Friday, May 26, 2023

12 HOUR WALK 5/23/23

I decided to have my silent retreat mostly on foot. I read the 12-Hour Walk book in January, and I had committed myself to do it on June 2nd, but I already had scheduled to have a silent retreat for the 2HC. So I combined the two.

The 12-Hour Walk is for this purpose:
Are you ready to live your best life? Are you looking to shift your mindset, sharpen your edge, or get unstuck? Are you trying to feel better, find clarity and make confident decisions that align with your values? Are excited for a new challenge? 
Introducing The 12-Hour Walk. It’s a book and a global movement, and you’re invited! I designed The 12-Hour Walk as a simple one-day prescription to shed you of what’s holding you back so you can live your best life. It’s a walking meditation to strengthen your mind. It’s 12 hours, outside, unplugged, walking, alone.
I kept thinking of Augustine’s quote: 

Solvitur Ambulando – things are solved by walking

I didn’t have anything to solve though, and my life has been surprisingly light since I quit the university and just do spiritual direction and lead groups in spiritual formation. 

It was nice to be outside all day for 12 hours. I had no agenda. The hardest thing was deciding what to bring with me on the journey. I usually walk without a backpack, but I would be gone 12 hours and headed into places with no water source. One of the “rules” for the 12-Hour Walk was to not go into stores for water or food. So, I made lunch and carried snacks and water with me.

A big thing I was really glad about was Vaseline for my feet. I reapplied it three times on the journey. (I learned to do that on the Camino.) I also had lip balm for my lips. George encouraged me to bring my light biking shell, and I am so glad that I did because it stayed pretty cool until 2 pm. I took it off for a couple of hours, and then I had it on from 4-7:23 pm when I ended my walk.  
I must say that I expressed gratitude to God for many things in my life and thank God for George who encouraged me to take it. 

I started out at 7:23 am (it took me 1 1/2 hours to pack up - I wish I would have done it the night before to get an earlier start). 

I ran into the beginning of the high school traffic. I prayed for the students as I saw them racing in with their cars. 

Then I walked to campus. It is so well maintained and most of the students were still asleep. I went into the Memorial Union for my first bathroom break, water refill, and stretching. Then I walked through the west side of campus.

I walked by my old neighborhood and prayed for the couple I used to live with. They are divorced now after 42 years of marriage, but they live in houses next to one another. 

I walked through family housing where many of the international families live and prayed for them. I have so many memories of all these places I walked by. Most of them are so warm, and I lingered on those memories (as I am learning to do in my Life Model Works Course).

Then I made it on the Campus Way Bike path to the Irish Bend Covered Bridge. I rarely walk this. I am usually racing on it on my bike. It was nice to walk slowly and enjoy the fields with various domestic animals. 

The thing that was most instinctual for me is to pull my phone out to take pictures.  It was so good to not have that option so I could just enjoy and relish the amazing views from this path - the hills and fields and animals, and before that, there were so many spring flowers blooming in the yards of houses I passed! It was good to just linger and look with my whole senses instead of breaking that up to fumble for my phone.

After this, I walked on the Midge Cramer Path to the Bald Hill Natural Area. Midge and Meg Cramer were dear friends. They are both gone. They were my landlords, and I smiled and laughed when I thought of Midge coming to bring me money for something once and, in front of my roommates, handing me money saying, "Thank you so much for last night, Carol. (Wink. Wink.)" He was just kidding around, but it shocked my roommates. I just laughed hysterically. I cherished these friends as I walked the path. 

This natural area has many miles of trails (and the 12-Hour walk did not record any of them because they were off-road. Thus, why I really walked 26 and not 19 miles), and I explored the flat ones. I was not up for a walk up to the top. I started to because the view is amazing, but I knew I would be walking all day, and this would have tired me out very early.  I stop at a little vista and sat on a bench and had my first of four Centering prayer times. 

While I was supposed to be silent and not interact with any people, one of my dear friends walked along this path with her friend. I was not going to ignore her because we had not seen each other face-to-face for maybe two years. All that to say, I broke the silence rule. We talked about things very pertinent to things I have been pondering lately. They had just finished watching a lesson in Becoming What You Believe by Jamie and Donna Winship. So, we did talk about that. It was such an amazing conversation!

After walking back with them to their housing development, I walked to Starker Arts Park to have lunch and watch the fountain and ducks (and stretch and take an outhouse break).

