Santa Fe, Sedona…Beauty and Sadness

Well, folks, I guess this will be my last entry for a bit as I make my way back to the San Fernando Valley of big, whopping Los Angeles.  After a very tough exit from my parents in Houston, I drove all the way up to Santa Fe, where I stayed until this morning.  I landed there late at night, so it wasn’t until the next morning that I went into the Plaza and immediately found the Basilica of Saint Francis.  It felt like I was led right to it and then comforted by every corner of it.

Basilica of Saint Francis

The Basilica has been there in its current form since about 1880 but has been in that location for 400 years!  It was stunning and the perfect place to land.  Beautiful on the inside and out, it is delicately restored and magically painted.  Saint Francis is everywhere and it felt like he was holding my hand to walk me around.  There were many sculptures of him, but the one that started the tears was a white, carved one that towered over me on the outside of the church.

The altar of St. Francis Cathedral

Loretto Chapel

Also, in several places painted onto walls and over doors, “Love everyone.”  It was poignant considering the circumstances I’d left behind only 24 hours before.  Having had a glimpse of what love is, beyond the intellectual understanding we all know “love is all there is,” I felt even more deeply how much I want to experience the truth of love.  Mostly, this means, I want to experience the expression of love through me in service to others, certainly, but also, in the every day walk of life.  A glimpse of true love isn’t enough; it is (or will be) the foundation for everything.

Loretto Chapel Stunning Altar

Santa Fe was the best cocoon I could’ve asked for to be with some intense sadness.  It has many chapels, churches and alternative spiritualities all around, not to mention great art, history and landscape.  I also realized here that while money isn’t important in the grand scheme of the cosmos, just as anything material holds no eternal truth, it does facilitate many opportunities to serve in a world that values money, on a planet of gamepieces.  I really get that now and guess what? – it’s time to return to the workforce.  This doesn’t leave Many Paths in the Santa Fe dust but it does make clear the most immediate priority.  I’m completely open to what this looks like and will follow it up with a peace-filled place to live.  Just as I’ve re-learned to trust God (and myself) through an easy but profound faith on this journey of many weeks, I realize that I will be placed in exactly the right position in exactly the right place with exactly the right people. There’s excitement in the air.

Loretto Chapel - notice spiral staircase miraculously carved out of 1 piece of wood

Sedona, unbeknownst to me, is in high season, which means it’s expensive and crowded.  BUT – and that’s a big but – it is an absolutely jaw-dropping, gorgeous place in its surroundings.  The cliffs of red rocks were unbelievable, truly they didn’t seem of this world.  Though I decided to continue on to Phoenix, I did stop to soak in the buzzing energy (note: head tingling almost the whole time) and the unreal views.  On the way

Chapel of the Holy Cross

out of town, I just happened to see the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a small chapel built into the rock, a chapel that welcomed all.  It’s both modern and sacred.  The chapel is one person’s dream that took 20 years to manifest.  That made me feel good and realized that Many Paths One Center may take longer than I want it to, but it will be a place for people of all faiths to come together, individually or collectively, to give their souls the attention they crave – crave because each one wants to get busy with its purpose for being here.  Nurture, explore, allow, connect, dive more deeply inward and then…move your feet.  Move from contemplation to contemplative action..it commands the attention of the Infinite, Who summons all

Modern Christ Crucified in Sedona Chapel

Its angels, saints, beings and energies to support you in your good work.  The time to wake up to this is now.

Try to read if you can...a greater purpose at play.

Thank you to everyone for following along on this 7 week journey.  It has been extraordinary and many other things, but I’m grateful for all that has surfaced, all that has been surrendered, all that has taken root, for every tear and smile, for each moment of awe or wonder or intuitive guidance.  Every provision has been made for me from those seen and unseen all along the route beginning August 13th, the day I left for Hearst Castle, and…well, I’m still provided for on this day and will always be.  It is so for each one of us.  Open your hearts and let love lead the way from the deepest place within your being, where the soul stands still, whole and ready to meet its mission.

