Notes from the Field: 10 November, 2014

n.b., I’m not always able to sit down every week and publish a blog post (which I view as more akin to an essay, albeit a short one.) In place of a longer post–and in an effort to update readers to the day-to-day life of the Visitation Internship Program–I’ll be writing up a weekly or as-close-to-weekly-as-possible post about what’s going on in my life–what I’m doing, drinking, watching, reading, etc.

The Week in Summary

  • First snowfall of the year, very early this morning. We’re at about 5 inches and still falling, although it’s currently something of a rain/sleet mixture. I shoveled the front steps, sidewalk, and driveway this morning and realized just how futile shoveling is while the snow is still falling. When I hung up the shovel after about an hour of pushing snow around, the sidewalks was covered once more. Mercy. It’s going to be a long winter.
  • Sister Katherine, Brian, and I spoke at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Edina last night. The church building was lovely, a miniature replica of an English cathedral. The liturgy was pretty standard Anglican practice (procession, vestments, choir), but executed very, very well. Sister Katherine was invited to share a little bit about discernment and the Sisters’ work in North Minneapolis. The parish is fairly affluent and seems eager to engage with the broader Twin Cities community, which I think is absolutely terrific. The parish deacon is a friend of North Minneapolis (with a Johnnie for a son!)
  • Kayla’s parents took us to see Disenchanted at the Illusion Theatre yesterday. It’s a brilliant musical–overflowing with satire–which addresses issues of gender, race, sexuality, and body imagine by way of fed up Disney princesses. The show was great–great actresses, great audience, great lyrics, great music, great plot. I think there are a few weeks left in the production–check it out while you can!
  • Tutoring is going well enough. It’s difficult building trust with the students since I’m only in individual classrooms once a week. I relate to the kids as best I can while I’m in their classroom, perhaps focusing more on relationships than on academics (not to the exclusion of the latter, of course.) As with most things, striking balance is difficult.
  • I purchased a few notebooks on sale the other week and gave one each to my writing club students at Patchwork Quilt on Friday. We began with a heart-to-heart about writing and complaining. Many of the young scholars do not want to be writing on a Friday afternoon when drumming (which follows) is so much more appealing. We had a talk about complaining and respect. Writing, as I explained to them, is about much more than putting words on a page. It’s about going deep and expressing whatever it is that’s bubbling inside in a safe and supportive environment. Writing–and especially our writing circle–is about respecting self and others.  In order to respect themselves, others, and me, I laid down a zero-tolerance rule about complaining. I’m not very good at discipline–I’m too worried about being “liked.” But this time, I took a chance and we’ll see how it goes in the end. There may be mutiny yet!

Drinking:

  • Archer Farms Kona Blend (available from eBay here or at any Target.) I try to drink Peace Coffee (fair trade, organic, locally roasted here in Minneapolis), but this was all I could get in a pinch. It’s a solid, full-bodied light roast, which is my preference.
  • Warm apple cider. Tis the season.
  • Port. Trader Joe’s has a decent-tasting port for a decent price ($7/bottle.)

Reading:

  • Hild by Nicola Griffith. It’s a great piece of historical fiction about Hilda of Whitby. Very little is historically known about Hilda before the Synod of Whitby was convened at Hilda’s abbey in 664. Griffith places her fictionalized Hilda into a very well researched 7th century England. It was a great read, although I might have gone in different directions. In fact, I’m hoping to do something similar with Leoba, an 8th century Benedictine nun. These earlier women held an immense amount of power and influence in both church and society. It’s a shame that their stories aren’t better preserved–although that gives folks like Nicola Griffith (and hopefully Cody Maynus) the opportunity to do so.
  • Letters of Spiritual Direction by Wendy Wright and Joseph Powers, OSFS. The book is a compilation of letters by Frances de Sales and Jane de Chantal. A few of the Sisters are guiding Brenda (Monastic Immersion Experience participant) in a slow and close read of the Letters. I’m struck by letter writing as a medium for friendship (and, for that matter, as a medium for spiritual direction.) Jane and Francis had an extensive correspondence–very intimate and very spiritual–by way of letters. They also communicated with others by this method. I’m feeling drawn as of late to resume my practice of writing letters.
  • The Complete Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton. I’ve long loved Chesterton’s frumpy little curate. Today is the perfect day to spend some time with Father Brown.

Watching:

  • “The West Wing”–a classic which I’m rewatching for the umpteenth time.
  • “About A Boy”–it’s a funny ABC (or NBC?) show which details the lives of an odd little boy, his hippy-dippy mother, and their hitherto devil-may-care neighbor. I see something of myself in the little boy, which has made the show fun to watch. Season one is on Netflix and season two is currently on television, although I’ve been watching online.

Listening to: 

  • Over the Rhine, a little folk band based out of Ohio. Thanks to Mother Amanda for posting this OTR song on Facebook this morning.
  •  Hildegard of Bingen Pandora station, which is my default writing music–comes in pretty hand when one writes mostly about medieval nuns.
  • Christmas Carols Pandora station. I stand by the fact that the only inappropriate time for Christmas music is during Advent. I’ve got two weeks left, so I’m getting in as much Christmas music as possible before the 30th.
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