The first of these that I'll highlight is the tea party I hosted at Hare House last Saturday, January 20. I should say that "Hare House" is the name I give to wherever it is I'm living. And why the hare? Well, as an ancient symbol of both enlightenment and homosexuality, the hare has long been something of a totem or spirit animal for me.
Last Saturday's gathering was actually my fifth (somewhat) annual tea party. I hosted my first tea party back in 2012 when I was living in St. Paul. That very first gathering was, in part, a way to "reclaim the tea party" from the reactionary political movement that was emerging at the time and calling itself the Tea Party. My gathering also provided me the opportunity to finally use the china tea cups and saucers that I'd been gradually collecting since my December 2008-January 2009 visit home to Australia. During that time, while visiting my hometown of Gunnedah, I was inspired by a delightful afternoon tea at the home of Gwen Riordan, a longtime family friend.
My second and third tea party (2015 and 2016) took place in my previous Minneapolis residence; while the fourth took place last year in the current manifestation of Hare House!
This year's tea party was a low-key affair compared to last year's, which saw me gather a number of my friends from different times and spheres of activity in my life. To this year's tea party I invited my dear friends Ken and Carol Masters and a number of the wise and inspiring women who are members of (or closely connected to) the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet – St. Paul Province. I'm a consociate member of this Catholic order, and two dear CSJs, Marguerite Corcoran and Rita McDonald, served as my companions during my two-year consociate candidacy (2006-2007).
Above: Sitting around my dining room table (from bottom left, clockwise) Kate McDonald, CSJ; Brigid McDonald, CSJ; Sue Ann Martinson; Rita Quigley; Florence Steichen, CSJ; Carol and Ken Masters; Kathleen Ruona; and Rita McDonald, CSJ.
Right: With my friends Rita and Sue Ann.
Above: After our morning tea we gathered in the parlor for wine in front of the fire!
And, yes, my Christmas tree is still up as in some older Catholic Christian traditions, Christmas lasts until February 2, the date which marks the end of the 40 day-long "Christmastide," which corresponds to the 40 days of Lent. As I'm sure many of you reading this would know, on February 2 the church celebrates the day that Mary entered the temple when her days of "purification" (as defined by the patriarchal Mosaic law) were fulfilled after giving birth. It's also the occasion when Simeon and Anna made their well-known pronouncements about Mary and Jesus. The day is known as "Candle-mas" because of Simeon's prophecy that Jesus would be a light for all people.
Above: Rita, Florence, and Kathleen – Saturday, January 20, 2018.
Above: My dear friend Brigid with a photo of herself as a child having tea with her dog!
Above, right, and below: A week before my tea party I was in St. Paul celebrating little Amelia's fourth birthday! It was a lovely gathering at the home of Amelia's maternal grandparents, John and Noelle.
The beautiful cake was made by Amelia's mum, Liana (with help from Amelia!). Oh, and that's Eddie the Wonder Dog in the picture at right. For more images of this handsome creature, click here, here, here, here, and here.
The third "winter gathering" I highlight in this post is the birthday party for my friend and fellow resident chaplain Katie (above), which we celebrated on Wednesday, January 17, in our Spiritual Care office at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.
Above: Standing at left with my fellow resident chaplains Chandler, Hae and Katie, and our supervisor Mark.
For more about my chaplaincy experience, click here, here, and here.
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
• In Wintry Minnesota, An Australian Afternoon Tea
• Anyone for Tea?
• Winter . . . Within and Beyond
Images: Michael J. Bayly.