Let Love Lead the Way from your Soul.

1 comment October 1, 2010 Evolutionary

Diversity found in Houston…smiles.

Well, my visit in Houston is coming to a close this coming week after the longest time I’ve spent here since moving away in 1986.  While my last blog entry seems a little harsh when I re-read it, I’m not at all intimidated by it.  While what I describe is only “the story” of the past, it is a genuine observation, one that I don’t look upon favorably but with every understanding that life unfolded just as it was supposed to to bring me, to bring everyone involved, to this very moment.  Staying with my parents for so long has been an opportunity to really see that I must choose to be who I am even in their home..but with respect for who they are.  We are entirely different people; indeed, every member of our immediate family is entirely unique from the next.  While I’ve known this for some time, I finally feel in my bones, grateful for the soul stamina within me, that it’s okay for me to be absolutely and completely on my own, fully established in alternative world views, religious beliefs, spiritual practices, political views, choices in lifestyle and overall differing approaches to life as it presents itself in the eternal now.

What has been of great support is finding out, through complete strangers at times, about non-denominational chapels and art/meditation spaces located throughout a very hip but diverse part of the middle of Houston.  Though no pictures were allowed, Rothko Chapel and the Byzantine Chapel across the street both boasted wonderfully peaceful environments, often stark but fully equipped to facilitate undisturbed meditation.  I absolutely loved sitting in the Byzantine Chapel where 13th century frescos were purchased from a chapel in Italy and pieced back together in a small-scale, re-created, glass-walled chapel to reflect the original feel of Italy but in a modern way.  The surrounding space was all black so that the fine lights only illuminated the glass walls and the frescos placed in the small dome, apse and altar.  It’s hard to describe but, as the brochure discusses and the link above provides, the glass walls represent the impermanent material world, the illusion of walls around the permanent, Infinite Mystery of Christ or for me, Christ-consciousness.  The Holy Spirit reigns forever; the worldly is only temporal.  Surrounded by darkness but caught in the glow of the “chapel,” I was removed from the outside world, lost in welcome prayer and meditation for well over an hour, transfixed by the wholeness of space.

Altar of the new Co-Cathedral in Houston.

A few days before, I was able to attend a sacred choral concert in Houston’s new Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.  It’s a co-cathedral because the eastern and western sects of Catholic Christianity built a place of worship together to help begin to bring together the two in unity.  It was an excellent symbol of coming together for the good of all.  Of course, the concert was amazing with the acoustics, the choir singing my favorite Thomas Tallis piece and others.  The Co-Cathedral was completely modern but built with a sense of the old style in shape and architecture.  I truly loved the whole experience and realized – Wow!  Houston may not be as closed off as I thought.  I forgot how passionate Houstonians are about the cultural arts of all types.  With places and performances like these, I could live here…but let’s not get carried away.  It certainly helps me disengage from family dynamics while engaging in soul dynamics; in turn, I can then return to my parents with a greater sense of divine love at play because I’ve taken care of my own spiritual needs.

Jesus the Christ floating in a bath of light inside the Co-Cathedral.

Before leaving Houston, I’ll visit Villa de Matel, which has a full Byzantine Chapel on the convent’s retreat grounds.  I’m looking forward to that and to returning to the road.

Mary awash in light inside the Co-Cathedral.

The Holy Spirit high in the dome of the Co-Cathedral.

1 comment September 25, 2010 Evolutionary

Is Texas the end of the world?

Hello everybody.  I haven’t written in at least a week because I landed in Houston to stay with my parents and to try to visit family.  How grateful I am to have had 4 1/2 weeks of wonderful experiences before arriving here.  While I love my parents, and now 1 week into our visit, I’m not sure I’ll be able to stay much longer than a few days more.  It seems that all of the spiritual practice and inner change that has occurred for me particularly in recent years is being whacked around like a ship adrift on stormy waves.  The boat is in tact but the crew tending to the ship is a little battered.  I recognize that none of my own discomfort has anything to do with my folks, but what continues to be crystal clear is that I don’t resonate in any way with Texas, its culture, its closed-minded media, and the hold all of this has on its citizens.  I find it psychically stressful and unusually sad.  There’s a media and marketing culture that perpetuates alternatives outside of the mainstream (Texan mainstream that is) as simply wrong with no room for discussion.  Suffocating at best, I’m grateful for the spiritual support, the love and lifting up that transcends all of this nonsense.  I wonder if Texas will be a bastion to stand alone in its own darkness while the rest of our world awakens to more and more light, more and more collaboration, corroboration and inclusion?

Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone and every being is capable of waking up to a larger truth, one that is even larger than the borders of Texas.  That truth is that we are one with all life, so why not finally put down the judgments and realize that love is all there is and our only purpose.  Love in all its glory, with all that it directs us to be, without condition or parceling.  The love I discovered more deeply within me on this journey is fragile and it is quite something to observe the tendency to let it collapse in on itself, to give up the idea that we can let love lead the way without a plan, in a fresh and stark contrast to any experiences of love had so far – ones of condition, exclusion, doled out by meeting rules and regulations, bestowed when agreeable to do so or when opinions are agreed with.  Love for the sake of love is not something I ever witnessed or was taught; this love, so foreign yet so sweet, is only now welling up in me in such a way that I desire to allow it, express it, observe it and be patient with it. 

Thank God for Jesse Jennings and the Creative Life Center in Houston.  Though it was way out in the middle of nowhere, it was quite a nice service and a wonderful message, the 3rd series discussing the book of Genesis metaphysically.  In fact, it applies to what’s happening right now.  In talking about the Flood (the one with Noah’s Ark), Rev. Jennings equated the flood to the psychic energy we all begin to feel and navigate once we get down the spiritual path a little ways.  It can engulf us or we can choose to float on top of it, leaving behind the continuously negative words of media, politicians, talking heads, religions that serve to exclude, or cultures who, through their collective effort, attempt to shape the larger universal, negative experience.  We, as workers in the light, as emissaries for love and peace, must counter these messages and not be afraid to do so by whatever means we are called to utilize.  And, why not?  It isn’t with judgment that I make these observations, it is with profound gratitude that a different way of living has been shown to me and it is with a heartfelt sense of compassion that I offer these observations.  They are simply that, and it’s on this extended where I’ve realized the continuation of at least one theme throughout this entire pilgrimage – my past has no bearing on my future, principle outshines all precendents, to remain cognizant of not reworking or creating a new “story” along the way.  To leave all stories behind, to be present in this moment as God as Mark as Love. 

I’m desperately missing my home, being on the road, seeing friendly, accepting faces.  While it has its current challenges, I love my life today.  I love the Spirit that indwells all, that never exhausts in its attempt to wake us up further to who we are in God, who we are as the love of God for the love of God.

Add comment September 20, 2010 Evolutionary

Just an observation from Fort Worth, Texas

Hello from Texas!  If you haven’t done so yet, take a moment of silence to honor all affected by 9/11 now 9 years ago…office workers, bystanders, passengers, crew, public servants, military personnel, families, children, foreign innocents killed in war; in fact, the whole world needs our silent prayers right now.  Thank you for being the love, light and peace of the Infinite Presence.

The following is part of my journal entry following today’s visit in my own childhood town, Fort Worth.  I don’t think I could write anything differently for the blog:

Texas welcomes me back on a beautiful morning.

“My trip here has been a bit anti-climactic particularly after such deep emotion in Tulsa.  In Fort Worth, while visiting my childhood house at 3716 Labadie Drive and other places, I’m struck by the undisputable changes all around.  In Tulsa, too, but here, it’s most clear that once upon a time, I (and our family) passed through here and the changes to structures, yards and memories show, quite obviously, that the past really is long gone.  It is as if we were never here.

My bedroom was on the right but shared with my brother Scott.

