birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Portal Between Earth and Heaven

My husband and I are extended family members or “oblate,” of a Benedictine monastery in the desert. I consider this place my spiritual home. Even before I married 11 years ago, I started spending Easter weekend, or the Triduum, there. The chanting. The bees buzzing, hawks circling, quails whiffling, cottonwood trees sending fluff through the air, and chanting, silence, liturgy, and solemnity soothe my spirit and give a vital annual antidote to L.A. life.

In the chapel there is a crucifix from centuries ago. Though on the cross, Jesus with pointed toes and flowing loincloth looks so graceful, like he’s dancing out of death.

Saturday night is our Vigil mass. It is filled with the sounds crickets and frogs outside the converted horse-stable chapel, as we watch the Paschal candle ignited and light our own little flames from person to person. The 7 scripture readings alone at the beginning of Mass take around 45 minutes to hear. I am usually privileged to read the selection from Baruch. It reminds people to consider the beauty, gifts and graces of God. When I stand at the ambo and proclaim the word of God in front of all those hungry souls, I feel blessed. Another 90 minutes later we are done. Another new liturgical year is born. We go to a party steps away in the cozy retreat gathering room, sip cider, laugh, bask in the discussion after days of silence amongst each other, rejoice in Resurrection.

Our final day, after a champagne brunch with the monks, we pack and depart, hesitant to leave our spiritual retreat, yet somehow fortified to bring new life and hope to our world.

Envy Takes a Holiday

The 4th