Monthly Archives: March 2018


I’ve been off from work this past week, and it was a wise move, taking off for Holy Week. The days were spent on projects and in preparation. I got to spend time with Seth and with the cat as I finished binding a book that someone had ordered and got to work in earnest once more on the book proposal for the Convivio Book of Days. I started fresh, fresh like spring, and I feel better about the proposal I’ve begun this week, much better than the one I began last fall. My friend Cricket gave me a bag of coffee as inspiration for my writing, and all that’s left is enough for one cup: the cup of coffee I will have when I send her the finished proposal.

We also got to help my mom and sister with Easter baking and we got to go on our annual Holy Thursday night pilgrimage of three churches. It was Seth and me on that pilgrimage and we were out late into the moonlit night. So beautiful. And this year I got to do something I had never done before: I went to church for Good Friday. And that was fine, church was. But the sermon made me uncomfortable and I felt a bit disconnected, until it was all over, when we all left the old church in silence, as we are to do on Good Friday. But as we left, I could hear the sounds of the Creole choir, also from our church. The Creole congregation were in the midst of the Stations of the Cross, outdoors on the sidewalk in front of the older church building, the one from the late 1800s. Their music drew me in and I gathered round the old church with them, leaning up against a live oak tree. They were at the final station. There was wailing and sorrow and there was singing I had never heard before but which sounded so familiar. They made their way then to the main church, the larger, newer one, the one built in 1913. They entered, singing, and I went on my way, content, happier for having run into this extension of myself.

Saturday night, I’ll be back, for the Easter Vigil. It is the hours-long Mass that brings in Eastertide. It can begin only after darkness has fallen, for it is then the third day, which used to confuse me a lot until I realized that different cultures have different ways of reckoning time. No one way is right, for time is such a fluid thing and yet an invention of our making. It will be the beginning of Easter and the second night of Passover, too. We will be there, sitting, standing, kneeling, singing, praying, in a service that will begin in darkness and end in light––a central theme to the Easter Vigil. A fire is kindled and the one light is the source that illuminates all the candles in the church: the candles on the altar, the candles we hold cupped in our hands. We are reminded that light overcomes darkness. We are invited to be that light.



Palm Sunday has come and gone and with it, we’ve entered Holy Week. We will begin our preparations for our Easter celebration, buying provisions and baking, but at the same time we enter into the greater solemnity of the days toward that end. In our house, the soundtrack for this week is “Lamentations: Holy Week in Provence” by the Boston Camerata. It is beautiful music, and it feels appropriate for the mix of emotions this week brings. The week will bring us Good Friday, of course, but before it, Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday, one of the most beautiful nights each year, when Seth and I make our pilgrimage to three churches in the late hours of night, a custom taught us by my grandmother, Assunta, who also taught us to light candles in each church we visit, though on Holy Thursday, usually you cannot, for often the saints are covered in purple cloth and the only candles lit are the ones that were lit for the night watch. There is a palpable melancholy in the air that night, as we sit and visit and wait. But I like melancholy sometimes. At the night watch on Holy Thursday, all that’s asked of us is to be present, and there is something so lovely about that.

And so this is my wish for us all for this week: simply to be present in our preparations for the celebration of spring and renewal that is to come and open to the beauty. Be it in melancholy or in joy, or hopefully in some melding of the two. This week teaches us, perhaps better than any, that it is necessary to set the stage for joy if we are going to be authentic about singing its praises, and this is something I value immensely.


Image: A nighttime image taken one Holy Thursday pilgrimage on the courtyard at St. Edward’s, Palm Beach.


If it Ain’t Got that Swing

I know, the weather’s been odd. Snow’s been falling snow on snow in much of the country all this month. Here in Lake Worth, where we had a warm February, the nights this March have been cool, and our first day of spring will be a day of swing: It’s forecast to reach the upper 90s this afternoon (wha?) and then drop down to 62 tonight.

But March is like this: all over the place. We know this. One thing is certain, however: the almanac brings us today the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a time of balance, the equinox is, even if the weather does not seem to agree, and twice a year we experience a period of general equality of sunlight across the planet. Come tomorrow, the Northern Hemisphere will be a day closer to summer, the Southern Hemisphere a day closer to winter. But for today, balance and equality.

If some measure of precision is important to you, the equinox arrives here in Lake Worth at 12:15 in the afternoon. That’s Eastern Daylight Time, “Daylight” because we’ve just last week set our clocks ahead by an hour. There is a movement afoot in the State Legislature here in the Sunshine State to keep us Floridians perpetually in Daylight Saving Time, and I am not so sure how I feel about that. It’s funny how our representatives can’t get anything done about more important matters, and yet there was an almost universal agreement that it is a good idea to rob us of an hour of daylight in the morning by sticking it on to our evenings all year long. All in all, I am more of a roundabout sort of guy, not very precision-oriented. So when you get right down to it, it doesn’t matter all that much to me. But I do know that when I was in high school, classes started at 7 AM, and it was tough enough getting to school on time without it being dark out. If anything, I’d be more inclined to keeping us all in Standard Time.

But wait. (How did we get here? This whole concept of time and its measurement and the tools we’ve invented with which to do so––and then we get folks like Albert Eintstein telling us we can go backwards in time if we travel fast enough––well, all of these things perplex me and make my head hurt.) Let’s return to spring. When I lived in Alabama, learning how to print and make paper and bind books, eating barbecue served with sliced white bread once a week and occasional gifts of Hamburger Pie from the neighbors, there was one season I particularly loved: Spring. The trees erupted each spring with flowers blooming like nothing I had ever seen growing up in Florida. They bloomed and when they did it was like snow was falling, except the sun was warm on my skin and the petals drifted passed my shoulder in slow motion from the trees to the ground. I remember white blossoms, in particular, and pink ones, too. Spring in Alabama was so beautiful. It arrives there today by the almanac and everywhere in this great hemisphere as our warm and gentle summer season approaches, one day closer now in our planet’s yearly circle round the sun. May your springtide be just as beautiful.


I’m sorry, things have been hectic, and I missed writing to you for St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday and for San Giuseppe, St. Joseph’s Day, yesterday. I hope you had cabbage and I hope you had zeppole. We did. Easter is fast on the approach and we have some really wonderful new things in the Convivio Book of Days Catalog for Spring, all of them traditional handicrafts from Europe. There are a whole bunch of new designs of our handmade paper maché egg containers from Germany, new hand painted pysanky from Ukraine and from Poland, and more. Take a peak, won’t you? Spend $50 on these items (or anything in the catalog), and we’ll ship your domestic order to you via US Priority Mail for free. How great is that?

Image: “Čeština: Jaro” (or, in English, “Spring”) by Eduard Tomek. Watercolor on paper, 1958 [Creative Commons] via Wikimedia Commons.