“Who would have foretold in 1970 that I would one day return, a near half-century later, to sit in a Starbucks writing in my journal just blocks from my old home in Richland Hills?  Who would have declared that the winds of change would tear most memories of how things were to bits?  Who could have guessed that I, after a half-lifetime of experiences, would want to re-trace my past in the midst of giving up my current address, putting things in storage and facing a dramatically different start to life again?

Richland Hills Methodist Church was our church when I was a kid. I remember everything about it!

“It’s so obvious by the current landscape that the past is just a story.  It contains no hold, no reality, no promise one way or the other, no good, no bad.  It’s complete emptiness – if we let it be empty.  We’ve allowed our past to shape us, but it is the present moment – the eternal moment – that informs us.”

I’ve decided to treat myself to a very nice hotel in the beautiful, green and wooded hills of Austin before heading into Houston to visit my family.  I also graduated from the University of Texas in 1985 (by the skin of my teeth).  I’m looking forward to a bit of luxury.  Thank you all for reading the Infinite Journey blog and for your continued support and love while I’m gone.  Peace and love to you.

My elementary torn down and replaced by this beautiful and BIG, new school.

Add comment September 12, 2010 Evolutionary

He built the church with his bare hands…stone by stone.

My Mother's house as a girl in Tulsa.

What an amazing, emotional, fulfilling, happy day. Tulsa is where the rest of my family grew up and where we would visit when I was little. I remember only certain things but mostly the houses and surrounding neighborhoods where my grandparents lived is what I remember most. My father was my mother’s paper boy and their parents’ houses were not that far from each other, a much quieter town in the 1930s and 40s I’m sure.

My Father's house as a young boy in Tulsa.

My mother’s father, my Grandfather Milo Fishback, is the figure I remember most for a variety of reasons.  After his death and during my years of drinking, I usually felt his presence near my bed but realized when I got sober and no longer felt him for some time that his purpose for sticking around on the unseen side was to keep me safe. And, he did many times.

Not only was he my protector during my alcoholism until 1989, he returned after a long absence when Many Paths Bookstore opened “seen” in the corner of my office.  Also during the time of the bookstore, my Grandmother Mary Fishback appeared during an angel reading with Tina Daly to pass on a message for my mother (her daughter) – “Not to worry so much.  Everything will turn out fine.”  It seemed the same message came through again today while visiting their gravesite.

My Grandfather built their church home with the other members - University United Methodist Church.

What I absorbed into my being about him when I was a boy was his gentleness and how he scooped me onto his lap to hold me while I cried after seeing my Grandmother (his wife) for the first time in her casket after she died. He just nurtured and rocked me and loved me. His love has been one of my teachers these many years.

I knew that he had built the University United Methodist Church in Tulsa but had not paid attention at such a young age. When I went there today, I was immediately overwhelmed by the stone work, one at a time piled up. There was a plaque on the side of the building dedicated to the members who spent 9 years building the church in their free time “to the Glory of God.”  Tears immediately came.  When will we remember that all we do is to the Glory of God?

The tears started here.

Already awe-struck by the outside, I didn’t hold back the flood of tears when the custodian opened the sanctuary for me. It was stunning, cocoon-like, meaningful, warm, heavenly and so much more that I don’t have the words.   The color and peace and love of this place welcomed me into it as the sanctuary it was intended to be.  The love of so many instruments for God, including through my grandfather’s hands, was imbedded into the stones, the wood, the glass, the altar, the very essence of all.  Their love was the essence of God here; my grandfather’s love for God obvious.

After allowing my cheeks to dry, I simply sat and soaked in as much of the church that my soul could stand.  I eventually went into meditation, a sublime and joyous experience.  It felt as if I was radiating the love of my Grandfather, of all those who built that church in sacred purpose, of God…certainly of God.  Really, my own flesh dissolved and I became one with the love held by that church, its builders, my Grandfather.  As the feelings of Oneness deepened and grew hotter, I began to understand myself better as the builder and why my Grandfather Fishback was destined to become such an influential example in my life. 

My Grandfather Milo far right...cutting stone in his spare time.

