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Finding Hope Through Gratitude

I believe in the message of hope. I believe in hope in the midst of despair. I believe when we are despairing, God despairs with us. And that underpins hope, because if God suffers with us, there is meaning in that hopeless experience.

A compassionate God offers us a steady supply of hope, but we do not always avail ourselves of it. Our means to do that is through gratitude. Gratitude is what brings hope into the present moment. Hope may seem a distant promised land but gratitude gives us awareness of the manna we are eating in the wilderness at this very moment.” 

These words were the opening of a paper I wrote for a ministry class some years ago but the words ring as true to me today.  As we wander in the wilderness of Covid 19, there are many for whom gratitude may seem a stretch.  Maybe you have lost a loved one and the virus has prevented having the closure of a celebration of life surrounded by friends and family. Maybe your job has been shut down and you have children to feed. Perhaps you are experiencing deep depression or panic attacks fueled by our present circumstances.  How do you find gratitude within yourself in this present moment?

“In this present moment” is the key.  In this present moment, ground yourself.  Take some slow, deep breaths.  Ask yourself: where are my feet? That may seem silly.  Do it anyway.  Recognize your feet as connected to solid ground (or imagine them connected if something prevents your putting them flat on the floor). 

Ask yourself:  where is my head? What thoughts am I feeding?  Name at least one thing for which you are grateful.  Continue searching if something doesn’t come immediately.  You might look to the book of Psalms or some other reading that you find uplifting.  I have sometimes turned to Psalm 42: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me?  Hope thou in God, for I shall yet again praise him for the help of his countenance.” If all else fails, think of someone you can do something for and be grateful for that motivation. 

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.

            Shalom, Kate

P.S. Bonus healthy snack from Hope’s Cafe:  slice an apple and sprinkle cinnamon on it. Dip it in yogurt. 😊

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday, begun in 2012, was created by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, with the intent to create a day that was all about celebrating the generosity of giving, an antidote to the consumer culture. Each year since, the first Tuesday following Thanksgiving has been designated Giving Tuesday. Though information for the first year is incomplete, $10.1 million was collected through Blackbaud, a leading software company powering social good. 

              In my FaceBook memories this week, I found a post from 2017 where I had just heard on the news that the amount spent on gifts between Thanksgiving and Christmas was expected to be 682 billion (“with a B”) dollars. By comparison, the amount collected for Giving Tuesday in 2017 turned out to be $274 million (with an M”) dollars.  The reality is that Giving Tuesday has grown each year.  Since its inception nearly 2 billion dollars has been raised for various nonprofits. 

 The comment made on the news report I had heard in 2017 was that the spending “would be good for the economy.”  I pondered when the economy became the god we all worshiped.  I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about how the economy works.  While theoretically a good economy is good for everyone, with employers more willing to hire, some people clearly benefit much more than others.  If the worker pool is plentiful, employers don’t necessarily feel any need to raise pay or benefits. 

In the best case, when we look back on this season of Covid 19, perhaps we will recognize we have come to develop a greater appreciation for enjoying simple pleasures and doing with less.  The opposite effect could occur as well:  having felt “deprived” we might become all the more greedy “to make up for lost time.”  May we endeavor to work toward the former and eschew the latter.

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  When I reposted my FB memory from 2017, I stated that my intention is to make every Tuesday a Giving Tuesday between December 1, 2020 and December 1,2021.  I am considering how I will live out this intention.  Perhaps you may choose to honor it in some special way yourself.  Reminder:  Giving Tuesday will be celebrated this year on December 1.

Ancestors

I am alive because an infant, the lone survivor of an Indian raid, was rescued by neighboring villagers in the 1700s. I remember being stunned when I learned this from my brother’s work on genealogy. To think I might not have ever existed!  But I didn’t consider how many other people would be descendants of that little baby….that is, until I had the following experience.

