a delicious meal which included roasted vegetables from their garden.

This morning we observed the bees at their hives. They were very active on this crisp, breezy fall day. Our friends explained that this year’s honey is a darker color than last year’s. This may be due to the flora filling in, resulting in the bees collecting a richer variety of nectar and pollen. Before the newly planted flowers were available for food and pollination within a two-mile radius of their hive, my friend had to supplement the bees’ food stores with sugar or bee patties (artificial pollen “treats”). Now that the fields are filled with prairie botanicals, the bees have access to a greater variety of flowers. This enables them to produce a honey with more depth of color and flavor.

In addition to flowers such as goldenrod for the butterflies and bees, the farm also has bird houses and feeders as well as vegetable gardens and orchards, fields of sunflowers, radishes, beets, oats, and turnips. I love how our friends nurture environmental balance with plantings that feed and sustain thousands of creatures, great and small. Many of the plants are considered weeds or may not be chosen for their attractive qualities, yet they play an important part. Our friends’ stewardship of the earth refreshingly encourages me to look at the world in a new way. Friends such as these enrich my life.

Resting from Words

I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through — Listen to this music. ~Hafiz

Some days I want to rest from words; reading, hearing and thinking them. Today I listened for God’s voice through music at a monthly music club which challenges me to keep up with my piano practicing. The program was quite varied today. Haydn to Schoenberg! Contemporary music can be difficult for me to understand, so I try not to understand it; just listen and discover. In the Schoenberg, I wondered what could possibly be going through this composer’s mind. Then my ears discovered a foundational minor third repeating throughout the music. I held onto that musical core, let go of descriptive words, and just let the music speak.

There is a silence of the tongue, there is a silence of the whole body, there is a silence of the soul, there is the silence of the mind, and there is the silence of the spirit. ~from “The sayings of the Desert Fathers

Authentic Service

I am very excited for my sister. After twenty five years working for the same organization, she has taken a leap to work for herself. This is not easy to do, especially when leaving a comfortable, known situation. I’ve noticed a spark in her that just couldn’t ignite without her stepping out like she’s doing now. Her heart has always been full of compassion, especially for God’s creatures. Dogs in need always seem to find her, and over the years she brought many of them into our family’s home. Now she gets to live this for herself and for others as she counsels those who are grieving over the loss of their beloved pets.

I am passionate about helping others discover their authentic self by listening to God, growing deeper in relationship with Christ, and following a path where the Spirit’s whisper seems to be leading them. After much questioning and discernment over the years, my sister seems happier than she’s ever been. I think she has found her true vocation!

Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic selfhood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks—we will also find our path of authentic service in the world. ~Richard Rohr

Remember to Breathe

On my way to yoga, I love driving past electric wires where groups of birds are always resting. Seeing them in the same location each week is a cheerful start to my day. They are a visual reminder to breathe and rest. During times of much focus and concentration I sometimes forget to do this.

Our cat enjoys sitting at the window observing birds and other wildlife. Our daughter says it’s relaxing to watch videos I send of the cat doing “nothing” as he peers out the window.

During middle school gym class, I remember our teacher reminding us to breathe. I can’t remember what activity we were doing, but even now I remind myself of this advice when I get caught up in something that distracts me from the simple task of breathing. Everyone must breathe in order to live. Let’s remind each other to live and breathe.

God’s Love Song

Everything in the realm of nature and human existence is a sign—a manifestation of God’s divine names and attributes. . . . As it is said in the Qur’an, “Wherever you turn, there is the Face of God” (2:115). —Avideh Shashaani 

I am beginning to see the change of season in nature. When this transformation occurs throughout the year, I notice God’s face reflected in the beauty. You and I are also reflections of God.

God revealed a sublime truth
to the world
when He sang,
“I am made whole by your life.
Each soul, each soul completes me.” ~Hafiz

Gobs of Gobs

A friend from western Pennsylvania made pumpkin gobs over the weekend and shared some with me. He grew up with fond memories of eating his mother’s homemade gobs. Countless people of all ages have enjoyed them for decades, but I had never heard of these small cake sandwiches with sweet, creamy filling. Most gobs are chocolate flavored and reminiscent of whoopie pies; some are called BFOs (big fat Oreos). There is historical debate over their true origin, and Pennsylvania, Maine, Massachusetts, Virginia and New Hampshire all claim to be the birthplace of this bakery treat. The Amish recipe is said to have been handed down through generations and may have been brought to America by German immigrants, but nothing has been officially documented. With so much commotion about their origin, they must be good! Tastes from my childhood bring back pleasant memories. I have old recipe boxes from my relatives which include some of my favorites. Sharing these recipes with my family creates a way of handing them down through the generations, becoming tasteful memories for gobs of years.

Artful Leaves

It’s leaf season. I love this time of autumn scents and spices. At dinner last night (https://breadforthejourney.blog/2018/10/14/pawpaw-patch/), I enjoyed eating crisp sweet potato leaves atop a colorful mound of grains and bright seasonal vegetables. Sweet potato plants are native to South America. Their beautiful heart-shaped leaves, from the morning-glory family, are very nutritious.

Another new flavor for me is shiso, a leafy Japanese herb from the mint family. Shiso was infused in my opening cocktail as well as my closing sorbet. A refreshing twist on the typical taste of fall. Artful food presentations can open our tastebuds to new experiences reflecting the magnificent, natural goodness of God’s creation.

On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. Psalm 145:5

Pawpaw Patch

Tonight at Vicia, an amazing restaurant celebrating a family birthday, I tried the Pawpaw fruit for the first time. It was offered after dinner as an ice cream; the fruit harvested from Southern Missouri. I learned more about this tree since all I knew about it was from a song I heard in childhood with the line, “Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch.” I never knew it was an actual tree. Or maybe as a child I never really thought about it.

Pawpaws are the largest edible fruit trees native to North America. They have large leaves and their fruit looks and tastes somewhat tropical. The flavor of pawpaw fruit is sweet and often compared to bananas and mangoes. It can be added to desserts like ice cream or substituted for bananas in recipes such as banana bread. My favorite fact about Pawpaws? They are the only host plants for beautiful Zebra Swallowtail Butterflies!

Mindful Tasting

I don’t remember ordering it, but every month a copy of “Food & Wine” shows up in our mailbox. Did I purchase a lifelong subscription through a school fundraiser so many years ago I’ve forgotten? Maybe in a weak moment the extremely low subscription price spoke to me. Or I thought I’d actually read it, knowing I could use more knowledge about wine.

Opening the newly arrived publication, I took a whiff of its freshly printed pages and began to glance at a few recipes and articles. An interview entitled “The Vines of Israel” caught my eye. Roni Saslove, an Israeli winemaker, practices “mindful wine tasting ” in which she “tries to get people to experience the stories behind the grapes and to discover their own personal connections to a particular taste.” Roni explains that “behind every glass of wine, there’s the story of the grape, the story of the winemaker, and your own story – all three” (Sylvie Bihar, interviewer). I didn’t realize how, besides the music and paired food, details such as the color and temperature of a room can influence the taste of wine. I wonder why this is. Wine, characterized by a combination of regional soil and climate, is much more complex than I can comprehend. So for now I won’t try to understand its mystery but will explore and practice mindful tasting.