That last scene in MerlinBBC gets me every time. Hope, patience, friendship, longing . . . and just a hint of “come on already”. Stories like this feed my soul.
John O’Donohue — I am sorry there won’t be anymore words from him. I found him late and have really loved his poetic vision. I love to read one of his books while reading a more challenging academic book. I feel he balances out my “tendencies” quite nicely.
Tribe — Um, not my favorite. It was recommended, but just didn’t quite click for me. I think it was the assumption that violence is at our very core of being. I think we are called to a higher and better position.
In other news, happy belated Valentine’s Day or as the Welsh say, “dydd Santes Dwynwen hapus” Saint Dwynwen is the patron saint of lovers and animals. Her saint day January 25, but I didn’t know that until learning how to say it in Welsh this morning.
A few things about her:
- Dwynwen means “she who leads a blessed life.” She was a Welsh princess who lived in what is now the Brecon Beacons National Park is thought to have died in about AD465
- Dwynwen devoted herself to God’s service and became a nun after she was unable to marry her Prince.
- She set up a convent on Llanddwyn Island – just off the west coast of Anglesey – the remains of which can still be seen today, along with Dwynwen’s well. You can visit Santes Dwynwen’s church on the tiny tidal island of Llanddwyn.
- Santes Dwynwen is also considered the patroness of farmers’ beasts.
- A Welsh love spoon is traditionally given as a Santes Dwynwen’s day gift.
*Picture source: google images*
St. Brigid of Kildare (c 451-550):
According to tradition, Brigid was born in the year 451 AD in Ireland. Tradition says that her mother was Brocca, a Christian pict slave who had been baptized by Saint Patrick and her father as Dubhthach, a chieftain of Leinster.
As she grew older, Brigid performed miracles, including healing and feeding the poor. According to one story, as a child, she once gave away her mother’s entire store of butter. The butter was then replenished in answer to Brigid’s prayers. Her habit of charity led her to donate her father’s belongings to anyone who asked. Dubthach was so annoyed with her that he took her in a chariot to the king of Leinster to sell her. While Dubthach was talking to the king, Brigid gave away his jeweled sword to a beggar to barter it for food to feed his family. The king decided not to keep her. Brigid went on to establish and lead several abbeys, which is represented in the icon by her shepherd’s crook. Women kept the sacred flame at the Kildare abbey walls which is represented in the icon by the flames behind the St. Brigid cross.
Brigid is the patron saint of cattle, fire,blacksmiths, poets, motherhood, abundance, and healers.
Here is a link to a video showing you how to make a St. Brigid’s cross: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WErPG3DiT24
On 2 February 2020, I presented the following forum at my church. It is part of an ongoing parish spiritual formation series.
The Kinship Project: Protecting, Enriching, and Serving our Immediate Environment
We are at a crossroads. The science is clear. We must reduce our carbon emissions (and carbon equivalent emissions). We have a decade, at best, to make significant changes or we will face a future that looks radically different than our past, our future, or the hope filled world of Star Trek. It is a world where untold millions will suffer from extreme temperatures (hot and cold), fires, blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, crop failure, drought, floods, famine, disease . . . but, it doesn’t have to be like that. We, as individuals, can do a lot. We can speak truth to our churches, our neighborhood communities, our cities, our mayor, our Governor, our Members of Congress, our President, etc. We can practice truth by reducing our own CO ee emissions.
These facts are causing stress and anxiety among our younger generations. They see and know that they are the ones who will live and die with these changes. As I watch the young climate activists, I notice they all have the same exasperation. We tell you the facts, and you do nothing. We tell you that we are less likely to die of old age than you are, and you do nothing. We tell you that the world is in crisis, and you recite “fairy tales of eternal economic growth” and do nothing.
We have failed our younger generation. We have failed them and we wonder why they don’t show up at our church doors.
