on getting through

I saw the news this morning. The headline: Another shooting. A synagogue. People dead; more wounded; more traumatized. Antisemitism. Hatred. Suspect in custody.

I glanced and then moved on. But after a week of violence perpetrated and attempted, it took root in my head and heart. It’s been growing. I’ve been feeling it there today, whispering: Another shooting. More to fear. Be afraid. 

I did some work while these thoughts grew. I showered and dressed and ran an errand. My husband and I had lunch and watched a show we enjoy. He left for a gig this evening, and I took a nap. Only to wake afraid. It was there again, not a whisper, but a shout: Another shooting. More to fearBe afraid. 

I spent about ninety minutes trying to reason myself out of it. Sorting laundry, contemplating dusting (because who actually wants to dust on a Saturday evening?), deciding the laundry can wait until tomorrow, giving the pets some loves, thinking about getting out of the house but not really sure who to drop in on. Finally grabbing the computer, making tea, turning on music, writing. With that, my thoughts settle a bit, my heart rate slows, and I feel more steady.

The refrain is still there: Another shooting. More to fear. Be afraid. But it is tempered by other words: Be still and know I am here. Do not be afraid. Breathe deeply. There’s light.

I am tired of the traumas that are being inflicted on humanity. I am sick of the ignorance of people who hate others because of their skin or love lives or gender or country of origin. It baffles me that people are choosing not to believe facts; I didn’t realize that was an option. It infuriates me that month after month after month we have to talk about what guns are doing to us in this country. It saddens me that I know of no women, myself included, who have not experienced some form of fear because of a man—be it as “insignificant” as an off feeling or uncomfortable remark or as terrifying as rape and assault.

Be still. Do not be afraid. Breathe deeply. There’s light.

Where do we find comfort? Where do we find life? How do we meet the hatred and ignorance with goodness and courage? Some days I’m not sure. This seems to be one of them.

I’ve thought a lot and read a little about self-care in the midst of an unending and absurd news cycle. Always there is something to get me riled up. And the things that are happening should rile us up. We should be mad and hurt and frustrated and working like hell to change what’s happening. Because it’s not okay to abuse people or attack the press or send bombs in the mail or take away healthcare or ignore transgender people or—any of a number of other things that are happening.

I want to find what is good. It’s important to do that. There is much good happening in this world in the midst of the not good. People are marching and motivated. Conversations are being had that haven’t been before. People are showing up where there is need. There is good.

But tonight, finding good seems too rosy. I’m thinking more about finding steady. Last week I wrote an article about stability, which, as I’ve pondered self-care, has been at the forefront of my mind. Benedictine men and women do not profess the same vows that members of other religious orders do. Instead of obedience, chastity, and poverty, Benedictines promise obedience, stability, and conversion to the monastic way of life. The stability they promise is to a particular monastery and community, but it is also to stability of heart. It’s one thing to be in one place but another thing to be peaceful there. Stability is about grounding and rooting. It is about being at peace where you are.

The news these days knocks us off-kilter. I firmly believe that’s exactly how Trump wants it. I think that’s how the Republicans in Congress want it too. The violences that are being inflicted on us—physical or emotional—are meant to shake us. When we’re unsteady, we grasp at anything to feel steady. Refusing to be knocked over is to take a courageous stance. Stability in the midst of chaos is a radical act.

My heart hurts for the people who experienced terror at their synagogue today. Their lives are forever changed. My heart hurts for other victims of gun violence who have had their wounds reopened today. And while I’m tempted to give in to the voice that says, Another shooting. More to fear. Be afraid. I refuse to do so.

Be still. Do not be afraid. Breathe deeply. There’s light.

Steady this heart.

Maybe I will start the laundry.

tomato soup

We interrupt this blog for a recipe. Last night we made tomato soup, and I posted a photo on The Facebook. Some folks wanted a recipe, and it’s easier to post it here than there.

As I’m writing this, it’s reminding me of when I moved to Minnesota and was on my own for the first time. I was in an apartment, not a dorm, and was just figuring out how to cook for myself. I got a cold at some point and whined about it to my mom. All I wanted was her chicken noodle soup. She kindly sent the recipe, but there was very little precision to it: some water, some chicken, some bullion, some carrot, onion, and celery. Not really any measurements. Just cooking by feeling. I remember thinking how unhelpful such a “recipe” was, but I’ve since learned that (a) that’s just how mom cooks and (b) I’m a lot like my mother. As such, nothing about this recipe is precise. I apologize.

My Wonderful Tomato Soup

4 or 5 slices of bacon

1 red onion

1 or 2 bell peppers

1 or 2 jalapeños (depending on how spicy you like things)

canned tomatoes (I usually use one 28 oz can and one 14 oz can . . . or three 14 oz cans)

chicken or vegetable broth

salt and pepper to taste; a few dashes of cumin (1/2 to 1 tsp.?); usually a little cayenne for good measure

milk or half and half


Cut or chop the bacon into 1/2-inch or so pieces. In a Dutch oven or other Soup Cooking Pot, cook the bacon. If there’s a lot of fat, drain some off. Leave, like, a tablespoon. (You could make this vegetarian by using canola or olive oil instead of bacon.)

Add your onions and cook for a few minutes. Add the various peppers and allow these veggies to get soft.

Add the canned tomatoes and enough broth to get some liquid, one or two cups. Add your salt, pepper, and spices.

Let this simmer together for about thirty or so minutes.

Blend. We use our blender, but an immersion blender would probably work fine as well. It just might be a little chunkier.

If you’ve used a blender, put the soup back in the official soup cooking pot and turn on low. Add some milk (1/4 to 1/3 cup?) and stir.

Finish with more salt or pepper if needed.

Make your grilled cheese sandwich and enjoy!