Surviving Slow Travel

Bluebird sitting atop beloved pet’s grave marker

I believe I have endured enough road hazards to my work in my slow-travel, full-time-rv life during the last six weeks. I am ready for some smooth sailing for awhile. My son’s other grandma died (my mom died 2 years ago) just before Easter. I posted on Facebook that I would be taking 2 weeks off to help the family with funeral arrangements and such. 

Quirky quail now populate the old homestead

As I geared up to get hard back to work, my computer crashed. So did my son’s. Then, for 2 weeks at the Northern Arizona homestead, we had no internet or cell phone service. Luckily, the local library (7 miles away from the house, 20 minute drive each way) had their internet up and their computers working. This was good for quick email and Facebook checks, ordering new (used) computers from ebay, and having them sent to our next stop – my dad’s. Not so good for keeping up with writing or posting blogs. Without a computer to get everything ready to post, it takes far longer than the librarians want a single patron to stay on the shared computers. Not to mention, I don’t want my son playing computer games all that time…

Ginormous jack-rabbits forage in front of the old chicken coop

Out here in sunny, warm California (did I mention it is sooo nice to be out of the cold?) we spent our first week getting ready for my son John’s wedding to his long-time sweetheart. Such a beautiful, wonderful time.


Now, having finished setting up, installing programs and testing our new computers, I can get back to work. I can’t wait to tell all about the Alligator Farm in Colorado, finding community on the road, and our visit to some shrines in Chimayo, New Mexico. But first, some much needed California relaxation at the beach


Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Slow Travel: Freedom To Roam – Or Not

Sangre de Christo Mts. Colorado

Change of plans. My son’s grandma is dying. Quickly. We are finishing out the winter in Colorado, after all. Minimizing our life into a 28 ft. RV and a 14 ft. vintage trailer has given us the freedom to be able to be here with her and grandpa. Slow travel means we can stay here as long as needed and postpone our planned trip to Texas until fall or whenever. Our income does not depend on us being in a certain place at a certain time.

Yak and ma at Gator Farm 

Homeschooling/roadschooling means Yak is not tied to someone else’s schedule or agenda. He does his assignments when he chooses, as long as he gets them done. If he doesn’t, he knows he will be doing them before anything else, the next day. This frees him up to explore the grandparents’ homestead and visit with his aunts, uncles, cousins and older brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, as they filter in and out, paying their last visits to grandma. Now that the weather is warming up, we are also able to explore more of the local area – field trips for Yak; caregiver breaks for his dad. Who would ever look for sand dunes (Great SandDunes National Park) or an alligator farm (Colorado Gators) in the Rocky Mountain State?

Yak and pa at Sand Dunes

Slow travel allows us to find community in the local Catholic Church. The ladies of the Catholic Mothers Society come over to pray the rosary with the grands a couple of days a week. This gives them great joy. To see the smile on grandpa’s face with his family and friends praying around him, the peace in grandma’s eyes and her joy at having her friends come to see her is a great relief to the brothers and sisters who are staying on to care for their parents. The parish priest sends Holy Eucharist home for the grands with whichever son or daughter makes it to 8a.m. Mass; sometimes he brings it in person.

 

Pretty Ms. Susie, soaking up the sun

Not having to confine our travels to 2 or 3 weeks out of the year and the odd weekend, we don’t have the stress of trying to see everything as fast as we can. Living tiny forces us to reduce the clutter in our lives. Cooking and cleaning are done quickly. There is more time to play music, walk the dogs, and laugh at the cat trying to catch the laser pointer. With no set time for getting up or going to bed, we can stay up late to stargaze and sleep in the next day. Or we can get up to enjoy the sunrise and get back in our jammies right after supper.

We are most blessed to be able to be available to our families when they need us.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Memorial To The Unborn

St. Germaine, Prescott Valley, AZ

What is a Memorial to the Unborn?  They have been popping up all over in the last number of years.  Ranging from a simple headstone in a flower bed, to small parks at the side of a church, to Facebook pages, these memorials all have one thing in common – to honor babies who died before birth.  Whether the loss was by abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth, memorials also serve as part of the healing process for parents and loved ones of these babies.


St. Germaine, Prescott Valley, AZ

The National Memorial to the Unborn stands on the site of a former abortion clinic and now houses a pregnancy care center as well, where women can receive counseling, learn about alternatives to abortion and get real, practical help.


St. Germaine, Prescott Valley, AZ

Some memorials offer private services and placement of name plates,  small headstones or brick pavers to honor the child.  Others such as UnbornMemorials.com offer a place online for people to post memorials to their own or other’s unborn babies.  The Knights of Columbus are very pro-active in building memorials at Catholic parishes, such as the one where I took these pictures, St. Germaine in Prescott Valley, AZ.

As tragic as Roe vs. Wade (the US Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion on demand) was, and as important as it is to continue to fight to overturn it, there will continue to be a deep-seated need to provide healing and resources to parents of aborted, miscarried and stillborn children.  Memorials to the unborn, support groups and other resources can help.

St. Germaine, Prescott Valley, AZ

To locate a memorial to visit or for further information on memorials to the unborn try these sites in addition to the links above:




Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

Were You There When the Sun Refused to Shine?


Sometimes a line in a song cuts straight to the heart.  I feel it with the National Anthem (and the rockets’ red glare…), The Celtic Farewell (may holy angels be there at your welcoming, and all the saints who go before you there), and Were You There?  For me it’s verse 4, “were you there when the sun refused to shine?”  What event could be so profoundly tragic that the earth itself, even the sun, would go into mourning?  Only the death of God, its beloved Creator.