<Note: As of January 2019, according to the IPCC, we had a carbon budget of 360 gigatons before we reached the tipping point. That is total gigatons, not per annum, left to emit.>
With all this swirling in my head, as I stopped to think about this forum, as I double-checked my research, one thing became crystal clear to me. No amount of knowledge, no amount of scientific fact, no list I give you can really make a difference.
The only thing I have to offer is a “why” :: a value statement. Values aren’t understood simply by our intellect. They are understandings derived from inner experience.
As our Presiding Bishop often reminds us, This is the Way of Love. Where does this idea of love being the center come from? . . . <Read Matt 22: 36-40>
- Love God
- Love neighbor
And so I’d like to share the Creation Story of our Kin the Hebrews . . . <Read Gen 2, creation of man>
- man formed of soil :: stresses our kinship and dependence, we are made of earth not just upon earth
- till :: ‘avad
- to cultivate
- a right to make a living from the soil, we must work the soil to eat from the soil
- keep :: shamar
- to preserve, to defend
- a duty to care for the soil, we need the soil and it needs us.
I would like to suggest that these biblical ideals (Love God, Love Neighbor, Protect the Garden) serve as our reason for practicing Creation Care.
The IPCC suggests that each person living with a carbon budget of 2-3 tonnes per year is the target we should be aiming for. <Of course, businesses must also follow the guidelines, but as they say, “vote with your dollar” and the companies will listen.>
- Worldwide average = 4 tonnes
- American average = 21 tonnes
- That is roughly an 85% decrease in individual emissions.
The factors that have the largest impact on your carbon footprint are:
- the number of children you choose to have
- food choices = agricultural methods, meat consumption, plastic wrap, shipping distance, biodiversity
- Housing = electricity (coal, natural gas), heating and cooling, refrigerator, hot water, washing machine, lighting, landscape maintenance,
- Personal transport = car, fuel, planes (vs buses and trains)
- Consumer goods = use of plastic, fast fashion, banking, electronics, healthcare, entertainment, education, lawn
Let’s have a family meeting and see what we can think of . . . remembering that we are focusing on our immediate environment.
When Martin Luther was asked what he would do if the world was ending tomorrow, he replied, “Plant a Tree.”
It’s still February. The days are slowly getting longer. It doesn’t really feel that way yet. I still turn on all the fairy lights and turn off the lamps. I still wake in the dark, do yoga in the dark, and tidy my private space in the dark.
But February also means afternoon walks in the woods or on the road, games in the evening because we can see the floor, and dinner before the sun goes down.
February this year brought a new habit. One chapter an evening of a nonfiction book, not scholarly, no note taking, just read a chapter and contemplate for a few minutes. I chose Learning to Walk in the Dark as my first book.
AKA Michael and Jasper
Jan 2020 in Review:
yoga: 28 days
meditation: 31 days
strength training: 14 days
walking: 14 days
rest days: 5 days
Tacluso + Ysgubo: 27 days
Outdoor work: 4 days
Daily office + Bible: 31 days
Welsh: 31 days
Study: 12 out of 12 days scheduled
Read: *Practicing Depth Year with re-reading old fiction books that I already own rather than buying new.*
An Other Kingdom (NF)
An Uninvited Quest
Living Beautifully (NF)
Spying in High Heels
Killer in High Heels
Started but didn’t finish
Introduction to the Old Testament (NF)
The Hebrew Bible: Feminist and Intersectional Perspectives (NF)
Learning to Walk in the Dark (NF)
Mayhem in High Heels
Sunrise on Jan 1 — 8:00
Sunset on Jan 1 — 5:32
Sunrise on Jan 31 –7:49
Sunset on Jan 31 — 6:03
Temperature on 1 Jan — 33-48 degrees (and partly cloudy)
Trend for the month was unusually warm. (We only had a fire 6 days this month.)
