Monthly Archives: August 2015

Farm-to-Table Prayers

imageby Melissa Borgmann-KiemdeVisitation Companion

“We cannot always offer God great things, but at each instant, we can offer him little things with great love.” –St. Jane de Chantal 

We are growing tomatoes. Zucchini. Onions. Kale. Swiss chard. Lettuce. Mint. Beets. Carrots. Beans. Peas. Melons. Eggplant. Basil. Tarragon. Strawberries. Cabbage. Cauliflower. The community cooperative garden has been a place of labor, rest, renewal, and joy this summer, as we come together as neighbors — sinking our hands into the soil, wielding scissors in the midst of leafy greens and harvesting vegetables and fruits from week to week.

This same sense of satisfaction that comes from my weekly time slot in the garden, comes, too, in the solitary hours I have at my kitchen island. I process the produce and I pray. My presence to the harvested vegetables and fruit has become one of my favorite experiences of God’s goodness this summer.

I’ve always liked to cook, but over the course of the last two years with locally grown food, the joy and satisfaction I’ve gotten from making meals has been transformed through this meditative process. It’s a ‘farm-to-table” prayer experience.

imageThis day, I’m slow roasting tomatoes. In recent weeks I have become much more adept at the process of breaking down the red ripe fruit: skinning, slicing, coring, pulping, seeding, chopping, laying out on the sheet pans. With each step, I bring a kind of awareness. My fingers wielding a serrated knife, my thumb pressing the fruit against the blade, halving the tomato section, and then repeating. I shake the container of salt over the sheet of chopped plum, beefsteak and early girls; I pour over olive oil and grind pepper from the mill. My fingers slide down the stems of fresh thyme and release the herb’s tiny leaves into the oil, creating an aroma that satisfies my greatest olfactory desires.

***

When I went to visit S. Mary Margaret in the hospital after her heart surgery a couple years ago, I asked if she wanted to pray. It was around the noon hour, and I knew the community would be convening back at the monastery for the liturgy of the hours. Her response, squeezing a pillow into her mid-section, releasing a labored exhale, still groggy from the whole experience, went something like, “Well, we are screwed if it’s not all prayer.”

I think the same is true for processing tomatoes. It’s all prayer. The gardening. The planting. The weeding. The waiting. The watering. The picking. The washing, cutting, roasting. Eating. All prayer.

The awareness of God in each step, of the connection between the earth, the sun, the soil, human labor, the toil, is akin to awareness of my own beating heart, and the breathing of all around me. Bound up in this gardening process is the life cycle of creation; the death and resurrection of the earth and seasons. This awareness shifts my understanding of our communal and solitary labor; transforming a mundane task (like picking a tomato) to a delightful way of engaging and being in the world (making pasta sauce to feed my family!). It’s an awareness, an attitude, that I can bring to other facets of life, then, too, which is generative, nurturing, even healing.

“We cannot always offer God great things, but at each instant, we can offer him little things with great love,” Jane de Chantal says. Chop a tomato. Savor a cucumber. Roast a squash. Mince a garlic clove. Brush your teeth. Kiss another’s hand. Breathe. Hug. Savor. Love.

Women of Prayer: An Invitation this Feast Day of St. Jane de Chantal!

St. Jane de Chantal

St. Jane de Chantal

Wife. Mother. Daughter. Widow. Sister. Friend. Leader. Contemplative Woman of Prayer.

Co-foundress of the Visitation Sisters, St. Jane Frances de Chantal embodied and lived many callings in her life. At the heart of her vocation to love and serve God was this ongoing commitment to prayer. Perhaps you find resonance with her and have a similar desire to have a life anchored by prayer? A desire to lead from within?

On this Feast day of St. Jane, we invite you to consider joining us for our fall discernment series, “Women of Prayer: Be who you are and be that well” — a five session course starting Monday, October 5,*  facilitated by S. Katherine Mullin, Visitation Companion Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde, and Pastor Karen Wight Hoogheem.

Join other women seekers to explore the way prayer grounds our discernment and calls us forward in leadership — in our faith communities and beyond!

Whether you are Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist or Baptist; single or married; a Pentecostal preacher or hospital chaplain; birth-worker, grief counselor or “From Death to Life” leader; a stay-at-home mother or corporate executive; a woman from the suburbs or dwelling in the inner-city; one immersed in justice ministry or simply desiring more from your faith journey– you are welcome in this series!  Come and explore how contemplative rhythms in community inspire your listening and leadership in life.