I was led by a delightful woman, a great granddaughter of one of the builders, into the church’s archives room where they have dozens of pictures from start to finish, from

The stained glass in UUMC is perfectly stunning. The tears flowed generously as soon as I walked in.

 actually quarrying and cutting the stone to lifting each one into place. The first photo I looked at had “Milo” in the list identifying those in the photo, and there was my Grandaddy working hard with the stones.  He was thin but strong with ripped abs, his wavy dark hair mostly covered by a kind of bell captain’s hat and he was wearing his usual round glasses.  He was in many other pictures and continued to be in the

Amazing Milo.

registry with my Grandmother all the way until they died.  He was still listed as an Administrative Board Member in the 50th anniversary celebration program.  I’m inspired by his accomplishment and, most likely, his humble and quiet commitment to build their church home for 9 years.  He must’ve loved God very much.

I’m leaving Tulsa both full and hopeful, inspired and proud.  I couldn’t have imagined that such a legacy exists in our family.  I know that all of us, including my Grandparents Jacobs, were brought together in divine purpose for the highest good of our souls.  Today, the love that my Grandaddy Fishback selflessly expressed throughout his life is my light, and I shall be forever grateful for him and for our family – then and now.

Tomorrow, I head into Fort Worth, Texas, my hometown for the first 9 years of my life.  I often laugh because they were the happiest years of my life until I got sober at 27.  What a day!  What a journey!

Stone, mortar and glass...amazing gifts.

More UUMC Church..they heaved the 1800 lb. stones up by rope for the tower.

Grandparents Fishback - Thank You and I love You

Grandparents Jacobs - Thank You and I love You

The duck pond where I used to play in Tulsa.

3 comments September 11, 2010 Evolutionary

Unity Village…Kansas City…World Day of Prayer

Italian Rennaisance redo at Unity Institute.

I was debating whether or not to make an entry to the blog because I wasn’t sure what to write about.  While I’m grateful for the shelter, the stop at Unity Village has been a little disappointing.  My instincts proved accurate in that the grounds are generally beautiful but less than welcoming.  Unity has built incredible structures in the old Italian Rennaissance style to house its expanding education programs, its Silent Unity prayer corps and administrative offices with several chapels of all sorts mixed in.  The fountains and walkways and buildings lined along the pools are stunning, but as Sue put it, they are austere.  I’ve certainly been inspired by the sheer immensity of their undertaking and desire to bring their facilities – outside and in – into the 21st century.

Unity Village has, however, reminded me of the vision – in part – for Many Paths with its library, retreat center, school and chapel.  I’m just

This area was stunning in the mall of water and walkways.

beginning to address my own commitment to Many Paths now nearly 4 weeks into this journey.  To let love lead the way may mean many things for many paths.  Without trying to construe new meaning or confirm its direction, I’m finding it both a challenge and a relief, depending on the moment, to allow this pervasive love that is within me – within us all – to guide, inform and blossom.  It’s really the only way now.  So, while a particular stay in different towns has not always been terrific on the outside, the time spent there has broken open my heart and will.  Ashland, Oregon and Whidbey Island, Washington come to mind and there have been others.  To have been broken open, vulnerable to everything and nothing at the same time, leaves me stunned, silent, a bit angry, resigned, excited, anxious, empty

Peace, Be Still inside Peace Chapel.

and full.  Thankfully, I’ve moved past saying aloud, “What the f**k?!

leading to Peace Chapel

Kansas City itself is quite an impressive little place.  It’s much more crowded than I would’ve guessed and much more hip.  It’s clean and very easy to get around.  The people have been extraordinarily friendly.  Kansas City feels like a city on the move, though the Kansas side needs to catch up with the Missouri side.  Apparently, the Missouri side is a nicer place to live but the Kansas side of the city has better schools.  The political fight here comes in over which state pays for what inside the city.  Interesting!  Who knew?