Temperature on 31 Jan –36-42 degrees (and snowing)
Low Waste :: Low Impact
Gasoline for Kim: 2 gallons
Electricity for household: 12 kwh (above our solar/wind allowance)
Water for Kim: 20 gallons per day
Garbage for Kim: 1 pound for the month
Food for Kim: $120 for the month
Money spent for Kim: $40 for the month, not counting Rx.
from Nov 2020
I turned 53 a few days ago. My family and best friends gave me some really thoughtful gifts: books that they know deserve a place on my shelves, a new colorful reusable water/tea/coffee bottle, and consumable teas. It was just perfect.
I have no major changes or goals for the coming year. I’m in a good place and healthy this year.
Post from 2018
Since renewing my commitment to live a small and regenerative life I notice areas where we are doing ok, but could definitely make some improvements. This year, Advent is getting a slight makeover.
Last year: Advent wreath with paraffin candles, and plastic bits and bobs attached to a wreath frame.
Not too bad, but I wanted to look at how the candles of Advent could be carried forward through the year, how we could use non-paraffin candles, and how the wreath itself could be changed for one that could reflect the seasons.
What I’ve come up with is a wreath made from our grapevines, sitting on cardboard, with glass candle holders, beeswax candles, and seasonal decor filling up the spaces between the candles. Ideally (and ultimately), I want Kelly to bring in a round of wood just the size of the wreath so that it becomes its own little table/stool/home altar.
I melt beeswax into little plastic tea light cups (that I use over and over again). I do have to buy the wicks, but I try to find the hemp ones. About 4 years ago I bought 2 pounds of beeswax and we are still using it for candles and salves. Bees are hopefully getting added to our little farm sometime in the next few Springs. That should make the beeswax even better!
Each evening of Advent, we light the candle(s) and this year we are reading David Cole’s A Celtic Advent..It is a quiet, peaceful transition into the darker evenings. It lends itself to less television and more reading. Just the way I like it!
Post from 2017
Advent marks the beginning of the church year. It comes at the darkest time of the year, surrounding us with hope, peace, joy, and love. It invites us to anticipate the arrival of Jesus and the light he brings into the world.
Advent gives us a chance to step back from the cultural norm of gift lists, shopping, a frantic pace, decorations that overtake the house, and an expectation of “more.” Advent, for me, is not just a time to count down to Christmas, it is a time to prepare my heart and my home for a deeper connection to the Christ.
Our Advent traditions are pretty basic because I like to keep it simple. My first step is always to clean the house and look for things to donate. While I’m cleaning, I put away all the knick-knacks that normally sit around our house. I usually buy new cloth napkins (white and blue, see a thread?) The advent wreath is given a place of honor. I really like to use blue candles and I’ve contemplated using all white candles. This year I’m using 3 purple, 1 pink, and a white Christ candle that were part of an Advent activity at my church.
Each night during my Vesper devotions, I light the appropriate candles, say the Vesper service, and read the scriptures (I use the Book of Common Prayer for my daily reading) and finally I conclude with the week’s collect from the BCP. This adds less than a minute to my normal Vespers routine.
Forest Church: A Field Guide to a Spiritual Connection with Nature
by Bruce Stanley
Read October 2018
This might be the most important book I could ever recommend to a Christian environmentalist or someone wondering what we ought to be thinking and doing when it comes to creation care.
It isn’t technical. It doesn’t lay out the answers. It doesn’t tell you to change your lightbulbs (although you should).
What it does is inspire you to take your connection to creation one step further. Just one step . . . But, my goodness where that one step might take you.
Ch 1 — Why Go Outside?
- thin places = places where the boundary between heaven and earth is at its most transparent.
- First Nations — mountains, water, woods, rock, and river
- The Food Story and The Sacred Land — This might have been my favorite section. It breaks down belief, lifestyle, and impact of forager/hunter/gatherer vs food producer. I actually got a lot of good ideas for our little farm from this section.
- Eco-mindedness and biophilia –embracing our environmental challenges is an urgent issue that we must address.