 

Register online. Or for more information, contact:

Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde

Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde

Karen Wight Hoogheem

Karen Wight Hoogheem

Sr. Katherine Mullin, VHM

Sr. Katherine Mullin, VHM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melissa Borgmann-Kiemde: melissa.kiemde@gmail.com

Karen Wight Hoogheem: kwhoog@gmail.com

S. Katherine Mullin: katherinefmullin@gmail.com

 

When: 7-9pm; Mondays, October 5, 19; November 2, 16, 30.

Where: St. Jane House, 1403 Emerson Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55411

Suggested donation: $50, payable at registration time.  We are happy to accept a sliding scale fee.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game: The Power of Story!

Sr. Mary Frances, holding the first pitch ball,  enjoyed the evening with her sister Susan....

Sr. Mary Frances, holding the first pitch ball, next to her sister Susan

by S. Mary Frances Reis, VHM

On Friday, August 7, 2015 I threw the first pitch at the St. Paul Saints’ game. On that gloriously clear and sunny ‘Minnesota-at-its-best’ evening at the ball park, little did I realize God would re-visit me with my own very personal Sacred Story.

The Cookie Cart folks had asked me to represent them, as they were being recognized that evening as a nonprofit doing significant work with the youth of North Minneapolis, with plans to expand to St. Paul’s East side.

From the moment (7:05 pm to be exact) that the catcher actually caught my pitch, my Sacred Story unfolded before my eyes and in my heart:

The day I was born in St. Paul, my dad was playing a double header with the Boston Braves in Pittsburgh.   At the 7th inning stretch the announcement came over the loud speaker: “Bobby Reis has a baby girl!” It was Father’s Day so it was an even bigger deal! I always like to remind folks that I got a standing ovation at my birth!!!

Eventually, ‘Daddy’ left the “Big Leagues” to play with the St. Paul Saints. Back in those days, baseball was more about the sport than the money. (My dad sold Hoover vacuum cleaners on the off season.) I remember going to the games and being so proud of him and enjoying the fun atmosphere with the sport and the crowd.

A packed stadium

A packed stadium

Memories of my dad’s career* rushed in on me as I sat in the stands behind home plate with my sister, Susan.

If you’ve been to a Saints’ game in recent years, there’s lots of entertainment, from the pig bringing the baseballs out to the pitcher and a lady dancing on top of the dugout, to the fireworks display at the end. In spite of, or shall I say — in the midst of all of it, I had a sacred, precious moment on the Sacred Ground of the St. Paul Saints new stadium.

As I reflected back on the evening a maxim of St. Jane de Chantal came to me: “Keep a light heart, and above all put sadness behind you.”

Give yourselves a gift, Everyone: Touch into your own Story and that of others. We are on the planet together for a Sacred Reason, helping one another keep a light heart in the midst of life’s challenges and gifts.

Take me out to the Ball Game! May Jesus Live in all the Sacred Stories of our lives!

 

****************************************************************************************************************

My dad, Bobby Reis, Boston Bees, 1938

Excerpts from 1973 St. Paul Dispatch Sports Page article by Don Riley upon my father’s death:

*”No finer gentleman ever played baseball than Bobby Reis….And few recall his dazzling versatility. It was not even recognized in his obit. He was the first major leaguer to play every position on the diamond in the course of a season. He did it with the Boston Bees in 1934….Bob had a sense of humor that could laugh at himself. I remember the gang presented him with a big book entitled “All I know About Baseball” by Bobby Reis. It was filled with empty pages and Bob laughed until the tears came. In reality, he was one of the most intelligent baseball people I ever met…More than a sportsman, he was a wonderful husband and father. And that’s what it is really all about.”

 

The Doorbell Rings: A note on our ministry of prayer and presence

Sister Katherine

Sister Katherine

by S. Katherine Mullin, VHM

Recently the door bell rang. As I neared the door, I saw it was a person who looked somewhat like “B” –a young man from the streets who roamed around, day after day, without much purpose.

“We hold a treasure, not made of gold, in earthen vessels, wealth untold.”

As I opened the door, I had to ask, “Are you ‘B’– the man I know?”

He said, “Yes. I know I look different because I am different. Sr. Katherine, I am in school now, only two semesters left.” And with a big smile he continued, ” I have my own place, too -an efficiency apartment.”

As we talked, I learned how and why he made the change.

“God is able” — as our neighbors tell us and show us in their lives. 

“One morning I woke up and I said to myself that I just can’t do this anymore. It made no sense. And I stopped cold turkey.”

***

As people come to our door and leave, it does not end there for us. We hold them up in prayer from day to day. God’s work is powerful and “God is able” — as our neighbors tell us and show us in their lives. We know it too from scripture, “We hold a treasure, not made of gold, in earthen vessels, wealth untold.”