Then I walked from there to Avery Park and sat in the Rose Garden which is not in full bloom but has lovely benches. I had another Centering Prayer time there. 

I walked from the Rose Garden to the Mary's River bridge next to Hwy 99 and into the main homeless camp. One person walking in front of me dropped all of his things and started ranting and raving, waving his arms violently. I was a bit scared, but I prayed for him. So many of the homeless are mentally ill. I pray we can find compassionate solutions for them. I walked slowly until he stopped his rant, picked up his things, and went on his way. 

I walked along the river to Riverfront Park and then to the library for stretching, bathroom, and water. Then I walked through campus and stopped at an enclosed area near the Milam building (home of the Nutrition Department I was a part of for my bachelor's). 

Then it was on to Good Samaritan Episcopal Church and its large labyrinth. The one I usually walk to is very close to my house and very small. I walked it slowly, pondering. God spoke sweet things. I rested in the middle and had another time of Centering. (This church used to be open 24 hours a day when I was in college, and I would often go there in the middle of the night to pray. One time I prayed for rapture before a biochemistry test.)

He had no agenda for me. So we really did hang out together all day outside. 

I also walk and expressed gratitude for so many things. If there was one theme on the walk is that I am grateful for the journey of joy he has had me on. I sang Michael Card's song: 
There is a joy in the journey
There's a light that we shed on the way
There is a wonder and wildness to life
And freedom for those who obey. 
This is my favorite song of all time. Life has been wonderful for me. It really has.

Oh, I did encounter one other homeless man when I walked to Cloverland Park on 29th Street. He had lost his phone. He was in a wheelchair, and it was hard for him to wheel himself out there to look for it under the tree that he had slept under the night before. So, I did break my silence a bit so I could help him find his phone. In the end, he found it in his bag. He was so sweet, and we did chat a bit. Not sorry for breaking the silence then either. 

From Cloverland Park, I went to Timberhill Fitness Club. (I am still a teacher there, but I have no time even to sub these days.)
I took the Betty Griffiths Trail and stopped and rested there for a bit until the blooming Scotch Broom made my allergies go berserk. The last time I was back there was after the fire many years ago. So, I got lost when I went off that trail and into a trail along the creek. I kept hearing God say, “Not all who wander are lost.” I decided to just enjoy the journey and not assume I was lost. It was a long time in a thick forest with blackberry vines clogging the trails. I got a bit scratched up and started to get a bit scared (cougars have been spotted in the area), but at one point, I sat on a log that had fallen across the trail and just drank in the beauty (and silence) all around me.

It took me a while to get out of the forest, but I eventually made it. I walked up to the other labyrinth I usually walk and sat down up at hospital hill overlooking fields. It was such a beautiful day with the best weather (the high 60s). I rounded around the hill and through the schoolyard and back to my door.

I walked 26 miles in 12 hours. I didn’t solve any problems, but I loved the agenda-less day. I felt like I was good about stopping, resting, eating, hydrating, stretching, and Centering.

It has been a very good year. And the 2HC has been especially sweet for me. I said to my group at the beginning of the year that I had "come into my own," and Dano asked me what that meant.

I mean that I feel like I am right where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what God has called me to do. Doing is coming out of being. (It helps that I teach on it all the time.) I feel rested and refreshed and so blessed with all the people in my life who love me, and I love. I am not scared anymore.

But coming into my own means that I feel confident (but not cocky about my calling). I am living in a nice Enneagram Harmony as a 

Loving (Type Two)
Learning (Type Five)
Leader (Type Eight)

Loving (Type Two)
Visionary (Type Five)
Revolutionary (Type Eight) - the one I struggle with the most because I have to be assertive, and I told Jesus I was not a revolutionary, and he said, "I am, and you're yoked to me."

I have a dream job.

Spiritual Direction with people I adore

Leading Five Groups:

  1. Contemplative Cohort (35-42yo) of international workers
  2. 2nd Half of Life Spiritual Formation groups of international workers
  3. Renovare Spiritual Formation Book Club of community leaders,   
  4. Supervising new spiritual directors (most working with international workers)
  5. Silent/Centering Prayer for Order of the Mustard Seed

What I do is better than eating chocolate. I feel God’s presence and pleasure as I do it. I know I am not doing it alone.

The whole walk was a joy, 
pleased to be with my lover.

