In my previous posting Vignette- Paula in Minnesota, I mentioned the “travelling dinner”. I vaguely remember some years ago a friend talking about a “neighborhood dinner”, where everyone from the neighborhood (a fairly small one I believe) shared a meal. However, instead of all coming to one house to eat, the families went from house to house eating a course here and another there.
So on one of the evenings that we spent at Sherry and Greg’s place in Minnesota, we were invited to participate in a travelling dinner. Two of the couples did not live in the immediate vicinity of Sherry and Greg’s house, but were great friends of all the people who did. So they brought their contributions to the meal to Deb and Crystal’s home.
On the appointed evening at the appointed time Sherry, Greg, Rich and myself walked down the driveway. It was a very pleasant evening so the walk was very enjoyable. We made a right-hand turn onto the road at the bottom of the driveway, walked about fifty yards, passing the driveway that led to Connie and Joe’s house (Sherry and Greg’s immediate neighbors), before making another right-hand turn into Deb and Crystal’s driveway.
No house could be seen, so I wondered how long of a walk this was going to be. I needn’t have worried. The driveway sloped upward for about fifty yards and as we crested the top we saw that it then sloped downwards for about another fifty yards and there at the bottom, slightly to the right, stood the house. From this view point it appeared to be a one-story building with beautifully cultivated flower beds on the one side, and a wonderful large fire pit encircled by brightly colored Adirondack chairs which in turn were surrounded by more raised flower beds. All this was then surrounded by lush green grass and trees. Another piece of heaven!
But the view of the house was deceptive because it was built on a fairly steep slope. It wasn’t until another day that I saw the other side of the house and realized there was a lower level which contained a spacious apartment where Deb’s Mom, Mary, and Deb’s sister, Paula, lived. It took me a while to actually go into the house because, being the gardener that I am, I had to check out all the beautiful flowers in bloom and the various plants that I didn’t recognize, plus there were lots of interesting and whimsical garden decorations to look at.
Eventually I made it inside where there were some delightful appetizers laid out. Once we filled our plates, most of us migrated through the kitchen and dining area to a lovely screened-in room located at the back of the house. The view was as delicious as the food we ate. As I mentioned before, the house was built on a fairly steep slope, so this room was was quite elevated and gave the impression that we were seated among the tree tops. (For me it was a small God-moment.) It was here that we got to meet the non-neighbors, Char and Frank and Doug and Deb.
After about forty five minutes of eating and socializing, it was deemed time to move to the next course. This was to be eaten at Connie and Joe’s house and we were told that we were going via the “scenic route”. So we all trooped out in Indian file and followed a pathway that they had created through the woods connecting the two houses. It was rather magical and I half expected fairies and pixies to jump out from behind the trees. The crossing point between the two properties was marked by a lovely vine-covered trellis archway that stood over a couple of steps down. My heart actually started beating a little faster right here because in a “deja vue” moment it reminded me of my Dad’s garden. (See my posting Vignettes- My Kingdom.)
All of these neighbors are avid gardeners, so we found ourselves stepping into another beautifully appointed garden where flower beds were in full bloom with lots of lush greenery everywhere and more whimsical garden features. We spent quite a bit of time checking everything out. A special mention needs to be made here about Joe’s “work shed”. I’m talking about a GIGANTIC work shed the size of a small warehouse. There were big tools and small tools, and every kind of small (and some not so small) machinery all neatly laid out. As you can imagine, the men folks in our party were in hog heaven.
After admiring everything, flower beds and the work shed contents, we all drifted into Connie and Joe’s where a second round of appetizers was laid out. More eating and more socializing took place and by this time a few glasses of wine had been consumed so there was lots of merriment and laughter. In the meantime some rain clouds had gathered and so we got sprinkled on a little as we made our way over to Sherry and Greg’s. Earlier in the afternoon I had helped Sherry assemble a huge bowl of a very colorful mixed salad into which we had put everything bar the kitchen sink! As people came in, we tossed it in a home made dressing and in no time at all that huge bowl was empty.
We were all beginning to get full tummies but the walk back to Deb and Crystal’s house must have helped our digestive systems because we were ready for the main course by the time we got there. Actually some of us rode in the car because of the rain, but we were still ready. I think the laughter and the socializing shook the food down nicely because we even had room for dessert after eating yet another plateful of food. It was altogether a very fun experience and I’m already plotting and planning to see how I can replicate it, even though most of my friends live in rather spread out areas. But maybe that will make it even more interesting. I’ll let you know when and how I make it happen.