              I had gone to an assisted living facility to visit a church member who had recently moved there.   She was occupied with physical therapy but suggested I visit her daughter, also a church member, who was in the woman’s room rearranging some clothes.  The daughter had been carrying the burden of her husband’s medical problems, her mother’s physical limitations and the move to the new residence.  Our conversation evolved into things she was missing, to include the work she had put aside on genealogy.  She mentioned relatives in her history with the name of Ragsdale and I said “Oh, we have that name in our family too!” And then she repeated the story of the rescued infant that I had only ever heard told in my family.  Wow! We laughed but were curious if we might in fact be related.  I sent her the information my brother had gathered.  When she eventually had the opportunity to pursue this, she discovered indeed we are distantly related.

              As I think of this now, I wonder how many people I have encountered along the way, never knowing we shared genetics.  Even more important, I think of what it could mean for our communities, our society, our world, if we lived as though we are all connected, part of something larger, that our commonalities and differences are all threads composing a vibrant tapestry. Consider this as you go about your daily encounters.

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  For another story of descendants of survivors, read the uplifting story of Nicholas Winton, dubbed the British Schlinder.

Perigrinatio

Spending my days with a preschooler and toddler, I am seeing a lot of information on their learning sites about “patterning,” which, as nearly as I can tell, is a fancier word for what we have always done with children.  Learning predictable patterns prepares children to read and to do math.  But I came across a beautiful devotion which quoted Hildegarde of Bingen from the 12th century who spoke of becoming “like a feather on God’s breath.”  The devotion’s author, Christine Valters Paintner, described perigrinatio, a journey, especially a long and meandering one, not at all predictable.

            In the Celtic tradition, perigrinatio was a special kind of pilgrimage, Ms. Paintner wrote.  The ancient Celtic monks would leave all that was safe and secure behind and take off to find their “places of resurrection,” which is to say, the place God was calling them to settle and offer their gifts.  She reported that St. Brendan the Navigator, a 6th century Celtic monk, took off with 12 other monks in little boats without rudders or oars, trusting the winds would take them where they were meant to go.

            The term “flying blind” comes to mind.  That expression came into being during World War II, when it was used by pilots who could not see the horizon and had to rely on instruments. It came into popular usage to indicate feeling one’s way, proceeding by guesswork.

            In the midst of our current pandemic, we may feel like we are “flying blind.” But I wonder if we couldn’t borrow on the Celtic tradition and frame this period of time as a perigrinatio, a special kind of pilgrimage.  Without minimizing the difficulties inherent in this present moment, perhaps perigrinatio gives us a way to seek meaning in what can otherwise feel like a quagmire of uncertainty.  Does the very lack of predictability present opportunities we might miss in ordinary circumstances?

 May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  Perhaps a feather in some visible place could serve as a reminder to stay open to this“pilgrimage” and its possibilities. 😊

Reverence

            “Ethics, too, are nothing but reverence for life.  That is what gives me the fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, promoting and enhancing life, and that destroying, injuring and limiting life are evil,” wrote Albert Schweitzer.

            Schweitzer was a “polymath,” a person of wide-ranging knowledge. He received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for his philosophy of “Reverence for Life,” the eighth Frenchman to be awarded that prize.  He was born in Alsace in the then German empire to a family which for generations had been devoted to religion, music and education.  His father and maternal grandfather were ministers, both talented organists.  He first studied music but then pursued  theology and became a priest.

 Still feeling the need to do more to alleviate suffering, he turned to the study of medicine.  He and his wife, who was a nurse, built and ran a hospital at the mission station Lambarene in Gabon (then French Equatorial Africa) on the west coast of central Africa.  Though supplies and equipment were rudimentary, Africans flocked to Schweitzer’s hospital.

When World War I broke out, the German born Schweitzers were sent to an internment camp but later returned to serve the hospital they had established.  However, Schweitzer would often return to Europe where he would give organ concerts and lectures on culture and ethics to raise funds to support the hospital.  When he won the Nobel Prize, he used the money to build a leprosarium for the treatment of lepers in Africa.

