The impetus for this trip was the above titled exhibition.
This Sabbath day is non-traditional. Though aren’t many Sabbaths non-traditional in this season of pandemic in which we find ourselves?
So much has changed in how we move about when it comes to eating and drinking. After a short morning walk to Onyx Coffee – masked of course – we entered into a changed space. Arrows painted on the floor directed us through a labyrinth of twists and turns, eventually arriving at a waiting area to place our order.
After ordering we were directed to another waiting area.
Finally, orders in hand, we moved outside to enjoy breakfast.
It was not lost on me that if we had chosen to find a church service this morning, we would be served outside as well.
Meandering through the day, we visited The Momentary. This is a former Kraft Cheese Plant which has been transformed into a contemporary art space. It’s really a wonderful place.
Currently on exhibit is Sarah Cain: In Nature. Her work focuses on observations from nature as a lens to see new possibilities during this sheltering in place time. I was struck by the labyrinth feel in her paintings. Perhaps because of the labyrinths I’ve navigated in the past few days of travel, I’m in tune with these patterns.
Walking through the space of the former cheese factory I couldn’t help but be reminded of labyrinths.
We ended our time at The Momentary with a light lunch. Get this, the iced lattes were delivered hands-free!
After this experience all that was left in the exhibit was to be shown the way to the exit by a reflection.
I do wonder about all the labyrinths in our lives designed for our safe-keeping. Sometimes I strain at masking and sign directions. Don’t you?
Looking at my photographs from travel yesterday, I see contrast.
Colors and textures that make one feel safe in the distance.
From a elevation of 34,000 feet.
Descending to land.
On terra firma once again.
I picked up my rental car and drove to the hotel to check in.
I’m compelled to tell on myself. When making a rental car reservation it’s crucial you don’t confuse one Fayetteville with another. Otherwise you could end up with the only car available. In my case, a Dodge Charger.
When I asked the very young Hertz agent if the car was going to make me a badass woman, she laughed and said that yes it would!
Returning to the airport to pick up my traveling friend, these images definitively said how it was to be back on the ground. It didn’t feel so terra firma.
And my favorite. Note the 1st group that is prohibited from riding an escalator.
Meanwhile, upon entering the hotel; temperature checks and masks required for all.
So now it begins. The ability to start to travel again. Slowly, with intention to make safe choices when planning a trip, and then during travel.
Just about one year ago- almost exactly to the day – my best friend and I traveled to Bentonville, Arkansas. We were there to see an exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum.
Upon returning home, it was clear there was danger in the air. The COVID-19 virus was beginning to spread across the U.S., having first been identified in Seattle. It would not take long before the entire country faced the threat of illness and death. And so, states began to require sheltering-at-home. It felt, “just-like-that” travel, and many other pieces of everyday life came to a halt.
I won’t dwell upon the past year.
I find my return to this place one year later, filled with fraught.
The same destination.
The same month.
My friend and I have both received the COVID-19 vaccine. That’s miraculous on its own
There is uncertainty as well.
What will it be like to walk into a hotel? And then into the hotel room? How will it feel to dine in a restaurant? What about entering a museum and wandering about?
I’ve no reference. I’ve no clue. Stay tuned as I’m certain to give a detailed report.
It feels right to begin travel in this place.
A recently installed exhibition is the inspiration for taking to the skies once again.
The exhibit is titled Crafting America.
Per Crystal Bridges: “This exhibition celebrates the skill and individuality of craft within the broad context of American art. From jewelry to furniture to sculptures and more, this exhibition is dazzling and full of surprises.
Featuring over 100 works in ceramics, fiber, wood, metal, glass, and more unexpected materials, Crafting America presents a diverse and inclusive story of American craft from the 1940s to today.”
I will love this exhibit!
But first I’ll need to take a seat in my chair in the sky.
As we’ve been saying for almost a year now, “this is not how we usually do this” (whatever this may be). We continue with “however, it is how we are doing it now- and for the forseesable future”.
In my faith community, Shrove Tuesday supper takes place in a small local restaurant where the dinner fare is pancakes. The owner closes the restaurant for the night so St. James can enjoy pancakes.
As a church made up of oldering people, many have been to many a Mardi Gras party. So we have an abundance of beads and related decorations with which to decorate the restaurant.
Last year’s Shrove Tuesday was one of the last times we gathered as a parish. The following day was Ash Wednesday, and that was just about the last in-person, inside worship we have since held.