The only thing I felt sure He wanted was for George and me to go on a vacation, just the two of us. We have scheduled something with our kids, but we keep putting off having a vacation for just the two of us. We did Groundwork in Northern Cyprus, the Camino in Spain, and the 24-7 International Gathering in Belfast last year, but they were all with our community. I felt very specifically that it was not ministry related. Just for fun. Something we haven’t done since November of 2019.

I came home and read Scripture. I have been reading the Old Testament prophets, and I just see God’s constant love for His people. I slept like a ROCK after my day and so glad I did this!

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Saturday Seventeen Freewrite

I have not had a FREEWRITE since March 9th. Say what? 

I don't think I have been overly busy, but my days are full. So I don't know if this person in the picture is really me. I like the picture though.

I have my non-negotiable things like Centering Prayer, and I think that addition has made it so that I don't end up like the person in the picture above, but I am still trying to figure some things out.

I don't know how many directees is too many. April ended up being a month that was not as busy in direction as it usually is. Part of it was that many of them were at a major conference in Europe and traveling from there, and so many of my people did not meet with me. I liked it in some ways.

I have been having so much fun. I finished The Reservoir devotional, and that was so rich and fun. I read a lot. I am also reading through the Bible Book Club again after not going through the last cycle. I am reading the blog I made starting 15 years ago, and what a difference 15 years can make in my heart and soul. It is encouraging. 

My life is full and rich and meaningful. I love what I am doing. I am finishing up my second "Campfire" group with the 2nd Half Collaborative, and I have LOVED this group. They are so open and vulnerable, and the discussions are so rich and meaningful. I have loved leading with my partner D. I pretty much have facilitated all the group times (other than when I was on the Camino in October), and he has been very supportive and encouraging. I think I have done well with the group. The group is smaller than last year. So it has been so much easier to get through everyone sharing, and most of the time, D or I have been able to share what we learned. We look at INTERIORITY. Then we look at COMMUNITY. Then we look at CONTRIBUTION/MINISTRY. It is really about the Communion/Community/Commission that Henri Nouwen talks about in the message I just linked. 

I love leading the group of new spiritual director. Each month, we go through one to two of their Contemplative Reflection Forms. This is a dialogue between then and their directee. The goal is not to correct how they asked questions, but it is to look at how they felt about themselves as they did direction. I also have two directees who are not in my group who are also spiritual directors. One of them has said that her supervisor is much more "punitive" in how she supervises. ACK! I cannot imagine being this way. The people I am supervising are, no joke, really GOOD at doing direction. So, I cannot imagine being punitive with them. They are the greatest group of people! I feel really blessed by them. 

The other group I lead is a Contemplative Cohort. It is sort of my "guinea pig" group. I am developing a curriculum that would be like a 1st Half Collaborative. It is teaching interiority and doing their ministry out of identity in him. They are not as committed as the above two groups, and I realized that I need a group more committed than this group of women. Some are, and some are not. So, I am evaluating. 

Now, I am still tentatively going to train new directors with Mary and Sandy as an intern for two years. This is a HUGE commitment. I have said yes. I think training directors is in my gifting. My desire is to train directors who will do direction with international workers. 

That is all the time I have. Time to listen to my book, The History of Tom Jones

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Sweetest Memory of My Week

This picture is holding a place for the sweetest memory of the week. I baked challah bread for our recently widowed neighbor on Friday. When we went to deliver it, we heard beautiful piano music that stopped with our knock. I looked at George and said, “Was he playing?”

He answered the door, grateful for the bread, and said, “Would you like to come in for tea?” (He is a “Cockney” from Central London.)

We spent the most delightful tea time with him. He told us how he met his Cornwall bride of 64 years and how they came to Corvallis USA. He spoke so lovingly of his beloved, Janie. Then, he summed up his 80+ years of life and the choices he has made by quoting “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost (the whole thing).

If that wasn’t enough to make our day, he said, “Would you like to hear a song?” We gladly replied, “Yes,” and he ushered us into his tiny living room that held a beautiful grand piano and played “I Love You Just the Way You Are” by Billy Joel without any music. He didn’t even know the name of the song. He had just heard it and learned to play it by ear.

We left speechless and in awe.

I did not bring my camera. Perhaps that was better to savor every moment of that song.

