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.

Distraction

From the time we began to shelter in place, practice social distancing, and otherwise to adapt to a covid world, I developed difficulty focusing.  And that was BEFORE I came to Maryland and began to help with my five year old grandson who has focus problems of his own and the 18 month old who is, well, an 18 month old!

            So, what to do?  Writing in my journal used to be helpful, and still is sometimes when I actually sit down to do it.  Meditation and prayer have been  important to me for both focus and my spiritual life.  But space and time for that is very hard to come by at the moment. 

          In search of other means to add to my “arsenal,” I turned to: what else? Google!  In an article on INC.com, I came across some suggestions that are less frequently recommended.  One was to make a “distraction list.”  Paul David Lozano is quoted as writing, “Sometimes you will get distracted by a thought that disrupts your focus. When this happens, create a distraction list. Just create a new text file. Now, rename it to ‘Distraction list’. After doing so, place it in your desktop,” he explains. “Whenever a stray thought intrudes and breaks your concentration, add it to your list. Usually it won’t come back.” I will have to test that out for myself. (For tech disabled people like me, a text file simply doesn’t have all the formatting and ends with .txt instead of .doc or .docx.  I suspect I would just use whatever I found simplest for me).

PsyBlog is quoted as recommending a short breathing exercise that simply involves counting groups of nine breaths:  nine inhales and nine exhales which reportedly boosted participants’ scores on a test of attention. The blog also suggests that brightly colored rooms can boost concentration because people perform at their best when somewhat stimulated, red or yellow being preferred.  However, too much or too little stimulation tends to make people’s performance worse.

         A suggestion that especially appealed to me was to learn a foreign language.  Apparently even a minimal amount of time spent on such a task can increase your capacity to focus on tasks of all types. The site reports that after only a week of study, students show improved attention skills and were better able to switch their attention and filter out irrelevant details. Rosetta Stone French is on my computer and I will endeavor to spend some time there.  

But my most favorite of all was to eat dark chocolate! “Chocolate is indeed a stimulant and it activates the brain in a really special way. It can increase brain characteristics of attention,” commented Larry Stevens, who conducted research into the focus-boosting effects of this tasty snack.

         Blessings on your efforts…and see bonus recipe below.

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.  Hope’s Café Bonus: 

Terri’s Crockpot Hot Fudge Cake

1 pkg (dark) chocolate cake mix

1 pkg instant chocolate pudding

4 eggs

1 c. water

1 pint sour cream

¾ c. oil

6 oz  (dark)chocolate chips

In a large bowl stir together the cake mix and the pudding mix.  In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the water, then add the sour cream and oil and stir until smooth.  Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and beat well.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spray the inside of the crockpot with a nonstick spray.  Pour batter into crockpot.  Place a paper towel over the top of the crockpot and then cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Check after four hours to see if cake is firm.  Th paper towel absorbs the moisture and keeps it from dripping back into the pot.  Change it once or twice or as it gets wet.  Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Journaling

When I recently packed to travel to help care for my grandsons, I packed my journals.  I have kept journals off and on for years. Before she was even born, I started one journal to my daughter. I continued to her 17th birthday, when I gave it to her as a present.  She told me years later in the midst of an emotional crisis she turned to the journal, reading through it to ground herself. I never thought about it serving that purpose for her.  However, I know at times I read back through my own, reminded of difficult things I came through and of pleasant memories I can briefly relive.

            As a therapist, I often encouraged clients to journal for the therapeutic value of it.  One woman would journal at my office and would leave her writing with me as she did not want her thoughts discovered at home, while she sought to unravel her tangled feelings and seek her path forward. 

            Last summer at my pastorate in Florida, by some circuitous route, one of my husband Terry’s long-ago clients found a number for me.  For safekeeping, she had secured at her grandmother’s  house  a copy of her record of treatment as a teenager.   Her grandmother had recently died and she was closing down her grandmother’s home.  There she discovered the chart, a journal of sorts, that carried the story of her treatment.    Now an adult with children of her own, she wanted to let Terry know how well her life had turned out and how much she valued his help at a critical time.

