A year or so ago, my grandsons were watching a movie with me, and it turned kind of scary. One of them said, “Evacuate to Peter Rabbit!!!”
So we switched to a more calm, funny, comfortable movie.
It’s become a catch phrase for me whenever things get a bit too much.
Today, as a tropical storm/hurricane approaches Houston, I’m evacuating to Peter Rabbit.
My son and daughter-in-law are going on a 13th anniversary trip this week, and I had offered (such a sacrifice) months ago to fly to Oregon and work remotely and be with the grandboys.
The plan had been to leave tomorrow, right around when we were expecting the tropical storm to hit. The Diocese told us to work from home today and tomorrow (which is what I’ve been doing for a year and a half), so I changed my flight, and all connections working, I’ll have evacuated to my office in Bend, Oregon.
If I hadn’t already been through my share of hurricanes and floods, I’d feel a little bad. But I had promised to be there for my family, and I wanted to be sure I could keep my commitment. I think it may make my children feel better to know I am out of harm’s way.
As I boarded the plane, the walkway to the plane was starting to hold water, and there was a leak I had to walk under to get onboard.
So Peter Rabbit prayers for us all as we navigate whatever challenge floats in front of us today.
Here’s a carrot.
With twenty four hours between flights, my friend and I rented a car for an anything can happen twenty four hour lark in Iceland.
We had planned to go on a scenic road trip, but the weather was too cold and rainy. We sat in the warmth of the car, listening to music, and enjoyed watching the rain.
Our challenge was that we had not made an alternate plan, and we had no internet. We decided to get on the road and see what happened.
It was gray, wet, and chilly as we left the airport. The view outside the car was dreary.
We decided we would drive to Reykjavik for lunch. Using information found on photographs on our phones from prior trips, we were able to return to a favorite place from years ago. I had Arctic char and skyr mousse with rhubarb. It was beyond delicious.
We then went to church and prayed. The hushed quiet in the beautiful Hallgrimskirkja was a grace-filled gift.
The rain stopped, and we had a stroll around downtown Reykjavik.
We then walked to a favorite coffee roaster and had afternoon coffee.
The sky began to clear as we drove back to our airport hotel. It’s was a fine day—and we have sixteen hours left before we board the plane to return to the United States.
I am at the Vagar airport awaiting my flight to Iceland. My flight to Houston leaves in the morning.
Good bye, sheep, that traveled on and beside the roads.
Good bye, waterfalls being blown by the wind.
Good bye, wonderful COVID protocols, easy testing, and a country so safe that I didn’t wear a mask for 10 whole days.
Good bye tunnels underneath the sea and through mountains that made travel so easy.
Good bye tunnels that included art installations to zoom through.
As the sisters of Our Lady of Grace taught me to say when I bid farewell, “Until I walk on your paths again, know how much I love you, Faroe Islands.”
I woke up missing church. Last Sunday in Torshavn, I tried to figure out how to go to church, but my attempts to decipher webpages in Faroese was too much for me.
The main denomination in the Faroe Islands is in the Lutheran tradition. Most towns and even hamlets have a lovely (and frequently photographed) church. However, I have always found them locked.
Last night I started researching again. Somehow I happened on to a page about the new integration minister who was leading English language worship in the Faroese churches. However, there was no information I could find on the Fólkakirkjan website, at least in English, about when and where. I emailed her with my query. Alas. No response.
I wasn’t feeling a church welcome here. I thought how wonderful it would have been for someone to invite me to church.
I decided that we could find a place out on the road today and stop and worship there. A pause at my new favorite bakery, and we were off for another day of Faroese beauty.
Until we weren’t.
My friend and I had stopped at a scenic overlook and were having a wonderful beginning to our Sunday. When we got back in the car to drive away, the steering wheel had locked and the key wouldn’t turn. No matter how hard we tried, nothing would budge.
On a mountain top in the gray, windy cold with no phone service and no one near, we waited for a car to drive by.
The first person we flagged down, looked at his watch and said he had to be somewhere in five minutes. He told us he would be driving back that way in an hour if we still needed help. The story I made up in my head was that he was on his way to church. Or even a pastor.
The next man who came by had to stop, reluctantly, because we were sort of blocking the road with our waving arms. He never spoke and hurried away.
I made up the story that he would drive to the next town and send help.
But he didn’t.
And then, oh yes, I remembered to ask God to come to my assistance.
Soon later, another truck drove by and while we tried to flag him down, he sped on by—but then he paused, and backed up.
He was late to work and didn’t understand much English. I pantomimed what was wrong with our car, and he hopped out of his truck and jumped in our car. One tug, and he unlocked the steering wheel and the key turned. As we thanked him with amazement, he smiled and said, “A strong man!”
I felt a little like I had lived the parable of the helpful Samaritan, except it was the parable of the Atlantic Airways baggage handler.
Later we did stop for noontime prayers, and it was lovely. As the day passed, I still felt unsettled by the car incident and the desire to worship in community on this Sunday.
As we were driving back towards the city, I spotted a church. With an open door!!! It was the first open church door I’d seen in the Faroes this visit.
We circled back and parked in the parking lot. The gate was open, and we walked in the door. A woman came from the sacristy and I asked her if we could stop and pray. We had a quiet conversation, and she let us know that we had just missed Sunday worship. She told us we were welcome to pray as long as we wanted.
And so we did.
As we left, I thanked the woman for staying so we could worship and told her how much it meant to find an open church. We both became a bit teary, and she brought her mom from the sacristy to meet us. Her mom had been serving in the church for over sixty years. I told her that I was a priest, and we called her ministry, altar guild.
We had found community on this Sunday. In our prayers by the road, with the helpful baggage handler who helped by the road, and by the women who served on the altar guild who left the door of the church open in welcome.