Mostly, this journey has produced an abudance of fruit, more fruit than I can digest here or in several sittings.  But, I am willing to face the fruit, and it is sweet, perhaps only rotten in one or two little places.  The pit will get tossed out, which signifies the root cause for so much of what has surfaced.  It’s time…it really is time to leave the story behind.  With that poor analogy, nevermind my rambling or my weariness.  Tomorrow is another day and I look forward to the drive into Tulsa (if Hurricane Hermine behaves!).  And, remember World Day of Prayer on Thursday, September 9th.  Take a moment to pray, to give thanks, to listen.

Silent Unity Cloister for Prayer...kick off for World Day of Prayer 9/9/10.

3 comments September 9, 2010 Evolutionary

Mount Rushmore….boggles the spirit and mind

South Dakota is an absolutely beautiful state and the people are so friendly.  Yesterday, on another gloriously blue, sunny day, I went to Mount Rushmore as it was one of the

On approach - awe-inspiring!

things that triggered this entire journey.  I’ve always wanted to see our Presidents’ faces carved into rock by dangling artists in the 30’s and 40’s.  It’s not far from Rapid City but it takes about 30 minutes to get into the Black Hills.  There’s a final bend before reaching the monument that opens back up with the faces in full view.  My chin hit the gas pedal already in awe of what appeared before my eyes.   More teaser glimpses as I drove a little closer to the monument, but the real jaw-dropper was walking through the plaza of 50 flags that unfolds onto the Grand View Terrace.  And, there it was…this larger than life sculptor’s vision hanging above the onlookers, symbolically standing guard over the whole of the U.S..

Entering the Monument

Along the President’s Trail, there were many views as it took me up the ridge.  Then, the eagles began to soar around the faces and it was a once-in-a-lifetime magical moment.  Again, like many times on this trip – now 3 1/2 weeks long! – I was reminded of the power of Infinite Spirit that can do anything through any one of us.  The sculptor had a vision and it was realized over many years down to the last detail of George Washington’s lapel, the waves in Teddy Roosevelt’s moustache, the familiar curve of Lincoln’s lips, the strong serenity in Jefferson’s face, the pupils in all the Presidents’ eyes.  I wonder – what are the gifts that I’ve been given that I’m not, in return, giving to the world?  To even ponder this for a moment breaks my heart.  What about you?

Mountain Goats being Mountain Goats

It was hard to leave the magnificence of this larger-than-life gift to the world, but on the walk out of the monument, there was a small crowd

Best View - amazing!

 hushed into complete silence watching a family of mountain goats very close on the hillside.  The goats were delightful and apparently unafraid of us.  We watched the 3 of them as a group for 10 minutes grazing the grasses, adding to another familiar theme – mountain goats being mountain goats.  How simple.

On the way down the mountain, I stumbled across Horsethief Lake, a thoroughly tranquil place.  Isn’t that a great name – Horsethief Lake?!  It was so peaceful to meander along the beautiful path.  At one point, a duck joined me, sitting right next to me while I meditated and absorbed the sounds.  I picked up the sounds of kids having fun fishing all around.  In fact, I heard the adults laughing and having the same kind of child-like fun.  I

Stunning Horsethief Lake Black Hills

also heard echoes from all across the lake, “thank you,” “having a good day,” “excuse me,” “have fun.”  Such respect and getting along – this has struck me so poignantly throughout Washington, Vancouver and all across Montana, Idaho and South Dakota.  It’s just as true right here in Sioux City, Iowa, especially by my server who was so happy to deliver my 6 baby-backs at Dave’s Delicious Bar-B-Que.  The smiles and the food were outstanding.  Is it healthy to live on top of each other without acknowledging one another like we do in LA?  I guess we can only do our part to consciously see God in those who cross our path.  It seems only the tiniest of drops.

The drive out of South Dakota was in completely stormy weather.  There was so much rain at times that it was necessary to come to a crawl on the freeway.  And, I saw several significant funnel clouds and thought…yep, I’m in tornado country.  The weather was a good change to the empty vastness of the past week because, in and of itself, it provided so many picturesque cloudscapes while animating the landscape in a much deeper way than with pure bright sunlight.  The good news is that with summer and Labor Day over, hotel/motel rates have been cheaper for unsold rooms and are really cheap now by comparison.

