The day outside is bleak and cold. Twenty minutes ago, I stepped out into the chilled December rain and bought dried fruit and sugar. Later tonight I’ll be baking cookies, but now, I am warm in the quiet of Saint Thomas More’s kitchen, pouring dried fruit and trail mix into zip-lock bags. I am making small care packages for my students, who will be studying for finals up in the library.
Trail mix, cranberries, raisins, and banana chips gently slide into each bag. They greet their new home and each other with a pleasant—yet solid—tinkling. As I pour, my mind turns to something Henri Nouwen once wrote. I think it was in The Genesee Diary. He was at a New York state abbey, out in the cold, moving large rocks with a group of monks. He didn’t like it. In fact, he hated it and started complaining about the work to the monastery’s abbot, John Eudes. John advised Henri to treat his work like a prayer. My current task isn’t as laborious as moving large rocks out in the cold, but, I’d like to think that what I’m doing in Saint Thomas More’s kitchen is also a sort of prayer. A quiet, meditative action that fills each bag with a little bit of encouragement for all who will be intently studying for finals.