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Reflections now that I’m back.

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

Many pilgrims talk about how their lives radically changed after completing the Camino. Some devote themselves to charitable endeavors, or a more spiritual lifestyle,or planning their very next camino, and even giving a lot of their earthly possessions away. I agree that life should be simpler, but we’re good with making it a solitary endeavor. We know that life gets hectic, but we do make time for our christian walk and we we are passionate about the charities we invest our time and money in. So has the Camino changed us?
A shower after a long,arduous hike will never feel as good as a shower at home, nor will a plate of pasta and a bottle of wine ever taste quite as satisfying. I’m not as likely to plop down at a table of strangers and start up a conversation or reveal my inner most thoughts with people i’ve just met. The frailty of life was never more apparent but neither was the beauty of it either. The world could have it’s tragedies and scandals but my focus was on making it over the next hill and praising God for His creation.
I found a quote that I think sums it all up.
“The journey home is never a direct route; it is in fact, always circuitous, and somewhere along the way, we discover that the journey is more significant than the destination, and that the people we meet along the way will be the traveling companions of our memories forever.”(N. DeMille form his book “Up Country.”
Yep, that’s a wrap for this time. Thanks to those who came along for the adventure of a lifetime!img_2620

Lincoln Cottage

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

During Lincoln’s presidency, the White House was one big Open House for anyone who wanted to have his ear. There was no peace and certainly no place to think about all that swirled around the chief executive during the Civil War years. So Lincoln did not live in the White House most of the time! Three miles away from the craziness of the city is the “Lincoln Cottage.” (the word cottage in those days IMG_0121referred to a second home, not the size of the dwelling ) Here, Mary and Abraham took solace from the turmoil of the city as well as mourned the death of their dear son, Willie. Every morning Abe got up and rode 3 miles on horseback into the city to conduct business and then back again to the Cottage. It is a beautiful building with lovely grounds that support a veterans home  to this day as well. There is tranquility here and intimacy. It is grand and special in a comforting way. The Lincoln Cottage is another unknown jewel in our Capital and worth the search.

The FIRST Lincoln Memorial

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

April 14th 2015, marked the 150th anniversary of the killing of Lincoln. I was blessed to be in D.C. and see the cherry blossoms, azaleas, and dogwoods and learn more about this great man.
In a neighborhood park on Capital Hill there is a statue of Lincoln with an unfettered slave at his feet. This statue was commissioned immediately after his death and solely funded with freed slave IMG_0108donations. The very first donor was Charlotte Scott, who used the first $5 she earned as a free woman to kick off the fund raising. This first heart-felt memorial was in place ten years after Lincoln’s death but the larger Lincoln Memorial took until 1922 to be in place. There are two copies of this early memorial; one in Boston(1875) and the other in Edinburg, Scotland(1893) There are so many wonderful things to learn on walks through our nation’s capital.

The Madonna

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

A friar from the Church of St. Stephen visited Florence and talked his buddy , Michaelangelo ,into sculpting him something for his church. And he did! The ONLY example of Michaelangelo’s work outside of Italy is in Brugge, Belgium. And this beautiful Madonna and Child (naked Jesus as a toddler) is a center character in the movie “Monuments Men.” The movie is awesome and very true to the book . The work of these dedicated fellas is accurately told and very moving. The Madonna was located in a salt mine in Austria after the Germans kidnapped her and even killed a monuments man in the taking. She has only left her perch in the cathedral twice; once Napoleon stole her (but was returned) and then Hitler wanted her. It was very moving for me to seek her out and gaze at her beauty while spending a rainy day in Brugge. She has quite a history.

A real 'movie star' !

A real ‘movie star’ !

Advent Anticipation

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

DSC03226Where the United States starts selling Christmas the middle of October and our special holidays have started running into ‘happythanksmas’, here in Europe (or at least in Austria and Germany) no bulb is lit before it’s time.

Advent is the big build up to Christmas, St. Stephens Day, and 12th Night.

I find it exciting that windows are draped to prevent their seasonal decor from being viewed. Crews are hanging huge light displays across pedestrian malls and city streets but NOT turning them on.

There is a build up that is generating enthusiasm as the stalls for the Christmas markets are being built and decorated. Add to that the crisp air, the fragrances of mulled spices, music everywhere,  and drums of fire roasting chestnuts that are already in place and you have a recipe for a Merry Christmas!

TP Trees

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

In  the region around Lucca, there are all sorts of groves of birch-like trees planted in any little spare plot of land available.

They don’t have many leaves or branches but they are THE source for Toilet Paper in Italy! Hmmm, guess I’m glad they’re around.


My Trip to Samaria

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Biblically speaking, Samaritans are to be avoided at all costs; you circumvent their region, you don’t talk to them, associate with them, and you cross the street to keep from coming in contact with them. Group them with lepers, maybe worse.