My Friend.

Had to stop in Wall, South Dakota.

Just under the noses.

I’ve missed being able to stay in monasteries the last week – maybe a little more – but am looking forward to a 3 day stay at Unity Village in Kansas City, Missouri tomorrow and hope to stay in Mount Carmel Center in Dallas.

Beyond Delicious at Dave's.

4 comments September 7, 2010 Evolutionary

From Billings…with love.

The countryside of Washington state.

The drive through Washington yesterday was really peaceful and filled with wonder as I looked at endless numbers of vast fields of active farming.  I was struck by the hard work it must be, naïve as I am, to rise before the sun, farm all day and reap the harvest whenever it’s time to do so.  Of course, this is a business for a farmer, but it must be a rugged one.  Farmers harvest the land so the rest of us have food on our tables.  Without them, we’d have far less fresh food.  I felt grateful for their service to humanity all over the globe, thinking of them as angels specifically sent to continue to feed the earthlings.

St. Josephs in Spokane was beyond peaceful, a welcome relief from the noise of Vancouver and Seattle.  Interestingly, the noise of the city was

What a stature at 4 feet 9 inches.

 a welcome twist only a couple of days ago. [LOL]  In fact, I seemed to be the only one at the Franciscan center and while walking around the grounds, it almost scared me to death when I stumbled on their wood statue of Francis of Assisi, made about the height he was – 4’9” – back in the middle ages.  I stood staring at him for a bit thinking that this must be pretty close to what it was like to be in his physical presence.

St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Cathedral

Also, I was drawn to the over-sized Episcopal Cathedral atop the tallest hill in Spokane.  As I walked out of Chili’s, grateful for a stupendous burger, I wondered, how will I find that church?  Raising my head, right in front of me stood the Spokane Visitor’s Bureau.  I could only laugh.  At the top of the hill, I slurped an ice cream cone and just stared at the immensity and grandiosity of this grace-filled edifice.

Rising VERY early this morning, I was greeted by a glorious sunrise that peeked over the mountains and through the valleys.  I felt moved to listen to sacred choral music, and as I did, I imagined the voices of angels bouncing off the mountain faces passing off the phrases to each other.  The whole of nature became my sanctuary with a crisp blue ceiling finely painted by God.  This trip has helped me to realize that I’m actually drawn to nature because I sense our oneness much more clearly, but I’ve made little attempt to seek out our own natural sanctuaries in LA.

Spectacular Morning.

Idaho was absolutely stunning with all of its pine trees, lakes and rivers; and, I’ve seen a long stretch of Montana, a landscape with infinite variations and colors, after driving all the way to Billings – some 9 hours.  Thankfully, the speed limit here is 75 which cut the time down significantly.  Tomorrow, I plan to drive a shorter distance to Rapid City, South Dakota for a couple of days near Mount Rushmore.  I’m so excited!

A beautiful piece of Montana.

Thank you, everyone, for staying with me during this journey.  Please add your comments and insights, too….and your prayers.  May true love and peace be upon you all.

2 comments September 4, 2010 Evolutionary

Seattle…a resting spot.

Vancouver was truly delicious in every respect…the food, my hosts, the chocolate (but I mentioned food), the sofa bed, the pups, the rain, the park, the sun, the walking. 

It's mood lighting...but Mauri and Kevin were so great! More gifts in God!

 Did I mention the chocolate..oh, and the coffee?  Tres bien.  I really, really enjoyed my short time there and wish with all my heart that LA will be like Vancouver when I return.  Wishes do come true sometimes, right?  As always, with a jaunt out of the US, I’m happy to return home.  I can’t really explain why because there’s so much that I prefer about a more European lifestyle.  It is what it is.  With such beauty I’ve witnessed in my own country these last weeks, I’m experiencing a new respect for the natural landscape that surrounds us all.

Absolutely Incredible..could almost touch the skyscrapers from the Space Needle.

