Friday musings…

We’re in the market for a 3rd car, for the Pasty One, which means I’m doing the leg work via craigslist,, & other such vehicles to get a vehicle. Combing through the scams & the foolish is almost amusing. Like someone else’s definition of what a ‘super clean’ car is. Goodness. I’m not talking about the soda can behind the seat, or the collection of McDouble-cheeseburger wrappers from the last month that somehow haven’t been removed yet. It’s the ground in filth in the upholstery, the body beat by something akin to a sledgehammer, & the puzzled look on the face of the wannabe seller when I ask, “THIS is the car in the picture?” Wow.

I feel a blog run coming on – I referred to a coming post on ‘heart checkups’, but I’m also contemplating friendship, trust & disappointment. There’s been several in our blog-world that have written about current situations that they’re going through, & that, coupled with a few of my own current experiences, has led to the examination of relationships with others, & trying to tell the difference between losing trust & being disappointed by another.

On that same note, the nebulous definition of ‘friends’ is up for discussion. Maybe its the proliferation of MySpace/Facebook ‘friends’ – where one pseudo-connects with people in a virtual social network, people that they wouldn’t talk to if they were in the same room, let alone be ‘real friends’ -(scoey definition to follow) with. Maybe I’ll write it as ‘Friends do, friends don’t…’

TheBean has informed me that my book needs to be finished soon :). She is done working her current job in 2 1/2 years (self-proclaimed end of the road.) That means the book has to be done within the year, so it can be shopped, bought (!), edited, published, & promo’d. It’s a dream. And it’s going to happen.

I was invited to write a short-piece again for Advance magazine. The editor is a friend of mine, & for some reason, he asks me to do this a couple times a year. I’ll be writing on the assigned topic ‘the importance of maintaining our heart & conscience’, which is a 500-600 word response to an article written in 1620 by Susanna Wesley’s dad. The sound you heard was me tooting my own proverbial horn.

1 month out from a trip to Deutschland – a 12-day excursion into the unknown of new relationships, growing deeper in old ones, & mining the depths of long-term calling. I’m flying solo.

We’re going to Scheel’s tonight as a fam – to walk the store, buy some trinkets (like fudge) & take in the newest experience in ‘sports style consumerism…’

Got a letter (an email actually) written to & about me & our church family. And it was a positive one, full of thanks, appreciation, & hope. In the aftermath of what ‘getting a letter’ has come to mean over the last year, this was a breath of fresh air. Boo-yah!

The search for the vehicle has put me in the awkward, yet necessary position of interacting, ‘discussing’ & negotiating with perfect strangers, something that I have found to be as weird as I thought it would be. There’s always the thought, “Is this guy going to be the psycho-killer that my mom warned me about?” It’s led to my communicating with several someones to let them know what I’m doing, where I’m going, & when I should be done. And if they don’t hear from me by the appointed time, then they know to call in the cavalry. Or at least Chuck Norris.

I’m off again in a few minutes to do it again; & I’m bringing backup with me.

Goodbye to Sue L. & other thoughts…

Good bye Sue L. You’ll be missed. Esp. when I’m trying to figure out what exactly the little knobbys do on the soundboard.

On that note: I wonder what part of our psyche is affected as we try to deal with the death of friends & loved ones… cause I know there’s a part that is numbed, & does everything possible to try to function like Everything Is Normal, when at the same time a logical portion of the mind(?) is stating, matter of factly of course, the ‘reality’ of events that have led to our friend/loved one not being on the planet.

I remember the 1st time I prayed after my brother’s funeral… it was bedtime prayers, of course, just me & the Bean. I was covering all the bases (meaning praying for family & extended family,) & I prayed for Johnny, Joel, & Ben… (their birth order btw…) It took about 10 seconds before I realized that I’d prayed for Johnny. And that he had died. And I knew it, & wasn’t in denial. But at that moment, I had thought, “I need to pray for him…”

And I cried w/the Bean. Tears of grief. Loss. Sorrow. Loneliness. And I thought about my brother, & wondered if praying would ever be the same again…

The numbness fades over time, but I don’t know if it ever goes away totally – maybe its a sorrow or the residue of missing someone. Or the part of our psyche that screams out, “NO!” & does everything possible to protect me from the pain of feeling.