- NDD — Nature Deficit Disorder the only cure is go outside
- Flow — the end of activity where your skill level in in balance with the challenge lever
- gapped for air we;;-being
- walking, cycling, drawing, climbing, foraging, playing, gardening, reading, knitting, journaling, photography,
Cha 2 — Reading the Second Book of God
- Nature-a wild place, “other than human place,” but size is flexible.
- 3 ways into Nature/Creation:
- awe: Isn’t it amazing? deep sense of connection, as we is the beginning of wisdom
- study: academic exploration, “What is it?”
- meaning: search for insight and relevance, imagination.
Ch 3 –Participating with Nature
- Pg 53: Ps 115:16, but “Im not sure were up to the responsibility.
- Permaculture–people care, earth care, and fair share
- value in nature should be recognized and protected
- higher value –>primary use
- example: pure water –> cook, drink, wash :: grey water –> flush, etc
- example: energy –>solar or wind :: No to fossil fuels
- example: tree –>oxygen, shade :: limbs, dead wood –> heat home
- Be with nature rather than going “into” nature. i.e. participate
- From Dominator to Participant
- Dominator–nature exists to support humans, raw materials for profit
- Steward — still seen from human perspective, recognize that their are limits to natural resources, entrusted with use not consumption
- Partner –nature as ally. Animals as allies. life as an interplay of life forms.I am separate but conscious and ethical. Sustainable, organic, ecological care
- Participant — I exist within the mix of interdependent and interwoven life forms, I am part of nature, respect because of intrinsic value, eco-centric, set limits. Be regenerative not just sutainable
- Which am I? How can I move toward participant? It is imperative that we move to being a participant.
- Regenerative because we have a long way to go to get back to where our systems were actually sustainable.
- pause before you enter a wild space
- slow your soul
- be aware when you intervene in nature
Ch 4–Developing Your Wild Side
- well being accumulates daily through nature connection
- more by walking, eating, sitting, working, reading outdoors
- sit spot, journaling, giving thanks, wild camping, distance hiking, growing your own
- following nature’s rhythm: day/night, lunar months, Light Half/Dark Half of year (equinox and solstice)
- The only equipment you really need is;
- comfortable footwear
- decent jacket
- water bottle
- first aid kit
- phone / camera
- notebook with pen or pencil
Another year older, hopefully a bit wiser, hopefully much kinder, and definitely more grey — in essence the same.
I’m still pondering the song “What kind of world do you want?” and still singing “Crazy Horses”. I still love Matt Smith as the Doctor (Doctor Who). My favorite kind of veg-out book is still post-apocalypse.
My best-est friend, since second grade, and I got together for a two day trip this week. We always have such a lovely time together . . . talking, eating, and talking. We spent our time together at Spring Mill State Park in IN.
Weather: mid-upper 80s, partly cloudy, but dry
Activities: walking, talking, and eating
- wearing: t-shirt, cardigan, shorts, unders/bra, trainers
- in the bag: pjs, t-shirt, unders, yoga pants (for lounging), swim suit, sandals (for pool), sun hat
- 3-1-1: shampoo/soap bar, face serum, deodorant stone, toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, eye drops
- Iberian Cube: altoids, Rx & supplements, comb, phone charger, ear buds, mini first-aid kit,
Thomas Merton and the Celts
A New World Opening Up
By Monica Weis
Part 1 of the book notes
Definition and areas of overlap:
- desert saints
Imagination fosters a distinctive way of seeing:
- here and there
- natural and spiritual
- embraces a unity of natural (here) and spiritual (there)
- landscape reveals the many faces of God
- the “everywhere” God
- John S Eriugena (C815-877) — God created all out of his essence therefore the world is a theophany
- God’s presence makes the world
- Holy “now moment”
Main Character of Celtic spirituality:
- doctrine of creation (essential goodness)
- doctrine of redemption (Christ is love incarnate)
- Held with vigor and clarity –> Christ the Word
Anamhara — soul friend, guide, not a mentor
A Celt is a entholiguist tribal society (societies) in central Europe during the Iron Age that migrated to the British Isles, southern France, Iberian Peninsula, and northern Italy.
