We began this month with the feasts of all Saints and all souls. We remember and honour these valiant men and women who showed us how to be truly human and truly divine. As we pray for the repose of our dearly departed may we find comfort in knowing that they remain with us and that life is changed not ended.
At no other season is this change more evident than autumn. I like spring – the promise of new life, the kaleidoscope of flowers in bloom and the longer days. But I love autumn when trees are heavy with fruit and the leaves turn yellow, gold and red, changing their dress each day in glorious russet shades. Early mornings are covered in mist and filled with the heady scent of late summer’s blooms. I love evening walks and lying on the grass, watching the sun go to sleep while birds sing a lullaby. Oh, and the roses in their second bloom. I love harvesting the fruits of the earth – potatoes, beans, berries from brambles, etc. I love climbing apple trees (we have six which have been here for ages, and two planted a couple of years ago that are already bearing fruit) and picking juicy, crisp, pink, red and green apples and windfalls. Ah, the thrill of life bursting at the seams.
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Nothing can beat a freshly picked apple for breakfast or lunch or a snack. This year’s bumper crop (we’ve stored more than enough until spring) also allowed me to experiment on different recipes. Have you tried fried apples, grilled apples, roasted pork with apples and potatoes? Or the scrumptious tarte tatin (served warm with vanilla ice cream)? I’ve made blackberry and apple jam, apple jelly, caramelized apples, apple crumble, apple pie, apple tart, stewed apples, roasted apples, apple sauce, etc. I even tried it with fried rice – yummy! I’ve also learned how to freeze apples and am about to make apple crisps. (If you’re interested, just let me know and I’ll pass on some recipes. Or if you have some really good ones, please tell me about it!) We’ve been sharing the apples with friends, the workers doing the renovation of the convent and even the horses grazing near the church (thanks to MaryLou for the photos with my four-legged friend).
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Such abundance gave me a deeper understanding of give us this day our daily bread in the Our Father. We ask not only for food each day but also for knowledge and skill so that we can make the most of God’s bounty, especially for winter months when everything seems to die. This involves study, work, the generosity to share and a lot of fun! Isn’t it exciting to create something new or transform raw materials into works of art? Or in this case a delight to the palate. In the midst of abundance one can just let nature’s gifts go to waste or throw away what one doesn’t want or notice at all (like buying berries from the supermarket when you have them in your own backyard). It is very easy to take things for granted and forget to share with others one’s good fortune. For Paulines, it’s two of the Ps in the vow of poverty – providing and preserving.
The spiritual life is the same. God is constantly giving us graces – it is up to us to be aware and grasp the wonders, the marvels and the gifts he lavishes on us. It requires attentiveness and openness to receive. But how does one store up treasures for heaven, where neither moth destroy nor rust corrode? How do I gather them up and what preservatives do I use? What chemical processes do they require? Should I put them in special containers? The Gospel phrase that comes to mind is: “Give and it shall be given you, pressed down, gathered together, running over will they flow into the fold of your garment, for the measure you measure with will be measured back to you.” Both in the natural and spiritual realm, it is in sharing the gifts and spending one’s self that one is nourished…
I’ve also been busy in the apostolate with recently released new titles and trying some things on the web. I’ll tell you about it in the next post. We also had a book exhibit at a Religious Education Teachers’ Conference last month. The teachers showed great enthusiasm in their work and in the resources that we had on display. It was a very enriching experience and an eye-opener. Although most of us immediately identify religious education with the Christian faith, it actually refers to informing children about different world religions. In pluralistic Britain religious education means teaching Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., with Christianity as one of the topics among many. Very challenging for the teacher and the Pauline apostolate indeed! Prayers, please.
I was reading about why leaves change their colour at this time. No amount of scientific explanation can subtract from the spectacular display of autumn. As the temperature drops, nights lengthen and golden leaves carpet the grass I hear the Master’s invitation to celebrate life as it unfolds.
Praise to our ever-changing God whose love never changes!