I wish more people who knew my brother, talked to me about my brother. Cause, Man, that is the best. My kids never met their Uncle, as he died in June 1990, & the Pasty Gangster didn’t enter the world until 9/1991. I wish they could have known him, because he was a piece of work. (The closest to his personality is #2 son, Prince Darrell – esp. when he doesn’t get his way…) So, I want to reminisce – look at videos, & ‘introduce’ my kids to him… Because then, his memory is carried on by more than just a picture.

If a loved one or friend has died, keep talking about them. It helps.

Walking with a friend as they bury their wife is hard… but it would be harder for them alone. Life’s too short to do that kind of thing by yourself. Let’s not go solo.

goodbyes are hard…

Aaron & Michelle are moving home for the summer, but they’ll be back in late August just in time for Aaron to subject himself to 21 units at the U of N, & for Miss Michelle to jump in for the opening of the Fall semester of Little Lites. The fact that they’re coming back in a relatively short time (as short as the summers are in Reno,) should temper the loss… but it doesn’t, really. Because I know that when Aaron graduates, they’re moving. And goodbyes are hard…

So how does one deal with goodbyes? Here’s a couple of my favorites…

  • Avoidance – Some avoid relationships all-together, & become virtual hermits… Bizarro-scoeyd could do that. Has done that. Didn’t work out either, thanks for asking.
  • Denial – pretending its not happening. Creating an artificial reality helps, where people only exist when they’re in your presence. It helps if one has lots of practice at living in their own little world, but it’s pretty tough to sustain this one. Other people keep it complicated.
  • Embracing – kinda like the moment at camp, when the Friends song gets broken out at the end. People claim to hate it, but I think it’s really their favorite part of camp – being able to get all teary & clingy – maybe it’s an artificial grieving, maybe it’s real, but I think it serves a purpose, for at least a segment of the population. Cause people are going to move away. Or die. Or get married. Or I will. (not the married part. Done that.)

    I know that there’s many other means of dealing with goodbyes, but Friends is almost over. I never intended to post this morning, but rather to just roll through my blogs & catch up with friends. So as I read back over it, I feel self-conscious, because there are many more eloquent ways to state what I’ve stated, & if I crafted for a while, I might even find one. But instead, I’m just pondering. And feeling a bit melancholy.

    And setting myself to be a person who lives well. Embraces life. And relationships. They make life so much richer & deeper, which is probably why it hurts so much when a relationship changes, even if its ‘just’ geographic. I’m thankful for you.

    I miss you Dabey… :)

  • One Day

    I was thinking back over the last few years & the different people that have come into & subsequently gone out of my life. A lot of it has happened in, around, & through this thing called “church…” which is quite the microcosm of society & is one of the more bizarre Social Environments I have ever encountered… I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised that when One Day, people that I thought I’d been close to, disappeared. I didn’t know if they were gone, gone, or if they were just on vacation. I bet that if people are looking to drop out or leave a church, doing it post-vacation would be the way it happens more often than not. After all, you’re already on the move, & your absence wouldn’t really be noticed until you were Out There.

    What runs through my head is: Are you supposed to call people that have gone M.I.A.? How long qualifies as MIA? How much time does one give between calls? Is it considered stalking or pressuring people to check in & ask them what’s up & where they’ve been?

    My thought is that what people do or don’t do for ‘church’ is up to them – & I don’t want to be the High Pressure guy that is in your grill trying to get you to justify why you haven’t been coming to church. Or (Gasp!) why you don’t go to this one anymore… But it would be nice to know what’s up – a short, “We’re going somewhere else. Thanks!” would be great. No drive-bys, no wondering “Whatever happened to…”

    ‘cos really, I want to know, but I don’t want to try to chase people down – if they wanted to communicate, wouldn’t they have initiated it? I don’t know. Weird.