According to the gospel of Palm Sunday, Luke 22:14-23:56, “It was about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun.  Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.  Jesus…breathed his last.”(NAB)


Both the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus and the pagan Roman historian Tacitus confirm the crucifixion of Jesus in their writings, but historians disagree about the truth of the other phenomena during and after Jesus’ death.  Several apocryphal gospels agree with the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), attesting to the eclipse, earthquakes and the resurrection and appearance of dead saints in Jerusalem.  Dionysius the Areopagite, witnessing the eclipse from Heliopolis writes, “Either the Creator of all the world now suffers, or this visible world is coming to an end.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion_eclipse. Historian Sextus Julius Africanus denies the possibility of an eclipse at Passover, which is held during the full moon, because a solar eclipse can only happen during a new moon. Though he goes on to quote the records of Phlegon, chronicalling a solar eclipse at full moon during the reign of Tiberius. Eusebius also quotes Phlegon connecting an earthquake with the same eclipse. Tertullian and Lucian of Antioch both imply that evidence of this darkness still existed in Roman records during their time. 


Paulus Orosius, historian and student of St. Augustine of Hippo, writes in his “The Seven Books of History Against the Pagans”, ” that Jesus “voluntarily gave himself over to the Passion but through the impiety of the Jews, was apprehended and nailed to the cross, as a very great earthquake took place throughout the world, rocks upon mountains were split, and a great many parts of the largest cities fell by this extraordinary violence. On the same day also, at the sixth hour of the day, the Sun was entirely obscured and a loathsome night suddenly overshadowed the land, as it was said, ‘an impious age feared eternal night.’ Moreover, it was quite clear that neither the Moon nor the clouds stood in the way of the light of the Sun, so that it is reported that on that day the Moon, being fourteen days old, with the entire region of the heavens thrown in between, was farthest from the sight of the Sun, and the stars throughout the entire sky shone, then in the hours of the day or rather in that terrible night. To this, not only the authority of the Holy Gospels attest, but even some books of the Greeks.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion_eclipse.

So what do all these interesting writings have to do with faith? Just that I find it utterly sad, when meditating on the Crucifixion, that even creation mourned the death of Christ.

Were you there?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr

First Saturday Devotions – Substance or Superstition?

Today is the first Saturday of June.  My dad’s roses are blooming profusely.  After so many Marian celebrations last month, my thoughts have turned to the First Saturdays and how they got started.  It’s been a few years since Catholic school, and I live out in the sticks, where we’re lucky to have “daily” Mass once a week.  So I did a little research on the First Saturdays.

The “official” First Saturday Marian Devotions with their attendant “promises” originated with the apparitions of Our Blessed Mother to the children at Fatima.  But Saturday had already long been a special day of devotion to Our Lady.  According to Marian Devotions in the Domestic Church, by the ninth century, Saturday devotion to Mary had already become popular.  Marian Catechist explains that, according to several theologians of the 12th and 13th centuries,  “ Mary continued to believe, demonstrating her deep faith by never doubting for a moment her Son’s promise of resurrection”.  They also give several other reasons and traditions for Saturday Masses being dedicated to Mary before Fatima.  So, long tradition.  
Okay, what about post-Fatima?  My favorite take on our current practice of this devotion is at the Bearing Blog.  I can totally relate to the author’s reference to superstition and selfish intentions.  I returned to wearing the brown scapular and the chapel veil a few years ago.  As I put on or remove my scapular, I dedicate myself to Mary, and ask her to help me to practice modesty, purity and holiness (I need LOTS of help!).  As I put on my chapel veil for Mass or Eucharistic Devotion, I ask for humility and to remember to try to be of service to the other members of Christ’s body.  It really irritates me to hear the scapular promoted as a talisman to protect a person from harm and/or hell.  The scapular in itself is just a piece of brown scratchy cloth.  It is what it symbolizes that is sacramental and only in that is it nourishing to the spiritual life.
In the same way, to complete the Five First Saturdays, including Holy Communion, Confession, fifteen minutes meditation, and five decades of the Rosary, just to benefit from the Promises – that Our Lady will “assist at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for salvation”,  seems abhorrent to me.  On the surface.  More on that in a few lines.  For one thing, there is a fifth requirement to the fulfillment of the Promise – that the devotion be performed “with the intention of making reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary”.  Someone who isn’t sincere, will not be able to complete all Five Saturdays without this intention.  Even if one starts without that intention, it seems to grow on you in the practice.  Secondly, look at the promise.  What are the “graces necessary for salvation”?  Ponder that.  This devotion is not just another easy ticket into heaven.
 
So what about the superficial motive of performing the devotion just to benefit from the Promise?  When I was a child in Catholic school I performed many of the various recommended devotions our rich and ancient tradition makes available to us.  I was sincere and devout about them at the time.  I stored up a few treasures in heaven.  Then I became a teenager and then an adult.  I finally went the way of the world, and even left the church for a few years.  What’s my point?  I came back.  I returned hungry for the Eucharist.  Starved for teaching and direction for following Jesus.  I came back with a desire to amend my life and be a better person.  Was it because of all those novenas I made as a child?  Was it because of all the prayers of my parents and loved ones?  
 
Certainly I’m not any more special than any other child of the Father.  I can’t offer any tangible proof, but I’m certainly not going to discount the power of a Promise.  I hope I have a ways to go before I have need of that final assistance.  Making another round of Five First Saturdays would undoubtedly benefit me now, as well as later.
 
 
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblr