I was prepared to write the next installment in the "Boys in the Hood(s)" series about some of my encounters over the years in monasteries - but my amazing life got in the way.
I've mentioned my dear friend, John, before. We have a remarkable friendship which survives many miles of distance. More often than not, there is a daily exchange of emails between us. Sometimes I bleed all over the laptop with stories of my life. I tease John that his "drive-by" return emails overlook my trials and tribulations. But the next day we carry on just the same.John writes a remarkable blog that you should add quickly as a bookmarked destination. Now, if you are the stubborn or lazy type, here is a quick and easy link to the posting that I specifically want you to read: Lost and Found and Lost . John's blogs often resonate with me. This one appeared at a perfect time.
Just last night, I was set to meet another dear friend to attend a Medieval choral music concert that was being performed at the neo-Gothic Rockefeller Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago. We usually meet for dinner beforehand. When I am able, I try to scoot out of work early on occasions like this in order to take advantage of my membership at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore. I was fortunate that despite already having selected my purchases, I found myself standing in line to check out when in a moment a "book will find you and on that day you will have the courage to take and read." Somewhere, sometime over the past few weeks in my hyperactive perusal of book reviews throughout the Internet, I saw the title of this book: "Making Toast." I was intrigued.
Three years ago, I made a retreat in the dead of winter to Saint Benedict's Momastery in Snowmass, Colorado. It was a true pilgrimage as the trip from Denver to Snowmass involved a four hour ride in a van packed with strangers and driven by a young woman who was a ski fanatic overwintering in Colorado from Australia.
I had opted to spend my time in a hermitage - away from the retreat house. As a result of this choice, I was responsible for my own meals. As I wrote at the time...
"My time away allowed me to stuff all the baggage of everyday life away and to see and live a bigger life. Simple tasks like preparing a meal - even making toast - became holy. Without a dayplanner filled with appointments and events, I was able to take pleasure in the choices before me. Instead of "going smaller," I felt more connected to the "bigger life" promised to all of us."
Roger Rosenblatt's new book is not about retreats, but it is about a deep spirituality. It is about the work of grandparents who are thrust into the daily life of their daughter's family when she dies at age 38 of an undetected heart defect. Their daughter's husband and three children most cope with this loss and somehow manage to go on. With simple yet heartbreaking words, Rosenblatt writes about the grandfather's heroic efforts to learn how to "make toast" exactly how each of the three grandchildren like it. I am grateful for having had the experience of knowing how "making toast" can be holy.