    It’s pretty darn easy to be selfish – to focus on how other peoples’ behaviors are so bad, & how sad it makes us… but I really think that a lot of that has to do with how their behavior, choices, actions, etc. affect or reflect on us. We don’t want to be the guy with the friend that blew it, like somehow, the bad choice & the resulting consequences could be pinned on us, & somehow, someway end up taking us down a notch or 10 in the eyes & esteem of others. I can say its about them, but really, its probably about me.

    10 Mai – coming to a close…

    Today was our last time together – we spent the morning in worship & in our small groups – revisiting what it is that God has most impressed on all of us this week: individually, & for each other. We went around the circle & shared, then after each of us finished, we took time to pray for & confirm what happened this week – to ‘cement it’ in our lives while it is still fresh in our memories, before the tyranny of the urgent & the routine of the commonplace return to battling for attention.

    To me, what stood out is the need to listen – to really discern what’s going on in the days & times we live in, then to respond appropriately. Most significantly, I have been encouraged multiple times that words carry weight – & somebody told me that something I’d said to them in August was still ‘ringing in their ears.” That the words we speak carry life – & that I have a responsibility & a gift to encourage – to impart courage. To build up, to strengthen, to give life. Reminds me of our studies in James 3 on the power of the tongue – this point was driven home time & time again.

    I’m spending the rest of the evening with Alex & Linda – we ate dinner together (ciabatta bread & veggies) & sampled some of the New Clairvaux Petite Sirah. Later, we’re heading out for a night on the town…

    Abbey Trip, #3: A Road Trip From the Retreat

    4/16 p.m.
    As we were sitting together in Starbucks posting blogs, drinking our 2nd refill of real, non-freeze-dried coffee, we got to talking about food… this was a mistake. Our fare for the previous 2 days had been spare & way, way over on the vegetarian side. Beggars (& retreat-ants) can’t be choosers, my Grandmother would say, but still, the thought of miscellaneous steamed veggies, AGAIN, as the main course, pushed us over the edge. We needed a road trip – the guy behind the counter who so attentively had made sure that we got our coffee refills also had a good suggestion for 3 guys that were hankering for red meat – the Riverside Grille & Bar, in nearby Red Bluff (only 17 miles up the 5.) And we’re off…

    We pulled into the Riverside & found that we were the only car in the parking lot – after double checking that they were indeed open (we’d called earlier too – that’s a 1st-born for you) we sauntered into the completely empty restaurant… completely empty except for 5 or 6 servers & the Bartender that was affectionately referred to by her co-workers using a less than kind reference to a specific part of her anatomy… Did I mention it was a cowboy restaurant? No matter – we wanted some feed, & this turned out to be a pretty great place to get it – big, burly, burgers; fries; tall icy-cold hefe; a seat overlooking the River. We hung out for a couple of hours & then decided we’d best waddle back to the Abbey before Brother John locked the front doors & we had to jump the fence (or sneak through the shrubberies) to get to our retreat.

    The evening was passed in quiet contemplation. We all sat in our chairs (Moe & Ben had their rockers; I was sporting old-school green plastic chair,) reading various books:

    Moe had “Blue Like Jazz” by Donald Miller

    Ben had “Leap Over A Wall” by Eugene Peterson

    I had “Eat This Book” by Peterson

    We spent the better part of the evening in silence, reading, with the quiet only broken by the ringing of the bell calling the monks to one of their scheduled prayer times, or by the occasional interjection made by one of us as we excitedly shared something that we’d just read & couldn’t keep to ourselves…

    Finally, the bugs got so bad (they watered 2x a day, leaving the grass of the grounds a dead-ringer for mosquito heaven;) that we finally entered the Peace room & picked up our conversation of the day before – talking about:
    • making music with friends;
    • worship as a lifestyle;
    • community living;
    • one-sided relationships, (where one party seems to do all the giving, & the other does all the needing)
    • eating too much food & the ethics of purging, just this once to deal with the aftermath of our cavalcade of red meat…

    We ended up heading for bed after talking to & texting our wives & hearing the latest news of the day & night, including that my son had kissed a girl after youth group, & that she wanted him to, so he did it. And he liked it. Goodness.