            My husband, a combat veteran of two tours in Vietnam, is now writing his memoir of those years. George Orwell said “Good writing is like a windowpane.” I see the windowpane my husband is creating, the relief as he unburdens himself.  He often spoke of Vietnam in years past but usually in a more detached way.  Now some deeper part of him is open to live more fully.

            I now keep journals for my grandsons. I don’t know if they will be meaningful to them someday.  But as I wrote in their journals yesterday while Jenna and Gabriel napped and Sebastian played, Sebastian wanted to “write” in his.  I let him scribble on some blank pages.  He interpreted his markings: “I love you from my happy birthday.”  (We hear a lot about his birthday which occurred a month ago. He insists he will have another one soon!)  So maybe someday it will mean something to him that his Nana kept a journal for him.  Maybe he will even keep his own. 

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:  If you need a little snack while you write, here is a 3 ingredient cookie recipe from my daughter:  2 c. rolled oats; 3 overripe bananas; ½ c. nut butter; ¼ c. chocolate chips, optional.  Drop by spoonsful on parchment paper on baking sheet at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Best hot out of the oven.  Once cooled, best warmed just a bit.  Enjoy!

Caramel Apples

I don’t recall the first time I ate a caramel apple.  I remember the first time I tried to make my own.  A college girlfriend and I unwrapped all the caramels in the package, put them in the saucepan to heat, and initially followed the recipe on the bag.  But the recipe barely calls for any water and we were sure that couldn’t be right.  We added water till we considered it sufficient.  We then discovered we had a lovely sauce but the mixture was way too runny to cover the apples—a life lesson you might say.  (Maybe several life lessons:  consider following the directions before embarking on a project; when you make a mistake, use it to some advantage!  The sauce was lovely for dipping apples.  It did not go to waste!)

            I have made many such apple treats successfully since then and probably purchased about as many as I have made.  There is just something about the crispness of the apple and the sweetness of the caramel that gives me such pleasure.  My mother had a similar delight.  I recall so many times my mother declaring, “Oh, I just love a tarty apple!”  We always smiled when she said it.  She truly took such pleasure in that small act and so predictably responded with the same comment every single time. 

            In the midst of all that we deal with in our daily lives and in the world around us, we surely need to identify those little comforts which bring us miniature bursts of something akin to joy.  Last year I spent a lot of time in airports, going through the frequent hassles air travel entails.   I often found caramel apples available for sale and took the opportunity to indulge.  I would sit at my gate to await my flight, eat my caramel apple and count my blessings. 

            Chadwick Boseman, who concealed his cancer for several years before dying, tweeted: “Inhale and exhale this moment, and thank God for the unique beauties and wonders of this day.”  What a great reminder!

So I urge you to take care of yourselves.  Seek small pleasures.  Inhale and exhale this moment……And, if you are so inclined, eat an apple!

 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. Hope’s Café Bonus:  melt an 11 oz. bag of caramels with 3/4t. vanilla extract, and 1 T. water over low heat, stirring constantly.  When melted, insert wooden craft sticks in four washed and dried Granny Smith (or other tart—“tarty” 😊) apples. Dip in the mixture and set them on buttered waxed paper.  You may sprinkle nut pieces, mini chocolate chips or other add-ons as your taste and creativity allow. Then set in refrigerator for caramel to harden a bit.   Enjoy…and count your blessings!                                                          

                    

Random Acts

This week I was in Ace Hardware getting some keys made.  While the employee made the keys, I wandered around their gift section looking for a housewarming gift.  My back was hurting and I had my hand on my back.  When I went to pay for my purchases, the young woman at checkout, who looked all of nineteen, asked in a very concerned voice, “Is your back hurting?”  I responded in the affirmative and said I’d had back surgery. The back is much better, I said, but still hurts sometimes.  “Do you get treatment for it?” she continued.  I told her that yes, I do some massage and some chiropractic.  She said, “Oh, that’s the best.”  As I exited the store, she called after me, “I hope you get to feeling better.”  That cost her nothing but I felt the comforting glow of her sweet gesture. 

            I know I often miss opportunities to do this very same sort of random act of kindness.  For whatever reason, I don’t notice or I don’t take time to offer it. But this brought to mind another kind of random act, which I would term “random acts of responsibility.”  This is actually a painful disclosure and is perhaps directed more towards myself than anyone else.  But I offer it on the off chance that someone else out there might benefit from the reminder.

