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Despite two thunderstorms, they came! For starters, yummy earthworms and grubs will satisfy hungers and jump-start prodigious growth. We give thanks …

A return to an old read, The School of Essential Ingredients (2009) by the novelist Erica Bauermeister, in my perception, parallels the transformational nature of the art of cooking with the gift of grace: both require the freshest of ingredients, attention, willingness, action, waiting, savoring. In both, surprise delights, surprise encourages still more experimentation.

Interesting that the novelist sets The School of Essential Ingredients between autumns’ chill and the return of cherry blossoms blooming across the front of Lillian’s restaurant. From the dusk, emerge eight participants who have signed on for her cooking classes. Into her light-filled, savory kitchen, they shuffle, their expressions pinched by varied faces of grief, becoming even more etched after learning of her teaching method: relying upon intuition rather than cookbooks with directions.

As weeks pass, the participants anticipate sitting around her oval worktable, the place where it happens: The emerging sense of connectedness in their concoctions and more importantly, with each other. Laughter, surprise, and exclamations ring out.

Another school of essential ingredients comes to mind at Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where for many years I had signed on for directed retreats. Although we were forty-five in number, many of whom returned at the same time each September, again we needed psychic cleansing and longed for the Face of God, our Chef and Teacher, so to speak, to feed us—It was everywhere. Instantly, silence deepened our connectedness, steeped us in compassion, and fired our willingness to follow where we were led.

Critical to the ensuing mishmash of the days and nights were also attention, willingness, waiting, savoring, and action that infused intimate heart-talk with God. The result was a gentle soul-throttling—the tongue of the pounding surf revealing secrets within the now and daring still more ascents. 

However, my annual squeaky-clean washing was short-lived until the following September, but the feedings continue…for all us.

Early this morning, I awoke with this corrective dream:

Anxious, restless, and hungry, I turn over in my hospital bed and check the wall clock—still several hours before the breakfast trays will reach our floor. Then, I pull the mask over my eyes and doze, until roused by the food cart’s rumbling in the corridor. More time passes and no breakfast. “Have you got a tray for Moloney?” I finally yell. An aproned server stops by my door and says, “No—Didn’t get an order for one.”

 After a short interval, he returns with hot biscuits and gravy, bacon, fruit juices, and coffee, all of which trigger the inflammation of my rheumatoid arthritis, if eaten.

Anxious, restless, and hunger suggest multiple faces of anger hiding out in my unconscious, out of reach from my blogger’s mind; how easily it has spoken of acceptance of the terminal malaise in my body. Yet, decreased breathing in tow with weakness has opened me to the biology of my body. Such has cast me within a deeper dimension of suffering, a new marker along the path toward my transition. Only with its recognition can I unite with the Passion of the Cosmic Christ in our midst.

Another take on the dream suggests my need for closer scrutiny with the “feedings” of news outlets, slanted by journalists’ and talk show hosts’ politicization of their stories. Instead of being informed, confusion and overwhelment result. Few ask my opinion, anyway. Given my present circumstances and limited time, other resources can better keep me strong in spirit and teachable.

With the Crucified, I pray, “Passion of Christ, strengthen me.” from the Anima Christi, attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola, (1491 – 1556).

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