    4/17 a.m.
    It’s a travel day, so I woke up early, as usual. It’s a gift; and a curse, I’m sure. Stripped the bed, put new sheets on it, took the ‘dirties’ to their appointed place & woke up/tried to wake up the others. Ben was rolling, Moe wanted no part of it – so brother & I made our way to St. Luke’s kitchen for a last breakfast of PB&J bread & crackers.

    Lucky for us, someone had gotten up at the crack o’dawn & had squeeze some of the oranges from the tree outside the window, had squeezed them just so that there was real live orange juice. Let me testify – there is a difference between the concentrate & the fresh squeeze-age.

    By this time Moe was up & at ‘em. He really knows how to make a bed – both mine & Ben looked like a 3rd grader had done their best; Moe’s looked like Ines from “Bottle Rocket” – absolutely perfect. He claims his dad taught him how to do it. Very nice. I need lessons.

    We liberated some OJ for Moe, then it was time to go – we left a “suggested donation” & our room keys with Brother John, & hit the road for home.

    Other than a stop for gas, some down-time in construction traffic, & a detour to get directions to Reno (don’t ask. I won’t tell.) the trip home was uneventful. And quiet. Almost like we’d all adopted the “Grand Silence” for the trip home – we didn’t, but it sure seemed that way. I amused myself by saying lines from movies, & singing snippets of songs… Good times.

    And now we’re home. What will the aftermath or the fallout of our semi-retreat to the Abbey of New Clairvaux be? Don’t know. But I do know, all over, that God wants me to have joy. And to BE joy-filled. So that’s where I’m at. You’ll have to ask the others their take, but I’m thankful for my friends. And for a new experience. I’ll definitely do it again – maybe not in the same place/venue, but I will do it again.


    Abbey Trip, #2 – Crackers w/PB & J

    4/15 p.m.
    After lunch, we decided that we’d participate/attend the afternoon & evening “Divine Office” prayer – the 1:55 “None” & the 5:45 “Vespers”.

    We entered the chapel through a ‘visitors door’. The monks of the Abbey of St. Clairvaux are cloistered, which means that their living & work areas, as well as their grounds are set apart from the rest of the property, separated by a large shrubbery (hedges if you’re not a Monty Python fan.) There is even a separate entrance to the chapel for the monks. The retreat-ants get to sit in a sequestered, set apart set of benches, with the prayer books, kneeling rail, & other accoutrements common to the chapel.

    The “None” (Noin) for Tuesday consisted of the singing of several portions of the Psalms – actually a selection from Psalm 119 – followed by the Alleluia & Amen singing – which is all done following the leader (Cantor) & in the familiar, sing-song that I have experienced before while attending Mass on the Gonzaga campus in Spokane for my brother’s law school graduation. It’s the kind of sing-song that if you hear it once, you could participate if you so desired – & could take any sentence you’d normally say & put it into the rhythm of the cadence. It was about 15 minutes long, & I really enjoyed praying the Psalms – its something that I’m familiar with from the Daily Office (Office meaning the “work devoted to God,”) that I follow (see Peter Scazzero’s book, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” for more on the Office.) It was a great reminder that we are set apart to God – & was a great break in the middle of the day.

    It became evident that we needed a trip to Starbucks – Monday on our way to the Abbey, we’d seen one in Corning while picking up our supplies for the week, so we navigated our way into town & parked at Starbucks. The beans were roasted by AJ, by the way – a sticker on the beans we were enjoying said, “Proudly roasted in Carson Valley, NV” – Woohoo. BTW: we told the manager that we knew the man who was in charge of roasting the beans… she didn’t care, but we did, because we’re proud of that guy.

