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What a fun ride this newsletter took me on, you're such a good writer! I never imagined being riveted by descriptions of nettle pesto but here we are!

Your work has often made me ponder the idea of liturgical celebration community. I struggle with the fact that, since I have an academic background in liturgiology, I am inclined toward the obscure rather than the accessible aspects of paraliturgical life...I suspect the liturgically aware families I know are (rightfully) more interested in crafts for kids, fun recipes, and perhaps a song or two, while I am interested in the weird and wonderful legends like you have collected here, proper prayers, and abstract connections between the liturgical and natural worlds. Frankly I struggle applying the liturgy even in my own home because these more eccentric interests are so ill-aligned with home decor and meal planning! Do you always do the hosting for your liturgical celebrations, and use it as an opportunity to educate the guests on the finer details, or is your whole group interested in the same niche?

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Well shucks, thanks Carolyn! I'm so glad you enjoyed reading...it's so fun getting to connect with kindred spirits who get excited about this stuff, too. :)

I REALLY relate to what you're saying here - my inclination is also toward the obscure and abstract, and when that's combined with my innate introversion, it's hard to figure out how to make the community aspect happen in a way that doesn't feel artificial. That being said, after having done the groups for a couple years, even my introverted-self has become converted to the idea of the importance of making this happen in a group setting...it's not that it's crucial, but I think there's an element of (para)liturgical living that just can't happen unless we rub elbows with others. Perhaps because of human nature, and perhaps because so much of liturgy and paraliturgy was borne of community interdependene...so to get the full-bodied flavor of it, the community part helps.

I'm LOLing over the eccentric interests being ill-aligned with home decor and meal planning - it's so true!! haha. I tend to really not enjoy crafts much, so a lot of liturgical ideas end up not resonating with my pecularities. But, to your question, I believe there are ways to bridge the gap...

When I got the group going originally, I was really reluctant to try - I figured that my interests and proclivities in the calendar would be WAY too obscure or 'weird' to be able to make a group possible, and my interests are such that trying to do a bunch of crafts just wouldn't be sustainable for me. But the past few years have really been so beautifully surprising and humbling; our group has grown a lot, with folks in all sorts of different denominations taking part. We have members who are Catholic, evangelical, mainline Protestant, non-church-goers...some with liturgical familiarity, others with none, but all with a curiosity. Some are retired grandmothers, many are families with kids, some are unmarried - and the kids span the age gambit from toddler to teenager.

So, our group isn't all interested in the same niche as me, per se - but I've found that I'm able to take the obscure details that feed my soul and then translate them into something accessible for the group. The shoe spray/shoe donation I mentioned is a great example of what I'm attempting to do: I try to distill particular stories or traditions into something actionable. So, at our gathering, I re-told the story of St. Mark and the shoemaker, and then had some shoe-focused prompts to flesh the story out. And since I'm generally not crafty, the 'crafts' I tend to facilitate are things like that herbal shoe spritz. (That being said, one of the group members - who's evangelical - wasn't familiar with the liturgical calendar but is SO clever and creative with crafting. Oftentimes, I'll throw some liturgical ideas at her - the symbolism of the Paschal candle, for example - and then she turns that into a craft project for folks to do, and she learns so much about the liturgical piece as she ponders how to translate liturgy to the crafting world).

I always host, but the location sometimes changes - we held St. James' Day in a friend's backyard a couple summers back, etc. I end up being able to share the finer details via some of the short & sweet activities (talking about the Major Rogation as the kids ran all over a newly-planted field, for instance), and then the questions and conversation spark so much learning for all of us! And it can be palatable to both kids and adults because of how tactile it all is.

Another piece of the puzzle is that we host it as a pot-luck, but with a theme each time to guide it - and that ends up helping to embed some of these more obscure things in folks' thinking. Examples are a crepe bar for Candlemas, where we asked everyone to bring a topping for crepes...the waffle bar for the Annunciation...Italian food for our St. Mark gathering. And now everyone has tasted & experienced Mark's connection with Venice, as well as the springtime seasonal flavors! Win-win.

Anyhoo. That's way more info than you asked for, haha - but just know, you're not alone! I didn't think it would be possible to find people to celebrate with, that my interests were too niche...yet folks spanning the spectrum of personality and faith tradition are intensely curious about the liturgical calendar, and it turns out they were in my own backyard all along! I'm happy to spit-ball ideas with you if it's something you're thinking of pursuing. :)

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Apr 26Liked by Kristin Haakenson

Mark, Saint and you sent me to British liturgical history. Wikipedia found outdoor processions and a photo of a church in Kent in 1967 I could recognise from boyhood roaming. And I read of dragons and lions, which might be doable? The Sarum rite seems to have retained an ecumenical meaning.

Frogs for us in the north are usually of the quieter kind but we are thankful they are still with us. I remember talking of signs and portents while working in the Balkans more than 20 years ago. Frogs and wild tortoise were still part of a city-normal, unremarkable. 'If they fall silent, you will have crossed the line' was all I could say.

Could look twee in the grand scheme of things, but these fellows chosen by a British charity emphasise the local. Little Green Space @LGSpace if that address is reachable from where you are on twitter.

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Apr 26·edited Apr 26Liked by Kristin Haakenson

"But if I want the rhythms of the Church calendar to be a path of spiritual formation for me and mine, I need to widen my perspective and let it settle into the time & place where I find myself." Thank you for writing this Kristin. As you know, I am in Australia and today I was at morning Mass and we celebrated St. Mark the Evangelist. Our young assistant Parish priest gave us all a sermon laced with historical facts about Alexandria and the Coptic Church and schisms - so interesting to me at least. He then wrapped it up with talking about love and how we can show this love and glorify God with our lives each day, right where we are. We don't need to heal a schism but we can still heal. It was also Anzac Day yesterday and our rosemary is in full bloom and glorious - so your quote about settling into the time and place I am in, reminded me that I can use what I have available locally, even though your rosemary is not great and I can make the shoe spritz with my ingredients. Big smile. One of the things that I have honestly struggled with is that most of the people who post about the liturgical seasons are in a different hemisphere to me but your quote brought me up short. I can and have used your ideas to great effect already and so I thank you, again, for bringing us these posts with their information, ideas, reminders, convictions and joy.

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Oh Catherine, you always warm my heart! I'm so glad that you connected with this, and that you got to enjoy some reflections on St. Mark at Mass. What a beautiful notion - we can't heal a schism, but we can still heal. I love that. Let me know how the rosemary goes...I was really hopeful for ours, but c'est la vie!

The struggle of aligning the liturgical traditions - so northern-centric - in the natural seasons of the southern hemisphere is truly a puzzle, but I'm glad this is bringing you some comfort. I'm doing lots of thinking about the hemisphere question - I'll tag you in a note where we're discussing that, and I have a post that will be coming soon that's written by a guest who lives in the Southern Hemisphere!

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Apr 27Liked by Kristin Haakenson

Kristin, I just want to say what a delight your newsletters always are. So much calm and inspiration. I’m always so happy to see them in my inbox. Thank you! (Also, this post inspired me to go down a rabbit hole learning more about Saint Mark, one of those biblical characters I always thought I “knew all about,” but was missing so much.)

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Meagan! Thank you so, so much - that's such a joy to hear. It's really been wonderful getting to connect with you here...I'm learning so much, too. (And haha yes! I also thought I knew St. Mark, and came to realize I knew so little about him!)

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