Category Archives: Pentecost

Whitsun, or Your May Book of Days

Here’s your printable Convivio Book of Days calendar for May, finally! Our cover star this month is a sleepy seamstress on Whitsunday morning. She and I have a lot in common: neither of us gets enough sleep at night. If I was a seamstress, I’d be falling asleep in my work, too.

My grandmother was a seamstress and did piecework at home during the Great Depression, earning 35 cents for knitting a dozen woolen hats. Mom remembers her sewing blouses, too, during those lean years when Mom was a little girl. Grandma would sew the blouses on her sewing machine, a blouse and matching belt, and it was my mom’s job, together with her older sister, Anne, to turn the blouses right side out again when Grandma was done piecing them together. Years later, when I was a boy, Grandma made some of the shirts I wore. I wish I had them now. One of them was a pale green western style shirt (western as in American West) with pearl snap buttons and a print fabric of cowboy hats and covered wagons and horses. Another was a plaid flannel button up shirt (which no doubt set the course for the rest of my life –– someone at work once made a poster about a print we had available for purchase and it read as follows: Please inquire with anyone dressed in plaid or sporting a handlebar mustache; he was the one with the mustache, and me, I’m the one who almost always wears plaid).

Be that as it may, I imagine Grandma was sometimes a sleepy seamstress, too. She loved to stay up late into the night, which is probably the source of my own night owl tendencies. I love working in the quiet spell of night, as I am this very night. As for Whitsunday: it is another name for Pentecost, which this year comes on the 19th of May. With it, Eastertide will come to a close. It is a day that always brings to mind my friends at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community in Maine, for my first Whitsunday there was a very blustery one, one where the clothes on the line take on life as they billow in the breeze, and the talk at Sunday Meeting was all about Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost, about ghosts and gusts, and breath and inspiration, and all this was firing connexions through my head that took me back to Professoressa Myriam Swennan-Ruthenberg’s Italian class and the day she talked about the Italian word respiro (breath) and its root relation with ispirazione (inspiration) and I have never thought of inspiration, nor Pentecost or Whitsunday, the same since. I was dumbfounded by connexions, bowled over, and I love when that happens.

And so it is May, well into it, and we are fast on the approach to summer. By traditional reckoning of time, in fact, summer has just begun with the month’s changing, and the next spoke on the Wheel of the Year will be midsummer, in June, around St. John’s Day. Our Grand Opening at the new Convivio Bookworks shop in Lake Worth Beach is set for that very time, so if you’re local, please mark your calendars. We’ll be celebrating on Friday June 21, Saturday June 22, and Sunday June 23. Times to be announced. It’s a magical time of the year and we will tap into that spirit as much as we can that weekend.

We’ll also be open this Saturday from 11 AM to 5 PM for last minute Mother’s Day shopping, or whatever sort of shopping you need to do. The new shop is at 1110 North G Street, Suite D, Lake Worth Beach, FL 33460. From I-95, exit 10th Avenue North eastbound; make a left at the first traffic signal onto North A Street, then at the first stop sign, turn right onto 13th Avenue North. Cross the railroad tracks and turn right again onto North G Street. We’re a couple blocks down on your left side in a blue-roofed building. Plenty of street parking on G Street and there are a few spots in our little parking lot, too.

Mamma loves a sale and at our online catalog right now, you may use discount code BLOSSOM to save $10 on your $85 purchase, plus get free domestic shipping, too. That’s a total savings of $19.50. Spend less than $85 and our flat rate shipping fee of $9.50 applies. CLICK HERE to shop; you know we appreciate your support immensely. And yes, you may use that $10 discount when you visit us in the store, too!

Image: “Syerske Pinsemorgen” or, in English, “Sewing, Whitsunday Morning” by Wenzel Tornøe. Oil on canvas, 1892 [Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons].


Exhalation, Inspiration

Happy Whitsuntide. Easter is past, Ascension Day, too, and now it is Pentecost: Holy Spirit descended upon earth. It is the day when the apostles gathered in Jerusalem and spoke to the people and everyone, it is said, understood them, no matter whether they were Jew or Greek or Roman: there was, that day, no barrier of language. A day of clarity. Like no day before and no day since, and if the world has shown us anything in recent days, it is that we are as far from understanding each other as we’ve ever been.

They say that in France on Pentecost it is traditional to hear trumpets playing during Mass, the trumpet music symbolizing wind, breath, Holy Spirit manifested. But each Pentecost, my thoughts return to a simpler place with the very first Pentecost I spent at Chosen Land, the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community in Maine, in 1996. It’s a story I tell you each year, but it’s a story I love, and just like my father told stories over and over again, usually as if it was the first time he had ever told you, I’ll tell you this one again, too, because this is what we do: We tell the stories again and again, to keep them alive, always on the breath, exhaled into the world. Exhalation, inspiration.