    You know from reading the blog yesterday that we also ended up horking onto the bandwidth in one of the shops next to Starbucks – Ben got onto the Quizno’s network, & I was on something like “Zylnex” which sounds an awful lot like a prescription for something that I don’t want to know about. It brought great joy to “liberate” bandwith for free – to post & go. We hung out in the Starbucks for about 90 minutes, & were treated to a couple of free refills by one of the baristas that was eager to show his manager that he is capable of some great customer service. Of course, we egged him on, & played the role of sassified customers – the coffee was excellent, & tasted much, much better than normal after our steady diet of Taster’s Choice Freeze-dried specials.

    Our curiosity got the better of us, & we left to explore Corning – we went to a couple of 99c stores, & meandered through another couple of mini-mart-type places looking to see what we could see. All the while, we were on the topic of discussing what we’d experienced in “the None”, & also talking about the incorporation of Mary into worship, & the theology that presents Mary as an (the?) integral piece (center?) of Catholic worship & practice. We postulated a bit about how a great woman (Mary, Jesus’ mother) chosen by God to be the woman who gave birth to Immanu’El, God with us, is transitioned by church traditions from ‘great woman of faith” to one that is worshiped, revered, honored, venerated, & is recast as divinity (or at least right next to divinity.)

    One of the things we talked about is the title “Queen of Heaven” that is spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah (Chapter 7 & Chapter 44) in referencing a particular idol worshipped by Israel – in direct opposition to God’s instruction not to. This title has popped up throughout history, attributed by various peoples to the god/goddesses they worshipped – Canaanite, Babylonian, Roman, & Greek peoples assigning worth & worship to an idol that manifests in the name/image of the “Queen of Heaven.”

    So, we came back to the ASC in time to get some dinner (crackers w/PB&J for me) & headed off to vespers. Our sing-song for vespers (evening prayers) came from Romans 6 & Psalm 116 & 117. Then a couple of hymns were to be sung – in the same sing-song voice/chant of course. Except the hymns were an “ode to Mary, the Queen of Heaven” – this line was repeated a few times in the hymn. On the heels of the discussion we’d been having all afternoon, we were hyper-attentive to the title ascribed. Hmmm.

    The rest of the evening involved more crackers, lemonade & Fiddle-Faddles that we’d liberated from the Dollar store earlier in the day – with lots of deep thoughts & discussions. Our thoughts & talks turned to Hillside, & the changes that we’re going through …

    Change & the results of change don’t make themselves visible right away – sometimes it takes months –usually years – for the effects of change to appear, to surface. And it seems that that is too long ☺… we want to see the changes happen, to not just be modified, but to be transformed by Christ… & the longer the time that passes, the more possibilities we have to become impatient. Our discussions were heated & strong – not out of control (we were having them in the Peace Room, after all.) Moe commented that he was suddenly reminded that his desire to see the results of change NOW might, just might reflect the need to have patience developed in him & his character. And in us. To submit to God’s timing for ourselves, but also to allow it for others – to not grow weary of doing good, to not give up or surrender, but to keep on. And to believe in other people, & the work that God is doing in them. And to look for that work, & not the junk – because we’ll find what we’re looking for.

    I was sitting in a white molded plastic chair tonight, & broke it.The whole back leg came off. Oops. I’m trying not to take it as A Sign that It’s Time to be the Biggest Loser, but I am feeling a nudge every time I rub the bruise on my hip… did I mention all the floors are cement? I dropped my Mickey watch on it as well (DOH!) & broke the crystal – need a new one now. Any idea if I can get a crystal fixed on a watch I have a sentimental attachment to?

    Today has been a slow day – rehearsing yesterday… more crackers w/PB&J – a nap (after crackers, 1 hour after waking up for the day) to clear my fuzzy head. Recording thoughts here – processing joy. Watching nature. Laughing at the boys. With the boys. Drinking my gallon of Crystal Geyser because I’m thirsty. Lots of wondering. Not a ton of answers; just a determination to keep on, to look for Joy, the joy that God gives in the middle of where we are, the joy that is not circumstantial or fleeting… to have Peace. Patience. Joy.

