Food for A Rainy Day – White Bean, Leeks and Salmon Stew

 

This is not usually a food blog, but today it is.

White Bean, Leek, Mushroom and Salmon Stew is a most wonderful mid winter meal.

4 Servings

Ingredients:

1 qt low sodium Chicken (or Veggie) Stock                                                                                3 Leeks, sliced 1/4 ” thick                                                                                                          1 shallot finally chopped                                                                                                             3 – 15 oz cans of Butter Beans (no salt added)                                                                          1 T. clam stock mix                                                                                                                   1/2 Lb. filet of salmon- cut into 1″ squares                                                                               1 T butter                                                                                                                                     4 Tbs Olive Oil                                                                                                                        Zest of 1/2 Lemon                                                                                                                     Juice of 1/4 lemon                                                                                                                       4 T Cream                                                                                                                                    8 Oz mushrooms, sliced 1/4 ” thick                                                                                       1/4 C white wine                                                                                                                        1/4 C fresh herbs (whatever is still growing at this time of year, mostly Thyme)

Preparation:

Heat the butter and 2 Tbs oil’ then saute the leeks, shallot ; add the herbs after about 10 min, and allow to simmer on low while you do the next steps.

Drain the canned beans, and blend one can of beans with the quart of stock in a food processor. Set aside.

Saute the mushrooms in the other 2 T of olive oil, add the wine after about 8 min. Allow to cook down until much but not all of the juice is absorbed.

Now mix together in a 6 Qt soup pan the sautéed leeks, shallots, the stock, bean mixture.

Then take about 3 C of the mixture and process it in the food processor.

Now bring everything together– leeks, stock, mushrooms, calm stock mix, and the rest of the beans. Simmer for 20 min… or even let it sit there for an hour with the stove off.

Just before serving, add the lemon zest, the lemon juice, and the salmon. Cook very gently on med heat just until the salmon is done and then mix in the cream. Heat until it is hot “enough” and then enjoy with very crusty bread and simple greens dressed with white balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

 

 

 

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“A Great Disillusionment”

“A great disillusionment”… A brief report from one of the book groups so far                        By Kathryn Rickert, Ph.D.

[This article pertains to a book group reading Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. We have met once, and there will be two more meetings at St. Augustine’s in the Woods, Freeland, WA. You are welcome to join us.]

“On innumerable occasions a whole Christian community has been shattered because it has lived on the basis of a wishful image. Certainly serious Christians who are put in a community for the first time will often bring with them a very definite image of what Christian communal life [Zusammenleben – living together] should be and they will anxious to realize it. But God’s grace quickly frustrates all such dreams. A great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and if we are fortunate, with ourselves, is bound to overwhelm us as surely as God desires to lead us to an understanding of genuine Christian community. … Only that community which enters into this experience of this great disillusionment with all its unpleasant and evil appearances begins to be what it should be in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it.  The sooner this moment of disillusionment comes over the individual and the community the better for both.” (from Life Together, pp 9-10)

One of the differences between “reading (perhaps for school or work) and “spiritual reading” is that here in spiritual reading we aren’t required to get the whole idea of some book. Rather, it is more than enough to come away from a spiritual reading with something we can use– with one very good idea, something to chew on, something that feeds our souls, and calls us into the depths of life and faith that we seek.  We can always go back to that book again later on and learn even more.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together offers many such moments. The one about the “great disillusionment” is continuing to speak to me.

“Disillusionment” is not exactly the kind of thing that we expect to come across in a community of faith. It sounds more like something we are fleeing from in the world “outside” the church.  Yet, as Bonhoeffer wisely recognizes– learning to live into, through and then coming out of disillusionment is precisely what we must experience, if we want to be part of an authentic Christian community.

As with our Baptismal vows, this dealing with disillusionment is not something we do by ourselves, alone, or apart from each other. And most certainly, our response here must include some version of, “I will, with God’s help.”  and, “Come, Holy Spirit.”

