Friday, July 24, 2015

St. Charbel, Duck watching, and Glorious Garbanzo Beans

Good morning, everyone! I hope that you all are having an amazing end to the work week! If, for some reason, you are not excited that today is Friday, I want to tell you something awesome about today: it is the feast of St. Charbel! (Or Sharbel, I’ve seen both spellings, and I use both)

Now, you might be wondering: What’s so awesome about this guy that I’ve never heard of? And what does he have to do with ducks? Furthermore, what’s with garbanzo beans??

I am so glad you asked J

Last weekend, my husband and I were in Kansas, visiting my family. On Sunday, we wound up attending an earlier Mass than they did, and when we arrived to their house, we discovered that we were locked out. So, we did what anyone might do in that situation, and we looked for turtles by the neighborhood lake. Although it was quite warm outside, I became very grateful that we were locked out, because as we walked around the lake, looking for various turtles, I was struck by the beauty and peace of relaxation. For several minutes, we stood and watched a mother duck and her little ducklings eat bugs. Yes. We watched ducks eat. And it was fun! This was peaceful, relaxing, and a luxury—we had the time to watch ducks waddle around with large bugs in their mouths. How cool is that?

I realized that I need to make time in my life to watch ducks eat. To see squirrels run up and down tree branches. To observe the way wind blows leaves across the ground. Life gets busy; whether it’s blogging, writing, going to a job, volunteering, or attending classes, people always seem to be on the move. When we’re not going somewhere, noise surrounds us. Music, radio, cell phones, the internet. None of these things are bad, but we need to take time and step away. Time to sit in nature and watch the world move.

Appropriately, today is the Feast of St. Charbel, an awesome Maronite Catholic priest, who is simply epic. He was born on May 8, 1828, in North Lebanon. He was named Youssef Antoun Makhlouf (don’t ask me how to pronounce that J ), and he lived a fairly typical life.  He went to school, cared for animals, and tried to live for God. His relatives wanted him to marry and work for them, but Youssef up and left one day, making a pilgrimage to a monastery. He took the name Charbel, and lived in the monastery for several years. However, in 1875, Charbel received permission to live in the hermitage of Sts. Peter & Paul. He lived, worked, and prayed as a hermit, until he died on Christmas Eve in 1898. In 1927, doctors of a French medical institute did an examination and found that Charbel’s body was incorrupt, which is pretty cool(he is no longer incorrupt, though). Tons of miracles have been attributed to the intercession of Charbel, who was canonized in 1977.  

This guy was a monk, then a hermit. But even before that, he was known for taking time in silence while he cared for herds of animals. He prayed. He let himself be at rest outside. We don’t have the luxury of traveling to the Qadisha Valley to live in solitude, and frankly, many of us are called to be smack dab in the middle of society. Regardless of where we are, we need to take time and be. Many times, on the way to the church we attend for daily Mass, I see a group of middle-aged people just sitting in chairs on a lawn. They don’t have phones out, they’re not playing a game, but they are sitting. Together. Talking. Or soaking up peaceful silence. It’s beautiful, and very encouraging to me that in the heart of downtown Oklahoma City, people are choosing to watch the world and be still.

Today, make the time to “watch ducks” and be still by yourself or with others. Experience the wonder of this incredible world that God has created. And, while you’re at it, eat some awesome Middle Eastern food. Because we have an epic Lebanese saint today. So, I definitely am extremely thankful for garbanzo beans. Canned, dried, whatever. Also, popping garbanzo beans out of their skins is super relaxing. I mean, I only did that for about a third of a can, before I realized, forget this, I just want to make the hummus already! Garbanzo beans are fabulous, because they become hummus! And falafels! Which I eat on pita bread!!!! This is quite possibly one of my most favorite meals to make, and I’m really stoked. Epic saint, epic food, epic life. God is so awesome! J

Have a beautiful day! If you’re interested, my favorite falafel recipes are here and here. The pita bread recipe I use can be found here. And to make tzatziki sauce, I usually don’t measure ingredients, but throw lemon juice, plain yogurt, salt, garlic, and dill into a blender until it tastes good. But that’s just me J

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