#Autumn

Nun Birds

My wife, Kerry, flies north to the Oregon border this time of year to visit her family and enjoy the pristine wilderness.  I was missing her the other evening when I took a short break from my gig in Laguna to breath the ocean air. The beach is illuminated by lights from the Hotel Laguna. There was a wedding party on their patio. I stood on the boardwalk, above the shallow breaking waves and took in the happy scene.  Kerry has migrated north, but her favorite birds, the “Nun Birds” have returned here. The little birds move quickly in small groups in graceful unison, as they scan the sand for crabby invertebrates. My wife says their habit-like outfits and dignified demeanor remind her of the nuns at her old grade school. The Western Snowy Plover weighs only an ounce or two. It sometimes builds its nest in human footprints on the sand. My wife has missed her “nun birds” this year, but she will fly home soon. Boy, her arms will be tired!

by Nathaniel

Autumn Glee

Every autumn, the liquid amber trees drop golden five-pointed leaves everywhere and propel me back into a favorite memory. When my daughter was three, we would walk to the park hand-in-hand. I took a rake with us. I’d rake the fallen golden leaves into a huge pile, and she would jump right in the middle of it squealing with glee, leaves crunching under tiny stomping feet. She would throw the leaves, as many as she could gather,  up into the air, her arms waving around like a conductor in the climax of a great symphony! The other day as I was walking my dog and a pile of these same five-pointed golden beauties was sitting in the gutter by our house. They reminded me of the star of Bethlehem. Even though the celebration of our Lord’s birth is two months away, I thought, “It is never too soon to open myself up to the birth of Christ in my heart. Through God’s  grace, that birth of divine love can be reborn within me each and every day,

by Gracie

Notice, Pause and Choose

I am embarking on a girl weekend. Yes, just me, myself and I traveling for three nights and creating destinations along the way of my choosing. I’m making this my “notice, pause and choose” trip.  I want to notice something for which to be thankful, making my intentional stops along the way. I will then pause to acknowledge this something as a reminder of God’s presence. I will then choose to focus on God’s presence in that moment and let it reveal His powerful peace to me. I am excited to have such a plan, juxtaposed with a spontaneity, to what it will bring because of my intent and purpose.  In this season of fall, I want to take the time to reflect and be in the moment in front of me and notice, pause and choose. That’s what brings me to a fuller interior life exploring the outer world around me to fill all my senses and interpret what it means to me. Just a girl. In the world. Me, myself, and I, grounded with God.

by Liz

Family Photo Time

Fall brings our annual family portrait tradition. Now, with two little ones, the art of capturing the perfect photo has become more comical than ever. My nieces and nephews, sisters and parents gather around the camera and make every attempt to encourage my little boys to crack a smile. My husband and I try to look normal despite the commotion. Somehow, some way, we succeed at catching that one beautiful shot that embodies who we all are at that moment. Looking back at these photos, I wonder how often God feels like the entertainer behind the lens of our lives. God goes to incredible lengths to reveal love and light in our everyday experiences. At times, we can be reluctant to recognize God’s wonderful gifts. However, we can only hope that we allow ourselves to relish in God’s goodness, and smile for this life worth cherishing.

by CMM

 

Holy Water

In the cool silence of this morning before dawn, steam from the iron hisses. I am ironing a linen handkerchief, folding it and pressing it into a triangle of white.   I often cry at baptisms, weddings, funerals and other profound rites of passage. Today I will be attending an old family friend’s memorial service. Janet, 93 when she finally breathed her last, was an only child pre-deceased by her two sons and husband with no one but her friends to call family. Tears are holy water, an outward symbol of something deeper, that connect me to God and to my fellow sojourners. Whether a mist or a river, they sooth and wash away the grit of sorrow and flow joyfully in gratitude alike.  I fold and press this sober linen, steam rising like incense into the awakening of this day.

by Andrew

Jockey Hollow

When I lived in New Jersey, come fall I had a bit more free time with my three back in school. Sometimes I’d treat myself to a walk in nearby Jockey Hollow, where Washington spent the terrible winter of 1779.  There are still remnants of the “log city” that was built during what historians call the “worst winter of the eighteenth century.” In the barely cool air, it was hard to imagine how awful it must have been for the 10,000 men who endured the below freezing temperatures, snowstorm after snowstorm, and lack of food. Had they not sacrificed so much and suffered through this we would not enjoy our gift of independence in our homeland; they set us free from tyranny. It was, in some ways, like the Paschal Mystery, where the Lord suffered and died for us so that our souls may someday enjoy the freedom of heaven.

by JAM

October Feast of Teresa of Avila

 

Today is the Feast Day of St. Teresa of Avila, proclaimed a Doctor of the Catholic Church because of her intelligence, deep piety, and body of impressive writings.  A Spanish mystic of the sixteenth century, she was a Carmelite nun who has been described as “eagle and dove,” for her rare combination of courage and gentility. She was also deeply recollected from resting in the “prayer of quiet,” (often called contemplation). Teresa developed such a personal relationship with Christ that she often called him her Beloved, her Bridegroom. One of my close friends, Tessa Bielecki, an expert on Teresa, describes her as the “wild woman of Avila,” because of her passion for life.  She loved to eat, to dance, to play the tambourine, and to embrace each moment of life as it were her last. Each October, I am so grateful for this great saint who has mentored and accompanied me on the spiritual journey for so many years.

by DC

Go to Amazon for books on St.Teresa by Tessa Bielecki:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=tessa%20bielecki&sprefix=tessa+bie%2Caps

Listen and pray St. Teresa’s Prayer, “Christ has no body now but yours. . . ”

http://youtu.be/tF7Yb9fobCg

Comfort Food

Lately, with all the violence and natural disasters, the world has felt like a combat zone to me. My heart has reached out for comfort through prayer and what I call, “autumn foods,” soups, stews, and casseroles. Both prayer and “comfort food” feed our souls. When I had a heart attack in the Fall several years ago, I received an outpouring of casseroles, chili, and all manner of “family style food.” It was a manifest of love and care from one heart to another. From that point on I knew what a gift of love a prepared meal can be both to give and to receive. While preparing food for the poor, I have opened my heart in prayer for every unknown recipient. I am reminded that God feeds us all at His table at every Mass. His unconditional love and mercy pours out to cleanse and strengthen our souls so that we might live in His grace forever. Please enjoy my favorite Savory White Chili recipe made with ground turkey.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/17023/white-chili-with-ground-turkey/

by Gracie