Sometimes one kind act condenses the meaning of months. The Jesuit community here in Ljubljana did that today. I can't thank them enough. We had a Thanksgiving dinner.
Ljubljana is six hours ahead of the east coast. It is still a little early for turkey at 9:00 AM EST but I'm sitting here in an I-can't-believe-how-much-I-ate stupor. I ate a lot though it did not approach the usual 3500 I would have consumed back home in part because my 'family' up in Marblehead begins with a lobster bisque that is astonishing both in taste and, were one interested (I'm not), caloric burden (SHOUT OUT to Christine).
We had the usual community prayer together in the small chapel at 12:45 PM followed by lunch at 1:00. The retreat house cook (our food is sent up from the retreat house kitchen) made turkey fillets explaining that when she tried to buy a whole turkey she was told that they are sold only at Christmas. There was gravy (not one lump!), stir-fried Brussels sprouts and the kind of sweet sour kapusta (same in Slovenian) that mom made at least weekly. Anything in the cabbage family is my favorite vegetable. Potatoes and salad rounded out the meal. It began with an excellent soup. Desert was cake with something I haven't seen at table in two months: ice cream. Wine of course and espresso afterwards finished the meal. I was moved to take an extra glass of wine to sip in my room.
Of course there was toasting. I was asked to pray both before and after. And there was singing. These men and the congregation at our church put most American Catholics to shame. They sing beautifully with the typical Slavic harmonies at the drop of a hat, especially Fr. Jože, the oldest man in the community (I am the third oldest!).
What am I thankful for? This year the love of this community who have accepted me fully into it, who have helped me in the first months, encouraged language learning (pronunciation is much better than free conversation) and have taught me a great deal. It is the community custom to go for a short walk and beer, hot chocolate, or coffee after the 7 PM Mass on Thursdays. We will do that tonight. Am looking forward to an 'after dinner beer.' Now, if I could only get them to understand the rules of American football for a bit of a flag game on the lawn in front of the house life would be perfect. However, I don't think I am going to push it too far. This year.
Have a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving. Ideally I will be in a coma-like sleep by the time most of you start digging in.
The photo below is one with which I am fascinated. It is a complete abstract of the lights of Koper. I was walking along the water in Piran. Koper was across a significant amount of water. The lights along the shore in Koper were visible but they weren't going to show up as anything more than white dots unless the photo was cropped. That severe of a crop would have raised other complicated problems. I set the camera for eight seconds, made a few other adjustments and then panned across the horizon keeping the camera as straight as possible. Then spent some time in post-processing on the computer. I think it would look great as a very large canvas on a large blank wall in a big room. This is a technique I will explore when the conditions are conducive.
Had hoped to go to the Christmas Light lighting this evening. This being Ljubljana, however, it was raining. The rain was a bit too hard to go out with a lens (the one I used for the photo) that is not weatherproof. Expect to get out over the weekend.
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD