Saturday, May 26, 2018

Report on visit to St. Augustine's House

I arrived in time for Terce.  There were four in attendance from the monastery, three professed, one perhaps a care taker. Their chant differed from St. Gregory's in that it was a bit louder, and quicker, though they made up for that by pausing in the middle of each couplet.

It was the feast of St. Bede the Venerable and the took time for a nice reading about him, and dedicated a hymn (sung) to him as well. They read well, with emotion.

Eucharist followed. We were all invited forward at the time of distribution. They had white wine, but real wine at least.

They have some brand new living spaces, that they are in the process of furnishing for their busy summer retreat schedule. The old guest house currently serves as their refectory, so one kitchen serves the whole monastery. I sat in on their chapter meeting and had coffee with them afterwards.

Comparison with St. Gregory's
Their carpet is less gaudy and much smaller.

They also have a Fr. Jude.

Seat cushions are available for the chapel.

Rather than monastery cats, they have a dog, who was away at the obedience school where he attends on Fridays.

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Dark Night of The Soul

St. John of the Cross
translation, Chris Hooton

On a dark night
With anxieties and love inflamed
Oh happy chance!
I went out unobserved
My house being now at rest

Into the dark, secure
By the secret ladder, disguised
Oh happy chance!
Into the dark, vieled
My house being now at rest

In the happy night
In secret, in which no one could see me,
Nor did I see a thing
With no other light or guide
Aside from that which in the heart burns

There I was guided
More certain than in the light of midday
To where was waiting
The one who knows me best
In the place where no one perceives

Oh guiding night!
Oh night kinder than the dawn!
Oh night that unites my lover with his beloved
The beloved in her lover transformed.

On my blossomed breast
Which entirely only for himself he kept
There he stayed sleeping
And I him caressed
And the air gave up
   the breeze of the cedars

The air over the ramparts
As I ran my fingers through his locks
With his peaceful hand
My neck he wounded
And all of my senses he suspended.

I stayed myself, and forgot myself
My face I reclined on my lover
Everything ceased, and I let go myself
Leaving my cares among the lilies

Monday, April 16, 2018

My deepest longing for growth in Spirituality fall into two categories: disciplines I have tried, love and have fallen out of practice, and experiencing true intimacy with others on the journey.

Borrowing some from Rolheiser, I would define Spirituality as what we do to sort out and express the divine madness in our souls. The restless longing of the dreamer, the quixotic refusing to accept the surface reality, the madness given by the gods by which we hunger for more, for meaning, for completion. Spirituality seeks to express these longings and fill them with something Divine.

At the beginning of the television series Heroes, Mohinder Suresh asks what it means to be in the image of God,

