4th Dispatch from the Hills
On Saturday, June 26, I marked the 16th Anniversary of my ordination to the ministry of word and sacrament. I didn’t have any profound words that day. Mostly, I just sat with the journey, tried to remember the scope and the distance traveled. With everyone else in the Rogue Valley, I was hiding indoors away from the record-breaking heat in between backpacking treks. But I stumbled across some words by Frederick Buechner late that night that spoke to me of this sometimes inscrutable vocation. And within a few days, I got the opportunity to catch up with a member of a former church while working on final edits for my book. So many memories! Those two encounters blessed me unexpectedly and helped me remember some of the answers to those inevitable questions: “Why do we do this anyway?” “What are we doing here?”
One poetry book I can pack along on the trail is Rebecca Elson’s collection A Responsibility to Awe. (Elson was an astronomer who studied ‘dark matter.’) I came across this favorite while camped at Shadow Lake at the edge of the Marble Mountain Wilderness:
What I want is a mythology so huge
That settling on its grassy bank
(Which may at first seem ordinary)
You catch the sight of the frog, the stone,
The dead minnow jeweled with flies,
And remember all at once
The things you had forgotten to imagine.
I’m looking forward to one final backpacking trek in the week ahead and trying to savor as much of my reading pile as I can. Also, even though COVID eliminated our family’s return to Guatemala, I found out the Spanish school we originally proposed to visit offers lessons online as well. So I’ve enjoyed some wonderfully fun lessons with Nicolas in between backpacking trips.
The final week of my sabbatical, I’ve reserved a few nights of silent retreat at the Benedictine Guesthouse of Mt. Angel Abbey between Salem and Portland.
Looking forward to sharing more, hearing your epiphanies, and dancing together when I am back among you July 26!
Snapshots (below): Path Toward Marble Mountain, Selfie Above Sky High Lakes, Shadow Lake, Tadpoles Living Their Best Life in Frying Pan Lake
Play Soundtrack on YouTube: “Your Labor is Not in Vain“, from the Porter’s Gate worship project album Work Songs
Soundtrack Bonus: “Soy Yo” by Bomba Estereo (This one is for dancing! Also features in the hilarious all-ages movie Dora and the Lost City of Gold.)