This week in Madonna House saw a definite shifting of the seasons. The last of the root crops are being brought in - beets and carrots. Sauerkraut is being made -- always a good fall job. And on the other end of the culinary provisions, the meat harvest is well underway.
It is slaughter-time on the farm, and already the beef has been done, the lambs being well underway. This is quite heavy and skilled labor, and we usually bring people in who have some professional background or experience in it, so as to help it go more smoothly. Of course once the animal is killed and butchered there is quite a job to get the meat processed into roasts, stew meat, and ground, to render the fat and cook the bones down to soup stock, all of which will being going on in the weeks ahead. The pelts we sell--the cowhides outright to a local dealer, the sheep skins we have processed and then sell in our MH gift shop.
So that is the major work on the farm right now. Meanwhile at the main house the fall classes have begun. This year we ended up having no applicants for our spiritual formation program, so it is a little different than usual. But we have classes nonetheless--our guests meet on Wednesday morning to learn the Fundamentals of the Spiritual Life, taught by myself, a ten-week exploration of the basic concepts, practices, and verities of Christian spirituality. This course has been taught in MH consistently for over 25 years, having been originally developed by Fr. Robert Sharkey, and always seems to be well appreciated.
Meanwhile the applicants have their own classes every evening after supper, and all Friday afternoon. The evening classes are just for our five first years, as they read together the history of the MH apostolate. The afternoon classes, starting with a witness talk by one of the staff at lunchtime, cover a wide variety of topics, from Scripture to the MH mandate and constitution to various aspects of Church history, liturgy, and spirituality. It is quite a rich presentation, extending from September through to Easter each year.
Our directors general have gone on their annual vacation, much needed by them even as their presence here is much missed by the rest of us! Our guest numbers are quite high for this time of year. In fact we have more guests with us now than we've had all year, the weeks of the summer program aside.
Beyond that, it was a pretty quiet week in the community (at least as far as I know - as always I seem to only be aware of about one-tenth of what goes in this place at any given moment). The fall colours are at their peak, but rain and cooler days are making short work of them. Winter is definitely in the air--there was a hard frost on the car windshield this morning. As planet earth tilts its northern hemisphere away from the sun and we move here into the darker time of year, we pray that the light will shine that much more deeply in the hearts of all who have faith in it.