Friday, October 16, 2015

The Washington Retreat Center

The workshop this week was at the Washington Retreat Center which is smack dab in the middle of the campus of Catholic University and is run by the Franciscan  Sisters of the Atonement. God knows how many different Franciscan orders there are in the Roman Catholic Church--well, surely 'God knows', but not many humans can figure it out. They were all worthy of cheek pinching and one of them, an Irish nun with a pronounced limp, was an absolute sweetheart.

In my work with the Mastery Foundation I've met more nuns than you can imagine or I can remember. Nuns, in my book, are top of the line. If I had to go somewhere dangerous, I'd take a couple of nuns--those bad people they couldn't charm they'd beat up. Nuns are tough. I remember talking to a nun in Ireland who told me how she stood in front of her girl's school in Nigeria and stared down some rebels who came to kidnap the girls as if she was telling me what she had for breakfast after mass.

You can sit on the front porch of the Washington Retreat Center and watch people in robes and habits walk down the street along with college students dressed like, well, college students. It is a beautiful location only half a block from the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception where Pope Francis said mass and next door to the Saint John Paul II shrine that looks for all the world like a pro basketball arena from the outside.

Several of us had dinner on Sunday and then again on Wednesday at a restaurant called "Bus Boys and Poets". It is dedicated to Langston Hughes, the Black Poet, who was a bus boy in DC at a hotel, before he was a poet. One night the poet Vachel Lindsy had dinner in the restaurant and Langston Hughes left some of his poems at Vachel's plate and was, thereby, 'discovered'.

If you're ever in DC find Bus Boys and Poets--there's more than one--and order the shrimp and grits.

I've had shrimp and grits in New Orleans, which should be the 'best', right? But it was nowhere near as good as this shrimp and grits. The grits had been fried into grit patties, crisp on the outside. The shrimp with chopped up asparagus and scallions and tomatoes and corn, was covered with a spicy, creamy Cajun  sauce to die for.

The second time I had a half-plate, since it was 'happy hour' of shrimp and grits patties with small shrimp and the same vegetables and sauce. I would lick that sauce off a plate! And since I had a 'small plate', I had room for (I do not lie) white chocolate banana bread pudding with a caramel sauce and coconut ice cream. The six of us passed it around and all went into a sort of fugue it was so good.

And we walked there from the Washington Retreat Center. How great is that?

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.