Thursday, December 22, 2011

Food Cravings as our Teacher

It happened to me again this past week. I was scrounging desperately to find an instruction booklet for an appliance I needed to use. I hadn’t used it recently and was envisioning a major mishap if used incorrectly. Then, to my delight, I spied some fascinating food information on an outdated calendar tucked in with the appliance booklets. You know the feeling, when you just come across an amazing hidden treasure on the way to trying to find something completely unrelated. The information treasure I unearthed related to what food cravings tell you about what your body needs.

SUGAR-craving [e.g. candy bars]

Body NEEDS: Chromium & tryptophan rich foods

Rationale: these help prevent insulin-resistance and

pre-diabetes FOODS: broccoli, grapes, whole grains or turkey

SALT-craving [Salt is sodium chloride, an electrolyte; crave chips to get it]

Body NEEDS: Chloride-rich foods

Rationale: these foods replenish the body’s electrolytes without

adding salt to your diet

FOODS: tomatoes, rye, celery or kelp

CARBOHTYDRATE-craving [white bread, white rice, white flour products]

Body NEEDS: Energy

Rationale: the body needs fuel

FOODS : Salad, brussels sprouts, garbanzo beans or whole grains

I’m poised to explore. If you already have tried some of them, let me know what you found out.

LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E

My niece, Sue, told me that she has a new mantra:
“Love is spelled T-I-M-E.” Think about it.

John takes time to listen to his teenage son talk about his worry over a relationship. Don goes to visit his wife who has Alzheimer’s even though it gets more difficult. Sister Sheila spends time with men and women in prison. The Cremer family makes and serves a meal at Place of Hope. Sally volunteers every week at St. Scholastica convent. Bob and Sue fly from Denver to spend time with Bob’s mother who is very ill. Nancy and her friends help her mother move to a new care facility. Sister Janet and her companions make sure our tables are beautifully decorated. Every day sisters in the monastery do the many unexpected behind-the-scenes acts of kindness.

It’s what hundreds of other people do every day, in different ways, and the time they spend is spelled L-O-V-E.

When the time was right, the Son of God became Emmanuel, God-With-Us, to teach us how to live and how to love. Jesus did that by spending time with the poorest of the poor, the lame and the blind, those on the margins of society, those most oppressed by governments and religions, those no one took time to care about or recognize as valuable.

Today and every day, God has all the time in the world for us, never leaving us to be alone, never giving up on us, never coercing us or forcing us, but always waiting for us to change and grow. God forever holds out the offer of forgiveness to us.

Think about it. Who is the person who most needs your time during this Christmas season. Who needs you to listen, forgive, comfort, tease, laugh, recognize, and share memories. Love is spelled T-I-M-E.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mary and Joseph on the Clearance Rack

A week ago I was out shopping for some Christmas gifts. As I walked down the clearance aisle looking for a deal: Behold! There on a clearance rack stood life-size statues of Mary and Joseph! For some reason, seeing Mary and Joseph during a 21st century Christmas season, seemed amusing and even, ironic.

I have been pondering this sighting like Mary pondering the angel telling her she would “be with child.” I wonder whether many of us put Mary and Joseph on the clearance rack in one way or another, caught up in the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas. This Christmas season, I want to take Mary and Joseph off the clearance rack of my heart, and make the mystery and miracle of the Incarnation life-size. This would be a gift that could impact all my relationships and the world.

In verse 16 of the opening chapter of John’ Gospel, we read this about this incarnation: “And from his fullness we all have received grace upon grace.” Grace upon grace is ours to receive “free"! Now, isn’t that a deal!

And where will I find the magi?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sharing some beloved book titles

Some years ago, while I was on sabbatical in New Mexico and spent wonderful time in bookstores, I found and fell in love with a southwestern storyteller/ author, Byrd Baylor. I confess that, while there, I purchased eight of her books, used them for prayer, to read to others, to teach at various times in our Spirituality Center and finally gave them away because they were too good to keep!

I don’t know how much or often parents and grandparents read to their children, nor even if they give books as gifts anymore in our technologically oriented world, but I’d like to suggest that Byrd Baylor, together with her creative illustrator, Peter Parnall, will delight the hearts of readers as well as their young audiences!

Byrd Baylor is from the land of deserts and timelessness, of Indian communities and the presence of grandfathers in the lives of children. Her stories are full of invitations to quiet reverence, awareness of nature, listening awe, solitude and time, as well as to other cultures. For her, the spirit, not material things, is necessary for personal development.

Knowing that, wouldn’t you like your grandkids and children to grow up with some of these values? Try reading to them one or all of the following titles-- slowly and thoughtfully-- letting them hear your words not only with their ears but in the silence of their hearts. Let them tell you How to Start a New Day or if it’s true for them, too, as it is for Byrd Baylor, that Everybody Needs a Rock and that there is Another Way to Listen to surprising realities. Hawk, I’m Your Brother or Amigo or Your Own Best Secret Place will delight both you and your young listeners.

And finally, you will love Let’s Celebrate. Can YOU find 108 celebrations, “besides the ones that they close school for” as does the little girl in this wonderful book? Give it a try! Google for this outstanding author and her illustrator and catch their exquisite appreciation for the sacredness of all life. You and your child may find more than 108 reasons for celebrating. . .

Friday, December 9, 2011

Intercultural- LEAD

Because I have students in my classes from the Intercultural-LEAD program, I was invited to a Holiday dinner at the President's House on Wednesday evening of this week, December 7. President MaryAnn Baeninnger is very much involved in and supportive of this program. And even though the President's House, called the Renner House, is quite large and spacious, it is almost too small for all of the students involved in this first-generation student cohort. This year, the first-year class was fairly large and thus the total number is near 100!

Students involved in this program come from a variety of locations and a variety of cultures. In my classes, I have a student from California, who is Hispanic; three students from the Hmong culture in St. Paul; three students originally from African countries who emigrated to the United States; and lastly a student originally from Cambodia. This diversity mixes extremely well with the majority of the class from Minnesota.

These students are awarded scholarships based on their leadership qualities, their educational endeavors, and their diversity. Thus, in the classroom, these students are very forthright and willing to participate in discussions as well as any other classroom activity. They are scholars, in every way, but especially because they are devoted students with an inner drive and motivation that I admire immensely.

The Holiday/Christmas Party at the President's House was so much fun because they all dressed appropriately for the event and were on their best behavior! So, with such wonderful company and terrific food, of course, it is a seasonal party to remember!