"Where does it come from? This quest? This need to solve life's mysteries though the simplest of questions can never be answered. Why are we here? What is the soul? Why do we dream?
Perhaps we'd be better off not looking at all. [But] that's not human nature. Not the human heart. That is not why we are here."
It is indeed maddening to seek transformation into the image of our creator. A Holy Madness is appropriate for all who lay themselves down on the operating for this intense surgery. To be conformed into the image of Christ is to be made into the Human of Design, to be the kind of person who looks out for others, the kind of person who is not only holy as his maker is holy, but is also to be the kind of citizen that would make a truly just world possible. It would be making a world the way God had intended it.
This formation into the image of Christ is not an undertaking, but rather an in-working. In John 21 the disciples fished all night and caught nothing, but a word from Jesus and their own effort to cast the net and haul it in was met with the grace of 153 large fish (Thompson 8). We can work all night long and get nowhere, but how blest our work can be when we do just those actions Jesus has directed us. We clothe ourselves with him as we hear his voice. We put flesh on the word, we incarnate it, this is the way of spiritual formation.
I have heard the voice of Christ calling me to cast my net in the waters of certain disciplines. Those disciplines that I have loved and have fallen into disuse comprise a surprise longing which Calhoun unearthed for me. I went to her Spiritual Growth Planner sensing a longing for community, but found I was missing my Love. I have had wonderful experiences praying the hours, or walking in the fields at my Grandparents’ farm talking with Him. As I went through Calhoun’s assessment I felt that holy madness, that longing to be open to God, laid bare. Deep with in me there is some feeling that I have been holding back. As Foster points out (4-5) this will take replacing the habits of sin with new habits, those disciplines I love so much, and allowing God’s grace to move on me.
The other area of longing is that sense of community that I was aware of as I went into the assessment. I long for my worship to be met and underscored with the intimacy of those around me. I want to move my relationships past acquaintance to mentoring, discipleship, and spiritual friendship. I long to know people and be known. I want to share authentically what Webber’s dinner guest called “a good story!” (Webber 15). Not just with words but by participating in God’s story with the people around me.
The disciplines I find myself longing to repeat and those to be practiced corporately draw on the well of tradition. For people in Assembly of God circles, tradition means death. Tradition is what we threw out. It is the obstacle to saving and fresh experience. Tradition is religion and religion is no religion at all but rather something to isolate us from God. All the while we have our own tradition. Birthed out of beautiful and effervescent experience of our grandparents, quickly our tradition became a substitute for the reality and a check against anything new and creative. Truly this is the story oft repeated. The story has itself become tradition as one Church has given birth to gossamer denominations. Tradition gives form as a gift to people, some where along the way they drink the life from the form and nothing is left but an empty shell. The empty form of tradition goes along until someone give it back its soul, or moves on to a new form.
“In reappropriating the best of Christian tradition, we discover a feast for hungry hearts. Indeed, I might caution against a temptation to gluttony! The sources are rich and need to be taken in small bites” (Thompson 14).
To discover God, true life, through the wonders and mysteries found in that richness, is indeed a fearful thing. That is not to say I’m particularly anxious about it, except for the loss of every moment I’m not immersed in his crushing depths, but I have this feeling down in the deep that persuades me that to truly find him means to die. I meet this feeling not with timidity, but with eye burning resolve. Come what may, I want your depths lord. My prayer echo’s that of John Donne:

Batter my heart, three person'd God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee,'and bend
Your force, to breake, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to'another due,
Labour to'admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearley'I love you,'and would be loved faine,
But am betroth'd unto your enemie:
Divorce mee,'untie, or breake that knot againe,
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you'enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.
If it brings more glory to you that I burn in hell, put me there immediately. If my life can bring you more glory then may I live a shining life in your presence.
My soul within me cries to you, my chin quivers and my eyes burn hot with tears! Oh to know you more dearly! Oh to give you more pleasure and glory, even if that were to mean my own death or separation from you! Thank you that it doesn’t, that you want to be near me. That final thought breaks the dam and my tears fall, weeping, washing away tradition's stone, filling her again with soul and life.

Slipping passion

My first response is God is saying I'm a looser. Oh, he doesn't love me any less, and I'm his son and all that, but I'm a lovable looser that can't make in in life. That thought makes me sad. In some ways I guess I must like my spiral. I guess I see God looking over the edge of the tornado at me, with sad loving eyes.

Ah, but you pulled out Kellemen on me and I didn't notice! You had me explaining where I was "recruited into that identity." Well, now that means that this identity of mine must not really be what God is saying. It's a facet of the enemies narrative for me not Gods, right? The enemy likes me feeling like I cant wake up to life - that the passion is gone - that God and I are growing tired of our romance.

So if that identity isn't so why am I slipping? I used to feel this way like clockwork every three months and I'd need to get away. Stress gets to me. Lately it is more like two months and I'm over the edge. With extra stress from classes and even less time for sabbath experiences I think its all just catching up with me.

In reality it is like God is there in the spiral wanting to embrace me - longing for me - and I am struggling to get to him against the wind of the spiral. The image of God as divine lover is apparently very central to my relationship with him. As I was reading the chapter on Eros, I was screaming inside, Yes, Yes Yes! It is the passion I cherish in my relationship with God, that he desires me, that I desire him and through him desire my wife, my children, my gerbils, my community and creation!

I realized this as I was thinking about what we are talking about here and trying also to understand the feelings I had last night. I was already irritated (because a website wasn't cooperating with me) when I went to write my post in the discussion board. I opened it up and saw that some classmates had written about the sexuality thing that had caught my attention. I became severely angry as I read posts that expressed difficulty seeing sexuality and god in the same sentence. Why didn't they agree with the author?! Why weren't they taken by this as I was!? I wanted to snap at them "You need to go back and read Rolheiser!" Then I remembered that my post about the spirituality of sexuality last year was met with silence. Was no one comfortable with this? I reacted strongly against Webber too, for his condemnation of the mystics use of sexual imagery.

I must feel threatened, like people are saying my relationship with God as divine lover is invalid and inappropriate - as is my need for intimacy in community that goes beyond a handshake and amiability.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Judas and the Mystery of Betrayal

The night was dark as Judas walked the road from Bethany to Jerusalem. He had gone on ahead of the rest of the retinue.  He was headed to the chief priests to see what they would give him to betray Jesus into their hands.  

Something had happened earlier that night at the house of Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary. Something had tipped the scales, and set his course.

The Psalmist says: “Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
   the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
The Lord protects and preserves them—
   they are counted among the blessed in the land—
   he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.”

Judas didn’t much care for that.  His experience taught him that what was important was power and money.  Without those there could be no talk of justice and kingdom.

He saw in Mary a weak person.  He didn’t like the way she fawned over Jesus.  He thought her a loose woman of weak character, lazy and flighty.  “I mean,” he thought as he trudged more deliberately, his anger rising, “look at that display tonight!”  She had taken a jar of costly oil and poured it out on Jesus’ feet and then just wiped them with her hair.

“All of that waste! All of that sentiment!  They are a well to do family! They could have given the money to support our cause. They could finance the restoration of the kingdom. Why didn’t Jesus accept the wealth of this family?  Why doesn’t he use the power of having raised Lazarus from the dead to claim the throne?”

After the way Jesus defended the waste, and talked about his burial, Judas realized he was never going to do what needed to be done. Not without a push.  

Judas’ experience is not uncommon.  How often do we come to realize a bitter disappointment, that God was not going to work in the way we had always dreamed? That we had fooled ourselves or worse come to feel that God had deceived us?  This disappointment brought Judas late at night to the lit portico where the chief priests were plotting how to bring death to Lazarus and more importantly that Jesus.  They were more than happy to promise him 30 pieces of silver if he could provide them with an opportunity, away from the crowds, to take Jesus. Either Jesus would be forced to act, or he would come out 30 pieces of silver richer.  

Judas had expectations about what he had signed on to do. They had been called to change the world, hadn't they? Surely this would mean revolution and throwing off oppression. He wanted in on the ground floor, to be somebody in this new kingdom - a man of power and influence.  

The next day Jesus and his disciples gathered to celebrate the Passover meal together.  They laughed and chatted between solemn moments remembering their exodus from slavery. Then Jesus took off his robe and put a towel around his waist and one by one washed his disciples feet.  It was intimate, like the scene the day before with Mary. Jesus washed Judas' feet, and for a moment Judas felt like a true disciple.  After all wasn’t he called by Jesus himself?  Didn’t he feel the stirring of the Spirit of God that something big was happening and he was to be a part of it?  Hadn’t he been convinced of a sense of destiny in following Jesus.

Jesus said, “You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It’s the last one I’ll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God.”
Taking the cup, he blessed it, then said, “Take this and pass it among you. As for me, I’ll not drink wine again until the kingdom of God arrives.”
Taking bread, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, given for you. Eat it in my memory.”
He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.  (Luke 22.15-20)

As dinner progressed the nagging feelings returned. Judas saw his master take the place of a slave and wash his feet.  He was in turmoil. How could Jesus accept such a position of powerlessness. Why couldn’t he just accept the power the people were so willing to grant him?  Why was Jesus such a disappointment? How could a kingdom come from this, and all this talk about going away?  About dying?

Then Jesus drops the bombshell.  “The Psalmist says, ‘The one who has eaten bread with me has betrayed me.’  Even here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me. For it has been determined that the Son of Man must die. But what sorrow awaits the one who betrays him.”

