Our house has been in a remembering mode as we prepared for the transitions of this summer and beyond. We made a photo album for Tracey Horan who is moving to St. Mary of the Woods, IN for an internship with the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice. Romina had way more than the 200 photos the book would hold and we all enjoyed reviewing our life at Casa de Caridad as we selected our favorites for Tracey. In this experience memory brought a profound sense of gratitude.
Tracey surprised us at our last community morning prayer with paintings at each of our places in the chapel. Amidst all the packing and last-week-of-teaching responsibilities, she had taken the time to create a piece of artwork for each of us, depicting a quality that she felt is our particular gift. Joy, Loyalty, Peace, Rock, Courage, Compassion. Coming to us at the beginning of Pentecost weekend, they seemed to represent to me our own gifts of the Spirit. Of course there are traditionally seven gifts- and Tracey’s would be the seventh. I would name hers: Perseverance. Many were the mornings I found her working on lesson plans at the kitchen table before 5 a.m. Many were the demands and challenges for a new teacher these past two years. But she persevered- just as she did with her half-marathon training, high-desert hiking, and discernment of where God is calling her next. This gift will carry her through the transition to student of organic gardening and alpaca husbandry at “The Woods”. May Our Lady of Providence watch over you, Tracey!
Other departures of the holiday weekend included packing Andrea off to Palestine for a Seeds of Hope school twinning experience and Romina for her long-awaited homecoming to the Philippines. We have gotten good use of our variety of suitcases and backpacks- and our scales to be sure nothing was over the limit. It has been six and a half years since Romina could visit her family as she waited to be allowed to adjust her immigration status for legal permanent residency. I remember how many times she has seen the rest of us leaving for family visits and holidays. Now it’s your turn, Romina! We are all looking forward to meeting the family and seeing the places she plans to visit- via Skype and Facetime. The wonders of technology!
All of these memories have been with me as I worked in the garden the past two days. Today I was moving the compost pile, transferring some into a new raised bed in the front garden. I was pushing the wheelbarrow when a piece of palm caught my eye. Surely someone didn’t put last year’s blessed palm from Palm Sunday in the compost! But there it was, folded neatly into a little cross, tattered but not even close to decomposed. My offended sense of liturgical propriety quickly gave way to a marvelous memory of “composting as the paschal mystery”, a reflection by Sister Paula Gonzalez on the mystery of life-death-resurrection experienced in gardening. The compost pile holds lots of memories because some items are slower to break down. I found stems of Valentine’s Day flowers, a pineapple top from the Easter brunch fruit salad, countless avocado skins and pits from the quantities of guacamole consumed at our house, only outnumbered by the daily coffee filters and grounds. All sacred mementos of our life together. So why not a bit of blessed palm to give sustenance to our tomatoes this summer?
Remembering brings gratitude, even if tinged with the sadness of separation. There is more life, more growth, more fruit to come. In the words of Dag Hammarskjold, “For all that has been…Thanks! To all that will be…Yes!”