I doubt that anyone needs to seek or set out to face disillusionment; it seems to come to all of us eventually. The important thing might be not to resist it, but rather to attend carefully, prayerfully to each other as we make our way through it. Not fleeing when the going gets rough is what we are called to learn here. It is perhaps related to that part of the Rule of St. Benedict about stability.  If God has not yet given up on us, then let us seek to do the same for and with each other.

The group reading this book met for the first time on Jan 6th, and will meet two more times, once from 1:30 – 3:30 pm in the Fireside Room on Jan. 26th to read Chapters 2 -3, The Day Together, & The Day Alone. On Feb 3rd the final gathering will take on Chapters 4 -5, Service, and Confession and the Lord’s Prayer. (Same time and place)  Please join us.

Posted in God at Gatherings, God in Relationships, God in Struggle and Distress, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Sermon I’d want to hear on the 1st Sunday of Christmas 2015

I do not come to worship on the first Sunday of the 12 days of Christmas because I am struggling with the challenges of the Christian faith; I come because for a least a little while, the Christian faith is bringing something of value and substance to my life. This Advent has been rich with light giving reflection, a wonderful calendar, and projects that brought us together in community with creativity, beauty, and substance.

I know very well that many around me, (people I know and love) are struggling. And I respect and honor and pray for that struggle.

Yet, I did not come this day to struggle. I came to rejoice, and to dwell within and savor the “light of God’s incarnate word” mentioned in the Collect.

An “incarnate Word” is surely a strange combination — a  holy word in flesh, something to be eaten or touched rather than spoken, heard, or read. And this word is not only enfleshed, it gives off light. Light is what I and a lot of people I know need.  Light in the darkness. My/ our own darkness, the darkness of the world’s fear, violence, greed, and lack of care. Light in flesh that we can touch and eat. Flesh and touch that give us light and feed us.

O, those clothes. The outfit mentioned in the prophet Isaiah, “garments of salvation, a robe of righteousness! What is the color of salvation? What does the fabric feel like? How is the garment cut? sewn? This is some God of a dresser, for these clothes are linked to bringing forth new shoots from the earth, righteousness, and praise springing up before all nations. Perhaps some kind of holy gardening clothing that transforms the wearers into tillers of peace who work within the soil of praise.

Now those are things I and this sad world can use.  All nations! Even to suggest such a thing sounds outrageous. Absurd. So, let’s suggest. Let us be absurd. And then let’s remain with that image for a while, and see where it leads us.

Clothes with the qualities of salvation, righteousness, and eliciting praise from everyone. (No, this does not happen in the fashion world. No, it does not. Still, let’s imagine such clothes and see what unfolds.) Yes, these may be “mere” images. Yes, these are what we hope for but do not yet have. That Word, one with Light, Praise, and those clothes are something we can use.

Use to do what?  Use to do what the Psalm 147 hints at; rebuild what has been torn down, to gather up the exiles / migrants / refuges, to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. Yes, we live in a world where more energy is being spent on turning back refugees. Still, let us imagine.

Not that this is something we would do alone; it is God’s work and I / we will collaborate with God such as I am / we are able. (Even when my collaboration is rather small. Even very small.)

For, although I am not as strong as I was. Even though I cannot do all that I did, I still have this measure of freedom to serve as an heir of the Holy One. (Galations  4:4-7) . And that service is marked by this brightness of enfleshed Light, Light within the everyday, Light among us, living Light. For “From this fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” (John 1) And we have seen this. We have seen this in our community, across the world, in each other, in the Creation, and even within ourselves. Amen.

Merry Christmas, on the Third Day.

 

 

 

 

Posted in God at Gatherings, God at Gatherings, food, drink and holy stuff, God in Relationships, God in Struggle and Distress, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Advent – a response to terrorism and abuse

An Advent Reflection on our Responses to Terrorism and Abuse, “works of darkness”  –

In the season of Advent, Christians await the “coming of the Lord”, for the first time and all of the times since; the re-coming, the coming again, the second coming, now and later on, as well as and at the same time as we await and look forward to the birth of a Holy Child, Emmanuel, — God with us — which we celebrate at Christmas. Yet, these celebrations of waiting and arrival, Advent and Christmas, have become co-mingled in ways that we lose too much of both.