Reverence seems in short supply these days so Schweitzer’s model is even more remarkable.  In addition to his contributions through music, his pastoring and his medicine, he was one of the first to promote the ethical treatment of animals and was a strong opponent of nuclear weapons.

Consider how you demonstrate reverence in your life and reflect on these words of this revered man: “By having a reverence for life, we enter into a spiritual relation with the world.  By practicing reverence for life, we become good, deep and alive.”

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  An addendum to this story:

One morning in 1905 Schweitzer, then a charismatic and successful writer, cleric, musician, and lecturer with brilliant future prospects, experienced a profound religious revelation calling him to renounce worldly success and devote himself to the betterment of humankind. At age 30, Schweitzer answered the call of The Society Of The Evangelist Missions of Paris, who were looking for a medical doctor. He later wrote that the parable of Dives [rich man] and Lazarus had spoken to him. Europeans were “Dives,” Africans were “Lazarus;” Dives had medical knowledge which he took for granted, while Lazarus suffered from illness and pain but has no doctors to help him. He planned to spread the Gospel by the example of his Christian labor of healing, instead of through the evangelical process of preaching, and believed that this service should be acceptable within any branch of Christian teaching. (from thenewworldencyclopedia.org ).

Regrets

“Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention,” crooned Frank Sinatra in 1969.  Really, Frank?? I’ve had more than a few.  While I don’t think it benefits me to ruminate on them, I believe it is helpful to recognize them.

            When I was in my teens, maybe about the time I began to get some recognition for my writing, my father began to talk to me about a story he had in mind to write.  It seems to me that it was about a pioneer family.  He would have known something about that since he spent his early years in Plains, Ks.  I recall his older sister Billie telling me a story about the five children piled horizontally in a bed.  She described watching snow drift in through chinks in the walls. 

            “Nothing Books” (blank journals) were something of a trend about that time.  I remember giving him one, telling him that was for writing his story. Some years later I found it still blank and reminded him he had a story to write.  It seems like we talked again then about the story he was going to write.

            In his final years, I said, “Daddy, remember that story you were going to write?  What if you told it to me and I wrote it for you?”  And the memory of this moment still brings on melancholy:  he responded, really in a rather indifferent manner, “I don’t remember it.”

            Perhaps that experience contributed to my determination to write and publish a book that had been buzzing around in my head for some years.  I knew nothing about getting a book published.  But I began to explore resources.  That same process led to this blog.

            While some regrets are perhaps too late for a “do over,” many times there is still room for “course correction.”   I wonder if my father lacked confidence in his ability.  While I suffer from that affliction, I now have had enough experience to know I can persist with challenges.  The old adage from Thomas Edison that “Success is 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration” holds true. 

            Consider reviewing any regrets you have.  There may be some that are “tweak worthy.” 😊

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  Perhaps a blog on “regrets” deserves a “Sorry Cake” recipe:  Mix 2 c. Bisquick, 1 lb. brown sugar, 4 eggs, 2 c. pecans and 1 T. vanilla. (The recipe doesn’t call for it but I think it begs for some cinnamon). Pour into a greased 9×13 pan and bake 35 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  You’ll be “sorry” and “regret” you didn’t find this recipe sooner!

Autumn

This week I found in my Facebook memories this post I had written a year ago on an October day:

“Tuesday the sky was a languid lavender, looked like a soft, cozy comforter I could pull down and snuggle under. Yesterday the sky emerged bleary-eyed, shaking the fog from its vision.  Today it is a blank blue, waiting for clouds to write on it, like my own life waiting for me to present myself to the day, to be open and willing to make the most of this time and space given to me.”

What a difference a year makes!  This autumn has carried with it a sense of melancholy.  I noted two friends who posted about this this week: the awareness of a certain loss, memories of activities we associate with fall that aren’t available because of Covid 19 or are too risky to engage in them for the same reason.  I also came across a photo in my FB memories of a Carmel Apple Dump Cake* I took to an annual fall gathering I regularly attended where many friends gathered to enjoy the weather, some great food and company. 

