Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mushroom hunt

I'm going to the farm market tomorrow morning. Actually it's this morning but since I haven't slept yet, I'm still thinking of it as tomorrow. Let's just say I'm going when it's daylight. My favorite farm market--at city hall in Falls Church, Virginia--is open all year around. In the cold months, some of the vendors who sell summer garden vegetables take a break for the winter, but there are still many vendors selling baked goods and greenhouse lettuce and winter vegetables. I love Dan, the young man who comes from Baltimore every week with beautiful fresh artisan bread. And there's a lovely man at the farm market who sells a wide variety of mushrooms. Apparently he's able to supply mushrooms into the cold months. I'm hoping he'll be there tomorrow because I want to make a recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen--Warm Mushroom Salad with Hazlenuts and Pecorino. Here's a big plug for Smitten Kitchen, the blog that consisently has the best recipes. You can find her mushroom salad recipe at

Monday, November 22, 2010


Forty-seven years ago today I was sitting in a classroom at Regina High School when an announcement came over the speaker system that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. We were Catholic girls and President Kennedy was our president, the first Catholic ever elected to office. He was handsome and charming and he had a beautiful wife and two adorable young children. We gasped and cried. I remember thinking that surely he would live, that God wouldn’t let him die. Or maybe it was a mistake, maybe a gun had been fired but our president wasn’t really hit. Minutes later we assembled in the all-purpose room to pray. And soon the principal announced that he had died. The students, the lay teachers, the cafeteria ladies, the nuns—we sobbed in one mournful voice. We lost our idealism, our faith in our strong and noble country, our belief that bad things could not happen to good people. We lost our innocence.

Now we know that John F. Kennedy was not a perfect man, but in 1963 we believed he was good, moral, and invincible. Even had he not been assassinated, I am sure that in time the Camelot myth would have been debunked. But it crashed down so quickly that sunny day in November 1963. Jackie in her pink suit, splattered with his blood. She was stunned as were we all.

It was the week of Thanksgiving. We lived just outside Washington, DC, and my friend Jeannie and I took the bus into the city for the funeral. It was cool and clear and we dressed like we were going to church. We got off the bus and walked a few blocks to stand on the sidewalk directly in front of the White House. We saw Jackie, her faced veiled in black, and the Kennedy family members. We saw national leaders and foreign dignitaries—French President Charles DeGaulle, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, Prince Phillip of England. And the horse-drawn wagon carrying John Kennedy’s coffin. There was an eerie silence—just the footsteps of the mourners, the quiet weeping of the crowd, the clop of the horse’s hooves, and the sound of the wagon wheels on the pavement.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


“Lord, call us to your life!” I wrote that phrase in my bible at Ephesians 4:17. Note to self—be careful what you pray for. You’d better be prepared to respond if you get an answer.

For years I’ve been struggling with finding a church to call home. I went back and forth from the Catholic church, tried a Quaker church, a Lutheran church, and one of those mega-mega-non-denominational Christian churches. Nothing clicked.

In early spring my son told me about a Christian church plant that was just getting started in Arlington. A “church plant” is a new church started by an older established church with the intention that the new church eventually will become independent.

The first couple of times I went to the church, we met in the pastor’s house. There were 20 or 30 people at the service. After a few weeks, the church moved worship services to rented space in an art center. Within a couple of months, attendance grew and an additional Sunday service was added.

The worship services were wonderful, but clearly I didn’t fit in. I don’t live in Arlington and the church has a strong focus on building within the Arlington community. I am way older than all the other attendees who are in their 20s and 30s. Many of them are younger than my own children. They are lovely, warm people, with such faith, but they’re so young. I felt awkward because there was no one even close to my age. I heard myself telling friends that it was like being at a UVA frat party with prayer instead of beer. I couldn’t relate to their iPads and their cable televisions, their loud music, their interest in soccer, and their references to current movies. On the surface we have little in common.

But still, I was learning, inspired, and challenged by the preaching of the pastor, a bright, energetic man who is only 30 years old. What could I possibly learn from a man so young? Apparently I can learn a lot. I kept going. I found that I was looking forward to Sunday mornings. I felt joyful at the prospect of going to church and over time I got to know some of the members. Occasionally it has been a challenge for me to accept some of the church’s teachings (for example, that salvation is only for those who profess to be Christians). I have decided not to worry about that—salvation is not my decision. I’ll just let God sort it out.

A couple of months ago, there was an announcement about an 8-week Gospel class. I signed up and I went every week. In the class I became convinced that what I had been missing in my former failed church encounters was a sense of community. The pastor stressed the importance of a commitment between the church and the members—members live their love of God through involvement in church life and the church leaders commit to the care and spiritual growth of members. It’s a family centered around God.

So now I’ve been struggling with the decision of whether or not to join this church. I’m afraid of the commitment, afraid that I’ll never fit in, afraid that I’ll be the old Catholic grandmother hanging out with a bunch of Evangelical Christian kids. Truthfully, struggle is much too strong a word. I’m not struggling at all. I know it’s where I want to be. God must have pushed me there, kept me going despite my protestations. I’ve completed my membership application and now I’m praying that they will accept me.

Thank you, Lord, for calling me to your life.