    Abbey Trip, #1, @ St. Clairvaux…

    Warning – long post ahead – you’ve been warned… :)

    We’re at Starbucks in Vina (with a long “I” sound, so its VI-nah.) Found a place to boost the net for free – no paying Howard Schultz & his empire for me…

    Enjoy! I am.

    4/14 p.m.
    The drive from Reno to Vina took about 3 ½ hours, including the stop in Oroville for a Taco Bell run… walking into a Taco Bell in Oroville is like walking into a Taco Bell in any town – yay franchising…

    The access road to the monastery, actually the “Abbey of New Clairvaux” was a single lane road with a blind curve that had to be navigated at about 3 mph. To my surprise – the road around the was covered in water. When I say “covered” I mean that it was deep enough that I stopped. Couldn’t see the road under the water. Didn’t know if it would be safe to take my valiant & trusty Jetta, the car that will soon be turned out to pasture as its lease expires, through the turbulent & rushing stream.

    Turns out that the ag-creek had been rising, & the workers in the vineyard/olive/walnut grove had pumped the water to aid in their irrigation, as its been something of a dry spring… we entered the water & it got no higher than 6 inches. Fortunately for us, an obstacle navigated.

    When we arrived at the Abbey, we stopped at the “Guest Masters” quarters – more of a “Welcome Hut” or a ‘lobby’ than an actual quarters – there was no one around – no one to be seen anywhere on the grounds. So we got out of the car & walked, slowly of course (we’re at a monastery for retreat, Hello?) looking for any signs of life. About ¼ mile down the road, Ben pipes in with how this actually reminds him of a scene in a particular “Twilight Zone” episode. I know what he’s talking about, but I don’t want to go there right now – esp. to the end of that episode.

    Finally, I see a guy on a golf cart heading for a maintenance shack – I head in his direction – he heads to the shack, not really avoiding me, but definitely not making himself available. He’s a dead ringer for the Amish meets car mechanic look that I became familiar with in a trip to Philadelphia – I explained to him our situation: we just arrived. No one was in the Guest Masters qtrs to meet us, we’re looking for help. He replied: “Ok. Well go back to the Guest Masters qtrs & wait. Someone will be there eventually.” He smiled & went into his work shack.

    We all had a good laugh – of course we wait. That’s part of the point to this place with no ‘useful’ point – time functions on a different clock here, & the waiting is a part of the process. So we walked, (Slowly. Of Course) back to the Guest Master’s, & eventually we were met by a man, probably in his late 70s or early 80s who introduced himself to us as the Guest Master, Brother John. He wore tattered blue jeans & a college sweatshirt pullover – a little bit of an absent minded guy, he gave us a tour of the grounds via a map in the office, & as they came to his mind, offered up a stream-of-consciousness commentary on various topics:
    • The origin of the Abbey – came from Leland Stanford’s family
    • The building project, started in the old days by William Randolph Hearst, & picked up again by his Order (the crew he rolls with) – with a timeline of 50-75 years for completion.
    • The chapel, the meditation room – two places for retreat-ants (that’s what we’re called) to go & hang out if we need a building to do that sort of thing. He called the meditation room a “Zen sort of thing” – which means a sand pit, a couple of candles, no chairs, & a cassette player with a collection of Zamfir’s greatest hits.

    We toured the kitchen – its more of a community kitchen with no staff – the food from the Abbey kitchen, all vegetarian, is delivered a couple of times a day for all of us to eat & enjoy – lots of saltines & peanut butter to go with homemade jam. Looks like plum jam. A loaf of bread. Swiss cheese. Some tofu-based minestrone type soup. With tomatoes & mushrooms.