Seattle has been a good grounding spot for me as I begin to plan crossing east through Washington and then Montana.  It’s been nice to walk around here in Seattle, too, spend a long time atop the Space Needle, have more great coffee and to stumble across the best Mexican food I think I’ve ever had.  I realize that I said this in my entry for San Francisco…and, San Fran WAS better, but my tostada with refried beans, chicken and fresh, fresh, fresh lettuce and tomatoes and guac was so tasty, I took over 30 minutes to eat it.  And, the salsa…fantastique!

Going to Vancouver and coming back to Seattle before several long days of driving has been a good break from the

A labyrinth at the foot of the Space Needle...striking to see from so high up.

 quietude, reading, prayer and meditation as well.  Not that I’ve ignored my practice but I feel like I’ve had the chance to integrate it into fun and frustration, into the contrast between silent retreat and the varied sounds of city life.  I’m reminded that a meditative posture can remain in the midst of busyness or when surrounded by what often feels like chaos as a city dweller.  In some way, I’ve a greater appreciation for the stark differences and it seems appropriate to be mindful of this as I go forward.  I really good test will be staying with my family for a month in a couple of weeks…but, alas, that IS a couple of weeks from now and for all good purpose.  Why does it seem so easy to revert to being a child when in Houston…@ 48?!  I don’t know, but it’s worth exploring.

Just another reminder of God greater than me.

Pike Market...great food and people watching.

I can say with certainty that I’m starting to miss my friends and the familiarity of Los Angeles.  Again, I don’t feel lonely so much, but after nearly 3 weeks on the road, I wouldn’t mind having dinner or coffee or a face-to-face conversatioin with one of my cherished friends.  With that said, I think I’m ready for the vast expanse of the US plains…what to expect, I’ve no idea. Explore it with me.

I like gruesome...a paradox I know...but these made me laugh out loud.

2 comments September 2, 2010 Evolutionary

Vancouver…singing in the rain

Well, everybody, I’m having a great time in Vancouver and unable to yet be able to take pics because having my phone on outside the US is very expensive without prior arrangements.  I use my phone to take pics so I can upload quickly in the moment.  And, my dig cam is caput…I’m pretty sure that’s how you spell caput!  With the rain, there aren’t many opps for pics, but I wish I had one of Christ Church in downtown because the dark wood beam ceilings and stone walls were captivating.  I found it peaceful and a small retreat from the busyness of the city and rain.  Afterwards, I found myself singing and humming while walking along in the chilly downpour, soaking wet, at least up to my knees.  I couldn’t stop myself from getting a hot chocolate and dilectable cinnamon roll from Vancouver’s answer to Starbucks.  Not only is it better coffee, it’s better everything!!!

My hosts, Mauri and Kevin, have been extraordinary, showing me around while it was clear and sunny yesterday afternoon.  Vancouver really is a beautiful city and seems the perfect mix of European and US, city life yet not too crowded, friendly and respectful.  It’s a whole different lifestyle here for sure.  Even the gym down the street from Mauri’s was fabulous and friendly.  Donning a fresh buzz cut, I just went walking, umbrella in hand and map in the other.  Also, Vancouver has been a nice change from the quietude and stillness that has been nurturing without question, but God is in the bustle of the city, too.

We must remember that God is in all and everywhere present.  It’s our lack of true balance that depletes us…and, of course, true balance is different for each person.  For myself, I’m quite drawn to the natural and ancient beauty of the forest as well as manufactured beauty in gardens and other lovely places.  I’ve stopped to wonder how much I’ve really explored this side of LA?  Now, it’s time for a nap.  Au revoir pour maintenance.  Peace and love to you.

One of the Tibetan Buddhist altars and Kali.

Here are few last minute pics from Earth Sanctuary.  The Tibetan Buddhist altars were amazingly pristine and beautiful.  They had a table set aside for interfaith altars, so I got to set up my traveling altar for the first time.  I was so happy.

I love traveling with my altar of many paths.

Add comment August 31, 2010 Evolutionary

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