It takes a full six hours to cover the 300 miles to my destination, and most of that time I listened to various things on tape or CD. As the library didn’t have anything promising on my last-minute visit there, I was forced to remember that we had taped readings of the New Testament in the cupboard. As with books, I took way more CD’s and tapes than I could possibly use….
On the trip down I listened to the latest Mars Hill Audio tape. Please ask them for a free sample if you’ve never heard their interviews with various authors, teachers, musicians. It’s like an audio magazine where you eavesdrop on discussions between thoughtful people. And I heard the whole Gospel of Matthew on tape–what a perfect intro to a prayerful couple of days!
My least beautiful photo, but the best of my attempts to capture this flower that graces the roadway, around 5,000 to 6,000 ft elevation, with a misty lavender haze. When you get close, the effect is spoiled as the plants are revealed as dry and stickery, puny individuals. (That sounds like a description of us Christians relative to the whole Church.) I don’t know what it might be, do you? It was the first of my pictures on this expedition.
It’s about this point on the driving, an hour and 3,000 ft down the mountain from Our Lake, I always have to turn off all recordings or radio and have quiet, so I can focus on the smells of the trees and hear the quiet of the forest.
Incense Cedars contribute one of the aromas. As a child with my family, on trips up the mountain it was filling my senses about the time I got carsick, and it took me most of my adult life to get over this association and develop an appreciation for the tree. But I haven’t known just what they looked like, so I found this photo on the Net.
For that reason I didn’t start right in on heavy reading, but took advantage of the magazines my sister had left. When my father’s mark was more on the place, you would find old issues of California Farmer, National Geographic and Sunset piled up everywhere. Now I find the New Yorker! Well, as I haven’t been on the treadmill for some time, where I used to read New Yorker, it was a welcome change, and just the thing for an oxygen-deprived brain. The most interesting article I read was in two parts, on Siberia, by Ian Frazier. His book on the subject is due to come out next year, and it looks to be worth reading.
I brought some candles for indoor prayer times, and then was pleased to discover I had a little icon card of Christ the Shepherd in my purse to display with them. I prayed He would shepherd me through my weekend in the way of the 23rd Psalm, and give me light, and Himself as Light.
Speaking of light, I did lie out under the stars in my sleeping bag the first night, for a couple of hours, until my narrow bed (a lounge chair cushion) made it impossible to sleep. The stars and night sky were comforting, like an angelic blanket. This time little wisps of clouds were decorating the constellations; I could smell the trees, sweet and dry and piney-sharp, with a bit of wood smoke from the campground down the hill in the mix.
Much of the time I spent on the deck, reading this book, drinking tea, and watching the hummingbirds battle over the feeder. If the sun goes behind a cloud, or a breeze comes up, the temperature drops, so you find yourself putting on and taking off your sweater, moving under the umbrella and then back out in the sunshine again.
When I was wearing my red sweatshirt the hummingbirds would buzz threateningly behind my head as long as it took them to figure out that I wasn’t a giant flower.
The Inner Kingdom had been on my shelf for a year; I’m so glad I threw it in the box to take up! The author Kallistos Ware was a convert to the Orthodox Church as a young man in Britain and was a lecturer at Oxford for a long time. I have read other books by him, as a catechumen and since, and was able to hear him speak in 2008, which was pure pleasure.
This one is first in a planned six-volume collection of his works. He is a wonderful writer–so scholarly yet easy to read. I’d say he is more teacherly than devotional in his style, and he treats the subject matter so thoroughly that most every intellectual question I might have was answered; I was spurred on to love the God he so lovingly describes. I finished the whole book! What a satisfaction to finish something so nourishing.