- the value of place
- the value of tribe
- the value of people
- (i.e.: It is the Welsh in me that counts, page 12)
- (leads to environmental responsibility as we learn the value of place)
Eremitic vs Centobitic Monasteries:
- eremitic — hermit monasticism (like St. Antony, 251-356), prayer work, spiritual work, reading
- cenobitic — community living, communal, charity, humility, obedience, full spiritual lives. Village model, creation centered.
- In Wales (Scotland and Ireland) when a chieftain became Christian, often the whole tribe became monks and the village became a monastery of sorts.
- see Skellig Michael, Bangor, Derry, Durrow, Kildare, Clonfekt, Kells, etc
- Iona and Lindisfarne both set up as village models.\
- Celtic monasticism focused on allegiance to Abbot contrasted with Roman monasticism which focused on allegiance to Pope.
- Whitby was
- bishop vs abbot
- date of easter
- ACCD to Esther de Waal– not cataclysmic but local, took a long time to trickle down to all areas of “Celtic lands”
**Merton’s focus is on formation not information **
Celtic pilgrim: holy and insatiable curiosity, simplicity, practicality, tremendous endurance
- gentle way of life
- sanctity and sweetness of life
- significance of soul-friend
- 3 labors of the day
- immediacy of the moment
- integrity of the spiritual
- life purified from materialism in simple communion with nature
- a different way of seeing
- peregrination — setting off on foot or in a small boat without a goal or destination, to discover the place of one’s resurrection
- journey metaphor is deeply embedded in the human experience
- divine comedy
- Canterbury tales
- trasana — the crossing place, the divide, the challenge, between the familiar and the unknown
- ethnic sense of romance and the lore of an ancient wonder-adventure
- Phases of
- the longing
- the call
- the departure
- the pilgrim’s way
- the labyrinth
- the arrival
- the bringing back of a “boon”
- the new self-knowledge
- the transformed self
- The Voyage of Brendan
- all creation is holy and everything is sacred because it is the very outpouring of God’s love.
How does one live out of a transfigured center?
- cycles of time that revolve around the church calendar (and nature’s cycles)
- spiritual creativity
- travel (= aesceticism and discipline)
- reckoning (=constantly watching so you stay on course)
- constant care of vessel
- See hymn — Be Thou My Vision
- If you are facing in the right direction, all you need to do is keep walking
- The earth, paradise, because we know in our inmost hearts that the earth was given to us in order that we may find meaning, order, truth, and salvation in it.
Celts, even before migrating to Gaul and the British Isles, highlight devotion to nature and a world inhabited by Spirits.
- The Greeks called them “mysterious neighbors” who preferred living in natural environments rather than urban cities.
- a sacredness to everyday place
- a great sense of imagination
- seasonal rhythms (Nov 1 = new year, Feb 1 = spring, time for planting)
- God + humanity + earth = a trinity of social interaction
- divine harmony — no split between matter and spirit
- “this=ness” of each animal — glorifying God in the dogness of a dog
- “this-ness” of hills, woods, grasses, waters
- thin place = where the “this-ness” collapses and heaven and earth are 3 feet part.
- groves of trees
- stone walls
- springs of water
- island, peaks, cliffs, valleys
- Rhythms of 3
- shamrock — 3 leaves, yet 1 shamrock
- 3 splashes/drops of water
- love for neighbor, friend, and foe
- “to save, to shield, to surround” the household
- Celtic Knot
- timeless nature
- spiritual and physical, birth and rebirth
- closed path = eternity, ever-present love of God
- the “zen” of doodles
- Not creation entered, but creation filled: “Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, and our our destiny.”
- intelligence, not learning or education, to understand art
- work against ugliness by resorting beauty.
- Welsh poetry–a striking sense that God’s grace is present and at work now, evident in the diversity and richness of creation, and in the way in which apparent opposites belong together and are at one.
