Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cooking and Decorating

That's what I did today after late morning worship at Our Lady of Sorrows in the Lower East Side. It's all a part of my continuing education in being Church at home.

It was my turn to make dinner for the brothers. I got started early in the afternoon because we would be eating a half hour early this evening, leaving time for us to decorate the friary for Christmas. Taking my time in the kitchen made the work much more enjoyable than it was on my last turn. As well it should be. After all, cooking should be fun. Making Spanish rice with chicken and red beans was helpful in this regard because it is a slow-cooking dish. Pacing myself and doing one thing at a time -- now cleaning, now dicing and slicing, now stirring -- sent me into a flow. I served the rice and beans with freshly baked cornbread, fresh sugar snap peas, and chips and salsa. Everyone enjoyed the meal, thanks be to God.

After cleanup we met again in the living room and dining room, divvied up the tasks, and proceeded to festoon the friary festively. I helped rig the lights; our tree, a real pine, needed eight strands. The others put up our nativity scene, set candles in the windows, and garlanded the general area. We ornamented the tree and used a green fringed Guatemalan blanket for a skirt. All this we did over hot chocolate, ice cream, and not-too-tacky Christmas pop music. When all was ready, we turned out all the other lights and rested in the cool colored glow of the tree.

It was good, and it was right. You can argue about timing and taste all you like, but what you cannot argue -- not with a Catholic, anyway -- is that it is fitting at Christmas to sacramentalize our living space to celebrate the God who came to live with us.

Now, time to turn to the week ahead: instruction on Catholic social teaching, and continuing preparation of the curriculum for our leadership development program at Neighbors Together. I will pay attention to my spirit, to see how the quality of my presence in the domestic Church affects the quality of my presence in the public Church.

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