Christmas is an answer to a series of questions posed within the weeks and colors and moods of Advent; the red, green, gold and white respond joyously to the purple, dark blue, magenta and pink of the darkening days of December.

Collect for Advent 1 and to be used each Sunday of Advent:

Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light now in the time of this mortal life (in which thy son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility): that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty; to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who lives and reigns with you and the holy Ghost now and ever. Amen.

Why do we need grace?  (Do we know that?) Do we need it? How so and in what ways?  For what?

What are the works of darkness? (Both those of others, as well as our own.)

How would we do that, cast them away? What would happen then?

And what is this armor of Light that God is going to put upon us?

How will the armor of light help with the works of darkness, especially if we don’t know what they are?

Collect for Advent 2

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy  the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

How is our salvation prepared for? What part do we play in this?

What do we do, have we done with the prophets’ preaching?

What are their warnings? Have we heeded them?

What does it mean to ”forsake our sins”? And, once again, what are “our sins.”

(We may be very certain as to what the sins of others are; but what about us?)

What do we know of greeting with joy Jesus Christ?

Collect for the 3rd Sunday of Advent  

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord,  to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

It is about much more than stirring fruitcake. (The third Sunday of Advent became known as “stir up Sunday” and was somehow attached to the need to stir the rum soaking fruitcake.)

What is and how does God… “stir up”? Are we to be stirred up?

Is “coming among us with great might” different from some other more gentle form of coming among us?

What will we do, how will we respond to such a coming?

Are we hindered by our sins? What are our sins? How do they hinder us?

How might bountiful grace and mercy “speedily help and deliver” us from those sins?

Collect  4th Sunday

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

So what does it mean that we are mansions to be prepared for God?

How do we prepare for this? (by purification of conscience?… how, for what?

by God’s daily visitation? (Did we know that God comes to us daily?

How are these visits going?

This confusing, strange mixture of Advent and Christmas is understandable; when we focus primarily on the answers to the questions that Advent asks and Christmas offers; it is very difficult to even remember what the questions were or are, or to see how Christmas offers answers to those questions then and now.

And, then again, there is another confusion because Advent is clearly set forth with other forms of difference, beyond the answers to the questions. Advent is flowing over with descriptions, even assumptions that we who live these seasons have some clear idea of how the answers and questions fit together. But, we do not. For the most part, we become more than a bit lost when we really do not know what our sins are, or even perhaps that we have sins that do much damage to the Creation and too each other, sins of disinterest, ignorance, self-absorption, and small mindedness.

And we certainly struggle to see how grace and light and all that is offered is going to help with sins we are unaware of. Advent is offering tools for the repair of something deeply broken and desperately seeking repair. It assumes that those who come to it, who enter in know something of this. Advent proclaims in stereo to those who are broken open, seeking justice from oppression, healing, and reconciliation after a time of great struggle, and at the same time a critique of those who oppress, who cause injustice, and grave suffering.

Down deep, we are both. We are both those who seek the deeply gracious gentle sounds of an announcement, “the Lord is in your midst”,

Surely, it is God who saves me; * I will trust in him and not be afraid. For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, *and he will be my Savior. Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing *from the springs of salvation….(Third Song of Isaiah)

as well as those who are “hindered by our sins”.

In ways of which we are often unaware, we are also those who oppress, those who cast out the refugees, those who contribute to economic and environmental disasters, and those who shame others who do not dress, think, worship, shop, save, work, etc. as we do.

“I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach   for it.I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will         save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their               shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will       bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make           you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth,        when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the LORD. ”

Yet, how can that be? We are good people. We ARE good people. “We” did not bomb Paris. “We” are neither those who abuse children, nor those who have covered up the abuse for years. We are good people. And, we ARE.

And being both we finally realize that one side does not in any way undo the other side; we are both. We have both. But most of the time, we forget, or we can’t see how that could be. We see only one side or the other. This season invites, calls, lures us into seeing both sides.

How does that have anything at all to do with Advent?

