Hello hello! It has been quite a while since we’ve gotten to chat, but being more or less unplugged for two weeks was really a treat. An a joy. It was hard to plug back in! I’ve got to say – the fact that my vacation/retreat happened to fall at the half-way point of my first year in Juneau was serendipitous. The retreat especially helped me to take a step back and reflect (and pray!!) about what I want for the next six months.
And you know what I want? To dig deeper. As you’ve heard me say many times, it’s been a wonderful whirlwind so far, this Juneau adventure of mine. But when I was away and taking some rest, I realized that I am ready for things to slow down. The busyness has been fun and productive, but it’s also been an excuse for me to keep things somewhat surface level. In some ways, I haven’t invested deeply into relationships or activities because I simply haven’t had time. Since coming back home to Juneau, it’s been very apparent that I’m craving the time to dig deeper into the life that I’ve created here, and also deeper into how God is asking me to serve in this place.
Before I talk too much about being back in Juneau, let me tell you a bit about my southerly adventures! First of all – NO ICE! When I left Juneau, we’d had a layer of ice on the ground for a good solid week. It’s not so bad for a couple of days, but after a week of carefully treading (or sliding) around town, I was reading for clear pavement. Getting on a plane with my pack, knowing that I was heading towards sunny California and time with my mom and Michael was a wonderful feeling! And Cali really delivered – we got to see dolphins at the beach, walk in the sun, and spend about 5 days near Joshua Tree National Park. It was stunning. If you have ever had the itch to see Joshua Tree – DON’T WAIT! GO NOW! Or whenever you can. No pressure. But it’s truly wonderful.
In Joshua Tree:
- We saw lots of fun wildlife, like roadrunners and jackrabbits and big-horned sheep and coyotes.
- I realized that I LOVE cacti – I can’t get enough of the way they look. There are so many different kinds of cacti as it is located on the confluence of the Mohave and Colorado deserts (fun fact: Joshua Trees are actually a kind of cactus).
- I experienced the amazing feeling of dry heat. Eighty degrees feels like sixty, and it is beautiful.
- Rock climbers can climb for days and days and still only climb a small percentage of the giant, rounded rock formations that are the frozen statues of bubbling magma rising up from the fault.
- Jackrabbits and Jackelopes are not the same thing, it turns out. Jackelopes are mythical creatures (totally thought they were real), jackrabbits are wonderful, giant-eared desert bunnies that run like foxes. Majestic, if you ask me.
And while it is true that Mom and Michael and I all got sick during our week in California (that was the only part that wasn’t so much fun), we enjoyed our time together. Sick or not sick, I was just happy to see them.
After my desert excursions, I was loading my still-slightly-sick-self onto a plane for a week retreat in Denver with the Community of the Beatitudes! To be honest, being sick for the first few days of the retreat was a huge blessing. I have a tendency to distract myself from doing some of the interior maintenance and connecting with God that is so beneficial and essential. (We humans are so very excellent at distracting ourselves) Being so sick on the beginning of retreat, I just simply didn’t have the energy to distract myself.
The retreat was in silence, which was just blissful. So good. It finished the week before Holy Week, on the Feast of St. Joseph, so it was really the perfect anchor for my heart before heading into the last stretch of Lent and launching into Easter. EASTER! Christ is Risen!!! I hope all of you, Christian or not, have experienced the joy of new beginnings this spring. As for me, I spent a very beautiful and joyful Easter in my little Juneau town, with lots of dear friends and my wonderful family. A really sweet couple from the Cathedral, Jim and Martha, always host an Easter open house every year. It was one of my highlights of Easter Sunday – sitting out on their porch, sipping coffee in the sunshine, talking books and travel and relishing in the joy of Easter.
There are such distinct seasons in the ebb and flow of our experiences. The first six months in Juneau was a season of exploring my new town, settling in, getting outside my comfort zone – a busy season. Now, as things are continuing to change, I’m ready to let the dust settle into a quieter time. Time to reflect, and to dig deeper. Just like a gardener tills soil to welcome springtime seeds, Lent prepares our hearts for Easter and the joy which is waiting to grow there and change us into new people. My first six months has prepared me for the next stage of my time here. I’m ready to dig deep.
Happy Easter, and many blessings to you and your families!