SAINT YOU, SAINT ME, AND RED VELVET CAKE
Confession: I’ve been making this how-to-become-a-saint thing much more complicated than it is. Out of all the posts I’ve written since 2012, only two of them (All Saints and Visitation) give away the not-so-secret secret that upon our baptisms, we join the Mystical Body of Christ and the Communion of Saints. Done deal. In the eyes of God, we’re already saints.
Everything else is just Grammar. As in yes, there’s a difference between saints and Saints. We’re saints, holy people are saints, but the Saints of the gospels, and the Saints in the prayer books are extreme versions of goodness. Their biographies and lessons provide us with recipes for faithful living that can guide us ever closer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So, I’m thinking it’s probably okay if I keep writing about them here.
Also, humans have free will, a gray area of decisions and actions that define our character. According to Oscar Wilde, whom I recently learned was a Bohemian:
The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
So, as we make our way from sinner to saint, it’s good to sustain ourselves with some nourishing recipes along our journey.
Also, so much can happen to us, decisions and actions taken in someone else’s gray area of free will – abuse, trauma, suppression, and addiction – that can skewer our perception of reality. It’s often not until one perceives recovery is necessary and then seeks guidance within the recovery process that healing, and a clear view of reality, actually occurs.
For example, if one is raised in codependency by an addictive personality, one’s perception of love and self-worth is radically different from a non-addicted perception of love. BUT, since one was conditioned in codependency from birth, it’s almost impossible to see that one’s definition of love is not the same as the actual definition of love.
Thank God for miracles, in all their varied forms, which can guide one up and out of an addicted or distorted view of one’s self and one’s value to others.
Here’s another “truth” that messes with us and prolongs our belief that we couldn’t possibly be saintworthy as is. Saintliness includes humility. Therefore, if anyone calls themselves a saint, they aren’t being humble, so the equation doesn’t compute.
*sigh* It’s a quandary.
It’s true, though. I’ve never come across a saint or Saint who accepted that title while they were living even if other people called them a “living saint.” It’s just not done.
But, humility can be taken to the extreme. St. Francis of Assisi was humble to a fault, and he knew it. He apologized often and profusely about it, but he didn’t change his ways. His humility was so pronounced, he refused to lead his own order, leaving the leadership to others who didn’t follow his vision for the Friar Minors. This ultimately led to a split between the Franciscan Friar Minors after his death on October 3, 1226.
Why oh why, couldn’t he have allowed himself to lead with a clear sense of direction as well as deep caring for his brothers, sisters, and followers, like his contemporary, St. Dominic of Osma?
Well, St. Francis mostly likely suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after surviving a battle in his youth in which he witnessed and possibly partook of great violence. This is possibly the reason why he remained illogical or as I like to say, a little bit crazy, for the rest of his life.
This doesn’t mean he wasn’t one of the most spiritually connected humans of all time, or of great value to us as a guide to saintly living.
I like to think of myself, endearingly, as a little bit crazy, too. Somehow, it’s a comfort to me that I’m slightly off, that I don’t conform, that I get to be weird and appreciate the weirdness in others. But, for most of my life I’ve also had issues with dysfunctional levels of low self-esteem and lack of confidence.
This came up in conversation recently with a friend in which I started out making the following suggestion:
You should watch the original Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy BBC TV series.
The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy books are so good, no film version could ever compare.
Right! That’s why you have to watch the BBC version! It’s as if a bunch of chums met down at the pub and decided to put on a show. The special effects are less than amateur, and the acting is like they all had one round too many whilst waiting for the bloke to show up with the video camera.
I want to hang ‘round the pub with a bunch of friends and put on a show.
In theory, me too. In reality, not so much. One needs confidence for such a thing.
I talked about this issue with my recovery counselor:
How does an introvert writer practice building confidence as she recovers from childhood abuse and codependency?
You need to build your confidence up incrementally because that’s the way it was destroyed, piece by piece.
Whoa. I mean, here we go again with the heavy stuff, but there actually was a fun way for me to start through it this time. I kept a list of recent confidence-building advice or comments made to me by various people in my life. Most of them friends. Some of them really funny nutjobs with whom I fit right in:
Designate a daily time of day to write new words, say 45 minutes as soon as you wake up every morning.
Pace yourself. Live your life. Watch TV.
Doctor Who is absolutely worth the cost of Amazon Prime Video Streaming.
Normal people don’t block you on Facebook for caring about them too much.
Craft first. Above all else. Craft first. Be a Bohemian about it.
Hippies are not the same thing as Bohemians!
Bohemians don’t cook or clean. But they have better personal hygiene than hippies.
Yeah. Well, it’s cruel and inhumane to post photos of homemade baked goods on social media.
Hi dear. I have that check for you. How are you doing?
Thank you for my thoughtful gifts and your wonderful letter.
We would love to have you! It’s a blast!
How are you, friend?
You are the first person today to say I was right about something. Thank you.
Looks good. Thanks for doing this!
Yes, I can meet you to walk at 2:00 on Tuesday!
No worries, I’m always glad to be in touch with you.
For the 10th right? Sure, no problem. No, it’s okay. This one’s on me. You’re welcome!
Of course. Just not kidding about missing you.
My pleasure. I’m glad I could help.
Thanks, as always, for the encouragement.
I’ll meet you at the pizza joint at six!
I’m glad we’re friends, too. You brighten up my day.
Of course, I included you.
I love you, too.
I want in!
I want in!
I want in!
I’m replacing the bad words of my past with these good words of my present and recalculating.
I’ve also created the Bohemian Writers Coffee Club, where craft comes first unless we’re drinking coffee and discussing craft, then drinking coffee and discussing craft comes first.
First members at our first meeting
In honor of saint you and saint me, and in gratitude of all the earth angels who help us transition from one reality to another in our humble lives, let’s bake my favorite:
RED VELVET CAKE
About 1 TBS of vegetable oil for the pans
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 TBS cocoa powder
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1-ounce red food coloring
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour three 9-inch cake pans.
Place flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into large mixing bowl. Sift together with fork.
In another large bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
Combine in one bowl. Either with a standing mixer or electric beaters, mix until a smooth batter is formed.
Divide the batter evenly among the three cake pans. Place the pans in the oven. Rotate the pans at the halfway mark. Bake about 26-30 minutes (depending on oven temperature variables), until the cakes pull away from the side of the pans, and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges to loosen them from the sides of the pan. One at a time, invert the cakes onto your flat hand and then re-invert them onto the rack, rounded sides up. Let cool completely.
Using a standing mixer or electric beaters, mix the softened butter and cream cheese until well blended. Add the sifted-powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until fluffy.
To ice the cakes, place one layer, rounded side down, in the middle of a cake plate. Using a palette knife, spread some of the icing over the top of the cake, about a ½ inch layer. Carefully, set another layer on top, rounded side down, and repeat. Top with the remaining layer, rounded side up, and cover the entire cake with the remaining icing.
I read the above list of comments to my recovery counselor. He said that they were good affirmations. I asked him what was the difference between writing this list of affirmations and external validation seeking which is an addiction.
It’s the degree that makes an addiction.
It depends on where you put the list. If you put it in a self-esteem bucket with a hole at the bottom which you constantly need to keep refilling, that’s addictive seeking of external validation.
But if you mix the voices in this collection of affirmations with your own voice, it will help stabilize your footing on a strong cornerstone from which you can move on.