Thursday, September 25, 2014

Going Places

It's the time of year when the creek is low and clear, good for fishing. So we go there. We go to the creek, Tom to fish, me to meditate. Just along for the ride, I'm in the canoe...going places in my mind.

It matters not if we head upstream or down, which ever we choose we have to do the other to get back home. We can paddle or glide either way for half an hour and never leave our own property banks. Landowners don't own the creek. The river runs alongside our property. We push off from our beach and an hour or two later, return.

It's a very pleasant and peaceful feeling to be at home on the creek. All day my mind occupied itself with troubles, those of friends, enemies, the whole wide world's, and mine. I tried to pray it off, shake it off, walk it off, and work it off, all to little avail. (Certainly not to no avail: prayer is always good, Phoebe loved the walk, and the house, yard, and pool are cleaner for my distress.) So, that evening when Tom suggested we go fishing I acquiesced. I was and am the better for it.

Trapped in a canoe the only distractions before me were the beauty of nature. I wondered if trees along the bank look at their reflections and assume they grow in water. I wonder if, in some other world, the water trees taunt the images they bear. I wonder if they have contests demanding proof, who is real and who is not. I hope they don't argue about it. In my world each is beautiful and real in their own right. A real tree, a real reflection, that's reality, no need to quibble.

We all see through a glass dimly, through a mirror, not always sure what or who we're reflecting.

I gave over  my desire to right wrongs. Only God in heaven can do that. And he knows I'd gladly help -- as in "Here am I, Lord, send me."

Meanwhile, I think I'll concentrate on the reflection I cast. And while going all the places I go, I'll enjoy the ride... of my life.

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known."  I Cor. 13:12

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Retreating...not as in falling back, as in taking time apart from daily routine...

2014 Weekend Retreat for WELCA
(Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America)
At Camp Lutherlyn

Seven women from St. Paul's ELCA church in Drakes Mill attended a weekend retreat: Ida Right, Wylda Cole, Juanita Farias, Mary Alice McMunn, Natalie Stoeger, and me, Betsy Henning. Angela Morton joined us for the day on Saturday, staying till after dark for a very fun sing-around-the-campfire time.

 Spiritual Well Being was our retreat theme. Bible lessons, services, devotionals, workshops and fun shops throughout the weekend encouraged spiritual well-being in five areas: social, intellectual, vocational, physical and emotional.

Apparently I wasn't paying close enough attention when I registered, I signed up for both physical well-being workshop and physical fun shop. The morning workshop had us walking Lutherlyn campus taking in the amphitheater and passing the impressive and off-limits-to-us high ropes, climbing wall, zip-line arena. We meandered through woods and caught a glimpse of the upper and lower lakes on our way to Chapel Hill. I’d never been to Chapel Hill before, and an awe inspiring sight surprised me. A magnificent cross, stone altar, and plank benches surrounded by trees create a beautiful setting for outdoor worship, absolutely beautiful!  

The walk fulfilled more than my need for physical well-being…it added to my emotional, intellectual, vocational, and social well-being as well. Much of that thanks to my walking partner, Angie Morton. She reminisced about her years at Camp Lutherlyn as a child adding an insider’s knowledge to the tour. 

Later in the day I attended a Zumba session just for fun, but it turned out to be just for torture. Oh my goodness, a person my age ought to build up to that level of activity before literally jumping in. The other gals participated in fun shops like “take home craft,” “front porching,” “sit and be fit,” and “prayer in color”.

The highlights of my weekend retreat, aside from delightful fellowship with sisters in Christ, were the Saturday evening Healing Service with Pastor Arlene Schweitzer, and the Sunday morning worship service at Chapel Hill with Pastor Susan Irons. I’m richer for having attended the WELCA Weekend Retreat, refreshed (though physically exhausted), better balanced, and most important, my Spiritual Well Being tank is full.

Natalie Stoeger, Angela Morton, and I took a walk on our own during some free time -- 3 generations we were -- walking together. Natalie is a senior in high school, adding youth to our women's group. Angie is only a bit older than my own children. Way back when, she was our neighbor and a babysitter for my little boys, who, as I recall, tormented her unmercifully -- all in good fun because they liked her so well. 
Me and Angie

Natalie and her exuberant, always fun, Nana.
Of course we gave the kid the top bunk.
Natalie making her bed 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Write It Down, Don't Think It Up

I'm reading and working through Julia Cameron's book The Right to Write. Her chapter titled "This Writing Life" makes so much sense to me...but it's tripping me up. You see I'm about 50 years behind on the write-it-down edict. I didn't journal faithfully through my youth or my young adult life, and I don't journal faithfully now. Or at least I don't think I do. But if that's true, if I haven't written over the years, why do I have, like, 15 notebooks filled page after page with my musings, rants, prayers, and prose? Why are there files and folders on my laptop filled with compositions, essays, articles, and devotionals? Why am I believing I haven't written, don't write enough, and it's too late for me to become a writer? I am a writer...even if I stink at blogging.

I began blogging in 2005 when my third son, Adam, was going off to war. In 1998 he signed up to serve in the military and get some assistance with college tuition. Our country was at peace with the rest of the world at that time. Then in 2001, 9-11 happened. As a reserve commissioned officer he was called up right after graduation. Adam began his own blog for the purpose of figuring out and remembering his life. Those were the days when people asked, "What's a blog?". It's a log kept on a website, a weblog. A blog is your own personal journal... posted online for all the world to see. And anyone, absolutely anyone can blog. Isn't that a great thing? I mean, what could possibly go wrong? But that's another post for another day!

Adam helped me start a blog and showed me the ropes so I could make posts for him to read while stationed in Iraq. A taste of home, family news and updates, and pictures to keep us tethered. I posted often. I posted for an audience of one, but in reality had a large family following. Friends and family read my blog where I offered a glimpse into our lives here in northwest PA. But I lived for Adam's blogs in those days. They were a lifeline to us, a guarded peek into the goings on of military maneuvers and daily life in FOBs (Forward Operating Base). His posts served as a meter for us to rest easy or pray harder. Little did we know, he kept the fearful worst from us until he returned home safe and sound. Or at least as sound as one can be after living so close to the trauma of war.

That was all long ago and far away. Now, what purpose do I have in blogging? A journal for sure, but as that, most of it is kept private. In my list of posts there are many more unpublished drafts than published posts. I don't want to bother people with my thoughts and fears, questions about the meaning of life and my purpose in the here and now. There are drafts expressing my political opinions and faith convictions -- which change and grow as my notions change and grow in understanding who God is and who I am in relation to him.

And that brings me full circle. There's a lot going on in this rather limited brain of mine, a lot of things to sort out, to laugh at, to act on, to clean up or clear out. Yes, Julia Cameron, I think I get it. There is much rattling around in my head wanting to be written down, and therefore, no need spending minutes, hours, days trying to think something up. Instead, just write it down.

Yeah, write it down and get outside...summer won't last forever.