While discussing this in Bible study (John 4/ the woman at the well) God kinda whispered to me ‘ who were the “samaritans” in your life…who do you stay away from?’
I tried to ignore these questions, but God can sneak up on you and put that thought back in your head at the weirdest times. He’ll even wake you at 3 in the morning just to have your undivided attention. OK, it worked and it’s homeless people on the streets! (I’m ok in convalescent homes and with severely disabled )There, I confess!

Well you know God timed this because just the day before I visited the San Diego Rescue Mission. I was there with a small group touring the facility when I came upon a very small hand-out for “Samaritans’ Feet”; a foot washing opportunity to the homeless. In two weeks they would have an event to wash feet of those who had come off the street for the night, pray with them, and fit them with a new pair of shoes and socks. Why had I even picked up that 4″ x 4″ piece of paper?     Yeah, we all know why.        I signed up.

That date loomed large as it came closer…kinda like waiting for a pulling of a wisdom tooth. The closer the date got the more unsettled I felt. When the time arrived, Steve and I and Mary (a dear friend) all went down to the Mission where we had some training and a lot of praying over. I think I got eager at this point. There were 12 volunteer women at washing stations and 4 men changing water and bringing shoes. ( men were to be practically invisible as we were only washing women and children, and most of the women had experienced abuse of some sort in their lives) About 80 women some with children came through.( The men were ministered to the next day.)

This is a lot of preamble to get where I can introduce you to Barbara, Julia, Hattie, Leticia and son, and Anitra and daughter. They are lovely women who didn’t plan on needing a rescue mission but through circumstances and choices were the women whose feet I bathed. Barbara was there until she could find a home for herself and her two adult children, who were both in jail for bad decisions, but would be released soon. Leticia and Alitra were trying to make it on their own and were doing their very best to provide by working several jobs and just needed time to save up.

Now Hattie was a very large, black, bald Hindu woman with a great big red dot on her forehead who challenged me. She showed me her laminated picture of her ‘guru’ and said she only did what he told her to. He ‘told’ her it was ok to have me wash her feet. I told her Jesus was my guru and I was glad to meet her. She was fighting the experience but with some joking around she relaxed and I massaged her feet and we had a good time. She didn’t want prayer but we blessed each other and she asked for a hug!

Julia confessed to me she hadn’t bathed in 69 days and was eager for new shoes. We peeled her socks off to find huge open sores and thick gnarled toenails and a lot of grime. But as ‘ick’ as that was, I felt such an affection and tenderness toward her. I gently cleaned and kneaded her feet and helped cut her nails and it was ok. She was a frail thing whose life choices kept her from doing what she knew was right. And she had lost all whom she loved in the process. But the ‘Jesus’ in me loved on her, prayed with her, hugged her, and threw away her old shoes and socks. Here toothless smile and teary eyes were my thanks. Each woman had a story and each wanted and deserved to be listened to. Who was I to judge?

That was my take-away on a very heart-tenderizing experience.

I will do this again. Who are your Samaritans?

Mismatched Chairs

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

We have a lot of family moving in and moving out at this time in all of our lives. And at any one meal there are 2,4 and even 12 chairs around the table. Friends and friends of friends frequently join us and we sometimes are two rows deep because of highchairs. Some dear folk ask and bemoan how stressful it must all be. How disruptive? Messy? An imposition on this time in our retirement? My only angst is I long for a bigger table! When the gang assembles we round up all the chairs from all the rooms, and just like their occupants, they are a crazy quilt of styles and designs: directors chairs, oak antique chairs, needlepointed chairs, folding chairs, desk chairs! And all these unique faces, personalities, conversations are a wonder to behold , it makes you stand back and marvel. They are each a gift and so wonderfully different…just like the chair they sit in.

It may be Spring, but it’s Thanksgiving in my heart. xoxo

Links Two and Three

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

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It’s amazing how even just a few yards off the road / freeway / beaten path, we are in wilderness.  We have left level ground and are climbing. My friend, Jeane Meehan, has joined me when she can and has been a good sport as we have been  required to morph into mountain goats! Up hillsides, down canyons, up ravines and down again. All along we are following the San Dieguito River which consists of golf course run-off as our rivers are only as such when it rains. We appreciate our walking sticks as we use them to dig in and pull ourselves up as well as  slow us down  on the steeper parts. The trail is very well marked with lots of signs describing what we should be taking time to notice.  We have come up to the Lake Hodges Dam as our stopping point and the next stretch will take us over and around Lake Hodges. (only a lake when it rains A LOT)

Moseying along the Trail

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

While Ranger Bryan refurbished the trail with his little back hoe, we pushed on, going behind the dressage arena and stalls for the horses. A lot of them were getting new shoes as the portable blacksmith was there. Dead end at the Polo Fields where we will have a 10 mile void  and then resume .  (can’t camera to turn horse right side up   lol)photo copy