My husband, Tim, and I went to the desert for some mountain biking with friends last week. And I’m not talking about a cushy desert stay at the Gonzo Inn in Moab, either. I’m talking remote wilderness, people. After a two hour drive south from Green River on mostly dirt roads, we were dropped off in the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. It was just six friends on bikes, two guides, and a sag wagon that had a few paltry supplies like fine wine and delicious meals which were prepared for us three times a day. We were ROUGHING IT, people. Think Bear Grylls. Think Aaron Ralston. No wait. Don’t think Ralston (bless his heart) — we all made it out with our limbs intact so that is definitely not a good comparison. Anyhoo, we were out there. We literally saw one other car and three whole human beings in five days. I’m talking RE-MOTE. The kind of wilderness that defines solitude and death by dehydration.
And it was on day three of our 115 miles of back-country desert mountain-biking in this beautiful vast no-man’s-land that I. Got. Lost.
Here my husband would chime in and clarify for you all that I was “lost” (and, yes, he would probably use air quotes) for, like, 15 minutes, to which I would say: WHATEVER.
One of my favorite annual events was held here in Snowmass Village last weekend. The Snowmass Village Balloon Festival is a clear sign summer is over and snow is just ahead. For those of you who have been here during the occasion, seeing the sky filled with balloons of every color is spectacular.
Last Friday, the first day of the event, I was in my office working on a sermon. It was a sunny day. As I sat glued to the computer screen, suddenly my office became quite dark. I looked out the window and was shocked to see a balloon bumping into the side of the deck off my office followed by a thump. Quickly, the entire balloon deflated. Soon the balloon covered much of the roof.
“How is it going?” I called out. “What does it look like?” was the terse reply. Fortunately no one was hurt, although the balloon sustained tears in several places. In the middle of the chaos, our police and fire department arrived. After assessing the situation, using ladders, they removed the balloon from the roof and that was that.
My family and I are filled with joy, excitement and gratitude to be back from my summer Sabbatical. We had a tremendous time together and were refreshed and restored at many levels. Over time on various occasions I will share some things we learned while away and some ways in which God opened up my eyes to new understandings.
I offer unbounded thanks to the congregation, the board, and our astonishing staff not only for making this time possible, but for carrying on in a manner which has led to new growth, faithfulness, and a continuing passion for Christ.
Nothing thrills a pastor more than a congregation and staff that does not stand still, but continues to move forward in love for God and for each other in his or her absence. I am overjoyed by what has been happening at the Chapel this summer. Thank you and thanks be to God!!!
Those Jesuits, man. They know how to do it.
On the last day of parent weekend, after dropping off our third and final child to college, the staff and administrators at Gonzaga University offered a blessing to all incoming freshmen. As families gathered in the basketball arena (yes, that basketball arena) students were asked to rise as all families then raised a hand in a gesture of blessing. With three thousand hands raised — symbolically hovering over the heads of our collective children — the woman in charge of student ministry offered the university’s blessing on all students who then processed out together to the strains of the college choir, leaving their tearful parents riffling through bags for a tissue.
If anything begs for a sacred ritual it’s the finality of child-rearing.
And it reminded me just how important our rituals are.