Shower, O heavens, from above,

and let the skies rain down righteousness;

let the earth open, that salvation may spring up,

and let it cause righteousness to sprout up also.

Isaiah 45:8, NRSV

Somehow, in our genuinely righteous responses to gross unrighteousness – aka works of darkness – we move from righteousness and into the very setting that we are authentically distressed about and seeking to undo. It is not that we do the same things that cause our alarm and protest against the works of darkness. No, it is much more subtle and more difficult than that. Nor is it that we shrug off the evils of others because we have our own evils and thus no right to protest those of others. Not at all. Rather, our something about the pull of violent evil disturbs the balance of our vision so that instead of seeing clearly where the evil is, came from, and is going; our sight is clouded by fear and rage. Instead of keeping open the “lines of sight” between ourselves and the sources and practioners of violent evil, lines of sight that allow for a critical understanding of the sources, courses, directions of and responses to evil, we begin  constructing walls of us and them that shut down immediately even the most rustic of paths toward healing, and peace. We see only how we differ, not what we continue to share with other humans even in the face of the works of darkness. And then we allow those differences to set in motion grave distortions of our understandings of others, and of ourselves.  These distortions cause some to think:

“Some terrorists are Muslims, therefore all Muslims are terrorists. Some Catholic priests are serial rapists, and some Catholic hierarchy covered up this abuse; therefore all priests and clergy are practioners of the works of darkness . Therefore, all religions are suspect and to be avoided.”

In no way and not even to the smallest degree does this awareness of our bothness mean that we should ever or in any way cease to “out” terrorism, or abuse in all of its forms, and any and all “works of darkness.” No, never.

There is no excuse for silencing complaints of abuse – emotional or physical –of children or adults. There is no justification for not outing terrorists. None. That is clearly wrong. The compassion of Jesus does not silence protest, or lament, or outrage or any of these very strong emotions that the works of darkness generate. It demands them. And it demands the strong, wise, and appropriate active responses.

And yet when we do so, we must be deeply aware of how terribly easy it is for us to fall into the very pit we are denouncing! The level of wisdom called for in these extremely challenging situations may exceed that of Solomon. Yes, we must work to uncover, announce, and take actions to work against the “works of darkness”, both those of others, but also our own. That is part of the why and value of Advent: that initially we are bid NOT to go out hunting for the works of darkness in others, but rather to begin by becoming aware of those WOD within ourselves.  Such awareness is NOT in any way going to stop the efforts against the WOD of others or ourselves, but it is going to dramatically change HOW we respond to those works once they are recognized.

Philippians 1:3-11

…the “compassion of Christ Jesus” is a wise form of compassion marked by a “harvest of righteousness.”(See Philippians 1:3-11, the Epistle for 2nd Sunday of Advent 2015.) Wisdom is not fooled into being silenced in the face of any evil. Nor does it fall into that pit of self-righteous isolation, blindness, and self-deception that makes righteous responses to unrighteousness so very tricky.  Rather this compassion urges, begs and compels us to go back to all of those questions that this season is asking us. This compassion cries out not with a voice of white hot rage, but rather with the deep, steady calm of true righteousness to hear all of the voices in the wilderness. So that we may discern the differences among them and then come to see, know, and do those things to which the compassion of Jesus moves us. Thus may we “prepare the way of the Lord”, and  “await the day of his coming,” “soon and very soon”, in peace. Amen.

Posted in Advent Retreat, God in Relationships, God in Struggle and Distress, God in the Media, Lament - Talking Back to God | Leave a comment

All Hallow’s Eve 2015

A Poem for All Hallow’s Eve … the Eve of All Saint’s Day – 2015

            On a night of good Spirits, witches, and bones

mingling with those who came before

and have gone on ahead

we nurture those relations

that are never concluded

           

            The Witch of Endor

screams at Saul….

 

“Why did you trick me,

seeking me out to tell you what to do?

 

We still need each other, eh?

 

Like those Dry Bones of the Prophet Ezekiel,

who cries out to the hopeless:

 

I am about to put breath in you,

and you will live again,

with sinews, flesh and skin.