- Creation and redemption are one. Together they are the outpouring of a loving God.
The Way of the Heart: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers
by Henri Nouwen
“Arsenius, flee from the world, be silent, pray always . . ”
Solitude — Silence — Prayer :: a summary of the spirituality of the desert.
- the furnace of transformation
- Temptations that face
- to be relevant
- to be spectacular
- to be powerful
- The very first thing we need to do is set apart a time and place to be with God.
- Silence is the way to make solitude a reality.
- Silence makes us pilgrims.
- Silence guards the fire (Holy Spirit) within.
- Silence teaches us to speak.
- We speak a great deal, but what good does it really do.
- “wordy unbelief”
- A word with power comes out of silence. A word that bears fruit comes out of silence.
- Divine silence in which love rests secure.
- . . . how to keep them from being so busy that they can no longer hear the voice of God who speaks in silence.”
- Pray always . . . solitude and silence are never separate from prayer. They create space for prayer.
- Hesychia — the rest which flows from unceasing prayer.
- Prayer isn’t just talking to God or thinking about God.
- Hesychastic Prayer:
- prayer of the heart
- to descend with the mind into the heart and stand before the face of God
- Heart = the source of all energies: impulses, feelings, mood, wishes, perception, understanding, will, plans, decision, PERSONALITY
- Hide Nothing :: Surrender All
- Happy are the pure in heart: they shall see God
- Prayer — simple, unceasing, all-inclusive.
It begins in ashes . . .. it journeys through darkness . . .it ends with celebration
Lent is the period of time between Ash Wednesday and carries on for 40 days, not counting Sundays. Sundays are not counted since they are the weekly celebration of the resurrection.
Ash Wednesday — Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.
In my faith tradition we begin Lent by hiding the allelujah and removing decorations from the sanctuary. We receive the ashes as a sign of our mortality, self-examination and repentance. We remember that it is only by his gracious gift that we are given everlasting life.
At home, my altar is covered with a gray cloth, I place a bowl in the center and each day as I do Vespers I place a paper of self-examination, repentance, or prayer for another into the bowl. I will burn these papers during the Great Vigil (Saturday night waiting for Easter Morning). I also like to use rocks and a smaller tea candle on my altar during this season.
I have seen people who make rough wooden crosses and literally nail their requests to the cross during Lent and then attach flowers to each nail on Easter morning. I like this idea, but prefer my quiet bowl, rocks, and candle.
- The letters C, M, B have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar.
- They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.”
- The “+” signs represent the cross and 2018 is the year.
- 4-4 1/4cups flour
- 2 tsp dry yeast
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 1/2 tsp orange zest, thinly stripped
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon zest, thinly stripped
- 1/2 cup raisins, cherries, cranberries (whichever your family likes best)
- 1 whole almond
- 1 egg, beaten with 1Tbsp water
- 1/8 cup apricot jam
- 1 Tbsp hot water
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together all ingredients except for the almond, egg wash, and coating.
Once a soft, smooth ball forms, set it aside to rise until doubled in bulk. About 2 1/2 hours. Be sure to cover it and place in a warm spot.
Divide the dough into 8 Pieces, one a little larger than the rest.
Roll each piece into a ball and arrange the 7 smaller balls around the slightly larger one on a sheet pan, forming a flower.
Let rise another 30 minutes, then brush with the egg wash.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Prepare the glaze by mixing the apricot jelly with a tablespoon of hot water.
Bake the rolls for 30-40 minutes, or until deep golden brown.
Brush with several coats of apricot glaze and sprinkle with the coarse sugar
Once the bread is cool enough to handle, poke an almond into the bottom of one of the rolls.
Living small . . . because there isn’t enough time to do it all.
I have a category here on the blog that I call living small. I’ve used this term to mean living simply and living with less, but I’ve never been satisfied that those two ideas are “exactly” what I mean. It is a word that often comes to my mind when I read about people living big lives — doing big things, writing big books, having a big following on their blog or on social media.
