Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Name any name and then remember everybody you ever knew who bore that name. Are they all alike. I think so. Gertrude Stein
St. Gertrude the Great has a monastery dedicated to her. It's in Cottonwood, Idaho. what a coincidence--I have roots in Idaho too. Mine are Mormon and Methodist, but I imagine the Catholic folks who were inclined to find a very nice, inexpensive, isolated spot to start a function, would find Idaho for the same reasons Mormons did. Some people see through all the noise and want to clear their minds and do something important.
That's what being gertrude is all about. Gertrude has long since realized that the things she thought were important because that's what she was told, are just someone's version of what's important. Nobody really knows what's important for everybody else, and people can do the most good if they dedicate themselves to something of their own designation.
Saint Gertrude lived in the last half of the 11th century, in Saxony. She was strong minded and not the most pious of the oblates, and she believed strongly in the bond humanity can build with the Lord. She was friends with the outcasts and taught her followers to trust in God's mercy. Her feast day is November 18th.
And that reminds me: why not have a feast? That would be a great party. I haven't been to one since Christmas. Now I am pretty plain and unassuming. But Gertrude, now there is a lady who knows how to do a feast. She would festoon the walls, put nice cloths on the tables, light candles, have centerpieces of fruit or flowers, and put on some great theme music, like Spanish guitar or lute music. And she'd have everybody singing songs. They'd all leave feeling like they were really a part of a celebration.
Can you imagine a sculptor coming up to you and asking you to pose for a statue that was to go on a cathedral that people would be looking at 900 years from now? I've been to some of those old places and felt a sense of the heart people put into them. I've seen castles that got destroyed because of shifting political allegiances. Except the church be built by God...
Gertrude has tried out every religion there is and a few philosophies as well. She tells me now that because everyone is different, everyone's religion is unique. You can be an atheist and there will still be things you're religious about, such as your favorite pipe tobacco and whiskey, or your sailboat. Anything you think is beautiful and inspiring is a mirror of the beauty inside you.
But on the other hand, Gertrudes seem to all be made of good stuff. Be it Saint Gertrude, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Ederle, and... We'll see what other Gertrudes we find.
Guest Gertrude of the Day: Auntie Mame, starring Rosalind Russell. She pulled it together and found love late in life.