Editor’s (admin’s) note. Lightly edited copy of an email I sent to my spiritual director the night before our April meeting. I email her every month, mostly to focus my mind before we meet, and I archive them here so I have a record of issues I’ve dealt with over time.
This will be very brief, because I’m running late and I didn’t give you enough time to read anything longer. Basically I spent so much time in the past month on discerning what I wanted to say in my commitment statement and letter of application to be admitted as a Dominican Associate, I didn’t journal much on spiritual matters.
But there may be some grist in these three:
1. Last week I wrote up a visit that Debi and I made to Jubilee Farm — our first and not our last! — under the headline “Early spring visit to Jubilee Farm and friendly rescue cat reawaken thoughts of stewardship and new beginnings.” As so often happens, my “nut graf” — the point of the post — came at the end:
In the second creation story in the book of Genesis, the one that speaks most directly to me, God puts Adam and Eve “in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” To exercise stewardship, in other words, over the beasts of the field and the birds of the air. To till the garden, not to exploit it.
How do we answer that call to stewardship now, 3,500 years later? “We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history,” reads a corporate position statement adopted in 2012 by the Springfield Dominican Sisters, “a time when humanity must choose its future.” What does that future look like in a time of anthropogenic climate change, global warming and extreme weather events? Where do initiatives like Laudato Si’ fit in? What can I do to be a better steward right here, right now in Springfield?
But all of that comes later.
For the moment, it’s enough to be thankful for the first warm days of spring, the first time I’ve really felt like spring since before the pandemic; for the subtle hints of new growth in pasture grass just beginning to turn green; and for a friendly, but still slightly wary, rescue kitty to keep us company.
2. Something I wrote March 17 on the death of our cat, Oley, which I titled with a quote from e.e. cummings, “I sing of Oley, glad and big: A eulogy to a beloved cat in a time of loss and grief.” I concluded:
[…] But a week ago, Debi took him to the vet’s for an X-ray, and they found spots on his lungs. They looked like cancer, and it looked like it was metastasizing. Then, before we could take him back for a firm diagnosis, it apparently interacted with his diabetes. The seizures came on all of a sudden on Sunday afternoon, and within three or four hours Oley was gone.
That the end came so quickly, I think, was a blessing.
It’s not the only one. At the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, when Wolf Blitzer of CNN spoke of those who had died, he’d add, “may their memory be a blessing.” The thought stayed with me — I want to live my life so I’m remembered as a blessing — and there was so much loss and grief during those first years of the pandemic, we heard it almost every day. Over time, it came to feel like I’d known it all my life.
Little Oley Cat, your life was a blessing. You taught us love, in all the little ways that cats find to express emotion. And you brought us your shy little friend from the cat shelter, who reciprocated the love and blossomed in our little cat colony. And, in the end, you taught us loss, as your feline predecessors Torbjorn and Angie Cat did before you. Goodbye and God bless, little buddy.
3. But maybe what’s most worth sharing with you is kind of a throwaway, a post I put up on the blog March 24 under the headline “Lenten reflection in today’s email from America magazine on prayer, music and lived experience” — a reflection I found useful about an issue I’ve wrestled with before. The article is by assistant editor Molly Cahill, who acknowledges: “I am pretty good at thinking and talking about prayer. Unfortunately, I am pretty bad at actually praying.” That got my attention, and I read on:
As I did, Cahill scored another point with me when she said her “heart has been hardened […] by the suffering and pain in the world.” Check. In fact, my latest plans to really get into Ignatian contemplation got derailed by the war in Ukraine and the threat of nuclear catastrophe (I blogged about it HERE and HERE.) Cahill went on to score again, when she acknowledged “chronic overthinking that clouds my ability to see simple things clearly.” Check, double-check and BINGO! This article’s a keeper.
What sealed the deal, though, was when Cahill went on to say, “when I want to pray now, I start by listening to music. A simple truth that might have sounded like a cliché if spoken aloud suddenly makes perfect sense when set to a tune.”
That’s me all over! So into my journal it goes.
That’s more than enough to belabor you with, and if it comes too late, we can always wing it!
I *am* making some progress with the Ignatian colloquy, mostly dealing with how I imagine Jesus (you’ll probably not be too surprised to learn he looks kind of down-home and professorial but very Jewish). I plan to get back to it once I’ve finished reflecting on our commitment statements and the retreat for Dominican Associate candidates.