Tag Archives: tradition

Exploring the Chianti countryside

Another stop on our tour of the Chianti region was at the terra cotta workshop of Sergio Ricceri.

Sergia Ricceri throwing a pot.

Here we learned about the high quality of clay in this region, which produces superior terra cotta pots and decorative items. I was attracted to the planters decorated with lemons and also the roosters.


Sergio’s works are available directly from him (and several people in my group ordered pieces which he shipped–and they arrived perfectly intact).

These three pictures are from Sergio’s website; the painted pieces are hand-painted.

Picture from Sergio’s website.

As we left Sergio’s workshop, the sun was setting, and everywhere we looked, the sky was vibrant pink.

Wearing purple

I was still young when I read the poem,

When I am old,

and I wondered why anyone would wait

to wear purple.

My wardrobe was saturated with purple—

shirts, jumpers, hats, coats, scarves and gloves.

Even purple shoes

(because life is too short to wear black,

my sister said when we were shoe shopping).

Is purple the color of old women

the way pink is the color of little girls?

Was my love of wearing purple a sign

that I was old before my time?

I wondered about other parts of the poem, too.

Why wait to gobble up samples in shops…

And learn to spit?

Perhaps it is an insight into my upbringing that

I thought store samples were for me and that

I learned to spit as a girl on the farm

(we had contests to see who could spit the furthest),

and I kept on spitting as a women runner.

No, wearing purple was never a sign that

I had become an old woman.

But when I was out for my walk the other day

(wearing my purple jacket, by the way)

and tripped and fell,

I knew I had crossed the a line

and had become

an old woman.

Art and spirituality

Art is an important part of my prayer life, and my prayer space reflects my love of art. Two pictures hang on the wall, icons sit on shelves, and I change out other pieces for different seasons or because of some movement in my spiritual life.

At the beginning of Advent, my spiritual director gave me a print of The Road to Bethlehem by Fritz von Uhde. I framed it and placed it by my Advent candles. Throughout Advent, this picture invited me to imagine the challenges of Mary and Joseph’s trek and reminded me of people on difficult journeys today. The picture invited me to reflect on these questions: What journey am I on? What path am I following? How am I helping others who are on difficult journeys?

The Road to Bethlehem, by Fritz von Uhde

Another painting in my prayer space is Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross. It is from a larger painting by Ludovico Brea called the Crucifixion.

Crucifixion, by Ludovico Brea

Mary Magdalene is my patron saint; my name is the English version of hers, and she is the person in the Bible with whom I feel the strongest connection. She epitomizes for me what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

This picture of Mary Magdalene reminds that that even when others have fled, I am to remain.


Contemplating Mary Magdalene hugging the cross, I am led to reflect on my own relationship with suffering. Am I faithful to those who suffer? Do I lean into the cross or do I back away? How do I relate to my own pain?

The Windsock Visitation, by Brother Mickey McGrath, depicts that moment when Mary visited Elizabeth and the infant leaped in Elizabeth’s womb.

The Windsock Visitation, by Mickey McGrath, OSFS

I love the bright colors and the Jane de Chantal quote, “This is the place of our delight and rest.” I resonate with the swirls in the two women’s bellies—I am a gut person and make most of my decisions based on a gut reaction.

This print reminds me to pay attention to what swirls in my gut—to my reactions to people and events—and to be aware of new life being created.

The happiness evident in the two women’s faces suggests pure joy, and this picture asks me: Where do I see new life around me or within me? Whom do I embrace with sheer joy? To whom am I bringing hope? From whom am I receiving hope?

Art offers multiple entryways into the spiritual life. I can look at a picture for years, and then notice a small detail that had been hidden. The Windsock Visitation has hung on my wall for the past five years, but only recently have I noticed a picture in the upper left corner.

Art invites me to look again and again at what seems familiar and to see something new.