    We arrived at the guest rooms – two ‘wings” of about 4-6 rooms each – (Matty, we’re in the West Wing. Woohoo!) each very cozy with a cement floor, 2 ½ x 3 ½ throw rug, a single simple bed with Spartan bedclothes (don’t think “The 300” here – think we don’t need much Spartan…) a little built in desk (ala small hotel rooms everywhere,) & a small, personal bathroom. Walls made from cinder block, vaulted ceilings. And plenty of quiet to go around.

    Each of the rooms we were assigned has a placard next to its number – with a corresponding “Room Name” or “blessing” over each room – I’m in #2 – Joy. Ben’s in #3 – Peace. Moe is is #4 – Patience.

    We spent a good portion of the evening talking & laughing, & internally wrestling ourselves about the appropriateness of the room names that we were assigned to – with me desperately needing Joy. Bean & I had talked on Sunday about this very topic – & her prayer, her hope for me is that I would be joyful – & happy. And en-joy my life – because when I’m having a difficult time, when I can’t find my joy, it’s a tough one for all who get to be around me. So joy it is. That transcends circumstance – that goes beyond difficulties. That is based in contentment. That is my strength, regardless what else is going on.

    Later, we congregated in the Peace room, & talked deep talks about life & death, hopes & fears, hiding behind facades, & other joyous things like that. We headed for bed about 11 –

    I had forgotten that there are 5 prayer times a day, the Divine Office, that happen in the Abbey church – & that the call to prayer for all who want to come happens with the clanging of the church bell 5x/day. So I was woken up a few times. At these times.

    Prayer Schedule:
    • 3:30 a.m. Vigils
    • 6 a.m. Lauds & Mass
    • 8:55 a.m. Terce
    • 12:15 p.m. Sext
    • 1:55 p.m. None (prounounced Noin”)
    • 5:45 p.m. Vespers
    • 7:35 p.m Compline –

    The Compline is followed by “the Grand Silence” where all retreat-ants are asked to go along with the monks practice of being silent – or at least providing a place where the rest of the people at the Abbey grounds can be quiet if they want to. Which means that Ben, Moe & I sound like 3 jr high girls whispering & giggling on the grounds. In our room. In the field next to the “West Wing”

    4/15 a.m.
    So now it’s the morning, & I’m debating what to eat – I think it will be crackers with peanut butter & jam again. I love that, & haven’t had it since… I can’t remember. Since my kids were small & I’d eat their left overs? Perhaps?

    At noon, we have a wine tasting for the 3 of us set up in the New Clairvaux Vineyard.

    We’re back from the tasting – we had a full tour of the facilities too – very cool to see the barrels of wine, the press, the ‘crusher’, & the filling station – all of which are manned by the priests from the abbey – they do all of the work under the supervision of Amy the Vintner…

    They took one grape, a Zinfandel, & planted it in two different sections of the vineyard, the “Poor Souls” block & the “St James” block – this gives them a ‘control’ wine to be able to tell what’s happening in the soil in each block. It was amazing how different the same wines in different blocks 300 yards apart smell, taste, & feel. (No, we didn’t have a freak wine tasting accident…)

    Very enjoyable – & pasta for lunch, w/homemade pudding for dessert – fruit cocktail (by Sysco!) mixed with Vanilla Pudding (by Sysco!) Hooray!


    Sometimes I forget.

    And then I Do… worry ensues. Anxiety. Cares. Frustrations. Heaviness. Burdens. Hard to breathe. Fighting hopelessness. Despair. Like real foes – it’s almost tangible when they enter the room.

    Sometimes I remember.

    And then I Be… fully present where I am. With others. Engaged. Refreshing. Lightening. Glimmers of hope & peace that never totally go away emerge…


    …to CS Lewis, the guy in the picture, smoking his pipe. I love the way he communicates in his writings, without hesitating to move into the difficult areas of life. Pain. Failure. Temptation. Struggle. Hope. Joy.

    He has been an inspiration to me … And every journey through Narnia. The Sci-Fi Trilogy. Mere Christianity. The Problem of Pain. Surprised by Joy… Brings a bit of joy to me.