Fairly dribbling, my brain is right now. Being a host is 99 percent physical and 110 percent mental. Surely it is a spiritual labor, too, because my soul is ready for two good nights' sleep! I have done much hosting in the last three days. But I have much more hospitality to show in the next five days.
From Thursday until Saturday I was hosting my good friend Carolyn, with whom I explored the Lower East Side on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. We took one of the tours at the Tenement Museum, in which we learned about two of the thousands of families who poured their lives, their fortune, and their sacred honor into sweatshop labor for the garment industry. We left no community garden or playground in our path unexamined. We dined on fish and chips and fried chicken strips at an Irish pub not too far from Our Lady of Sorrows, the Capuchin friary and parish. We browsed chocolateries and tea rooms, Italian cafes and Swedish espresso bars, and even a mac-and-cheese vendor. Throughout our one-on-one time, including an afternoon at Neighbors Together, we caught up on the old days at Boston University School of Theology, talked the kind of God-talk that theology nerds live for, and looked longingly toward our hoped-for future in ministry with eschatological joy fitting for Easter. Back at St. Michael Friary, the brothers served Carolyn at table, tickled her funny bone, offered her their prayers, and treated her with gentlemanly respect.
This evening the postulants being formed in the Province of St. Joseph arrived in time to join us for evening prayer and dinner. To make ready for their week of studies and sightseeing with us, I spent the last twenty-four hours in the kitchen baking a mess of good things to eat. Last night I rustled up some oatmeal raisin cookies and gave rise to a large loaf of Irish soda bread. This morning I quickly cooked up some chocolate pudding, then got to work on a two-pound loaf of white bread. In spare moments I cobbled together crispy rice treats and cornbread. The masterpiece, however, is my mother's babka, a Polish sweet bread, crammed with brandy-soaked raisins and glazed on the bottom with a sugary egg white mixture.
Perhaps I overdid it in the kitchen! I am pooped, and now I am decompressing, striving to catch up on the blog, while our guests are playing cards and otherwise recreating. I ought to be joining them and making them feel as relaxed as they can after driving from Detroit at quarter after four this morning. Well, thank God I have a little help from my brothers, who are feeling fresh enough to build up some evening bonhomie.
Our days are packed this week, with two or even three class sessions every day. The subjects are the historical Jesus from Monday to Wednesday and sexuality on Thursday and Friday, with a focus on celibacy. We are visiting Our Lady of Sorrows and hanging out in the Lower East Side tomorrow (my recent excursions with Carolyn will make me an ace guide), and we are being treated by our formators to Broadway and Off-Broadway matinees on Wednesday afternoon. It's going to be a lot of time together with five of our potential novice brothers-to-be.
God of grace and God of plenty, make me an able attendant. Give me a spirit of good cheer, with amenability and dependability, to respond with alacrity and compassion to my brothers' needs, throughout this week and forward into the fraternity we will make together in Kansas and California. For this is the holy work you give me now. By your Spirit, may I nurture a diaconal spirit. Amen.