Hearts, flowers, yet ANOTHER snowstorm, 45 years and counting…..
This has been one crazy winter in the Northeast and perhaps for most of the country. In New England, sometimes we can see almost a whole winter with no snow at all, while other winters we have snowstorms every 2-3 days. This year is the latter. Everyone is ready to yell “uncle” and asking God to please make it stop. We’re due to chalk up another foot between tonight and tomorrow and if the snow gets much higher in spots, the goats can simply walk over their fences.
Every snowstorm means shovel out those fences and make sure one can open the gates to get the feed, hay and water to the animals. On the other hand, Sophie and Jeremiah, our two Great While Pyrenees, think this stuff is great! They roll around in it, slide down the hill, jump on top of each other and are just like two little kids (or should I say two huge kids) playing outdoors on a free school day or snow day. Our indoor dogs are split on their opinion. Joey, our English setter, thinks it’s great and takes a running leap right over Watson so he can go bounding around the yard. Watson, on the other hand, takes one cautious step onto the outdoor step, looks around, puts his front two feet down, then backtracks to the step, piddles on the step and wants back in the house. He’s a bit of a wimp.
This is also Valentine’s Day (weekend). Funny, how when those holidays get anywhere near a weekend, the whole weekend takes on a celebratory tone.
The poor florists nationwide, it seems, are having a terrible time delivering those pretty bouquets as they climb snow bank after snow bank and go slipping and sliding down sidewalks to get to their delivery destinations. Dinner plans are being cancelled left and right, and I’m sure the restaurants are not too happy either. It’s a funny kind of holiday. No one commemorates the life of St. Valentine, though I have heard mention of the St. Valentine’s massacre as somehow connected (bizarre!). St. Valentine was actually a Christian martyr, and at work in the copy room yesterday, there was actually a picture of him, holding his severed head and greeting a couple of Valentine sweethearts as they ate their special dinner in some fancy restaurant.
He was known to have helped the poor in many ways, including giving dowries to young maidens so they could marry, so that is probably the romantic connection, but the holiday has certainly morphed into something quite different than being concerned about the poor. It’s kind of a frivolous, fun holiday for spending time with your special Valentine and enjoying beautiful flowers and chocolates and a little decadence, often before the season of Lent settles in. Bill and I never really celebrated February 14th; we waited until everything was on sale the next day, February 15th when you could buy those chocolates for 50% off, for February 15th was special to us. We met on a blind date on February 15th, 45 years ago today! I was working for an insurance company in Chicago in their computer department and one of our programmers (we had those back then) had just ordered a new rug for his apartment. He and his wife knew this friend of theirs from their Army days who was currently a poor struggling dental student, who going to help them lay the rug, and I had just found this great bottle of wine, so of course we needed to be introduced. The rug never showed, but we had the party anyway. For me, it was sort of love at first sight….we talked the night away, started dating, and boom, we were engaged four months later! We saved our rubles, for we were poor back then, and wanted a nice wedding, so we were engaged for another year, but Bill and I have had a wonderful life together thus far and are looking forward to what God has yet in store for us! We just heard the restaurant we were going to go to this evening has just cancelled our reservations though and is closing up shop, because of the storm, so we will have to celebrate other ways this evening.
Do I hear a wine cork popping?
If spring ever gets here, I have a feeling it is going to be a muddy one, with all the snow we’ve had this winter, but snow is that “poor man’s fertilizer,” so that said, maybe we are in for a wonderful growing season this year. We certainly hope so! Happy Valentine’s Day, one and all!
Question of the week:
What does the ancient Christian feast of Candlemas have to do with Groundhog Day?
Other than they both land on February 2nd, nothing much jumps to mind…..that is, unless one starts to think about that. Candlemas is a Christmas feast of sorts, celebrating the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple of the Christ child forty days after this birth. It is also a festival of light, especially the light of Christ having come into the world. In ancient times there were three Christmas feasts: Christmas Day, which celebrates the light of Christ’s coming to Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the other Jews; Epiphany, which is a celebration of Christ as a light coming to all the nations; and Candlemas, the second of February, when the light of Christ is passed to each individual to take out from under the proverbial bushel basket and let it shine throughout the world. All three feasts are about light in the middle of winter. In many Churches around the world, candles for the year are also blessed this day. Punxsutawney Phil is also about light…..if he sees enough of it, the shadows tell whether or not we will have an early spring. Since our early February here at MV is beginning to look a lot like January, with snow falling every few days, guess what that pudgy little character told us the other day? You’re right! Six more weeks of winter! Other than dates and a play with lights, however the two days don’t seem to have much in common. But that is OK. They do intersect and they can talk to each other in a way. It is a religious marking of time up against a seasonal nature marking of time. They are different ways of looking at time.
I was recently asked to participate in a panel on Pluralism for an Arts festival of sorts in a near-by city. It is to be a kick-off panel for a series of evenings on pluralism and diversity in today’s society. Not only religious pluralism or ecumenical and interfaith dialogue, but other dialogues as well will be explored: racial, gender, political, religious, science and religion, science and science (since often the physicists don’t have a clue how to talk with the psychologists, etc.), among others. I have participated in interfaith dialogues for several years, and one of the things we learned early on in those dialogues was that there was a tendency to try to see similarities between the groups, and almost cover up the differences. After all, we’re all human, right? and we are looking for common ground, right? But we are each unique. The more the different groups hold to their own identities, the better and the easier it is to see the actual differences, and the more we can begin to appreciate the “other”. Trying to force differences to blend doesn’t help any dialogue or conversation, and pluralism is about conversation. To get to know the other, we need to talk with one another. It is only then that we will be able to learn from the other and appreciate the other.
In a way, this website, Mystical Ventures, is an exploration of that type of pluralism and dialogue. It is a mix of living off the land in a sustainable ecological way alongside Catholic religious beliefs. Eco-theology is an emerging branch of theology today. How does one’s faith life call one to take care of the planet? What does religious stewardship really mean? How is one’s morality fashioned in such a way that care of animals and care of nature are included alongside love of neighbor and love of God? We share a planet. We live alongside not only other peoples, but other creatures and other life-sustaining systems. It is time the conversation begin or it is time those conversations continue to discover our diversities and our pluralities. By learning of those things that we can see, hopefully one day, we will come to see and understand more clearly the Holy One whom we do not see. Praise God!