On the line

We’ve been teeter-tottering on the line between winter and spring.  Anyone who lives in Boston (or New England for that matter, knows that we will totter here until mid-May at least.  But yesterday and today afford some hope that later or sooner we will step out of the dark and out of the cold and into the warmth and the light. Sounds like the hoping for salvation.

Two of the highlights of this week were a couple of  really wonderful dinners taken in the North End with friends.  Both meals were splendid and I was blessed in spending time and conversation with two amazing people, each of whom is destined to do great stuff in and for this world.

Looking from the North End toward the Customs House

Yesterday I worked the morning.  We held the second in a series called Carmelite Authors 101, in cooperation with the Institute of Carmelite Studies and BC’s School of Theology and Ministry.  Kieran Kavanagh, O.C.D., a Carmelite priest of 82 years of age, spoke about the three principal writings of Saint Teresa of Avila (Saint Teresa of Jesus).  Kieran Kavanagh has spent the past 50 years translating these works of Teresa into the English language.  Just think about that for  a minute – or maybe for 50 minutes, just giving a minute per year of his labors.  Isn’t that amazing?

And it showed.  He knows Teresa as if she were standing here now.  The suspicions under which she wrote; the Inquisition present and active in her time; the way she stepped out of what was  ‘supposed to be’ at the time the very limited role of women – all this and much more reveals her as an amazing soul.

Teresa of Avila

At one point books on prayer, suspected to be leading people astray (?) were banned by the Inquisition authorities.  Teresa lamented and received a mystical message in which Jesus told her not to worry.  He said “I will be your book.”  Pretty blessed cool.

Father Kieran was asked in the question and answer session why it took so long for Teresa to be named a Doctor of the Church, officially one who has wisdom to offer and teach to the whole believing community of every age.  He delightfully responded, “Well, Saint Paul said that a woman had to keep quiet in the church.  That was a woman’s place.  They had to get over that first.”  You can learn more about Teresa here.

There were about 150 people present at this gathering about Saint Teresa.  They were of all generations from the young to the very old, and from every state of life.  The continued and obvious relevance of  someone who lived in the 16th century in an enclosed monastery is quite an amazing thing.  It makes me think that the significance of our own lives depends not so much on what we do at all, but on whether or not we are in the place we are meant to be, living the life we are meant to live.  You might call it destiny or fate.  I would rather call it being in tune (in sync we might say in this computer age) with Love, with the source of love who is God.

We met in the Trinity Chapel on BC’s Newton campus.  This was the campus of Newton College of the Sacred Heart until its merger with Boston College in 1974.  I find the colors in the chapel’s windows to be just beautiful.

From Trinity Chapel, Newton Campus, BC
The light burns on at Trinity Chapel.

Ah, Sunday!

Monastery Window
Light at the monastery window

The Sabbath is a good God-idea.  This morning I went to Mass and afterwards wandered around Harvard Square, if not aimlessly then without any clear aim.  I ended up in the Harvard Coop.  There I granted myself a latte though I’m off the coffee for Lent.  Sunday is, after all, the day of resurrection even in this season!  I picked up 2010’s version of The Best Spiritual Writing as well as the The Best American Essays of 2009.  And finally, I couldn’t resist getting a copy of The Female Brain.  It made a good gift, but I’ll read it too as it seems this is a subject every man should know something about.

At 12 noon I was in the monastery of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist on Memorial Drive.  I had been invited for mid-day prayer and a lunch in honor of the 70th birthday of one of the monks, a wonderful man whom I have been privileged to know for over a decade.  The prayer was beautiful.  The medieval-looking chapel is a spectacular haven of Sabbath peace.  And the luncheon menu, chosen by the honoree, was simply marvelous: kentucky fried chicken, green beans casserole, baked potatoes, a cherry-coke jello salad and a Lady Baltimore birthday cake.  In my new gluten-free environment, I ate everything but the cake.  Good comfort food, all of it, as the monastery’s Superior pointed out.

Of course comfort food leads inevitably to a Sunday afternoon nap, thank God.  And the books remain as future wonders to be explored.  I’ll report later on what I learn about the female brain.