There was a commotion of “Who could it be,” and “certainly not I.”  Judas saw John leaning in and whispering to Jesus.  Judas leaned in too, reaching for a piece of bread.  Jesus got it first and handed it to Judas.  Judas said, “Are you talking about me?”

Jesus replied, “You said it.  What you are going to do, do quickly.”

There was a moment of hesitation. Judas realized that Jesus knew what deed he had been entertaining.  Was Jesus giving him a last chance to repent of what he was going to do?  Something seized Judas and he left. It was now or never.  

Looking back the others tried to make sense of what would compel him to betray them. How could one of them, a disciple of Jesus, one who had just communed with them, sharing the bread and wine of a new covenant turn his back.  How could one Jesus called by name be lost to them? How could this bring glory to God? Luke would say that Satan entered him when he went off on his own away from the disciples the night before.  Matthew thought it was about the money, and John wondered if Judas had ever really been one of them at all.

It is a great mystery.  Judas’ betrayal was necessary to fulfill what had been prophesied. If Jesus was to be glorified this must happen.  Yet, it was destruction for Judas. It would have been better for him that he had never been born. How can God use such ugliness?  In this mystery is the clue to another.

The mystery of the Passover is that from death comes life. The paschal mystery is precisely what Judas could not contemplate and it is the most surprising thing about this story of salvation.

This is the gospel: Victory comes through defeat, life comes through death, power comes through powerlessness. It is in the midst of the betrayal that the psalmist can declare with confidence:
But may you have mercy on me, Lord;
   raise me up, that I may repay them.
I know that you are pleased with me,
   for my enemy does not triumph over me.
Because of my integrity you uphold me
   and set me in your presence forever. (Psalm 40:10-12)

Judas comes to the garden and betrays Jesus with a kiss. Jesus is raised up on a cross and he repays this treachery and malice with love, forgiveness and total sacrifice.  As he says “It is finished!” he echoes the psalmist:

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
   from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Quixote as saint

In the second chapter, Don Quixote leaves on his first sally.  He does it before dawn, by the back door.  He sneaks away.  This comic scene of the hidalgo on his nag of nags, arrayed in pell-mell armor, absconding before he could be noticed reminds me of these lines from St. John of the Cross
En una noche oscura,
con ansias en amores inflamada,
(¡oh dichosa ventura!)
salí sin ser notada,
estando ya mi casa sosegada. 
In this poem, the soul by way of the “Dark Night” is brought to the Beloved before anyone in the house (including the soul) is aware of what is taking place. This is for the soul’s benefit, forming it in the path of a saint: "amada en el amado transformada!

This, perhaps, lends credence to W. H. Auden’s assertion that Don Quixote fits the type of a Christian Saint more than that of a hero.[1]  The comedic effect of Quixote’s story is often in the clash of realities, Quixote’s and the world he inhabits.  Quixote’s quest for justicia is ordained, not with the spiritual authority of another world, but with the filthy ledger of the economy of this world.

[1] Auden, W H. "The Ironic Hero: Some Reflections on Don Quixote." Cervantes: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Lowery Nelson, Jr. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc, 1969.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mapping my thoughts on Geography of Grace

Geography of Grace posits that grace like water flows downhill.  The stories of finding God in the hardest, poorest, and most oppressed places gripped me. I am trying to process what this stirring in my soul means for me.  Why has this book wrecked me?

For one thing, I must repent for the insulated life I have sought.  I remember discussing with Abba Basil Irenaeus the hallmark of new monasticism: setting up in the abandon places of the empire.  I remarked that didn’t seem like a mark of our order as we valued beautiful things.  Wow.  How uncomfortable that statement makes me now.  Since feeling the call to move to Detroit, I have been drawn more and more to the scarred and desolate places in spite of my aesthetics.   Father, may I find true beauty in your face and grace in those places.

I think another thing that stirs in me is facing how to act in the face of these things.  The authors talk about asking beautiful questions and asset based ministry.  I think I am left struggling with how do I put these things into my context?  How do I engage, even find, the depressed places where grace is pooling?  Certainly my developing relationships with some of the homeless and struggling in the neighborhood provides some of that.

