Saturday, July 28, 2018

Invite Me to Your Next Potluck

I was prepping dinner for our ARC guests tonight.  Water glasses and water?  Yes.  Bread, bread in the baskets, butter on the table.  Everyone has a fork.  Nine people?  Yes.  Nine people.  Then Medora said, "I have to fry the peaches."

Just let that loll around on your cerebral tastebuds for a minute.

"Fried peaches!  Oh my god.  You just said 'fried peaches.'"  I waved my arms.  My face lit up.

Fried peaches.

Toss some peach slices in olive oil and make sure they are well coated then place them in a frying pan for one minute per side.  Add them to an arugula salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing and gorgonzola cheese crumbles.  The salad turned out to be delicious.  The idea of the salad with fried peaches was even better.

It just dawned on me that I have never given food sufficient credit for its ability to evoke joy, nostalgia, and anticipation, but it has for me done all three.  The fried peaches stirred my joy and anticipation today.  I just want to say thank you to all the makers of all the dishes that have thrilled me, comforted me, and fed me.  Your creations reminded me someone was thinking of me and looking after me, of us.  You took the time to make something purposefully and specially.  Thank you.

Thank you Mom for the chili, and polish sausage with cabbage and burgers on the grill.  Thank you Grandma for sweet rice.  Thank you Missy for corn casserole.  Thank you to Terre for cream cheese cherry tomato dip.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

For much of my life, I've been the guy that leaves it to someone else to bring a dish to family gatherings or potlucks.  Nobody expected much from me and I delivered.  I rationalized about always having too much food anyway.  I can't cook.  It's no big deal.  I'm lazy.

I've been missing out.  I know I've been missing out.  I don't want to just show up.  I want to bring something to the table.   I want to contribute in a meaningful way.  I wonder if I do this in other areas of my life?  Probably.  Sometimes.

Here is what I know.

At the next family gathering,  I want to see Mom's reaction when I say, "I came early to make my salad.  I need to fry some peaches."

Saturday, July 21, 2018

I'm Going North Until It Cools Off !

But what of detours?  

I’m on an old loveseat in front of a dormant wood-burning fireplace in a 3 story log
cabin retreat in the middle of a white pine forest in Minnesota.  I’m supposed to be
at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in Rutledge, Missouri. Outside at the moment here at
ARC Retreat near Cambridge, Minnesota just north of the Twin Cities its about 66
degrees.  It’s been raining sporadically today. Add 20 degrees, and you get the
temperature at Dancing Rabbit. Missouri is hot in July! And August. And lots of
September. That’s one of the reasons I’m here in Minnesota.  I suspect there are more.

You see ARC was founded as a place apart for silent retreat.  Too often, modern American
retreat merely entails going somewhere else to work and maybe wear jeans and a t-shirt
while doing the same old things, working.  But what about the silence? What about the time
to reflect? What about just being with yourself and the world without being uncomfortable
or feeling guilty?  I still find myself spending the quiet times thinking a lot about “what I’m
going to do.” I’m also here officially as a volunteer and not a retreatant so I’m doing a few
things around the place to help out each day.

Traditionally at ARC, the community has silent time together at
8am and 8pm.  It is relatively unstructured.
Go if you like. Don’t go if that’s what you prefer today.  It’s
available, and the invitation is open. There is
something about sitting with a group for me that differs from
sitting alone.  I like both. Meals are also
provided and there is usually conversation, but you can eat in
silence as well if that is your preference.  

This place is filled with books.  Nearly every philosophy, religion, and self-help book
I’ve ever read sits on the shelves.  ARC is almost as old as I am, and the books archive
the path of growth and awareness I’ve travelled.  I don’t feel compelled to read them
all anymore. I noticed a while back they start to say the same basic things repeatedly.  
This is not a bad thing I think. I think it reflects the reality that there are a handful of basics to
living a spiritual life but each author shares from their own experience and
application of these basics.  You know how many classic rock songs have only 5
chords or even less!

So I sit in the woods of Minnesota, maybe going to meditation or maybe not.  I feel secure
in the fact that the books on the shelves share the same basic messages whether they be
from St. Thomas Aquinas or Wayne Dyer or Dilbert.  Maybe after a few more days, I’ll just
be more and think about “what I’m going to do” less. Or not. After all, this is just a detour.

I’m going to Dancing Rabbit.  I’m going to write a book and build me a mud house and learn
to cook vegetarian meals and ride my bike everywhere and poop in a bucket and swim nekkid
in the pond.  
There I go doing again.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Pond Swim

Went to the pond at Dancing Rabbit on my short visit last weekend for a dip.  Up the hill, someone had a CD of Native American flute music playing.

With a boat seat cushion floating my feet and an orange life jacket wedged behind my head I find perfect floating.

My arms rested just so at my sides.  

On the exhale, my belly dips just below the water’s surface only to rise again a moment later with next inhale poking just out of the water.  The water being warm near the surface but the water evaporating feeling very cool. Warm. Cool. Warm. Cool.

Meanwhile my backside was just deep enough to begin to feel the coolness of the water as it got deeper.  Cool. Warm. Cool. I was a cool sandwich floating in a pond.

The flute music was not a CD.  It was a Rabbit.