This picture is to hold this day in my memory forever. It was blessed.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

Oh, I have such mixed emotions about this book! 

First, great compassion for this woman. What a life! YIKES! I do hope she has gotten OODLES of therapy. 

Second, was her dad really a "closeted gay"? I would say he was a pedophile. Sick man. Mom should have gotten them OUT OF THAT HOUSE and that town.

Interesting note, I keyed in that he was head of the "Clinton County Historical Society," and realized it was MY ANCESTORS Clinton County, Pennsylvania. So, the author grew up less than an hour away from the town my grandmother grew up in and got out of (some of my relatives still live there). 

I am intrigued that there was a musical done on this!

WARNING: Some of the cartoons are sexually inappropriate and could have been left out! 

Right after reading this, I saw on the news that this book is in an elementary school! NOOOOOOO!!! It is not appropriate for children. 

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be one of the 1000 Books You Read Before You Die:

One might expect a graphic narrative to be lean, wry, linear. Yet the pioneering triumph of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home is that it’s resonantly rich in thought and theme, nuanced in its framing and feeling, and contrapuntal in its treatment of chronology, character, and incident. Bechdel imbues her story with an expressive pulse that moves from words to pictures and back again like an intricate melody passed between the instruments of a string quartet. The memoir is the story of a pre-adolescent girl with two brothers who comes to certain realizations about herself and her family. A labyrinthine web of literary echoes and mythological invocations captures the emerging complexity of her intelligence, and you have to read her images with as much attention as her allusive, probing, and alert prose. More than metaphorically, it’s a handmade book, and lived time is layered into every panel. 

Laughing in the Hills

This is another book I never would have picked up if it weren't on my list. He is a good writer, and he incorporates history into the whole thing. I cannot say it is a favorite book, but it was OK. 

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be one of the 1000 Books You Read Before You Die:

Author Bill Barich started playing the horses out of the desperation bred by his mother’s battle with cancer. Other family sadnesses followed, and to escape their shadow, he decided to spend a season at Golden Gate Fields, a thoroughbred racetrack outside San Francisco. Barich’s attentive, anecdotal account of track life is keenly observed and placed in intriguingly wider contexts by his off-track learning; you’ll discover a good deal in these pages about the city of Florence and its Renaissance culture, for instance, and the author is ingenious enough to place his reading in conversation with the racing life around him. It is the kind of book that, once you’ve finished it, will make you long to be asked, “Read anything good lately?” You don’t need to love horse racing to fall in love with this book. 

Saturday, April 15, 2023

American Pastoral

What a masterpiece! It is on every list for American fiction. It has some brief unsavory sexual parts, but overall, it is such a reflective historical novel. The main character was born in New Jersey the same year my mother was born in Chicago. So, I could have been the daughter in this story, but thank the Lord I was not. I think it should be on the list. 

"An unexamined existence no longer serves his needs. He wants something recorded." Chapter 1

Another significant quote:

“You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the brain of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you're anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you're with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion. ... The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It's getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That's how we know we're alive: we're wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that -- well, lucky you.”
― Philip Roth, American Pastoral

The meaning of the title that is quoted toward the end of the book:

“And it was never but once a year that they were brought together anyway, and that was on the neutral, dereligionized ground of Thanksgiving, when everybody gets to eat the same thing, nobody sneaking off to eat funny stuff--no kugel, no gefilte fish, no bitter herbs, just one colossal turkey for two hundred and fifty million people--one colossal turkey feeds all. A moratorium on the three-thousand-year-old nostalgia of the Jews, a moratorium on Christ and the cross and the crucifixion of the Christians, when everyone in New Jersey and elsewhere can be more passive about their irrationalities than they are the rest of the year. A moratorium on all the grievances and resentments, and not only for the Dwyers and the Levovs but for everyone in America who is suspicious of everyone else. It is the American pastoral par excellence and it lasts twenty-four hours.”
― Philip Roth, American Pastoral

What Wikipedia says about the title and conclusion of the main character: 

Seymour sadly concludes that everyone he knows may have a veneer of respectability, but each engages in subversive behavior and that he cannot understand the truth about anyone based upon the conduct they outwardly display. He is forced to see the truth about the chaos and discord rumbling beneath the "American pastoral", which has brought about profound personal and societal changes he no longer can ignore. Simultaneously, the dinner party underscores the fact that no one ever truly understands the hearts of other people.