            Some years ago, while I was still in practice as a therapist, I was in the grocery store and encountered a woman who looked like she had been battered.  One eyeball was partially out of the socket and she looked like she had some bruises.  But she had this goofy smile on her face and was going down the aisle selecting groceries.  I simply couldn’t process that this person was functioning as though everything was normal when it clearly wasn’t.  She didn’t make any effort to convey she was in any pain or in search of any help and I didn’t offer any.  I suspect she was experiencing shock. But her face has haunted me through the years, as has my lack of response. 

Why didn’t I say, “Do you need some help?”  Maybe because I thought I might be called on to get involved?  Even young children put me to shame these days:  a seven year old in Texas began a nonprofit called Mac and Cheese and Pancakes to get kid-favorite foods donated to food pantries; a 10 year old in Massachusetts sold over $13,000 worth of baseball card to help with expenses for two friends with cancer;  due to a kindergarten student with cerebral palsy, a fifth grade class in Michigan approached their principal about making a handicap accessible playground and began a fundraiser to make it happen.

So much of life is limited only by our creativity, imagination, and willingness to respond to those needs we encounter.

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. Hope’s Café Bonus:  In honor of Kaden Newton, view his Facebook site for Mac and Cheese and Pancakes.  If you google Mac and Cheese and Pancakes, you will see recipes for Mac and Cheese Pancakes; one recipe includes a side of hotdogs; and I even saw a recipe for Mac and Cheesecake.  Who knew?? 😊

Time

            August 15 I noticed my calendar was still on July.  For me, perhaps for you as well, there has been a sense of timelessness during this period of Covid 19.  Usually, there have been markers over the course of the year such that even when time seems to be “flying,” I still have a perception of “in February we took a trip to (fill in the blank); “in May we had a big celebration for (fill in the blank); and so on.  When one day is often much like the one before it and the one after it, time seems to lose its meaning.

            Steven R. Covey says that you can spend time on useful things or useless things.  However, if you consider the term “investing” instead of “spending,” he suggests you will invest it in something that has meaning and value for you.  I have wondered how we will look back on this period; will it seem to have been “lost time,” nothing gained, or “valuable time,” well “invested”?

            Given that at this point it appears that we could be restricted from our normal activities for some time to come, this would seem to be an excellent time to take stock. Imagine yourself a year from now.  What would you like to look back on?

            Covey wrote about making a personal mission statement, stating that “Whatever is at the center of our life will be the source of our security, guidance, wisdom and power.”

             Just before New Year’s 2019, I came across a similar idea in a post from inward/outward where the writer suggested making a “roadmap” for the year ahead.  The writer began her roadmap with the words: “To keep my equilibrium, I have to remember the way I have come and who brought me here, which helps keep me grounded.” She then enumerated the things she would rely on to stay grounded and centered.  She concluded with these words: “This is just my road map– always being updated in the moment, as the spirit directs.”

            What will keep you grounded and centered through this period?  What will it take to look back a year from now to say “I grew through this time and I take satisfaction in how I managed this opportunity”?

            Blessings as you continue the “covid journey.”

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:  I share a poem that helped center and ground me:

Rumblings

                                                There are rumblings in my soul.

                                                The earth cracks open:

                                                Lava spills out

                                                Across the landscape of my life,

                                                Warming me/burning me.

                                                There are rumblings in my soul.

                                                The earth cradles me,

                                                Even as it shifts,

                                                Moving me in some direction

                                                I strain to perceive.

                                                There are rumblings in my soul.

                                                The earth propels me:

                                                Whether I stumble or find sure footing,

                                                I am sustained.

                                                There are rumblings in my soul:

                                                Prophets of the earth,

                                                Foretelling change to come,

                                                Change erupting even now,

                                                Gift of the universe.

                                                            —-Kate Stulce

                                                            Written October 2002

                                                            Sante Fe, New Mexico*

                                    * Descriptive of the spiritual journey I have experienced,

                                    which was only beginning to evolve when I wrote this poem.