Fed By The Holy Spirit

This post is dedicated to my grandmother, Annabelle Black, “Nanabelle,” who will be 101 years old in February. In the way of an early birthday present for her, this week, my poem written in honor of her, “Blue Willow Plates,” was published by America Magazine. The poem describes my vivid memories of eating dinner at her charming house countless nights in my childhood. I used to watch the care with which she prepared a meal; the way she always made more than she needed in case someone in the family stopped by unexpectedly (and someone often did) ; the way she always set a lovely table with great attention to detail even when she was a widow. She consistently brought dignity and love to the act of eating and she served the food on blue willow plates.

Blue Willow PlateI came to love the design on the plates because of what they symbolized for me: hope, the hope that has always been offered at my grandmother’s table no matter what is going on in my life, or hers. As the poem states, my grandmother’s meals have always allowed “the Holy Spirit, in blue and white patterns” to descend upon us at the table. I still come away from every encounter with my grandmother feeling “fed” on every possible level. Her home has always been a true domestic church. And I feed my family every night on blue willow plates, and I do it remembering those many nights at my grandmother’s house. Like her, I hope to feed the spirit as well as the body of each person I present with a meal.

The featured music for today is both classic and modern. The first song is medieval in origin. Written by Christian mystic, Hildegard von Bingen, “The Origin of Fire” is inspired by The Holy Spirit. It is pure, stunning beauty — voices blending together in a warm melodic dance, as hypnotically stunning for the ears as flames dancing over logs is for the eyes. Its Eucharistic mood is as beautiful as the feeling we receive from a deeply satisfying meal shared with those we love the most, followed by time spent together in sacred companionship, a reminder that we have been fed, through God, in body and soul.

The second song, “Holy Spirit” is sung by the ever-talented Francesca Battistelli, and invites the Holy Spirit, through its lyrics, to stay near and imbue everything with its Presence.

As you enjoy the featured art, poetry and music of the day, ask yourself: who in your life has brought you closer to the Holy Spirit by their example? Who has fed you in body and soul?

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Hildegard von Bingen -The Origin Of Fire - Anonymous 4

Holy Spirit - Francesca Battistelli (lyric video)

Mary Evalina Kindon - Grace Before Supper
Mary Evalina Kindon – Grace Before Supper

Blue Willow Plates

for Annabelle Black

Those childhood nights I ate at your table,
where life’s mysteries were broken and shared—
I studied the blue willow plates you set each night.

Even during the worst winter,
my fork swept potatoes, gravy, bits of savory meat
and uncovered a story.

Each night I told myself a different tale, cast in the familiar pattern—
there were pagodas, fences, shining waterways
and a boat with a figure searching the horizon.

But what kind of wind made the willow fronds splay so far apart?
Who were the three figures holding lanterns on a bridge?
And why was the pair of birds larger than the strife below?

You fed me from willow-patterned dishes
when I didn’t think I could eat—
when my father was dying, and daffodils were frozen under snow.

But always on your plates
flying above the relentless searching—
two birds, facing each other, wings arched in triumph.

That winter, in blue and white patterns,
the Holy Spirit, in its many-feathered glory
descended on each dish you placed before me.

— Annabelle Moseley
originally published in America Magazine.