Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pea Soup

Lectio Divina

"... fulfilled in your hearing."

Luke 4:21

And from the urban hymns and city psalms of The Pilgrim, words worth considering in the manner of lectio divina:

"... by being there, not not wanting to be there." (Italics mine.) --Kevin Walker, "Tranquility" (a meditation by homeless person on a sleeping soundly by the Charles River and waking up to perfect silence)

"Learning to see every moment as sacred is rough work, but eventually a tender heart makes up for it all." --Brian, "The Roughest Sweetest Place" (which for him is his meditation cushion)


The Pilgrim in the chapel stall, The City in History on my night-table. Literary dispatches from the New Jerusalem, and a postmortem on the glory and horror of ancient Rome. Both are bracing reading.


Morning prayer and Mass combined in the back chapel, followed by our typical day of extended personal time. Brother Jack took the New York/New England novices and our brother from the Guam vice-province to Buellton for lunch. We went to a place called Andersen's, an inn-bakery-restaurant renowned for its "world famous" split pea soup, which it has been ladling since 1924 and now serves to the order of 2 million bowls every year. Having passed by the place many times now on the way to church or ministry or recreation, I had to test their claim to fame. So I had two bowls with bread, crackers, and Danish red cabbage. If I wasn't so concerned about eating temperately, I would have had more bowls. The staff were kind and gracious and the atmosphere most pleasant. Good company and good food.

Now I have to say that our kitchen manager makes as good a pea soup as the Andersen's cooks. Both he and they make a great soup. But our dedicated kitchen captain can only serve it to thirty hungry friars. Bless the cooks and servers at Andersen's who bring such a good soup to hundreds of thousands of wayfarers.

Why this fuss about pea soup? I would like to think it's not gluttony or untoward cravings (God forbid), but the cultivation of a spirit of simplicity and a cheerful appreciation for common things. In a culture that valorizes unbridled material consumption; in an economy whose wealth depends on the masses' insatiable desire for sights, sounds, smells, and tastes in endless variety, the more exotic, even deviant, the better; in a society that pays tribute to those who can satisfy their cravings on demand -- in sum, in a world that turns the person into a mindless devourer, a body suckling at everything it can grasp and evacuating it all, making waste of life -- I think the alternative is to put down the menu and go with the pea soup.

This afternoon, sent off the last (but not least) of the correspondences I have been meaning to write. Thank you, friends, for your patience. An hour on the treadmill, plus a little reading, to which I now return for the duration of prayerful silence, then night prayer, and communal recreation.


The world grows a little colder but it grows warmer within.

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