While we are here in Maryland providing childcare, we take advantage of every pretty day to get outside with the kids, often taking the opportunity to explore different parks.  But I’m so aware of how many precautions we have to take and the longing children have to see other kids.   If there are very many there, we just leave.  Even if there are a few, we generally leave if they are not masked.  And yet Sebastian talks about hoping he’ll have some friends to play with at the park.  Once we went to a park where a couple were there with their son Sebastian’s age and a three year old daughter and the three children just jumped up and down and up and down for several minutes they were so excited to see playmates.

So, of course this autumn lacks the luster that we have come to associate with crisp air and colorful trees.  But perhaps we can take a cue from those three children:  when the rare opportunity presents itself to enjoy the moment, seize it and savor it. May we not become so jaded that we miss what is available.

 May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  This is not the recipe I used but I will likely try it. Comes from the site “Show Me the Yummy”:  Slow Cooker Carmel Apple Dump Cake*: “Dump cake is a cake you make by dumping all the ingredients in a pan and baking it. This caramel apple dump cake is just that but instead of a cake pan, it’s a crockpot. This combination of ingredients seriously tastes like Fall. It’s nice and crispy on the outside while remaining soft and gooey on the inside. Apple Pie Filling – I use one can but if you prefer more apple, use two! Pecans – add an amazing crunchy texture. Caramel Ice Cream Topping – use jarred topping or make this homemade salted caramel sauce! Spice Cake Mix – don’t make the cake; just use the dry cake mix! (or yellow cake mix with some pumpkin pie spice added works). Unsalted Butter – keeps the cake gooey on the inside, slightly crisp on the outside, all while providing a rich, buttery flavor. Vanilla Ice Cream – for serving!”

Spread the apple pie slices in the bottom of a well-greased crockpot. Top with pecans. Cover with carmel sauce. Spread the dry cake mix on top.  Top with the unsalted butter cut in cubes.  Bake in crockpot for 4-6 hrs.  Enjoy it topped with vanilla ice cream. 

Bonus Children

Several years ago, when I had some carpets and upholstery cleaned, the company I used sent a young man who unwittingly gave me a great gift.  He didn’t do an exceptional cleaning job, but his pearl of wisdom was worth having hired him.  He was quite gregarious and in one final bit of conversation before he left, he mentioned his stepchildren, stating he didn’t consider them stepchildren but bonus children.  I immediately thought of my “bonus daughter,” a much more apt description of how I experience my stepdaughter, who is a treasure.

            In addition to the gift of being the biological parent to my daughter, and a stepmother (bonus mother?) to my “bonus daughter,” I have been a foster parent, a “host mother” to our lovely German exchange student, and now am a mother-in-law to two extraordinary men, definitely bonuses.  But I also think of many children I have worked with through the years, “bonuses” for me, children now well into adulthood and perhaps parents, maybe grandparents, themselves.  I still recall them and wonder how their lives are going.  One early experience has always stayed with me.

            I was just out of college working at Headstart.  Melvin, age four, was one of my students.  I was fascinated with him.  At recess he would seek out his two year old sister and walk around the playground with her.  One day he engaged me in this conversation:

            “Teacher, do you got a wife?”

            “No, Melvin, I don’t have a wife. (And this being early ‘70s, and not 2020, I said):“Men have wives.  Women have husbands.”

            “Well, teacher, do you got a husband?”

            “No, Melvin, I don’t have a husband.”

            “Well, teacher, do you got children?”

            “No, Melvin, I don’t have children.”

            (Melvin, looking very puzzled, edging on distress):  “Teacher, do you got a puppy?”

            “No, Melvin, I don’t have a puppy.”

            (Melvin, now clearly concerned): “Teacher, don’t you got nothin’?”

            Now, his life was not without its problems.  His father often never made it to pick him up because he had stopped at the neighborhood bar.  We would call his mother, who would have to leave her job as a nurse to come get him.  Yet, Melvin clearly had a sense of what was essential, vital to his wellbeing.  I have never forgotten that conversation.