I found reading Geography of Grace timely. With the transitions at Courage Church I found myself longing to be in ministry in a more traditional way, a leader in the church gathered. I have been confused why God would persistently and increasingly shut me out of that familiar kind of ministry for the last few years. The authors’ experience ministering as part of the church scattered gives me a window into where God is positioning me. 

How do I live missionally?  What exactly is our mission?  The authors encourage me to resist the easy answers to that question, and instead look for where grace is flowing, like a cartographer mapping the contours of terrain.  I am suddenly reminded that the authors have a process for mapping the hurt, the hope and the heart.

Sacramental Discernment
Street Psalms members pray with their “eyes open,” learning to map the geography of God’s grace in a particular place. Our mapping process includes three basic exercises that pay attention to the hurt and the hope of a particular city/community as well as the heart of God.   The three exercises include:
  • Mapping the Hurt: e.g. “Moment of Blessing” – a public liturgy for victims of violent homicide.
  • Mapping the Hope: e.g. “Signs of Hope Tours” – Identify, visit and encourage key ministries/business/organizations that are signs of hope serving high-risk youth and families.
  • Mapping the Heart: e.g. “Prayer Table” – Our communities host and participate in an open and inclusive table for leaders to pray for the city. 

In this I am reminded of the way the Spirit directed me down the street in time to participate in the prayer vigil for Noodlez a young man gunned down during the Cinco de Mayo parade last year. 

Also my drive to be a part of the various expressions of faith and encourage what is going on in my neighborhood seems to be mapping the hope for our community.

I have also felt recently a desire to step up my prayer game.  It seems my Beloved is eager to reveal his heart to me.  Take me to the depths, outside my comfort zone – into the waves and chaos of the sea of humanity.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Origin Trip: Talea De Castro

The roads wind around the mountainsides as they climb from Oaxaca City, north and east to Talea de Castro. Seven of us huddled in a rental that was too big to be a car and too small to be a minivan. There were three mountain ridges that would challenge our engine and especially the brakes between our destination and the city. We hugged the mountainsides as we climbed, admiring views of the valleys deep below, with awe and trepidation.  Jordi drove and chatted with our guide in the passenger seat.

We had only been in Mexico for a couple days. We met with our guide, Clemente Santiago Paz, in a café in Oaxaca City the night we arrived.  Clemente is a Q grader based in Oaxaca City.  His job is to evaluate the quality of coffees at farms in Mexico for a handful of brokers and organizations and to help the farmers increase their quality.  He poured over options and possibilities with our team that Friday night.  The growing regions were all four or five hours away from the city through the mountains in separate directions.  We had to choose carefully, as we could only afford a trip to one.  Clemente settled on a village clinging to the mountain face in the Sierra Madre Del Norte.  Talea de Castro is nestled in the mountains on the Gulf side of the divide. Bathing in the moist air the Gulf brings to the valley, it is a beautiful and refreshing change to the winter desert surrounding Oaxaca City.  It provides perfect Coffee growing climate.

When we settled in our village hotel and had eaten dinner in the house/restaurant of motherly lady, we met with a group of farmers in the village square.  This bunch of young passionate farmers had formed a cooperative group called Oro Taleano (Talean Gold).  They committed themselves to improving the quality of life for Talean families through their coffee.

Jordi and Chris hopped in the back of a pickup truck with the farmers. Clemente assured us that we careened down the gravel mountain roads at a cautious pace as we rode from one farmer’s little finca to another. These farmers each have smallholdings scattered around their houses and in the forests across the valleys.  If you have in mind a pristine and organized orchard, the steep mountain crags would shock you as you see the coffee growing variously under the protective shade of sombra trees. We scrambled down among them listening to the stories of the farmers and tasting with them the sweet ripe cherries enveloping the beans.  Most of the plants belonged to their grandparents and were reaching the end of their productive years.  They told us about how they were nurturing new plants that in the coming years would bring new vitality to their farms.

