August 28: When I arrived at the Metro mezzanine, I bumped into about sixty teenagers, milling, laughing, waiting to ascend the escalators to the street. (Gratitude: they had passed through the handful of turnstiles moments before I got there.) A chaperone waved them all onto the same escalator. I was free to walk up the other escalator, and I did. I wonder, though, what tiny pleasure I might have experienced in the slow ride up among them, if I chose to be still and smile too.
August 29: Again I shared my silent retreat, and again I received another’s Sabbath story. Today, a friend who commutes to Manhattan each day from New Jersey described his special Sabbath practice: twenty minutes perched on a rock overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. He drives an hour to his Sabbath place — Sandy Hook — where he experiences Manhattan’s skyline, the surf, the sand — and when he goes in the evening , the silence. Winter is his favorite time, he said. And his retreat begins when he gets in the car. Then he asked me: is there a rock where you can sit each week and just be?
August 30: I. Love. Washing. Dishes. True story. But only when the sun is bright, the flowers are tossing their heads, and the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds flit outside my kitchen window. Summer mornings at 10 am are apparently magical at my house, even if I’m rarely there to notice.
August 31: Sometimes “a perfect evening” happens. Today: cocktails and dinner at a winery overlooking the beautiful Anacostia river. Then a baseball game, with breezes, home runs, brilliant pitching and a win (in less than three hours!). But, of course, as I am learning, what made the evening special were my two friends, who were so deeply present to me and so loving. And, I’m learning, when I fall into the arms of my friends, any setting will do.
September 1: Today, my church offered a healing service; after Communion we were invited to enter the embrace of a prayer team and to offer someone or something for healing prayer. I stepped into the healing circle and sought prayers for a few of you, my dear friends. We prayed, they anointed my forehead with oil and I wept. We are all beloved.
September 1: Returning from my (second) trip to the post office in 30 minutes (= exasperation), I absentmindedly turned right instead of left. I rolled past Saint James Catholic Church, which was welcoming parishioners to a 2:30 pm Spanish-language Mass. My delight: a column of traditionally garbed altar boys in black cassock and white surplice, walking in file amid the greenery of the old stone church, the first carrying a crucifix on high. An accidental procession. And, for me, a second Sunday celebration.
September 2: Oddly, next to neighbor’s a woodpile, tarp and a sand shovel sits a brontosaurus. I say “brontosaurus” because suddenly I am six years old again. My sister and I have returned from the New York City World’s Fair clutching two or three plastic dinosaurs just that color green and fully capable of all the sounds and swoops two little girls can invent. And that long-necked dinosaur: ok, it may actually be an “apatosaurus” now, but the long-necked, long-tailed gentle giant my sister and I played with will always represent a little bit of awe (from the World’s Fair life-size models) and joy.
September 3: I thought of my friend’s words this morning as I practiced my sun salutations. Since the first day of my silent retreat, I have lifted my arms up to reach heaven, folded over to scrape the ground, lifted half way (“flat back, flat back”), flopped back down again, and then with arms spread like wings I slowly roll up like a phoenix rising, to greet heaven again with my reaching arms and upturned face. One for each year of my life, sixty sequences takes twenty minutes. There I am each morning: on my bit of patio, among my bit of green, seeing a bit of sky and feeling the sun on my back. I still want to find my Sabbath rock. And I now realize that I have one at home too.