As I gathered my thoughts together to begin writing about the Healing Prayer Mission at our church last February, I realized that to tell that story I had to go back to October 2008. Without the events of October 2008, we would not have had the Healing Prayer Mission this year. Back in 2008, I crossed paths with a fellow parishioner and friend, Guy, and he told me about a conference that was to take place in Jacksonville, Florida in a couple of weeks.
He knew that I was a Reiki Practitioner and that I referred to myself as a “healer”. The conference was a joint effort of the International Catholic Charismatic Movement and Christian Healing Prayer Ministries and was focused on today’s need for Christians to recognize that Jesus invited us, the church, to continue his work. “Those who follow Me will do not only the works I do but greater works.” (John 14:12-14) After speaking with, Guy I realized that the conference was a week long and would cost quite a bit of money. However, he gave me a name and number to call and invited me to trust.
The next day I called the number and told the gentleman on the other end of the phone that Guy had told me to call. He said, “Ah yes, you need a scholarship; I’ll see you at the conference”. I was blown away. This was no two cent deal. So a week later I attended my first day. I remember feeling a little cautious as I wasn’t quite sure whether I could handle this “charismatic” stuff. By lunch time I was raising my hands to the heavens and praising along side hundreds of strangers from countries all over the globe.
I thoroughly enjoyed the next few days. The people were joyous and worshipped God joyously. The presentations were both informative and interesting. I loved the informal music group and it was easy to begin to feel free and unrestrained as I learned to worship God in another way, no holds barred. Every evening at the end of all the presentations and teaching, Mass was said at 5pm by a different priest. Their were priests from all over the world in attendance and it was beautiful to experience the Mass celebrated by priests from different countries.
On the Thursday evening I had already planned to leave at the end of the presentations because there was an activity that I normally participated in with my Yoga group, and I didn’t want to miss it. However as 5pm rolled on I felt compelled to stay for Mass. I sat quietly waiting and the music group began playing the entrance hymn. People began singing and clapping. Suddenly I was aware of a wave of energy coming from behind me. I turned around and I’m sure my mouth must have gaped open.
There was a large colorful group of people coming down the center aisle. Men and women of different nationalities dressed in their native costumes swung down the aisle smiling, clapping their hands, and singing joyously. Bringing up the rear and rocking and rolling down the aisle was this tall priest who had an energy, a charisma about him that I have rarely experienced in a member of the clergy. As I watched the procession make its way down the aisle I was aware of one strong thought in my head: I have to get this priest to our church; we need this priest at our church.
By the end of Mass and after experiencing his wonderful homily, I was more than determined to make this my goal. My friend Guy was helping behind the scenes at the conference, so before leaving after Mass I sought him out and gave him my “mandate”: whatever you do please get contact information for this priest. And so it came about that Fr. Jim Curtin from St. Dennis’ Parish in Wisconsin came in 2010 to give us our first Lenten Healing Prayer Mission and returned again in Lent this year. My church has never been the same since and we now have our own blossoming Healing Prayer Ministry. Alleluia!!
Once again it is my pleasure to share words of wisdom from others that I seem to find at every corner and in every moment of my journey, many of them at just the exact moment that I need them.
- “Truth is such a rare thing; it is delightful to tell it".” (Emily Dickinson)
- “One thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” (Albert Schweitzer)
- “I pray thee, O God, that I may be beautiful within.” (Socrates)
- “Do whatever comes your way to do as well as you can. Put a good deal of thought into happiness that you are able to give.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
- “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” (James M. Barrie)
- “From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven and when two souls that are destined to be together find each other,
their streams of light flow together, and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being.” (Unknown – used by Michael Podesta, Calligrapher)
- “No man is an island entire of itself; Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” (John Donne)
- “You can lay the foundation of a friendship in a matter of moments, but it is a work of time to build a monument.” (Madelyn Watt)
- “Every human being, of whatever origin, of whatever station, deserves respect. We must each respect others, even as we respect ourselves.”
- “Were there no God, we would be in this glorious world with grateful hearts and no one to thank.” (Christina Rossetti)
- “Don’t be afraid to take big steps. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.” (David Lloyd George)
- “Some goals are so worthy, it’s glorious even to fail.” (Unknown)
- “Why was man created on the last day? So that he can be told, when pride possesses him: God created the gnat before thee.” (The Talmud)
- “No one is so rich that he does not need another’s help: no one is so poor as not to be useful in some way to his fellow man.” (Pope Leo XIII)
I hope you enjoy these quotations and that they prove to be as helpful to you as they have to me.