 

With breath you come to life,

even when you feel most lost,

completely finished.

 

Come from the four winds, breath!

Breathe into these bodies

and let us live.

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The Place Before the Words – a poem

“The Place Before the Words” 8/7/15

I’ve spent some time there lately                                                                                                         in that place before the words

Deeper than the words                                                                                                                             that come later on

Difficult to find,                                                                                                                                         even more difficult to forget entirely,                                                                                              yet almost impossible to find the way back                                                                                 once you leave it

As though it were not,                                                                                                                        nor ever could be again                                                                                                                   that place leaves permanent marks                                                                                                  on the soul;                                                                                                                                              it stops the tongue,                                                                                                                        opens the eyes,                                                                                                                                  may build a wall around the heart,                                                                                                 not a wall of exclusion,                                                                                                                        but one that holds in to guard                                                                                                         the pain and treasure found in that place

Neither possible nor right                                                                                                                       to put words upon the wordless,                                                                                                           by suggesting some expression                                                                                                           about this place                                                                                                                                  that is at best acknowledged,                                                                                                           yet remains mostly a hint

It is not a place I choose to go to.                                                                                                          How could anyone choose something                                                                                           not known to exist?

Yet, once I am there                                                                                                                              in that place before the words,                                                                                                        and only then,                                                                                                                                      do I recognize as intimately familiar                                                                                              the wounds and holiness of this place.

Not the kind of place anyone chooses,                                                                                           but more of a movable place                                                                                                                  that comes to those who                                                                                                                          see dimly their own tenderness and                                                                                                 holding that view with deep honor,                                                                                                   as well as much agitation,                                                                                                                   are broken open                                                                                                                                     in some bitter-sweet mixture                                                                                                              of grace and terror.

Once, one has fallen                                                                                                                             by some path of distress                                                                                                                          into the place before the words                                                                                                           one cannot undo that knowing,                                                                                                          or the haunting question of                                                                                                                what light that place sheds                                                                                                                on all of the other places in one’s life.

 

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Not returning to “normal”

In the world of modern/ high-tech medicine with its amazing machines, procedures, and wonder drugs it feels as though the goal is above all returning to “normal”; to that condition of life that was mine BEFORE so much was shut down or turned around.       There are very few public conversations about “not returning to normal”, and little consideration of what happens when such a return is impossible.

It is not as though all of “that” is over and done with. “That” would be cardiac amyloidosis, a rather abrupt end to my teaching career of 20+ years, organ playing, and travel and work on the Doctrine of Discovery for the Episcopal Church, chopped off by a year of chemo therapy in a life now marked more by medical appointments, pills, procedures and practices than anything else. No, “that” is not over and is not going to come to a conclusion until I do.

But for a little while at least, my head is just high enough above the waves of this sea of dis-ease that I have what is surely a rare and temporary opportunity to look back and try to figure out what it means, and what I would carry forward with me for the rest of my days. (However many or few they may be.)

I know that I am not “better” as a person with all that has happened in the past two years.. At least I don’t see that. Just when I think this has some how allowed me to see something I did not see before, and that that seeing is doing something to transform me, I fall into some stupid, small-minded space that has nothing trans -formative about it at all.  I am ashamed. After all of this…

And if I am at all honest, I have to admit that what I have been through, compared with what many people with serious illnesses experience, has been much more a kind of suffering light. (Not that my response to the experience was light; it was not!) My chemo was at first monthly injections for which I did need to travel into town.  Now it is four days of pills taken at home days 1-4 of a 28 day cycle. In both cases the worst problems have been great tiredness, feeling inebriated, and more recently rather distressing problems of elimination. But, not at all what one hears many people go through with horrible nausea, hair loss, etc…..

This year has allowed a number of glimpses into things I could not otherwise possibly see or have any idea of. And so, as very frustrating as much of this has been, I have a sense of “privilege” at having seen what I have and I am VERY leery of wasting that.

Parts of me feel as though I should cease to speak.That I should simply look out upon what is left, marvel at that in silence and awe.
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