Monday, October 5, 2015
One summer I took a road trip with my Methodist friends and ended up at a Buddhist retreat in the mountains of New Mexico. Surprise! I spend lots of time with my Catholic family, helping grandkids learn their rote prayers and about the holiness of Nature. Sometimes the lovely LDS relatives grace my home with their laughter and song, and sometimes I marvel at the wonders of the universe and discuss our place in the grand scheme of things with my Unitarian cohorts. However, I spent the past couple of days with my friends, the happy Episcopalians. They are such nice people. We met down at St. Crispin's Church Camp to discuss the Celtic saints and listen and watch an amazing John O'Donahue video about Celtic Spirituality and the sacred places in Ireland. "All rivers lead to the sea."
I enjoy going to retreats at St. Crispin's. Some of the same women are there each time, plus several women I have never met. I always have very satisfyingly deep conversations with people who only the day before were complete strangers to me. Of course, since we all signed up for this retreat, we do have some things in common as a starting point. We have a great time, agree not to talk about politics AT ALL, but do talk about religion, quite a lot. No, we do not all agree about that either, but we are fine with people believing different things.
They have a new labyrinth, high on the hill. There are also well maintained narrow paths winding through the oak woods and three separate lakes surrounding the property. All that was lacking was a small contained fire burning somewhere so we could have had that slight scent of smoke hanging in the air. (Now I'm just being greedy.)
We ate some great food and those of us who knew each other from other years caught up on family and happenings. There are several women who bring their knitting to keep their hands entertained during the study sessions. (The woman who went to Ireland with me and knitted a little hat for Jingleboy was there again this year.) I usually just doodle during the teaching parts. I'm listening and thinking too, don't worry. Creative doodling is a skill I have been perfecting for forty five years. I'm pretty good at it. As Danny used to say, "It's not bragging if you can back it up." Personally, I still think it's bragging, but honestly, bragging about doodling? That's so ridiculous it doesn't count as a real brag anyway.
Before I left on the long drive to St. Crispin's, Everett and I joined Audra and her boys for a morning at the park, feeding the ducks and a picnic in the park with Uncle Able. What could be better? Here are Ev and his mom, waiting for the time to leave. Yes, it was cool enough for him to need that knitted stocking cap that morning. Can you tell this little lad and his mother are infinitely fond of each other?
This stairway in Abbey and Brent's new house, like the mountains in N.Mexico and the green fields of Ireland and the hilltop at St. Crispin's, is a sacred space. Life slows in these places. People take the time to stop, look and listen to each other and to the voices which speak from within themselves and from whatever is beyond themselves.