February is 2/3 over
Good thing for the snow blower!
We’re halfway there to seeing clover…
And there’s something else moreover -
Here at the Café you can be a culinary rover
And travel to Poland for sausage and peiroger!
Rock Fish Chowder: Contains Dairy – Gluten Freefish donated by Rocky Perham at Australis Fish Farm
Root Veggie and Cabbage Stew: Vegan – Gluten Free
Mixed Greens salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette -GF
Picked Beets – Vegan - GF
Garlic Dill Pickled Beets – Vegan – GF
Mixed Vegetable Tureen – Vegan – Gluten Free
Baked Herbed Butternut Squash – Vegan – GF
House Made Pierogi with Sautéed Onions – Contains Dairy – Gluten free available!
Sausage & Kraut – Real Pickles Kraut with Chicken
Pork sausage – Gluten Free
Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Cream Frosting - Contains Dairy - Gluten Free
By Ari Pliskin
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
(Published in print: Thursday, February 20, 2014)
In her letter to The Recorder commenting on Time Magazine’s recent declaration of “The Mindful Revolution,” Marilyn F. Shea wrote “Buddhist’s greatest strength lies in its adaptability to local culture, while Christianity remains firm in its mission to aid the poor and feed the hungry.”
Adaptations of the Buddhist tradition are indeed what attracted to me enter training to become a Buddhist minister. As far as we can discern from the accounts of the Pali Buddhist Canon, the Buddha taught meditation as a means of awakening to the interconnectedness of life. His most dedicated contemporary followers abandoned their homes and possessions and wandered around, begging for food and meditating daily. To keep dry during the monsoon season, they cloistered into static locations, establishing the basis for the Buddhist meditation retreat.
This and the Mahayana reformation, which established, among other things, that lay Buddhists could become enlightened just like renunciant monks, inspires the lineage of Socially Engaged Buddhism in which I practice. My teachers have created practices and retreats for householders that integrate Buddhism with modern life.
What doesn’t jibe with me is Shea’s suggestion that Buddhists don’t do a great job of feeding the hungry. The primary liturgy of the Zen Peacemakers tradition in which I practice involves invoking a magical spell to expand a plate of food to become large enough to feed all the hungry ghosts in all of the universes. We see this Gate of Sweet Nectar as a metaphor, wishing our capacity for service to grow to feed as many dissatisfied aspects of others and ourselves as possible.
When I embarked upon a helping profession as a high school teacher fresh out of college, I had no explicit spiritual practice. I didn’t have the tools to take care of myself or manage my own triggers. Approaching life as a rational problem to be solved, I burnt myself out. The path of socially engaged Buddhism and yoga have proven to be a powerful vehicles for clarifying my personal mission and developing a sustainable path that integrates my inner life with my personal relationships and a vision for a more humane and sustainable society.
My Buddhist worldview is that all life is One and interconnected and I experience suffering when I operate under the illusion that I am separate. In recent years, overcoming separation has taken the form of feeding the hungry in Franklin County. Through the Stone Soup Café, I’ve been working to decrease food insecurity and feed the hunger for social connection.
Through the Zen Peacemakers and Off the Mat into the World, I have learned various strategies adapted from Buddhist and yoga traditions to disabuse myself of the illusion of separation. I get stressed out when I cling to my opinion and through meditation, I breathe spaciousness into my thoughts. Through the Way of Council, I learn to experience my voice in the context of the voice of a circle. Because I experience guilt and fear when I want to ignore the homeless person I pass on the street, I do street retreats, spending days at a time living on the streets, without money, in an attempt to bear witness to the wholeness of life.
The Stone Soup Café emerged from our experiences living on the streets. Eating in soup kitchens around the world, we experienced that providers would often treat us with love, but not dignity. As a response, we created Stone Soup as a non-denominational pay-what-you-can café intended to blur the separation between those serving and being served and instead create a diverse, inclusive community in which people of all backgrounds are nourished.
This proved to be a natural fit for the Pioneer Valley, evidenced by the fact that attendance has quadrupled since we started with 30 people per week when we started in Greenfield in January 2012. As local civil liberties lawyer, author and radio host William C. Newman told an audience at Greenfield Community College in November, an invaluable sense of community in the towns along the Connecticut River Valley manifests itself in spontaneous acts of generosity and in “genuine interest in collective experience.”
Through my work at the Stone Soup Café, I have experienced great resonance with fellow practitioners of yoga and Buddhism and also with Unitarian Universalists, Christians, Quakers, Muslims, Jews, agnostics, people of no faith and others. Because many have expressed interest in the Buddhist and yogic foundations of my approach, my friend John Sprague and I will lead a series of Dharma in Action meetings to support community leaders to look within, build connections and create a service project together. If you might like to participate, please join our introductory gathering from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Recover Project Extension (RPX) at 1 Osgood St. in Greenfield.
The Chefs have decided to build a Love Feast
With something for everyone – both Veggie and Beast
A Valentine for the Café – built with love that never will cease
To nourish our Community – a real Italian Love Feast
Special thanks to the kitchen team - Christine Bates, Lucy Leete, & Karl Mutchler for sharing their gifts and planning this week's menu.
