a divine discontent

"One of the impulses behind all creativity is a divine discontent with the shadows on the wall of the cave which appear to be truth, but which do not expand us creatively . . . We human beings were meant to be something which we are not."

(Madeline L'Engle, Walking on Water)


thinking of paris and london

I am a little bit in love with these illustrated maps of Paris and London from Famille Summerbelle. So beautiful . . . someday I am going to fill my house with all sorts of maps.


a tale of two granolas | part one



Over break, I went into a bit of granola-making-craze. For the past few months I have been trying a variety of different store-bought granola, but I decided I wanted to try my own hand at making it, since it would (1) be a lot cheaper and (2) I can make it just the way I like it.

The first recipe I tried was this pumpkin granola. Not only did the pumpkin flavor sound delicious, but the recipe also uses no oil or butter - the applesauce and pumpkin take the place of the fat (which I had heard was possible from some other sources). However, the downside was that it has a good deal of processed sugar. The next granola recipe I made seeks to solve the processed sugar problem, but more about that recipe in part two.


Taste-wise, I thought this was delicious. It was a little sweet, so I'd like to try the recipe again just by eliminating a good 1/4-1/2 cup of the brown sugar. But the subtle pumpkin flavor and the addition of the pepitas and dried cranberries was scrumptious, particularly with some tart and unsweetened yogurt.

The only changes I made to the original recipe were that I added some extra cinnamon and I added a bit of whole wheat pastry flour. (In all of my granola-making-research, I discovered that adding a bit of flour makes granola more clumpy. And I like my granola clumpy.)
Pumpkin & Cranberry Granola
adapted from Two Peas in a Pod

5 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pepitas

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine oats, spices, and salt. Mix well.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together brown sugar, pumpkin puree, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Pour wet ingredients into oat mixture and stir until the oats are evenly coated. They will be moist.

4. Gently add in whole wheat pastry flour. Stir just until combined. Evenly spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.

5. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and stir. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the granola is golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and stir in dried cranberries and pepitas. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.


the time is noon

A little snippet of something I wrote in my journal last week - edited for a blog audience where necessary, of course.

I hear my parents taking down the Christmas tree downstairs (my Mother exclaiming over the amount of pine needles left on the floor) and I, here, in the silence of my room, preparing to return to school, to schedule and routine, to writing papers and reading textbooks. And as I think back over this holiday season, these words linger in my mind:

(I know it is long - but it is worth it, truly.)

"Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes -
Some have got broken - and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week -
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted - quite unsuccessfully -
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off. But, for the time being, here we all are,
Back in the moderate Aristotelian city
Of darning and Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid's geometry
And Newton's mechanics would account for our experience,
And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.
It seems to have shrunk during the holidays. The streets
Are much narrower than we remembered; we had forgotten
The office was as depressing as this. To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
{ . . . }
There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair,
Irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem
From insignificance. The happy morning is over,
The night of agony still to come; the time is noon:
When the spirit must practice his scales of rejoicing
Without even a hostile audience, and the soul endure
A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
That God's Will will be done, that, in spite of her prayers,
God will cheat no one, not even the world of its triumph."

(W. H. Auden, from the poem For the Time Being)

Yes, how grossly I overestimated my powers this Christmas break - I have seen the Vision of what it should have been, of how I should have been, and failed.

There were unnecessary and harsh words spoken. There was too little grace given. There was overindulgence and selfishness and frustration.

And I begged again and again to return to him as the disobedient servant, the child who cannot keep her word. I have one hand in a pot of gold, and the other in his side.

Is this what characterizes the Time Being, this odd period between incarnation and resurrection, between the hope of a child and the triumph of an empty tomb - and ultimately, the triumph of the world from death? It feels tiresome and tedious and insignificant, like I am getting no where - this constant running away and returning, like a prodigal. Is this the way it must be?

("The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.")

But if this is true, what does it look like to redeem the Time Being?

Auden writes of practicing scales of rejoicing - daily discipline - prayer, solitude, fasting, gratitude. And silent faith that God's Will will be done, trusting that, in the end, all manner of things will be made right, that God will cheat no one. (Those words brim with grace.)

And so I fold my laundry and pack my suitcase and put away my gifts from under the tree. I take the prayer book off the shelf and sit in silence. I read a psalm or two. And I begin to practice my scales again - these scandalous scales of rejoicing and hope that can be played and practiced, even in the Time Being.


the idea of god versus god himself

"Those who believe they believe in God, but without passion in the heart, without anguish of mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, and even at times without despair, believe only in the idea of God, and not in God himself."

(Unamuno, as quoted in Madeline L'Engle's Walking on Water)


the art of listening


This blog is a little notebook of my wanderings as I learn to listen for knocks at the door.

I decided that it was time for a fresh little space.
There will of course still be photography, but also . . .
. . . a collection of all those quotes that I love to gather up and scribble down
. . . an agglomeration of photographs and links that inspire the imagination and the soul
. . . reflections on art and faith and beauty and all that I am learning
. . . a place to practice the act of listening and paying attention, to slow down and live more carefully
. . . a place to breathe deeply and to remember that there is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred
. . . to be quiet enough to hear the knock on the door and to notice all those little graces from above
. . . and hopefully a place where you can find grace too.

The first Monday of January is always one of my favorite days of the year. It seems like just the right time to begin afresh and to sink down once again into this wild and precious life.