            Perhaps it would make a huge shift in how we consider others if we think of them as “bonuses” in our lives.  And likely we all could take a lesson from Melvin, who anchored himself in what was of paramount importance.  

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  Easy “kid snack” for all the “bonus children”(of any age 😊) in your life:  Mix popcorn, pretzels, a favorite crunchy cereal, M&Ms (we like pretzel M&Ms), nuts or whatever other mix-ins that you prefer. Happy eating!

Moral Fatigue

I don’t usually struggle to decide a topic for this blog.  But this week I just felt worn, frazzled, uninspired.  (They say caring for a toddler and preschooler day after day when you are 70 plus will do that to you!)  But somewhere in the recesses of my mind a phrase “moral fatigue” drifted up to my conscience awareness.  I couldn’t quite recall exactly to what it referred.  So, of course, I googled it. 

          The term originated in the nursing field where the nature of their work requires constant decision-making that has potential consequences.  Even those of us not on the medical front now face everyday choices that during the pandemic could have consequences that affect our health, the health of loved ones and that of our communities. Moral fatigue is defined as being confronted with difficult situations where “the right thing to do” is unclear and fraught with “what-ifs,” according to the Providence Health Team.

“Whether it’s trying to decide if you should visit a sick family member, order delivery, take public transit, or take a trip to the grocery store, we now have to think through the potential implications of many of our totally normal, everyday actions and decisions in a way we never had to before, because of how they could affect others,” the author of a Rolling Stones article wrote this spring.  He noted that this is “exhausting.”  (Do tell!!)

Once when I went to the grocery store early in the Covid 19 shutdown the shelves were absolutely wiped out of any candy.  I have seen reference online to folks buying larger clothing due to weight gain.  I myself consider chocolate a survival tool.  Everyone indeed needs a survival kit.  Best it includes other “tools” besides food and drink! 

Some of the things I do include reminding myself that there have been people throughout history who have overcome difficult, even horrific experiences.  I seek to give thanks daily as the day begins for yet another day and pray to “stay tethered” to God’s Spirit.  Though my days are focused on child care and household tasks I seek to take pleasure in them.  When I have opportunities, I journal or read or rest.  Thus far we have had beautiful weather and we get out every day to a park.  At night when I put Sebastian to bed, we talk about our blessings that day.  I recognize some days are harder than others to live by these tenets.  But these help keep me going.  Blessings as you develop your own survival kits and make the best use of your tools. 

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.  Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  Consider doing some gentle stretches and brewing some Lavender-Chamomile Tea.  The recipe from Eating Well suggests that “the scent alone of this stress-relieving tea will lead you to relaxation.”  Mix 1 (2g) bag of 1tsp chamomile or 1 T. fresh chamomile; 1/2t. dried lavender or 1 ½ T. fresh lavender; ½ t. dried mint or 1 ½ T. fresh mint coarsely chopped and 1 c. boiling water.  Allow to steep for 15 minutes and strain.

As you sip your tea, you could sit enjoying silence, perhaps read a poem or allow this blessing to sink in:  “And now may the mystery, wonder and peace of God’s presence, fall upon you like a soft gentle rain, soaking into your heart to comfort you, to mind you, and to make you whole.” (A Blessing of Presence by Bob Holmes).

Books

My first-grade year was very disrupted by one teacher after another quitting.  One broke her leg.  Another had some kind of mental breakdown.  I don’t know what happened with the others.  I didn’t think we were a particularly difficult class though I do remember one poor little girl that I’m sure had an unrecognized learning disability.  Every day she was taken back to the “cloak room” and spanked by the teacher, as any noncompliance was seen as misbehavior.  Even as a six-year old, I could see something was patently wrong in this situation.

            Because of the inconsistent teaching, I was not learning to read.  My distressed mother bought a collection of little toys and put them in a bag.  Every time I read a book, I could pick something from the bag.  Then came the day when I asked for my prize.   When my mother said there would be no more prizes I wasn’t upset.  By that time I recognized that reading had become its own reward.  I have always felt sorry for folks who have difficulty reading or simply don’t like to.