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be one of the 1000 Books You Read Before You Die:

It’s easy to begin talking about American Pastoral by noting its central place in the Zuckerman Saga, a series of nine novels that follow the fortunes of Nathan Zuckerman, a novelist who shares an awful lot of characteristics with his creator (make that ten fictions if you count The Facts, from 1988, an ostensible autobiography that opens with a letter from Roth to Zuckerman and closes with one from Zuckerman to Roth). But what’s most memorable about this 1998 Pulitzer Prize winner is the way the author engages the subject of America with a fervor few novelists have dared since World War II. Passages of American Pastoral, especially those describing what was destroyed in the 1967 Newark riots, have a fierce and grieving majesty seldom matched in our literature. In telling the Swede’s story, albeit in the voice of Nathan Zuckerman, Philip Roth embraces his past with an almost penitential reverence, honoring the world that made him—and is now forever gone—with nostalgic, rueful, angry tenderness.

Lonesome Dove

The writing is so rich, and the character development is excellent. I had heard about this because the 1989 mini-series won numerous Emmy Awards. My husband and I are watching it now.

I agree with Mustich! See below. 

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be one of the 1000 Books You Read Before You Die:

Men of action require a field to work, and few fields have proven as fertile in this regard—in life and in the imagination—as the American West. Larry McMurtry’s 1985 epic, Lonesome Dove, may be its richest literary harvest. Set in the late 1870s, it tells the story of a cattle drive from the Rio Grande to Montana, led by two former Texas Rangers, Augustus (Gus) McCrae and Woodrow F. Call, who have been friends for three decades. Along the way, McMurtry enlists all the familiar elements of Western lore: a hero capable and wise, yet easygoing (Gus), and another stoic, reticent, and duty-driven (Call); a whore with a heart, if not of gold, then glittering with allure; rogues disguised as friends; hostile Indians and bands of renegades; sheriffs in relentless pursuit and women both passionate and profoundly pragmatic; and a young cowboy who will inherit the dusty dreams of his elders. For all its cowboy grit and glory, Lonesome Dove is more than just a celebration of the Western ethos. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Jesus and John Wayne

I thought this was going to be more about patriarchy in the church and less about politics. It was mostly politics, and something that I don't get involved with.

As a biblical feminist for my whole adult life, I did not see all that she said as evident in all iterations of evangelical Christianity. That is simply hyperbole.  

It is a man's world. That is evident in both the secular and sacred. Mainline Protestantism and evangelicalism. The MeToo movement and all the sex scandals in the secular and sacred world shows us this. Patriarchy is a problem. I do not doubt this. But she just wanted to shoot down one segment of the population while making another segment seem like they are perfect and wonderful. (You do know that Bill Clinton has his own history of sexual assault and his abuse of power when it comes to women, right?). 

It happens on both sides of the aisle, and it is equally disgusting. 

She went through a ton of history that I already knew. So, I was pretty bored. 

There were some things that I laughed at because they were factually inaccurate, and someone who does not know history is going to assume that it is history rather than just the author's interpretation of history. We are all entitled to our opinion though, but it should be stated as so rather than saying it is a fact. I wouldn't want my kid in one of her classes. I would want a balanced view of things. 

So now I know what all the fuss is about, and for that reason, I am glad I read it! 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

A Year in Provence

After struggling through Adventures on the Wine Route a few books back, one of the people who also slogged through it said that this book would be much better. I heartily agree. It is delightful. 

A British couple moves to Provence. It is about cross-cultural communication, country life, and good food and wine. Delightful.

I liked the series by the same name too. It is a bit dated, but it followed the book really well! 

We want to go now and try a Patis!

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be one of the 1000 Books You Read Before You Die:

This charming narrative, in which former advertising executive Peter Mayle chronicles his inaugural year as a British expatriate in Provence, offers a refreshing respite from one’s own routine. In pursuit of a long-savored dream of the sweet life in the South of France, Mayle and his wife purchased a two-hundred-year-old stone farmhouse between the medieval hill villages of Ménerbes and Bonnieux in the Luberon, set to work on its restoration, and settled—sometimes with élan, sometimes with awkward Englishness—into the rhythms and rituals of Provençal life.

12 HOUR WALK 5/23/23

I decided to have my silent retreat mostly on foot. I read the 12-Hour Walk book in January, and I had committed myself to do it on June 2 n...