Yesterday, Shrove Tuesday, I made my own ashes for Ash Wednesday – today. I had some palm fronds from years ago, and a couple of palm crosses from previous Palm Sundays. These had all been blessed, so they would do perfectly.
I watched a video about how to make ashes. You don’t just burn palms and get ashes. It’s a process.
After gathering up my palm material, I cut it into pieces and placed those pieces on the bottom side of a stainless steel skillet. A small torch provided a small flame, but while one piece caught fire, it didn’t really spread. The flames did not “reach out” to the adjacent pieces so they too might then catch fire.
It took patience to accomplish the burn.
Next, the bits and pieces were placed in a sieve to be shaken into ash- which was the goal A significant amount of ash did not come from my effort.
“So daily dying to the way of self, so daily living to your way of love… Hymn 149. From Living Lent, Meditations for These Forty Days by Barbara Carthone Crafton.
It’s Christmas Day. It’s Christmas Day during a pandemic.
The past ten months have been filled with uncertainty, fear, longing, disappointment and despair. They have been filled with challenges and opportunities. And recently filled with new perspective on how to do Christmas.
In the midst of this pandemic Christmas I’ve been surprised to find delight. ENOUGH delight to fill my soul. Enough to satisfy. Enough to give me hope.
My church cancelled services because of a COVID scare, so I joined a best friend in attending a Christmas Eve service on Instagram. I know, I know – just writing those words gave me pause. The service was led by Nadia Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran minister.
Years ago my dear, dear cousin encouraged me to read a book Nadia authored. I accepted, and here on Christmas Eve I was joining her for worship. And this Christmas Eve service on Instagram was enough.
When told during the service to light a candle I lit the only candle I had, which I had been given just a few days ago as a gift from the woman who cleans my home. Tiny in size and given in love, it was enough.
A short time later howling winds brought plunging temperature, and snow!
When I awoke this morning, there was a gathered whiteness. Not much, but enough.
The deer showed up mid-afternoon seeking food – corn and apples. With them it’s never enough.
Even misdirected Christmas pj’s arrived at the redirected correct destinations in time for Christmas Eve. That relief was enough for me!
To be honest I want more. I wish to not live in fear of illness. Of course I want to visit friends and family. And oh how I wish to take my seat in that chair in the sky.
Late this afternoon, as I do every afternoon, I joined the Sisters of the Beechgrove Monastery for Evening prayer. During each service the sisters sing, Listen, listen, open our hearts. My open heart says it is enough.
As night covers this Christmas Day, it has been enough. More than enough.
Yep. I’m once again taking a seat in a chair in the sky.
Yesterday morning, as I was enjoying my cappuccino on the deck, I noticed many plant deck residents seemed to be pointing skyward.
While the sky pointers were not necessary for my purchasing an airline ticket for travel today, I did have a sense of confirmation when I enjoyed the uplifting – pun intended – chorus.
This is just my second flight since the pandemic hit. I don’t expect the experience to be significantly different. Well, except for the aircraft configuration. I essentially am on a puddle hopper, as my flight is somewhere around 1 1/2 hours. No cubicle for me.
Is it wishful thinking to want to see the flowers point to the sky? There’s a lot of wishful thinking these days. Oh how I yearn to be back to full-time travel. Perhaps that’s why it’s easy for me to see my plants pointing the way.
Travel will return for me and others I am certain. The uncertainty is when.
As I traversed my way through the airport this morning, there are reminders of how I travel even before I get to my gate.
And then there are sights that delight.
I’ll soon be on my way to Houston.
One thing about travel in this pandemic time is figuring out how to navigate entering another’s safe shelter. To date I have both entered a safe space, and had my safe space entered. It’s another piece of travel, navigating in and then out.
When state leaders began to open up states or cities, hair salons were one of the first type of business deemed essential, giving them permission to open. This was surprising to me. Really, a hair cut was essential in the middle of a pandemic? Could a hair cut be accomplished safely?
For me, the answer was no.
So I let my hair grow and grow. And grow some more. After five months since my last haircut, it became a heavy load. Literally.
I had made some appointments to get my hair cut, but then I would cancel out of caution.
A few weeks ago I decided to fly to Seattle to visit my Seattle family. I would be here on my birthday. An idea began to take shape. What about a birthday haircut? All four family members – my son, my daughter-in-law, granddaughter and grandson – could all participate. I will say, there were varying degrees of enthusiasm. And a sense of are skill trepidation.
But I was all in, believing any hair style that came out of this would be perfect.
