Our son Zane made his Confirmation and First Holy Communion on September 18, 2020. This beautiful and important milestone in his life was definitely a ray of light in otherwise dark times. Originally, Zane was supposed to receive his Sacraments back in April, but the COVID-19 pandemic upended those plans like it did so many other aspects of our lives.
Our diocese recently instituted something called “Restored Order,” which has children make their Confirmation and First Holy Communion at the same time in third grade, thus completing all at once the Sacraments of Initiation which began with their baptism in infancy.
The Restored Order worked out well for Zane because he was coming into the Church as a convert and needed to be Confirmed before making his First Holy Communion—otherwise he would have been received at the Easter Vigil like I was. Zane received his Sacraments with his classmates from school, which I think will be a nice memory for him. He is the third generation of our family to make his Confirmation and First Holy Communion in our hometown of Keene, NH, which is really special. Our parish priest from Walpole was able to come down and concelebrate the Mass, as well, which was so meaningful for all of us.
Zane’s sponsor was his grandmother, my husband’s mother (she was also my sponsor). It was truly such a beautiful and wonderful evening for the whole family. Please keep this next generation of little Catholics in your prayers as they travel on their journey of faith.
Spring here is at first so wary,
And then so spare that even the birds act like strangers,
Trying out the strange air with a hesitant chirp or two,
And then subsiding. But the season intensifies by degrees,
Imperceptibly, while the colors deepen out of memory,
The flowers bloom and the thick leaves gleam in the sunlight . . .
—from “The Late Wisconsin Spring” by John Koethe
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Then shall the trees of the wood sing for joy before the Lord . . .
—1 Chronicles 16:33
One must have impeccable timing if one wants to see the spring ephemerals—the delicate flowers that appear on the forest floor in early spring and vanish seemingly overnight. We were out on the trails last week and only the speckled leaves of the trout-lily were showing. But, I knew the blooms wouldn’t be far behind, and I remembered from previous years that they show up right when I can see (from my kitchen window) the trees’ new leaves foaming green on the other side of the pond. And, that’s what I saw today, so I knew it was time for a walk in the woods.
In reality it could be dumb luck, but all the old favorites were on display: Jack-in-the-pulpit, mayapple, wake-robin, violet, and trout-lily. There were a few wild oats, too, and everywhere we looked the golden spiral of a fern leaf was unfurling. One plant new to me this year is the two-leafed toothwort or crinkleroot—apparently it’s a member of the mustard family and tastes a bit like horseradish. I tend to leave plants where they’re rooted, but it’s always fun to take pictures and then learn about them later. If you’re local, you can see all of these beautiful spring ephemerals on the Mill Pond trail right now!
Plant specimen I.D.’s (from top): fern, jack-in-the-pulpit, crinkleroot, fern (close-up), mayapple, wake-robin, common blue violet, trout-lily, trout-lily (close-up).
The lesson which life repeats and constantly enforces is ‘look under foot.’ You are always nearer the divine and the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars, every place is the center of the world.
—from Studies in Nature and Literature by John Burroughs
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The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us every day in His goodness.
—St. Gianna Beretta Molla
Today is my birthday, and the first day of my last year being ‘in my thirties.’ This is also my first, and hopefully last, birthday under lockdown (hence the photo of me, above, looking out on the world from inside—we’ll certainly all remember this for a very long time).
I think I’ve said this before, but my birthday always feels a bit like New Year’s day to me. One of our family traditions on the actual first day of the New Year is to make a collage that visualizes, in some way, how we’d like our lives to look over the coming months. I have this year’s collage pasted to the door of my closet-office and I see it every day now that I’m working from home and spending a lot more time at my little desk. Along with pictures of forests, gardens, and laundry hanging on the line, my collage also includes some phrases like “time alone” and “a handmade life.” How prescient! It seems that my hopes and dreams have manifested, but not quite in the way I imagined.
So, here I am staring down the final year of my fourth decade of life—what do I hope to accomplish? In truth, circumstances define my options. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time and energy following the lure of the distant. Now I am cut off from that type of striving—but there is such freedom and goodness in standing still.
I never knew this was the center of the world! I think I will stay here and watch the trees leaf out.