Thursday, February 28, 2008


Lsat Wednesday we made an emergency trip to Denver. It's only fourteen hours one way, about half of which was in windswept Wyoming. From Billings on south, it's pretty much all the same until just after the Colorado border. Brown hills for miles in every direction, paltry sun, endless road. There were stretches so straight I fantasized about having an RV so I could put in cruise control, make a sandwich in the kitchenette, and come back before I had to jog the wheel to the left or right. (Not really. But there were long, straight stretches, long and straight as I would have liked my train of thought to be.) Part of my job in serious situations is to pray, part is to make people laugh. There were a few opportunities for that. One was singing all the peace songs our elders taught us in the Seventies. Another was the odd sign about a mile out of Podunk, Wyoming, population 36. On a colored, 3' x 3' board, was an advertisement for vasectomy reversal. Must be for the steers. I can't imagine there's enough human business to even pay for the sign. Mostly, nothing was funny.

There were so many strangers who gave us kindness for no reason, not knowing anything about us, I have to think that God sent those to us. There was the woman in the convenience store in Buffalo, WY. Paul wanted sunflower seeds, and I had done nothing but tell him "no, we don't have time" and "come on, let's go," and "we won't be there for a long time" all day. I said yes, but Larry was worried about the mess. I was so tired I stood there cogitating. She gently suggested, why don't you get a go-cup with a lid? It was so small, her stepping into that space and offering the cup, but I felt so grateful. Then Paul cut his finger. I went to buy some bandaids because my purse stash was out, and she gave us some. For no reason. Then there was the man who was playing one of those games where you try to grab toys by controlling a metal hook with a joystick. He won two toys and gave them both to my children. Small things with great love.

Jennifer is in trouble. We're home for the weekend. Next week, who knows. I can't say it again. If you want to know, go to Pray hard. Pray for a miracle.

Monday, February 18, 2008


So I just got back from this women's retreat in sunny CA. You can keep California as far as I'm concerned. I was nervous it was going to fall into the ocean at any minute. All the weight of those big box stores and chain restaurants, wave after wave of them, plus the visible particulate matter in the air, can't possibly be sustained.

If you drive inland just a bit, there's a hill in the middle of the city; if you go up the hill, you get to Rancho Palos Verdes, an otherworldly expensive settlement that looks down on the carpet of lights spread out all over the valley. We drove past homes worth several million, past riding stables, past Lexus, Jaguar, Mercedes and Range Rover dealerships to get to the Mary and Joseph Retreat Center. The view stuns. The gardens amaze; old-growth aloe vera plants the size of a volkswagen beetle, palm trees, all manner of blossoming plants. Wish I'd had a plant id book with me. Anyway. The retreat was amazing. It was held at the Mary and Joseph Retreat Center. When you leave, they ask you to pray over the bed for the next retreatant.

I felt at home and at ease right away and connected with some amazing women. The entire experience was characterized by person after person as "amazing." It seemed to reduce our collective vocabulary to that of Aerosmith. (Remember? the words Crying Crazy Amazing For You Baby comprise the bulk of the lyrics on an entire 90s album.)

Wish I could say what it meant. I'm still processing it all. But I don't really know as yet, I only know I've been touched, deeply, from sitting at breakfast in tears listening to Annette's story, to hearing how women walk through their lives with dignity and grace in moments from the mundane to the sublime to the drop-dead painful. We talked about what it really meant to be of service, to be a force for good, to find a way to keep on going after horrific mistakes and/or experiences and turn that darkness into something positive for others by sharing it.

I had to miss some important events to go. I hope I can use what I learned there well enough that my absence is worth it in the eyes of those I love.
The peacock above is one of six or so who roam the grounds.