Jack and I made our annual Autumn trek in mid-October to the northeastern part of the state, swinging up into the corners of Minnesota and Wisconsin. There was more color in the coulee region across the River than on the Iowa side, but the temperatures were nice, and the days were sunny. We ate fresh cheese curds and checked out trout streams and stopped in pristine small towns to explore and eat yummy meals.
On our return trip we visited Cedar Rock, the home built by Frank LLoyd Wright for Lowell and Agnes Walter overlooking the Wapsipinicon River at Quasqueton. We found the views and the tour of the property worth the stop.
Life has been unseasonably eventful the past few weeks, beginning with my birthday weekend back in September. Friends loaned us their condo at Clear Lake for Labor Day Weekend. Soon as we got home, we received news of our dear Uncle Ronald's death, so we made plans to travel to western Kansas to be with the family.
That was a very special time for us, as Ronald was such as dear friend as well as uncle. It was good to have the opportunity to celebrate his life with people who knew him well, and in the place he loved most, what he considered home after living in Minneola, Kansas, for nearly ninety years. And, true to form, he was engaged and considerate of his family all the way to the end. Or, in actuality, The Beginning. We are so grateful to have had the privilege of knowing and loving him!
We also got to spend time with our Wichita buddies, Evelyn and Chris, and visit our parish there, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Stepping back into that familiar place reminded us of what we've been missing. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (or, fondly, St. Betsy's) is a very special parish!
The next weekend we were off to Madison so I could attend a SoulCollage® Facilitator's training. The training was led by Audrey Chowdhury, a woman I had gotten to know in a writer's workshop in Cloquet. We counted up, and eleven years have passed since that meeting. SoulCollage® is an intuitive process using images and imagination that is also fun and interactive. I'm already planning some workshops and retreats using SoulCollage® and hope to incorporate it into Spiritual Direction. It's a lovely, lovely process and a great tool!
The following weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Toledo (Iowa) and present a workshop on Spiritual Gifts for a group of Third Order Franciscans. What a warm, welcoming group they were, and the gathering took place at Otter Creek County Park, which offered a beautiful wooded setting with a small lake. They kept pointing out to me that, "This is a very Franciscan place." I had to agree. I even threw in a few quotes and examples from Francis's life to let them know I'm on track!
And, just this past weekend, I got to repeat this for a slew of Youth Ministry leaders here in Des Moines. I'm having so much fun with this!
Outdoors, the weather has been mild; no frost, yet, and my flowers are happier than they've been in months. I know Jack is wanting to get everything finished up and put away for winter, but his back is interfering with things right now. But this morning he went upstairs to his spot and successfully tied a fly he was wanting to learn, then announced, "I've accomplished all I need for today." Who doesn't love the way that feels!!
The Family is doing well, so far as I can tell from this far away. Jack's niece just gave birth to Alexander Jacob last week, and we recently learned that Grady Berman is going to get a new sibling in May 2016. I got to FaceTime with Lilia a couple weeks ago, and am making some plans to get my hands on her soon, probably over Thanksgiving Weekend. Daniel's band, The Dawn, appears to be thriving, and he's liking his job. CalArts is treating Jason well, I think (he celebrates his 35th birthday next week), and Sarah and Carl are doing well--planning on an Arizona Thanksgiving.
And these are the other things that are On My Mind:
My health is good, but it keeps reminding me that I am indeed aging.
I'm feeling a need to examine my attitude toward women in power/politics along with my views of the role of women in the church. It's tricky. I can be so critical (inwardly more than outwardly) of other women in leadership, which causes me to wonder how much I'm projecting onto people I don't even know. At the same time, I know it's important to not back down. It's our world, too. It's our church, too.
Having grown children has been a challenging as well as exhilarating stage. The challenge is in feeling the tug toward wanting to be more involved in their lives and realizing over and over again that if I choose to do that I lose the present moment of my own life, which is vital, necessary and precious. So, this is about balance, I guess.
The final thing is that I'm finding great joy in the daily, getting to use my gifts and pursue my interests, and follow the deeper desires of my heart, which, again, are always linked to the will of God. I'm so happy that I get to do this with Jack and with others I love!
Oh, and the writing. The sessions with Carol, my writing partner, are so meaningful and worthwhile. Sheer gift that I get to do this, as well.