Maybe it is the way I’m wired (INFJ, 5w4), maybe it’s my family situation (adult son with autism), maybe it is my health (auto-immune disorder), maybe I just don’t have ambition . . .
Maybe. Or maybe it is because I am not called to live a big life. Maybe I am called to living a small life— but living a small life really well.
I think it is what was stirring when I decided to blog about my family’s journey. I think it is what I was reaching for when I decided to long-form journal and blog. I think it is what I was sensing when I decided to stop living life so “quantified.” I feel like exploring this idea and seeing where it takes me.
I’ve chosen a few areas where I want more, where I want depth, where I want to focus. And I’ve chosen a few areas where I want less — less distraction, less luring me away from mindfulness, and less novelty of the new.
I want more:
I want less:
* social media
**Photo taken by me in New Orleans, right outside the aquarium.**
Our Celtic Heritage: Looking at Our Faith in the Light of Celtic Christianity
A Study Guide for Christian Groups
By Chris King
Read Dec 2017
Session 1: The Caim and the High Cross
Session 2: God the Creator
Session 3: Never too Busy to Pray
Session 4: The Trinity
Session 5: St. Patrick’s Breastplate
An everyday religion that permeates all.
Caim — circle, circle of protection. Starts small, just round you, and then ripples outward as you pray for those both near and far.
High Cross — the victor’s cross, sun circle as crown of victory and wholeness, this life is a challenge, struggle, battle, but Christ goes before.
They did not take Christianity to the people so much as reveal the God who was already there.
Parting — God be with you
Celtic = God is present in creation and in our lives.
Our move to Germany happened very quickly. Shortly after Christmas 1991, I told Kelly that I wanted to get away. Family visits over Christmas had been emotionally charged and difficult. I wanted a fresh start where our little family didn’t have to fit into anyone else’s pattern. So in late February, Kelly put in the paperwork for an “accompanied, overseas, extended long” tour of duty. We left the location open so that we’d be at the top of the list for “send them anywhere as long as they go as a family.”
In late April, Kelly called home at lunch and asked how I felt about Germany. I loved the idea. “When?” Six weeks! By the time he got home, I had the bathroom and part of the bedroom ready. We sat down and talked about the base. It was a base closure assignment: short-term and then you can choose your next base. He signed the paper the next morning and the merry-go-round started immediately.
Passports (on rush), shots, medical clearance — all in the first week. Spouse counseling, international driver’s licenses, and loads of paperwork — week 2. Movers for bulk shipment (by boat) — week 3. More paperwork, more shots, and finish up all stateside business — week 4. International bank account and movers for express shipment (by plane), pick up passports and exchange some dollars for DM, and say goodbye to Ohio. — week 5. Visit Kelly’s family to say goodbye, fly to Atlanta to say goodbye to my family, and finally board the international flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt Germany — week 6.
We got to Germany and stayed in a hotel for a week and then we moved into a base apartment. Germany was an amazing experience. We spent our weekends exploring the country around us. We found our favorite places (Trier, for one) and picnics on the Moselle River (which was quite near our base). We traveled rain or shine and even in the snow. We knew our time there was short and we made use of every free moment.
Germany was also the place where my kids got chicken pox, ate from street vendors, climbed over ruins, and learned that friends don’t always speak the same language. We went to church where German, Croatian, Russian, English, and Sudanese were all spoken. We had earpieces for the Sundays when the sermon language wasn’t English.
One Monday in early April 1993, the movers came again and packed up our express shipment (which went by air from Germany to the US and then on another plane from US to Turkey). On Wednesday and Thursday they picked up our bulk shipment (which had to go from Germany to the US by boat before going by boat to Turkey). Friday we took a shuttle from our base to the airport. We spent the night in a hotel, and early Saturday flew to Turkey on a C-130.
When we left Germany there were piles of snow and it was cool (45-50 degrees). When we landed in Turkey it was green and brown and 85 degrees. We knew we were in for a huge change.