The title of this post derives from words in St. Francis’ testament. You are right if you’re thinking: “Wait a minute…I don’t remember ever hearing St. Francis talk about rhubarb!”
The final word of the title is my own, but the first part, namely, “the Lord gave me,” is as accurate today as it was 800 years ago.
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I had barely finished the first day of retreat, and was already starting to go bats…I don’t do well with silence and inactivity for days on end. It strikes me nearly every year on our six-day silent retreat that I could never be a hermitess!
Silence and time for reflection are good, don’t get me wrong. I truly see the value in them. However, credit it to my own deficiency, but I struggle with too much quiet and solitude.
That being said, I was having a hard time this morning…I just needed a little something to do besides read, pray, and walk (three things that I normally readily do – for shorter time periods).
Despite my offers, no one had given me any little projects; didn’t they know how much I needed them?
I had begun taking matters into my own hands a bit, implementing my previous library experience and checking the shelves for proper order (known in the library-world as “shelf-reading).
But, this didn’t really cut it.
I brought my disquiet, my interior difficulty, to prayer on more than one occasion within this short period:
And, the Lord gave me rhubarb.
I’m serious and will explain.
Around midday, passing through the kitchen, I quietly (in keeping with the atmosphere of silence) asked if the cook needed any help. After having me assist with dishes, she also said that if I could make some dessert, she would appreciate it.
I was surprised; I hadn’t expected such an offer! When I asked what she would have me make she offered several options. In the course of the conversation (oops, was I talking?), she mentioned rhubarb and I learned that they had both frozen and fresh (out in the rhubarb patch).
Thus it was that I ended up picking seven cups worth of rhubarb, thawing two bags of frozen, making a kettle of sauce, and baking a rhubarb upside down cake.
I don’t mean to scandalize anyone with this non-retreat-like report, but it was just what the doctor ordered!
The Divine Physician, whom I had been invoking, knew that rhubarb was just the medicine I needed on this retreat, as unconventional as it may sound.