This week in Madonna House perhaps the most striking aspect of our life has been the sudden inrush of guests into our community. While we have a live-in working guest program throughout the year, and our dorms can fill up at any time of the year, it is a bit unusual to have this kind of a 'boom' in the population at the end of October. We are accustomed to the summer months being very full with people coming to experience our lives, but the late fall and early winter have tended to be a bit quieter.
At any rate, business in booming in MH, guest-wise, and we are very happy to have them. Quite a number of them are musical, and so most nights the MH basement is a-rockin' with music. One night this week there was a 'praise and worship' session over at the island chapel for anyone who wanted to go. It is quite wonderful - the place, at a time of year when the weather tends to bring people a bit low and subdued, is filled with youth and energy.
Our directors general are all back from their annual vacation, looking at least somewhat rested. Meanwhile, it is the season when MH staff tend to take their holidays, so people are variously disappearing for two weeks and then showing up again (there are a lot of us, and I have to admit I can't quite keep track of who is where when...).
Today, of course, we celebrate All Saints Day, and the library has a beautiful display up. The centerpiece of it is a poster with a quote from Archbishop Raya: "A saint is a brother or sister who has left behind them a trail of light for us to follow." Then all through the dining room there are images and quotes from saints that they solicited from the community--any word from a saint or image from a saint that had helped any of us, been that 'trail of light' for us. It's the kind of display you can spend quite a bit of time exploring, as there are dozens of these, and they are scattered all over the room.
Meanwhile, we enjoyed last night a most venerable tradition in the local area where the children of the families who live around here come to MH dressed as saints, marching around the dining room during our supper and then one by one giving us clues so we have to guess them. The younger ones tend to come as 'easier' saints--lots of little St. Michael's, Therese's, and George's. The older kids like to find really obscure saints to stump us with, although we are a pretty hard crowd to stump, truly.
This particular custom has been going on so long that some of the parents who bring their children now used to be the children who came. Furthermore, we have a young woman here now as a guest who is local, and who enjoyed being on the other side of things this year. Our celebrations will continue today with, of course, beautiful liturgy, good food, and (I believe) some people coming to evening tea dressed in costume.
On the work front, it's a bit of a quieter time. The farm truly has wrapped up its harvest, the last thing being finishing up the corned beef process. The interior work on the addition to the farm house is ongoing (we've added extra living space for our rather crowded farmers). The fields are being manured, and leaves are being raked everywhere.
The librarians put up a display of newly accessed books, and many a quiet evening sees a good crowd browsing through those books. We really do get wonderful books given to us by our benefactors. Speaking of our benefactors, I mentioned a few weeks ago that we sent out our fall begging letter. The responses are coming in, and so we are having regular 'bees' after supper to write thank you letters to the people who graciously give us the money we need for our work.
Spiritual reading has been unusual this past week. We have been listening to a series of lectures on St. Francis, the man and his times, a university course offered through the Great Courses series (you can Google that if you're interested...). It has been quite a change of pace from our usual spiritual reading, and very interesting and entertaining.
Well, that's about it for now, at least what I can think of. Life is good here, and in our good life we are keeping all the world and all of you in our prayers and the offering of our days.