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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sitting Together

Based on the volume of messages I've received in these last few days about Claire, it's clearer to me than ever that she lived a loving and generous life. We're all sort of lost right now. It's amazing that even though we knew this was coming, it is still so disorienting.

We know we have to find the right things to cling to in the midst of our grief. Today these verses communicate that reality most acutely to me:
1 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer.

2 From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

3 For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.

4 I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. (Psalm 61:1-4)

Earlier this week I quoted Lauren Winner from a book titled Mudhouse Sabbath. In this book Winner, a Christian who converted from Orthodox Judaism, reflects on the spiritual practices of her Jewish history and observes them anew through a Christian lens. More importantly, she invites us as Christians to learn from these ancient practices in powerful ways.

The chapter on mourning has always struck me the most. The opening words perhaps put some of our collective pain into words:
Church funerals, when they tell the truth, not only remember lovingly the lives of the departed, they also preach the gospel -- they proclaim that Jesus is risen, and insist that those who died in Him shall be risen too. What churches often do less well is grieve. We lack a ritual for the long and tiring process that is sorrow and loss.
Amen to that. The chapter goes on to describe to describe the longer spiritual practice of lament. I will not attempt to post it all. But I surely recommend it.

One of the practices that she mentions that is most fascinating to me is that of sitting shiva, where friends of the family gather and sit with them, not saying much, but not allowing them to be alone either. I wonder how that works for all of us as we are now separated, scattered back to our homes after the memorial.

One thought I have is that we could share precious things from our individual relationships with Claire. For example, in this last week one of Claire's college friends sent me, of her own accord, a treasured recipe that Claire had given to her in the past. I think it would be dear to share it with you as well.

And if you have something -- a photo, a memory, an experience, a keepsake, a recipe! -- that you would want to share, send it to my email (kelly.soifer@gmail.com). We'll see -- if it's a worthwhile exercise, great. If not, that is perfectly fine as well.

But here is a recipe from Claire. We ache with loss, and celebrate the beauty of her friendship and love.

Sicilian Sfincione (Sicilian peasant neopolitan pizza)
Submitted by Claire Carey

Note from Brooke: I think it may have come during our last semester at Westmont, and it has been a staple recipe for our family. It's very forgiving as far as the toppings go, because you can do whatever you like. It's also a great recipe to make with kids :)

2 lbs. tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
2 small onions, chopped
1 tsp. salt
Scant 1/4 cup olive oil

Pizza Dough
Pinch of sugar
1-1/4 cups warm milk
2 pkgs. of active dry yeast
4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
3 oz. pitted ripe olives chopped
2 tsps. dried oregano
mozzarella and parmesan cheese

To make topping, peel and chop tomatoes. Combine tomatoes garlic onion and salt and olive oil in a large bowl. Cover and set aside. Flavor will improve while mixture stands.

To make pizza dough, stir sugar into warm milk and sprinkle with yeast. Let stand five minutes or until the surface is frothy. Stir gently to moisten any dry particles remaining on top. Sift flour and salt into large bowl. Lightly beat egg into yeast mixture. Pour into flour mixture, combining to make a dough. On a floured surface, knead dough until smooth and springy, 5 to 10 minutes. Cover and let rise in a warm place 25 minutes.

Brush baking sheets with oil. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a floured surface lightly knead risen dough; divide into 4 to 6 pieces. Roll out pieces into individual rounds; place on oiled baking sheets. Top each round with tomato mixture, scatter olives, oregano, cheese and any other desired pizza toppings. Bake 20 minutes or until edges are brown.

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