Before the New York adventure begins, I have three lovely days in Bend with my sweet family.
Quotidian days where they allow me to join them in their daily life. The pre-school and after-school shuffle, with slow days in between enjoying my dear daughter in law who is always so welcoming. A little conversation, a little running errands, a little tv watching.
Lego building, karate, reading books. The years of story time are past, yet we settle together with our own current chapter books.
Austin shares his latest musical learnings, and Jonas does art.
Lisa cooks fabulous love-filled meals, and Jacob cleans up afterwards.
An adventure my grandson and I have been planning for the past several months has begun. It’s phase one of recreating Percy Jackson’s adventures from The Lightening Thief, the first book in Rick Reardon’s Percy Jackson and the Olympian series.
Our five day journey will take us through the events of Chapter 10. We have a plan to take up where we left off next year.
It’s been super complicated figuring out how to do this trip with the limits of a 71 year old who lives in Texas traveling with a 12 year old who lives in Oregon. For me, it means I’ll travel through Denver flying hither and yon four different times in the next week.
Today is the first leg—me getting to Oregon from Houston for a few days of visiting with the Bend Fains before Austin and I depart on Sunday.
I left after work today for my first trip to Denver. I had been able to upgrade to first class and I’m delighted to report that hot towels and warm nuts are back for the first time in three years. We had a great flight attendant, Rosa. After a two hour layover in Denver, imagine our mutual surprise when she was now serving on the different plane flying to Redmond.
“Seltzer, no ice?” she asked, remembering my preferred beverage. Now that’s service.
For more years than I can count, I’ve traveled to New Mexico for a winter stay. Every year is unique to where my heart is yearning to be—sometimes play, sometimes adventure, always quiet and beauty.
This year I am calling my transition year as I complete thirty years of serving as a priest and moving towards my next call as a priest, retired.
Since before Thanksgiving, I have been darting and lunging and traveling and my soul is tired. I find myself longing for the familiar.
My therapist had reminded me of how unsettled my life had been since the first time my home flooded Tax Day, 2016. Seven years of throwing away and packing and unpacking through two destroyed homes, one call ending and a new one beginning, and buying my first home. The pandemic added another layer of relocation through creating and recreating and reshaping work space. I’m weary from seven years of change.
Usually when I come to my winter away place in Taos, I am ready for the unexpected. This year I want to be in a settled place.
I find myself gazing and pondering rather than filling my phone with photos of the beautiful views that surround me. I want to fill my soul with the images instead.
Yesterday my traveling friend and I went out for the twisty way we love to explore. I was exhausted after four hours and was ready to return to the familiar of my casa.
It snowed yesterday, and today I am resting with the quiet of snow. A little reading. A little repairing. A little painting. A little silence. Ever prayer.
I am sitting in the Redmond airport waiting on my delayed flight to Denver in order to board a second flight home to Houston.
Is it Christmas travel without twists and turns and unexpected stops along the way?
Why are we surprised when we have a Christmas that doesn’t go as planned?
That first Christmas certainly did not unfold as scheduled.
Rather than having their baby safely at home, a distant ruler told Joseph and Mary they had to travel somewhere else. No exceptions granted for distance or pregnancy.
When Mary and Joseph arrived at their destination, their expected lodging was full up. They had to depend on the kindness of strangers.
Their first guests were not the ones they would have likely selected. No wonder Mary took to pondering after those shepherds left. It is a Christmas wonder that Mary was able to reframe the unexpected into treasures in her heart.
Then there were the Wise Ones. I’m pretty sure they had some pause about delivering fancy gifts to not exactly the person they imagined.
And somehow they were able to pivot and decide that a different way home than they’d planned was the better way home. Were they wise because they were flexible?
Perhaps one of the true meanings of Christmas is to expect surprises. Like Mary, to ponder the unexpected and find treasures in them. Like the wise ones, to know that flexibility in both the destination and departure will show true wisdom.