Monday, November 16, 2015
This photo is of what I called my "pink rocks" in the lumpy ridge formation easily seen from Devil's Gulch Road in Estes Park, which is where I accessed trails back in the fall and winter of 1999. I'm reminded that I used those rocks as a point of strength on days when I was alone and lonely, missing friends in Tennessee (though mostly Chattanooga friends since that had been my home for the previous ten years).
Especially before I found the Estes Park Centering Prayer group and for the first months I centered with them, I often saw or spoke with no one I knew. I sought community in the small Episcopal Church and one woman became a friend. I was in a much more vulnerable place, and the rector made certain that I knew that he couldn't be of much help. It wasn't the church, but the centering prayer group that provided the spiritual sustenance I needed.
I'm recalling those days this morning as I'm allowing grief--more than expected--to swell from inside as I miss the mountains, friends, and St. John's, my home church in Boulder. I also remember that St. John's didn't become my home church immediately upon stepping foot inside the building as it has for some. It helps put my feelings in perspective.
I realized over the weekend that my flurry of activity--rushing from one talk or concert to another, while providing intellectual stimulation and nourishment for my soul, and reading the pile of reserved books that became available near the same time, had kept my feelings of loneliness and loss at bay. Since years of experience has shown that feeling the pain is the way through to the other side, and my coffee date this afternoon was cancelled, I'm allowing those feeling to hold sway.
Gratitude, my daily practice, is supported by remembering those other times, feeling gratitude for the good in the midst of pain. Mike and Margaret are coming for dinner tomorrow night. It's a quick in and out when they come since week nights are best for them, but always so good to have them here.
For years on Sundays, 3 of 4 wasn't unusual, I had duties either in the service or afterward. There were certainly mornings when it seemed heavy, but most times I felt blessed to be part of the St. John's community serving in that way. As I recall other churches, I've generally found ways to serve before I felt at home. I don't know that this will happen here, and I'm not ready yet. My postponed coffee this afternoon was to include a conversation about the possibility of joining the healing prayer ministry at the Cathedral. Since today I have no clarity about calls, it's good not to have that conversation.
Radnor Lake's Cove Trail
I have plans for a walk, though it may turn into coffee/tea since rain is predicted, with a possible spiritual friend, also a newcomer to the Cathedral, on Wednesday afternoon and look forward to getting to know her. An acquaintance from Boulder days, who moved to the suburbs with her husband this summer, and I have a long-planned coffee date on Thursday, halfway between our homes. She's often an "it's wonderful" person so I'll look for my happy hat before I leave for that drive.
My Saturday guided hike was cancelled, and I joined a group of six who were also headed for that hike at another trail. I trailed them--literally--for the 4.5 miles on the steepest up and down trail in our local parks in this area. I'm definitely out of shape, but was able to catch up when they stopped for water or to let everyone gather. Our time was slightly over an hour and one half!!! While that equates about 20 minutes per mile and my preferred faster time is 25 minutes per mile, I would need to hike at that pace for 7 - 10 + miles in order to do some of the meet-up hikes at state parks away from here with the younger hikers, and I would love to hike several of those trails. I'm hoping to meet some older folks who are hikers at the Tennessee Trails Monthly Meeting I plan to attend next week.
We continue to have some color on the trees in the city. The photo below is from my window toward the Vanderbilt Campus. The misty rain has moved in while I was writing. If it doesn't get harder, I'll walk in the neighborhood or on campus this afternoon. The color really pops in this weather.
I continue to have much gratitude for my place here and always for my health. A Chattanooga friend has been told that even if the next round of chemo is effective, she can expect more tumors--and she is about fifteen years younger. I hold gratitude and loss together on this fall day.
Peace and blessings
Monday, November 9, 2015
This beautiful waterfall, one of several in the Rock Island State Park, is about the same driving time away from my home in central Nashville as from my home in Colorado to the Bear Lake or Glacier Gorge trailheads in RMNP. It's farther, of course, as the narrow roads are only for the last ten or so miles. I went there a week ago Sunday with a meet-up group that, because of forecasted rain, dwindled from 16 to 9 people. A light misty rain began only as we were close to the end of our last trail.
I learned that many of the exciting and beautiful Tennessee hikes in parks and natural areas explore canyons and gulches packed with slippery wet rocks and several creek crossings. My boots held up well on this one! Behind and around me below are the rocks at the bottom of this riverbed canyon. It doesn't show the cliff ledges on the left that we had to scramble up and walk on to get there and back again! Three, sometimes four of the much younger folks, hiked back with me, partly to enjoy the scenery, and on the skinny ledges, to be sure I wasn't left in the lurch! While they began to see that I didn't need the assistance they offered (but took it a couple of times), I was sometimes slower. We all laughed about the man who was the supposed leader. If he hadn't been wearing a red shirt, we wouldn't have seen him through the trees far ahead.
The leaves are falling, opening patches to see the vistas in the distance while other spots are still too dense to see through the trees. Next Saturday I'm scheduled for a hike that has some bushwacking in an area of the Warner Parks where one can only go with a naturalist. There should be views of the hills around and through that part of the park. A newer area will open in the spring though the steeper trails may be only naturalist led.
I've found a local-only walker friend who may become a hiker as far as our parks go, good company but nothing that will keep me in shape so far, and am still looking for a hiking group with older folks who do some of the interesting and challenging trails away that I shouldn't do alone. With shorter daylight and the driving time to do several of those hikes, I understand the need for a faster pace than I might be happy with--or able to do comfortably. Spring will be my time for those hikes. And I understand that in March-April-May, there are many wildflowers too!
I'm joining the Tennessee Trails Association and plan to drive to REI in Brentwood (near Mike and Margaret's) for their November meeting with the hope that will connect me with some hikers nearer my speed. And tomorrow, when the rain is supposed to dissipate and the clouds roll away, I'll continue hiking nearby. I do remember that I didn't find my long-time hiking companions in Estes Park immediately upon moving there. Patience, patience, patience.