The next day, after breakfast at the same dear lady’s kitchen and a trip through square on market day, we visited a couple of farmer’s houses in the village within walking distance.  Their houses were surrounded by small groups of coffee trees providing more opportunity to harvest.  They pointed across the valley to the other mountainside where they also had houses and farms.  They would alternate time tending their crops there with the crops nearer the village.  The whole valley is the responsibility of the farmers of Talea de Castro.

We went to one farmer’s house where he showed us how he pulped the cherries, removing the coffee, still in its parchment, from the cherry husks with a machine.  His machine has an electric motor, while many of the others operate it by a crank. He then showed us a vat where the beans are left to ferment overnight before being spread out on rooftops, patios, or even on tarps in the street to dry.  Then he invited us into his house where his family shared space with his stores of coffee and we sat in the gloaming drinking cups of hot sweet liquid as we talked about their dreams and plans for improving their future.

They had shown us an empty preschool that they would like to turn into a center for investigation, where they can process and test their coffees to help determine their quality, and how to improve.  The location would also provide space for education about coffee production, a large drying patio, and a nursery for young plants.  We talked about how we might be able to partner with them in making this dream a reality.

Remarkably the farmers rarely see their coffee the way we see it. As rosters we are used to seeing the hard green beans already processed and sorted, without defect. That is why we count it such a privilege to see the cherries ripen on the tree, put them in our mouths, and touch the beans in their parchment.  The farmers on the other hand only have that side of the experience. They taste the sweetness of the cherry, observe the proper color as it ripens, and a nice even light color to the parchment gives them indication that the crop will be good. They don’t know the quality of the bean, however, until it is hulled and then sorted for defect.  This happens back in the city.  The few roasting operations in the village will take their unsorted coffee, roast it darkly and mill it on the spot to a dark powder. These roasters treat it like another local commodity, corn. It is hard to taste the quality of the bean under this dark-roasted treatment. The coffee our friends offered us had a glimmer of promise obscured by the roast.  We became excited to take some back to Oaxaca City to roast and cup it.

We said goodbye to our new friends and headed back over three mountain ridges for Oaxaca City.  A few days latter, Clemente brought the samples from Talea to us. He had hulled and roasted them and we were ready to cup.  We were nervous.  This was the only group of farmers we were able to meet on this trip.  Their coffee wasn’t sorted to give us just the best.  They were proud of how they treated it and were confident, and we were anxious for them to be proved right.  Two Talean farmers had given us samples and they were on the table next to another that Clemente thought promising from another part of the state.  The Talean coffee shined on the cupping table, and we couldn’t be happier.

Now we are working to import their coffee. We are also excited with the idea of crowd-funding their center for investigation.  We’d love to return in a couple years and see how they’ve grown, and how their passion has made their dreams reality.  We want a long-term relationship with these farmers to be a part of those dreams.

While we wait for the opportunity to roast and serve Oro Taleano, we want to celebrate our trip to Mexico with a flight of Mexican coffees from local roasters.  Stop into either of our locations to give them a try. Also talk to Jordi in New Center, and Chris in Clark Park about our trip and what we’ve learned.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

¡Oh dichosa ventura!

This imagery floors me. From St. John of the Cross "En una noche escura."

El aire del almena,

cuando yo sus cabellos esparcía,

con su mano serena

en mi cuello hería

y todos mis sentidos suspendía.

Quedéme y olvidéme,

el rostro recliné sobre el Amado;

cesó todo y dejéme,

dejando mi cuidado

entre las azucenas olvidado.

Campbell translates these stanzas:

My neck wounded by serene caresses expresses that same longing I resonate with in Donne's "Batter my heart three person'd God."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Media fast day 2

I just realized this may be the first time I have done a media fast. I have cut out tv, but social media and games weren't a thing before, and in the past I just let Elaine do it.  I noticed today improved cognitive ability. I am making connections and remembering thought experiments I had put aside. Perhaps media saturation really does make us dumber.

Some things I have observed in Elaine:
• She touches me more. She speculates that this may be because her security blanket - her phone is not in her hands. 
• She talks to me more deeply. Last night she described to me the plot of a book she read with interest and excitement. 
• We're both up and about earlier, getting more done around the house and on our projects. It's also nice to hear her share what she is learning and get her input on what I study.