And so I was there for that Shaker Sunday Meeting, and Seth was there, and all the Shakers I had just met were there, too (and it was a larger Community then), the men on one side of the 1794 Meetinghouse, the women on the other. Father Bob Limpert, an Episcopal minister from New York, was there, too, and still to this day occasionally I’ll hear from Father Bob. And the Shakers that Pentecost in 1996 let Father Bob give a more formal sermon to all who were gathered: all the Shakers, and all the people “from the world,” as the Shakers say, who were there that Sunday, too. It was a very windy day. Father Bob was inspired that blustery day to talk about the relationships between words like gust and ghost and it was Pentecost, of course, the day the Church celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit… which, when I was a kid, was better known as the Holy Ghost. And here was this day of gusting wind ushering in holy ghosts of all kinds in this old building full of history: gust to ghost to spirit. And spirit brings us to inspiration.

And this always reminds me of one of my favorite professors from college, Myriam Swennen Ruthenberg, who also remains in touch with me to this day, and who, in an Italian Literature class, perhaps over Dante or Bocaccio or Giuseppe di Lampedusa, spoke one day of the connexions between words, too. Her words that day were the Italian versions of respiration and inspiration and their common Latin root: spirare, breath. We breathe in and out in the act of respiration, but we also breathe in and out inspiration: we are inspired by what we take in, and what we exude or breathe out hopefully inspires others.

If you’ll follow along on my winding trail, these things all connect: the gust and ghost of Father Bob, the breathing in and out of Professoressa Ruthenberg. All are not so much of the earth as they are of the air and so they lack heaviness and instead are light and ethereal. Inspiration comes to us sometimes as fleeting as breath, a ghost seen just briefly from the corner of the eye.

gust–> ghost–> spirit–> breath–> respiration–> inspiration

Pentecost never meant much to me but it did after that Pentecost Sunday at Chosen Land in 1996. I think of it now as a day of exquisite connexions. (And yes, the X is purposeful, for that, to me, seems more closely related to the idea of connecting ideas––like a mathematical expression of language.)


Image: Illustration of a weathervane from Die Gartenlaube (The Gazebo), a hugely popular weekly illustrated magazine published in Germany in the 19th century by bookseller Ernst Keil. [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons. An angel blowing a trumpet as weathervane activated by wind? I think it’s the perfect illustration for today’s Book of Days chapter.



Whitsunday––Pentecost––comes today, marking the descent of the Holy Spirit (known in times past as the Holy Ghost), closing the Easter season. Pentecost slipped my mind (even with the Convivio Book of Days Calendar!) until a friend in Barbados wrote to say Happy Whitsuntide and to tell me he’ll be off on Monday for the Whitsun Bank Holiday. But here in the States, we don’t get Monday off and “Happy Whitsuntide” is a not a greeting we hear much. So, thanks to David in Barbados for stirring my memory, here’s a quick little something for Pentecost: a small suggestion of something to ponder today, a consideration of the mystical connexions this day suggests. The connexions come to me via two friends in two very different places: Father Bob Limpert (speaking at the 1794 Meetinghouse at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Community back in 1996) and Professor Myriam Swennan Ruthenberg (speaking in a classroom at Florida Atlantic University a year or two prior). They both had things to say about inspiration, things that have stuck with me all these years. If it’s a windy day today, all the better for making those connexions apparent. It certainly was a gusty morning, I recall, as Father Bob was speaking. Maybe it was when Myriam was speaking, too. Anyway, here is my linear amalgamation articulating the thoughts of these two thinkers, which I hope they’d both appreciate:

gust–> ghost–> spirit–> breath–> respiration–> inspiration

I’ve talked about these two people (and these connexions they bring to my mind) in further depth in years past for Pentecost, and if you’d like to read more, just click the word PENTECOST in the sidebar and you can choose from many previous posts. To me, this is a day for creativity and inspiration, pure and simple, all coming out of (take your choice of one or both) the Holy Spirit and the Italian root word for both respiration and inspiration: spirare.

It’s maybe also a good day to explain to you why I love the connexions variant of the word connections so much: No, it’s not a misspelling, but it is a rarely used variant. I choose it because I view that X in the middle of the word as having connecting lines, of sorts, much like the ones we use in algebraic equations. The “x” shows (to me, anyway) more relativity than the “ct” does… even if the “ct” does make for a lovely ligature in some fonts.

Take all this as you wish. Maybe it just demonstrates that I put way too much thought into things. Be that as it may… as David in Barbados reminds us: Happy Whitsuntide. May you find some inspiration in this.


Image: The letter X drawn by Luca Pacioli in De Divina Proportione, Italy, 1509. Online Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art [Public domain via Wikimedia Commons].