I ordered hair styling shears to be sent to Seattle. Katie, my daughter-in-law, began to study hair cut techniques on YouTube.
Yesterday everything came together. As this haircut was to take place outdoors, it was important the day be a good weather day. It was a perfect day for a haircut.
And so it came to pass, my long locks would be trimmed.
All set? YES!
Trim and style time.
Ta da! Happy birthday to me!
I highly recommend this backyard salon experience. They provide an essential service like no other for visiting Nanas.
In my most recent blog, I wrote: “Okay, I’m nourished, now where’s the nearest airport? I’m in need of that chair seat in the sky!”.
Well, here I go.
This day I will take my seat in the chair in the sky and soar to the the great Northwest. It’s been almost five months since I last had a flight. This is way too long!
Looks I’m headed to Seattle.
This is a good sign. I believe it is a happy a Friday.
Well, I’m here. Oh boy. What waits ahead?
I’ll let the air-travel-during-a-pandemic images speak for themselves.
The emptiness is what gets my attention. Well, all the masks as well.
Now seated in my chair in the sky. Check this out. It’s called a “suite”. It can be made into a bed. It comes with a 3-point seatbelt. I found it constricting so I found a way to remove the 3rd point. Piloted by a chick captain, I’m feeling a bit spunky-ish.
I’m offered an extraordinary variety of in-flight entertainment.
The very best entertainment is gazing out the window at the awesomeness of God’s creation.
Something that is on my heart this day is my oldest son. He’s a captain with Southwest Airlines. I know the extraordinary downturn of the airline industry weighs heavy on his heart. I felt it especially this morning as I took the plane train to the C terminal for Starbucks. C terminal is half the size it once was. While inside the airport is empty, so too, are the gates and runways.
I don’t know where this pandemic is headed for us. Right now what I do know is that I have taken a leap of faith and am now soaring at 38,000 feet on the way to my Seattle family.
Sitting out on my deck this morning, I began to think about my day. It feels eerily similar to yesterday. And to the day before yesterday. And the day before…
Well, you get it.
The phrase “measure of my days” came to mind. That had a familiar ring to it, and I thought I recalled a book with that title. I found the Kindle version of this 1968 book, and had a sample delivered. I thought I might find a reflection of how I measure my days.
Written by Florida Scott-Maxwell, it begins “We who are old know that age is more than a disability. It is an intense and varied experience, almost beyond our capacity at times, but something to be carried high. If it is a long defeat it is also a victory, meaningful for the initiates of time, if not for those who have come less far”.
Clearly not a reflection of my days! After all, I am oldering, not old! I’m one of those “who have come less far”. Still, Scott-Maxwell is correct when she says “It (old-ering) is an intense and varied experience…”. Well, yes, it is that – and more. Perhaps her words will lead to further examination, but not in this blog.
While that remembered phrase did not lead down a Google path to a good fit for an examination of my days, it does serve as an anchor for this blog.
What then, is the measure of my days during this pandemic?
As a place to begin, my days are first measured by how long I spend sitting on my deck each morning.
My soul is quieted in this place. I’m often there until noon. It’s true! Aside from a weekly appointment, I don’t necessarily have to be anywhere.
Just about all my tasks can be done from home through technology. Zoom meetings. Website design and upkeep. Communications. Shopping. Making donations to groups who serve the least among us, especially in this time of extraordinary need. And more.
I have settled into a time of sitting.
The best sitting is the morning deck sit.
Eventually I move from the deck to the porch to sit. Not just sit, rather, ride.
A stationary bike I ordered some months ago finally arrived. All this deck sitting means I best be seated, and riding, or my legs might fall out from under me. That’s an old saying, the origin of which I can’t find, but it certainly fits my circumstances. The bike has a custom designed iPhone holder so I can listen to favorite podcasts. Thanks, Evan.
I also sit on the porch for the weekly St. James lectionary study.
What does all this time of sitting mean? In this time of pandemic, it feels like a giant pause in our lives. In my life. Kind of forced sitting it out.
A season of rest, work, exercise, study all while seated. Being still, healing and engaging with the world while seated. Conversations because there is time to sit and talk.
If I’d not had this time of imposed seating, would I have been as well rested and nourished?
A friend and I spoke last week, and ended our conversation with something like, “we don’t want to come out of this having wasted time”. My reaction at first was I better get-to-getting so I haven’t wasted time.
After considering the measure of my days, this does not feel like time wasted.
Okay, I’m nourished, now where’s the nearest airport? I’m in need of that chair seat in the sky!