I recently came across information about the benefits of reading aloud.  A recent study from the University of Waterloo found that you are more likely to remember something if you read it out loud, that speaking text aloud helps to get words into long-term memory. Dubbed the “production effect,” the study determined that it is the dual action of speaking and hearing oneself that has the most beneficial impact on memory.   

Another study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the brain lights up the same way when you read to yourself as when you read aloud.  The Waterloo study, however, emphasized that learning and memory benefit from active involvement.

Reading aloud to oneself is not something I had considered.  I enjoy reading to my grandchildren and to my spouse on long trips.  The closest I come to reading aloud to myself is when I sit on the porch and “preach to the birds,” (practice my sermon prior to preaching on a Sunday 😊).  But I do enjoy even that.

         In this age when there are so many digital devices in which to engage, reading remains fundamental to our growth and enrichment.  Consider sharing in the reply section of this blog something you have read recently that you enjoyed or found meaningful in some way. And happy reading! 😊

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.

          Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Café Bonus:  Curl up with a good book and enjoy some Spicy Hot Cocoa: To make two mugs:  Place 2 c.  whole milk and 1 T. brown sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in 5 oz chopped semisweet chocolate (chocolate chips work, too!), ½ t. vanilla extract, ¼ t. ground cinnamon and a pinch of ground chili pepper.  Allow the spices to infuse for 5 min., then return saucepan to low heat until it simmers.  Strain and pour into mugs, then garnish your cocoa with whipped cream, a pinch of cayenne and a cinnamon stick stirrer.

Aging Gracefully

“I’m young at heart.  I’m just old in my back and knees” was a recent Facebook post by my niece-in-law.   I identify!  After my father came to live with us, I recall multiple times his looking in the mirror in wonder, saying “I still feel the same inside but I hardly recognize the person in the mirror.”

            Imagine my surprise when I googled Aging Gracefully and found a site by that name established by a woman who lives in my hometown! She posts many quotes about aging, about life. Two I especially liked:

            “I have resolved to live, not just endure, every season of my life.”

            “I want to be so distracted by loving life that I never realize I’m growing older.”

            My mother-in-law, by that time in her eighties, used to say she taught “the old people’s” Sunday School class, implying they were the old people and she was not.  In my forties at that time, I found her statement so amusing.  Only now do I discover “old people” are Other People, certainly not me!

          My husband said I should consider titling this “Aging Awkwardly.” (I almost re-titled it “Aging Gracefully (Or Not).”  Truly, that is likely a better description for what really goes on.  Aging can feel like dodging landmines and sometimes actually encountering them.

          A dose of healthy denial can improve outlook in one’s later years, suggests Susan Whitbourne, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and past president of the American Psychological Association’s Division on Aging.  “The people who do the best with aging aren’t thinking that much about getting older.  They’re not really focusing on what’s not working anymore.  If you sit around mulling over the meaning of existence and how time is running is running out, you’re building a scenario where you’re not going to age as successfully,” she said.

Author Louise Hay, who died at age 90 after surviving 40 years past a diagnosis of “incurable” cervical cancer, wrote:  “Know that you are the perfect age.  Each year is special and precious, for you shall only live it once.  Be comfortable with growing older.”  Seems right to me!

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.

Shalom, Kate

Hope’s Cafe Bonus: Overnight Quinoa Pudding, a “healthy aging recipe” as printed in Eating Well Magazine, September 2020. This recipe uses kefir instead of milk for a probiotic boost and maple syrup instead of refined sugar. Prep time is minimal—just leave the mixture in the refrigerator overnight to firm up: 1 c. cooked and cooled quinoa; 3/4 c. plain kefir; 1 T. chia seeds, plus more for serving; 2 t. pure maple syrup; 1/4 t. vanilla extract; dash of ground cinnamon; fresh berries for serving. Combine quinoa, kefir, chia seeds, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl or jar. Refrigerate overnight. To serve, top with berries and more chia, if desired.