A Moment of Holiness

Some time ago our family went on a summer road trip that included visiting Zion National Park. Zion is a steep, stone cathedral carved in granite by the meandering Virgin River.  A favorite activity for the many visitors is to hike the “Narrows,” a spot at the upper end of the park where the river tapers into a vertical gorge.  The farther you wade up river, the narrower the gorge gets until at times, it is only two or three arm spans across.  I took off with the hope of working my way upstream until I was completely alone.  I passed young families, teenagers and groups of college kids singing on islets of rocks until I rounded a bend.  Here the going got tougher as the gorge constricted even more.  The canyon walls rose straight up, flat and speckled by lichen, as the Virgin murmured and roiled around flat table rocks midstream.  I climbed up onto one of these stony mesas and sat there in the cool gorge while the clear, clear waters went rushing by. Hundreds of feet above, the sky was a ribbon of blue with bright white clouds moving like herds against an indigo canvas. There was a holiness there, a moment woven together by water, rock and sky, that connected me to all of humanity, from early man to Native Americans who found in nature, hallowed ground.

by Andrew

Family Meals

My late in-laws retired to the Jersey Shore. When my children were small we’d pack the car up Friday and head there to spend the weekend. My father-in-law was a chef and it was fine dining at every meal. He had a commercial grill outside would cook anything from eggs in the morning to lobster at night. My sisters-in-law and mother-in-law did all the rest, but somehow they rarely finished their prep at the same time he finished cooking. “Pop” would sit at the head of the table and say “Can’t we all just sit down together and eat!?” That’s become a joke whenever we are eating a family meal. From a different perspective, I think how we are called to the table every week at Sunday Mass and given the opportunity to have a “family” meal as Jesus did with his disciples…and there we are all together at the same time, in the miracle of the Eucharist!

by JAM

 

Holy Puttering

I have been puttering in our new garden. The American definition of puttering is: to busy or occupy oneself in a leisurely, casual, or ineffective manner: to putter in the garden.  An “ineffective manner”. Sounds so relaxing. Our new house has a sunny spacious courtyard containing our favorite potted plants, a few statues, and my wife’s enormous concrete fountain that she insisted on lugging from our old address. It’s a good thing because the fountain has attracted numerous hummingbirds, a pair of wild canaries, an odd looking red juvenile bird and a kestrel hawk we keep hearing but have not yet seen. I mixed new soil from horticultural sand and rich potting soil that I am adding to our old bonsai trees. My wife and I are engaged in a battle over where our statue of Mary will ultimately rest. I nestle it near the hedges and she drags it to another spot and adds accessory plants. We have down sized our living space, but the Divine Creator continues to gift us with astounding generosity.

by Nathaniel

Taking a Leap

While vacationing one summer on a lake in Idaho, my eight-year-old daughter wanted to “fly” on the infamous local rope swing. As we traversed the rocky hillside up to the launching spot, we noticed two young adults arguing.  Upon arrival, the young woman clearly afraid, angrily waved us forward and defiantly stepped back. My daughter grabbed the rope. I coached her through the safety routine, my heart pounding. What was I doing turning my daughter loose on such a dangerous adventure? If she lost heart, or let go of the rope too soon, she would go crashing onto the jagged rocks below. She backed up, took a running leap into the air, and wholeheartedly swung out over the rocks. Suspended a moment in the air, she let go, and sailed through the air making a gleeful splash landing in the water. That day, my daughter showed me how to jump off the cliff with faith, trust, and believing that goodness, and joy awaited. Since then, the times I have, metaphorically, jumped off the cliff into the arms of the Lord, I have done so, wholeheartedly!

by Gracie

Travel As Pilgrimage

I read this wonderful book before my pilgrimage to Iona, Scotland last summer. It challenges you to look at every travel experience as a pilgrimage. The definition of pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place, to be constantly looking for the hand of God and those traces of grace that are everywhere if you have eyes to see. When we look at travel as a pilgrimage, we look through the lens of the sacred, the transcendent, the holy. In the end, our trips can become a pilgrimage of the heart as well. “In other words, if the journey you have chosen is indeed a pilgrimage, a soulful journey, it will be rigorous. Ancient wisdom suggests if you aren’t trembling as you approach the sacred, it isn’t the real thing. The sacred, in its various guises as holy ground, art, or knowledge, evokes emotion and commotion.” ― Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgrimage: A Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred.

by Cathy

Staycation

I woke up to a sunny, cloudy, muggy, morning and the day was freely perfect!  No agenda, no appointments, no plans–a “staycation” day. My hubby and I slept in like teenagers and eased into the morning.  We leisurely did a few things around the house then walked down to the beach with only a towel, our phones and some change to buy a burger at the snack shack.  Salty summer air and charbroiled burgers with the ocean as our playground was the ultimate afternoon delight. After a swim in the 70 degree water, we eased our way to walk Del Mar Street and take in all the sights and sounds of our small town, feeling like kids with no time to be home.  The clouds were building. The rain started to trickle down and then turn into a beautiful shower as we walked home giddy laughing and talking about our day.  What a freedom walking in the rain brings to the spirit!  All I did was smile, look up, close my eyes and let nature bathe me with eternal water. Grateful.

by Liz

Surf’s Up

In the summer time, the surf spots around Dana Point get crowded with people from around the world. We’re all looking for that perfect wave to fulfill our yearning and give us a head full of gratitude. A common nomenclature in the surf world is known as bathymetry. It’s a scientific name for the contour of earth below the water.  It’s what shapes the wave and gives it form. There are waves called DOHO, Cottons and Sano. It’s a little like us Christians. We call out to YHWH, Abba and Adonai. There is a type of bathymetry shaping us below our soul. It’s a place where we form our beliefs, morals and commitment to each other. It’s what makes our outer appearance either glow or dim. It’s the only place we will ever fulfill our yearning and give us a heart of gratitude. Like the summer time, our place of worship gets crowded around Easter and Christmas. We’re all looking for that perfect wave that will shape our soul. Surfs Up. Peace be with you.

by Diego

Mini Vacation

This past weekend I sailed over to Catalina with my friend Steve, his 23-year-old daughter Mia, and her friend, Imogene. We picked up a mooring at Cherry Cove just a bit west of the Isthmus and spent the days snorkeling, reading, snacking and napping. We talked about the challenges and fun of college life while spotting bat rays lazily gliding through the turquoise blue water below the boat. We enjoyed nightly dinghy rides to Two Harbors Store for ice cream and barbecuing the bass and barracuda we had speared that morning. I’ve known Steve since UCSB in 1973 and now our families are close, loving friends. Lying in my berth our last night,  with the swell gently lulling me to sleep,  I thanked God for the blessing of it all.  These small mini-vacations out on the water wash me clean and soothe my soul.  They iron out the wrinkles of life and remind me of how beautiful life is when I stop to breathe and have a heart awakened to the miracle of the moment.

by Andrew