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Don’t waste the food! Don’t waste the oil pastels and the good watercolors! Don’t waste the expensive fabric, the nice paper, the good wine! Above all, don’t waste time playing, chatting resting! Have you ever thought about the paradox of forming the highest things?
To learn to turn ideas into works of art, we must indulge a bit – not recklessly, but with some daring – in wasting art supplies. Give a kid the kind of art supplies you don’t care if he wastes, and I’ll bet they’re also not satisfying to use, either. Interest will wane. To learn to cook, we need to take some risks with foods.
No skill at words is acquired without long practice tossing away and rewriting ‘wasted’ words. No friendship is strengthened without great ‘waste’ of time together. No love is proved by other than life poured out in service. To turn feasts into practice for the Eucharist, we need to taste the finest wine (Note: the ‘finest wine’ I’ve ever been able to afford cost $26 a bottle, but it’s the thought that counts, and paisano is great for most meals. As fans of Rumpole, we call ours ‘Chateau Kaw Embankment’!)
We must learn to value and to give what is of highest value. There’s the paradox. Only a child can give, or use up, or waste with complete abandon, and only an adult can rightly value things. It is the work of growing up to become able to bear the tension of doing both. To give without knowing the value does nothing to honor the recipient, and to value without giving communicates no actual good.
A priest once counseled that if time is our greatest asset, the best gift we can give Him is to waste it. Since I write and speak about Holy Leisure, this was great reinforcement! Sabbath rest is all about learning to be, to be acted upon, to be whole and offer that wholeness to Christ. It can be very, very hard in our goal-oriented, product-producing, efficiency-loving culture to let go and give God some simple leisure time. Even our Christian culture tends toward purpose-driven lives and accomplishing great things for God.
I hope you’ll learn to waste boldly where the great thing being accomplished is YOU!
Members of the Catholic Creatives Salon spent Season Ten considering the beauty of festival as a preparation for the Eucharistic Feast. Together, we created a Feast of St. Joseph that was a miracle!
It’s a miracle when friends spend Real Time together…a miracle when ten friends spend four long hours together around a dinner table…a miracle when those four hours are so rich and full of life they feel like kairos – time out of time. It’s a miracle when wine is present to symbolize that a spirit of prayer and joy pervades a time of fellowship.
I spent last night experiencing such a miracle. After a lovely St. Joseph vespers with hymn and chant-tone psalms, we ten sat down to hear food blessed and recite the St.Joseph Memorare before digging in to the salad course, served on fine china, amid candles and lilies.
Between the salad course and the soup & bread – minestrone, full of goodness, and hot-from-the-oven sheaves of wheat – we listened to readings about St. Joseph’s role in the life of Christ, and his patronage of all we brethren of the Lord. Likewise, before the main course, readings about the miraculous St. Joseph staircase and St. Teresa’s statue – the ‘tattletale’ St. Joseph.
After Sicilian meat roll, creamy garlic & cheese potatoes, basil carrots and asparagi al forno (oven roasted asparagus – heavenly!), we learned of St. Joseph’s patronage of families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and working people…and that San Jose is the most used place name in the world. No wonder!
As the cheese and fruit were passed, we heard a beautiful prayer to St. Joseph in Italian. It’s hard to express how perfect Italian felt in this place, at this particular time, for all of us whose hearts all long a bit to go home to Rome. Talk turned to Blessed Pope John Paul and our various visits to the blessed city. Mmmmm….delicious, in so many ways. Two poems – my own St. Joseph Carpenter, and one by Paul Claudel (I surround her on all sides, Joseph says, of Mary….) – served as literary dessert.
It’s a miracle when you can eat all that and still have room for dessert! But then, the whole evening was an experiment in miracles. How fully is it possible to in-fill time…to layer meaning upon moment in a densification of time…to place eternity within the negative space of agenda, content, activity? Chocolate-almond biscotti and, traditional for tavolas di San Giuse, ricotta-filled, chocolate-ganache-topped cream puffs…we found room!
It’s a miracle when friends pull together a drama like this and then stay together to strike the set. But stay they did, until the loaded table was cleared; until every dish was washed, dried and put away; until the spilled wax was scraped up and the floor swept; until everyone’s prayer request was in the basket destined for a Mass in honor of St. Joseph; until the borrowed space was as though we had not invaded it with our merrymaking and solemnity. Just as we stay until Father cleans at the altar, we stayed.
It’s a miracle when, tired and busy-tomorrow and facing long drives home, friends stop for one more moment in kairos together – a sung Litany of St. Joseph and a closing prayer. Our desire had been to learn, to experience, to realize, “What is a feast, a festival, festivity?” “How does our capacity for festivity relate to our capacity for Christ?” “What kind of miracle is made by human effort that forms a vessel for the infusion of grace?” And we had. Thank you, St. Joseph, and thank you, my friends, for the miracle of this feast!
What’s your favorite movie? When I’m asked, the kids answer for me: Babette’s Feast! Well, that’s one of my all time favorites, and I do think everyone should see it. [Read more…]