Soul Food Archive: Guest Caterer Specials
Harlem Renaissance Party (detail)
Story Quilt, © Faith Ringgold 1987*
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Guest Caterer Specials are side dishes that complement our main courses. The experiences of many spiritual seekers are forming a "cookbook for a sacred life" (Ram Dass’ phrase). Might some special delicacy from this potluck meal become a staple at your table?Please sample our current Main Courses menu, as well as our tasty Desserts & Snacks and earlier dishes in the Soul Food Archive. And, do send your personal comments to our busy kitchen staff. View others' comments here.
I'd like to share a very simple piece of my spiritual practice. Years ago, when I was a seminarian, I told my spiritual director that I was just too tired to pray at night. He was very understanding, and said this was true for him too. But, he found a solution. Someone had given him a red loose-leaf notebook--nothing special, just something you could pick up at the supermarket. He found himself using it for pictures that spoke to him of the holy, of things to be grateful for or blessings of his life, of people in need of compassion and prayer, other things. And he kept adding pictures to his book. "At night," he said, "sometimes I just open my book and find a picture that says, 'stay with me.' So I sit and look at the picture, and this is often my evening prayer."
Well, this sounded pretty easy! I went and got myself a red notebook to remind me of my mentor's, and I did the same thing. Often, I end the day by just gazing at a picture in the book and letting it look back at me. I make the intention as I begin that this will be prayerful. And now, what a surprise to see all over the news and internet, the announcement of Carl Jung's "Red Book" finally being in print. Here's a picture of it, and it's huge. Now, Jung painted his own pictures, which is great, and then he wrote in beautiful old German calligraphy. I don't plan to do these things (yet), but "Red Book" now has an even richer meaning for me. Maybe my simple little practice will work for someone else, which is why I send it. Thanks for the opportunity to contribute.
Warm wishes, Fr. Mario, northern California.
Thank you so much for sharing this simple--but profound--idea with us. Those who pray with the icons of eastern Christianity often speak of "gazing" at an image. Your spiritual director, and you, have adapted that form of prayer to other pictures which have called out to you. Some call it 'kataphatic prayer'--praying with images. Our website guests will welcome your "Guest Caterer Special"-- we hope some will comment on what you've shared. By the way, isn't it interesting that two of the most influential books of the 20th century have the same name: Jung's "Red Book"* (1914-1930) and Mao Zedong's "Little Red Book" (1966)? Of course, they are worlds apart in purpose--and one is huge, while the other small in size. Just a thought.
With thanks across the miles, the Center staff
Read Others' Comments...
Musings about Jung's Red Book keep popping up among staff members and our guests--and the main ones are: 1) why has The Red Book emerged full-blown at this particular time in history? and 2) for each of us fascinated by this work, does it affect our own soul-tending...and, if so, how? We welcome viewers' thoughts and speculations.
The Center Staff
Speaking of "red books," we just discovered a "blue book" that is special. We want to recommend the recently published The Hidden Power of the Gospels: Four Questions, Four Paths, One Journey, by Alexander Shaia with Michelle Gaugy (HarperCollins, 2010). Alexander is a long-time friend of our Center, whose life-work of education in psychology and spirituality parallels ours. Among his mentors were two we hold dear: the late Morton Kelsey and the late John Sanford. He is also the founder of the beautiful Blue Door Retreat in Santa Fe, NM. Fortunately, his publisher built on this color image for the book cover, as shown in this picture on the right. To find out more click on the book cover image.
* Credits for this page:
~ The quilts of American fiber artist Faith Ringgold hang in museums around the world. Harlem Renaissance Party, #2 in her "Bitternest Series," is in the collection of the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C. Acryllic on canvas, 94"x82", it pictures eleven guests and their exuberant, mask-holding hostess, Cee Cee. From lower left around the table, the guests are Celia (or Ceclia), a doctor; Florence Mills, singer and comedienne; Aaron Douglass, painter; Meta Warick Fuller, sculptor; W.E.B. DuBois, organizer and writer; Cee Cee's husband, a dentist; Richard Wright, writer; Countee Cullen, poet, novelist and playwright; Zora Neal Hurston; novelist, folklorist and anthropologist; Alain Locke, philosopher and writer; Langston Hughes, poet and writer. Gratefully used with permission. See more of Faith's work at www.faithringgold.com.
~ Photograph of C.G.Jung's The Red Book from C.G.Jung: Word and Image, Aniela Jaffé, ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979), p.66. Jung's story of how he came to create this hand-illuminated journal, finally replicated in print almost 100 years later, can be found in Chapter VI of his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Aniela Jaffé, ed.(NY: Vintage/Random House, 1965). For more details, please see junginla.org and click on Bookstore.