Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How was my retreat?

You tell me in six months. :-)

Here's what I do know though:

  • God is impertinent and ridiculously patient, prone to reckless invitations and inexplicable intimacy. God is also fearless and hilarious -- and a royal pain in the neck.
  • I am fixated on productivity and usefulness -- my favorite strategies for security (which, it turns out, is a lust) and 'goodness' (a vanity, turns out). I am also learning fearlessness and laughing deeper. I am capable of deep sorrow and deeper joy -- and I am a royal pain in the neck.
  • Somehow, God and I love each other.

I suppose that's a sort of partial executive summary of my retreat. But, Fr Larry pointed out, just as none of us was aware of our being created when we were in our mother's womb, we don't fully get to know how we're being continually created now.

Thank you for your prayers and energy and lit candles and hope. Hope to see you all soon. (And, yes, it turns out God is crazy about each of you too. I checked.)

PS: King Alli is going in for his knee replacement surgery as I type this. Lots of good energy his way and his care team's way (especially Mook, who gets to return the favor -- from her hip replacement surgery in February -- of being #1 Caretaker)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tomorrow morning I start a 10 day silent retreat. This is an un-retouched photo of the view of Omaha and Creighton's campus I have from my quiet, comfy room. Before you jump to conclusions about Nebraska's smog problem or the power of the Holy Spirit captured as amorphous light, let me settle it -- that's beastly humidity fogging up my poor lens.

Pray for me -- and not just for my 90+ temp and 90% humidity bike rides -- and I'll return the favor.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Every house has a story. Sometime when you have a few minutes/hours to spare, ask me for the "Impossible Dream," bat dung, neighborhood ghost, wallpaper, hardwood floor, cistern pit, new couch, sleepwalking Igor, and wood wall stories.

That pine tree, now taller than the west porch, almost didn't make it despite my Dad's careful planting. But I can still remember the rush of frigid air that invaded our warm living room every time somebody went out to that side porch to plug in the extension cord for the double string of Christmas lights King Alli draped faithfully year after year on that then-scrawny tree.

Furthermore, it takes everybody to make someplace 'home.' And so the stories at 326 West Sixth Street include us all -- Anastasia's guilty meatball spot on the barnboard kitchen wall, the corner where Mookie somehow miraculously caught Tuna the parakeet in mid-flight, the football field next to the raspberry bushes where Kent broke his leg (but caught the ball), the basement loft where the Anderson cousins slept and helped haul out soggy carpet when the river flooded, the apartment where I asked our foster siblings Huong and Trong to teach me insults in Vietnamese that I could use on my unsuspecting little brother.

But the stories that caught my camera's eye when I was in Blue Earth sorting through umpteen boxes of junk/treasure this weekend were about my Dad:

My Dad hung this tire swing from a sturdy branch about 35 feet up this walnut tree.

He crafted this stained-glass window next to the front door.

He planted prairie flowers around the house -- except where he transplanted the ever-expanding raspberries that so delight neighbors, relatives, and birds.

And he cared for this Japanese Lilac tree, which blooms only every other year but nearly always -- as if to say thanks on behalf of the whole huge corner lot that holds the eccentric seven-gabled house -- on Father's Day.

Thanks Dad. And thanks Mook too, naturally. You two made this place such a love-steeped home for us. But when the difficult time comes to say a final goodbye to this house, it will be that much less tough because you also showed us how to make anywhere we ever find ourselves 'home' too.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Elk Lake at sunset and midnight.

Tonkie, Schmick, Andy, Jacob, Ollie, Stinky, King Alli, Steve, Tully and I ended up leaving a day earlier than planned because, as it turns out, this fishing lake had neither fishing nor lake. Drought conditions had the lake down to less than a foot under the dock and maybe only 5 or 6 feet at its deepest. Still, there was cribbage and beer, fris-ball and the grill, my Dad's famous waffles (though he thinks it may be time to replace the antique iron's woven cloth electrical cord) and precious few mosquitoes. Cousin Mick summed it up best: "It was worth it for the campfires." Amen.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

This quick trip to the Twin Cities in between Phase One and Phase Two of the family vacation (we're serious about vacationing) gives me just enough time to upload some highlights from last night's slideshow. (I mentioned we're serious, right?!) Enjoy.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Here's the whole crew in Mookie's Iron Range hometown of Virginia MN. (Above that Summer and Tully hold hands walking back from Itasca State Park's Aiten Fire Tower.) Thanks to Anastasia and Trisha, I have few shots of myself with each of the munchkins. More family photos to come . . .

And here are Mookie and King Alli (called Poppee by the grandkids), the ones responsible for the whole blessed trip in the first place.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Thank you to everybody who called and e-mailed to make sure my family and I are OK after today's bridge collapse in Minneapolis. My folks live four blocks from that bridge. My Dad and I have biked underneath it and I drove over it just the other day.

My nurse friend Heather is on call tonight for pediatric trauma and I wouldn't be surprised if my ER doc friend Paul volunteered to help, or if the lines to donate blood tomorrow morning are long and earnest. Everyone I've heard from is OK and no one's given me names of people they know to pray for -- in either grief or gratitude -- so mine will be a generic prayer, specific only to the empty chairs at dinner tonight: of rescuers professional and impromptu, of rescued young and old, and especially for those unrescuable.

One survivor (shrugging off the label of a hero by saying he just did what we're supposed to do) looked at the news camera directly to say that everybody watching should turn right away and tell all their loved ones that they love them. Please accept this late night post from a sleepy uncle on the first day of family vacation as a feeble attempt to express just that.