Italian Wedding soup – Contains Meat and Gluten
Mixed bean and yellow split pea vegan stew – Gluten Free - Vegan
Mixed Greens with Italian Herb Dressing
Green Beans Almandine – Contains Butter & Nuts – Vegetarian & Gluten Free
Glazed Carrots & Butternut Squash – Vegan & Gluten Free
Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna – Contains Dairy – Gluten Free House Made Pasta
Italian Sausage Lasagna – Contains Pork & Dairy – Gluten Free with House Made Pasta
Italian Baguette with Garlic & Herb Butter – Contains Gluten & Dairy
Dark and Rich Chocolate Valentine Cupcakes – Contains Dairy - Gluten Free
We pay a great tribute to a friend divine
From way up north, near the boarder line
A Scots Irish lad who is always kind
Our Chef Brandon – Birthday Meal sublime-
Some Chowder and Stew,
More than a mouthful to chew
A Sheppard’s delight –
With a Southwestern bite
But wait there is more
With Squash and kale galore –
And since he is never a bore -
Sweet and tart dessert – you know the score!
Chicken, Millet, & Vegetable stew – Gluten Free – Contains Chicken
Creamy Clam Chowder – Gluten Free – Contains Shellfish & Dairy
Mixed Greens with House made Picked Beets & Lemon Oregano Dressing – Gluten Free & Vegan
Broccoli & Parsnip Au Gratin – Gluten Free – Contains Dairy
Winter Squash & Kale Bake – Gluten Free & Vegan
Great White North – Cannellini Bean Casserole – Gluten Free & Vegan
Southwestern Turkey Sheppard’s Pie – Gluten Free – Contains Meat & Dairy
Sweet –n- Tart Lemon Bars – Gluten Free – Contains Dairy
Aggie Mitchkoski , our Café Manager, grew up in Easthampton the youngest of four children, born to working class parents who knew hard work and hard times. There was not a lot of open expression of affection in her family as people were stressed out by their circumstances, grieving losses too unbearable to integrate. But there was one way that her family showed affection: with FOOD! Food was comfort, food was reward, food was forgiveness., food was celebration.
Aggie’s life has been marked by roller coaster beginnings and endings, gains followed by loss and losses followed by gains..
After graduating from high school, Aggie went to STCC for training to become a physical therapist assistant. Taking time out to raise her daughter she had odd jobs at Dunkin Donuts working the midnight shift making donuts to working at a retail store going from sales clerk to store manager. Then in the late 70s she started working at Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance company here in Greenfield. Again, she started at an entry level job as a claims examiner and proceeded to regional manager in the Group Medical department. After downsizing she decided to return to physical therapy and won the right to practice again after such a long absence. She was instrumental in developing the rehab program at Buckley Nursing Home making it a preferred program for leading orthopedics in Greenfield. Again, life intervened and Medicare changed the way they reimbursed services and the field collapsed. She decided to return to school and attended Mt. Holyoke College for a year and a half majoring in philosophy until her scholarship ran out. She found out that if she was an employee at UMASS, she could go to school while she worked. So she transferred to UMASS and enrolled in the University Without Walls program in which a student can design their own course of study. There she completed her BS in the "philosophy of work". Enjoying the academic environment, she has remained working in the Psychology Department. There she is responsible for running the Human Subjects Program, manages their website and does a varied number of responsibilities. She acknowledges that this job is not as challenging as some jobs she has had but laughingly says, "This job lets me do all the other things I love outside of here." And one of those things is the Stone Soup Cafe.
Her education, career and even marriage relationships have taught her that nothing in life is truly eternal except the Love that one gets from actualizing oneself in actions that harmonize with the Soul. She has been a lifelong seeker of ways to do that and has found Stone Soup Café to be a place where she gets to use her gifts, share Spirit’s love with others and make a difference in helping to create a warm, efficient “flow” to the experience of being in an intentionally welcoming community, a family of sorts.
Joy, for Aggie, comes from watching herself interact with others, who come from a wide variety of backgrounds and gifts. “Meeting someone’s eyes with a smile feels wonderful,” says Aggie. “Stone Soup Café gives me and others a chance to be real with each other and with people who you might not meet otherwise. The Spirit at the Café is something that just lights up. It’s fragile – you can’t hold it too tight or too loose.”
Aggie first came to the café as a guest, then offered to create posters and the menus for each week. Then she advanced to setting up the lobby, followed by helping to set up tables, then becoming morning Front of House shift leader. She has since created a tech side to the Café operations that makes it easier for volunteers to sign up for shifts and also that offers systemic procedures to keep track of supplies and ongoing ideas to improve the Café experience.
As our new Café Manager, Aggie now oversees the full operation of several shifts, volunteer recruitment, and coordination of the Front of House with the Kitchen.
We are blessed and grateful to have Aggie volunteering her time in these ways for Stone Soup Café.
By Becca King
This poem makes us think of our work at Stone SI am the blossom pressed in a book,
found again after two hundred years. . . .
I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper. . . .
When the young girl who starves
sits down to a table
she will sit beside me. . . .
I am food on the prisoner's plate. . . .
I am water rushing to the wellhead,
filling the pitcher until it spills. . . .
I am the patient gardener
of the dry and weedy garden. . . .
I am the stone step,
the latch, and the working hinge. . . .
I am the heart contracted by joy. . .
the longest hair, white
before the rest. . . .
I am there in the basket of fruit
presented to the widow. . . .
I am the musk rose opening
unattended, the fern on the boggy summit. . . .
I am the one whose love
overcomes you, already with you
when you think to call my name. . . .