Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dominican Reflections on Genesis 28

Dominican Thoughts on Genesis 28:10-19a

Jacob... came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. ..Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place-- and I did not know it!" And he was afraid, and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

On first impression the D.R. Doesn't seem much like heaven. It is poor, cluttered, and crowded. The roads are pot holed to an extent that makes our roads seem smooth as silk, and the traffic is crazy...buses, trucks, and motor scooters contend with donkeys and horses for the right of way. The Dominican people are friendly, and they are loud. Music and drumming fills the air at all hours of the day and night. It is so hot, most of life is carried on outdoors. In the Dominican Republic, much of life is lived in public.
It might be a temptation for some visitors to dismiss the problems of the 3rd world as simply hopeless. Too much poverty, too much unemployment, and too many people... And indeed, these problems are very real and very great.
But none of the four adults and two youth who were on the CCC mission 2015 (part 2) are inclined to dismiss the D.R., or to feel hopeless about its people. Just the opposite...
Instead we have come away saying "how awesome is this place...this is none other than the gate of heaven, and we did not know it!"

We found among the Episcopalians of Puerto Plata a warmth and hospitality that are contagious. We are used to greater efficiency and convenience, but they are the ones building a beautiful new church with their own hands, not us! We will return to the welcome cool-ness of Michigan more inclined to love and laugh, more reckless in the way we follow Christ into the future, more...Dominican, as it were. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Pilgrimage 2015

Pilgrimage 2015...

Sunday, June 14- Nancy and I set off for the U.P., accompanied by grandsons Jayden and Teagan and dogs Remi and Yogi. For our first night on the road we enjoyed the dog-friendly hospitality of John and Jan Jackson at their lakeside home in Lewiston, MI, where we had opportunity to watch a family of bald eagles in their natural state.
Monday, June 15- passed over the Mackinac Bridge and along the Lake Michigan shoreline to Carney, MI, where my old friends Ginny and Larry McGaw have their farm.
There is an extraordinary evening stillness that descends upon that place, a place where, by labor and ingenuity, they have built a sweet life.

Tuesday, June 16- helped to celebrate the baptism of Sean and Carson Gaston, sons of David and Kasey, who are part of the McGaw-Gaston clan and what Jesus meant when he said "you are the salt of the earth."

When I moved to St. Michael's Farm in Crown Point, IN, David and his brothers were living next door.  It Is profoundly affirming, as well as fun, to renew a bond that has not diminished over 48 years.
June 17-18- retraced our route across The Bridge to Charlevoix, MI, where we caught the ferry to Beaver Island, 32 miles out into Lake Michigan.
June 19-July 2- resided in "The Vicarage" on the north end of the Island, where most of the 657 "year-round" residents live and St. James Episcopal Church is located.

view out the back…

 Days on the island have a ritual, almost liturgical, quality to them, like a monastery following a lax monastic rule. In place of bells the community responds several times a day to blasts from the ferry's mighty horn, three longs, two shorts, answered by the same pattern of blasts from horns at the dock.

Maintaining a more constant rhythm are the cries of gulls and loons, and by the rolling surf on the beach, a sound that, on windless days, is replaced by the audible drone of mosquito wings.
To these rituals we add visits to the nearby library to read and access the web, to Daddy Frank's Ice Cream Parlor for refreshment and conversation, and strolls along the beach in the company of ecstatic dogs.
We make excursions, of course, to remote destinations on the 17 mile-long island, including Iron Ore Creek, a pristine bay and beach at the far southern end. We drove there down the island's west side, through dense forest on a narrow dirt road, passing occasional dwelling-places where people live pretty much off the grid. We saw few people, but those we did see gave the usual Beaver Island wave. After spending about an hour at the public beach, we drove back up the more-populated east side, on another, slightly wider, dirt road that offers spectacular lake views at every bend. The round trip took three hours.
I fish a lot of course, accompanied at different times by Jayden and Teagan, our sons David and Jason, and our friend and neighbor from Troy, Roger Hilborn. Our fishing efforts this year were supported by my Father's Day gift, an electric trolling motor. This was a major asset, enabling me to steer us to remote areas of the various island lakes that heretofore had been too far to reach by rowing. The motor makes virtually no noise, and would be easy to install were it not for its symbiotic attachment, a 53 pound,12 volt battery. So our fishing capabilities were enhanced, but when it came to catching fish the results were about the same as last year, the highlight being Jayden's catching a hefty largemouth bass on a surface lure, using his own rod and reel. The boys' casting and retrieving became quite accomplished as the weeks' passed, although they still require help in the tangled monofilament department.

     Once again, we were privileged to become acquainted with the dark-black bass of Fox Lake on the island. The waters of this remote lake are stained a deep reddish-brown, and apparently the local bass population has adapted to blend in.
     SUNDAYS: June 21 and 28, it was my privilege to preside at the Eucharist in St. James Church

on Beaver Island.
On both occasions, the gospel readings spoke of Jesus’ reaching out to “the other side” of the Sea of Galilee, the  “other side” where outcast  women break all the rules to touch the hem of his robe, the “other side” where storms rage and God seems to be asleep on the job. Now we have left our island haven and crossed back to the other side, to our mainland, mainstream, main street lives, unpunctuated by ceremonial boat horns or expeditions for ice cream. Our pilgrimage, however, is far from over.