Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hola a Padre Mickey y la hermosa Mona

Padre, thank you for being concerned about me, along with the other posters! I was going to say so on your blog, but you shut off comments to go on vacation. Oy!

Some of my best memories of Panama are of staying at a little cottage on the beach, way up the coast from the Canal Zone. There, you meet the true Panama and its wonderful people.

I don't know who owned the cottage - a friend of a friend of my parents. It sat alone on the beach. We had the dunes and the wide open spaces in which to play!

Some of my school friends would come with me. We had no surf boards, so we sat on our inflatable beach rafts and rode in on the big rolling waves, yelling "Cowabunga!"

An adult was always perched on the little bluff overlooking the beach, armed with binoculars and watching for sharks. We were ordered out of the water occasionally, and never had any close encounters.

At night, we built bonfires on the beach. Try doing that around here, and the Beach Rangers would be on you like fleas on a hound dog!

A couple of the locals brought their horses, one time, and offered them for our rental, which we accepted. Now, these were plow horses, and I doubt they had ever been ridden much. They came with no saddles or bridles.

I took horseback riding lessons in my youth, so wasn't afraid of riding them. The horse I got just wasn't into the spirit of things, though. I sat on him, said, "Giddyap, vamos," and other sundry commands to get going.

He just turned his head and looked at me as if to say, "What were you thinking?"

After coaxing, the horse would walk several steps, then turn to gaze quizzically at me again. We lurched down the beach. This went on for a little while, until one of the sudden afternoon thunderboomers came up, letting a good ripping boom roll up the beach.

That horse suddenly turned into thoroughbred racing material. He took off as hard as he could go, with me clinging onto him by the mane. I caught up and passed my friends, and my horse kept going.

Finally, I got him to stop. Then, he turned his head and looked inquiringly at me again. We plodded along.

Ah, the good times.

The cottage had no electricity. We used gas for lights and cooking, and it gave the place the feel of another era. We would read or play board games in the evening, in the glow of the gaslight, when we weren't out on the beach.

A special treasure in the cottage was a Victrola, with a number of Tin Pan Alley hit records to play on it. Some of the records were square. I'm not making this up. (The grooves on them were circular, though.) Those records were probably collector's items then, and would be worth a fortune today.

I wonder whatever happened to them, to the cottage and all the people.

Con mi amor,

Santa Patricia

P.S. - Sending camera money

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The best and worst of times

My dear friends, I'm sorry I've been out of touch. I appreciate you so much.

The last weeks have been the best of times and the worst of times.

I'll start with the worst. Our interim rector, Father M. died suddenly, Saturday afternoon. I suppose "suddenly" is a relative concern. He was in the hospital a couple of weeks ago, with a heart problem I understand he'd had all his life. He was back at church last Sunday, though, and looking well.

He apparently went to bed for a little nap yesterday, and didn't wake up.

It's not at all the worst way to go. Still, it wrenched my heart. Father M. was an unfailingly kind and gentle man. He orchestrated a wonderful service so I could grieve surrounded by friends when my mother died, back in September.

Father M. celebrates the Eucharist during our church cruise in November:

Depart, O Christian soul, out of this world;
In the Name of God the Father Almighty who created you;
In the Name of Jesus Christ who redeemed you;
In the Name of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you;
May your rest be this day in peace
and your dwelling place in the Paradise of God.

(From The Book of Common Prayer, "A Commendation at the Time of Death.")

I am grieving now, but couldn't join the congregation today. My car is temporarily out of service, and I'm put out the mechanic didn't get it fixed the end of the week. That's the trouble with my commute to church. It's a bit far.

Regardless, I know Father M. is in the glorious and joyful company of the saints in heaven.

Mostly work, some play

I've been slammed with work the past weeks (OK, a month) since my last post. I keep getting hit with one late-breaking story after another, cool in a way, but difficult when I'm working two jobs. I've often gone from one job to the next, then back to the first to finish writing a story. Then either go out with friends for a glass of wine to stave off isolation, or home to fall in bed, so I can start another day in the morning.

At least being without a running car has given me time at home this weekend (and time to blog!).

Work hasn't been all bad. I've gotten to do some neat things. I took an airplane ride in a World War II vintage Texan, an advanced trainer aircraft, when History Flight came through on a barnstorming tour.

I figured on a quick five or 10 minutes around the airport, but the pilot took me up for a great flight, putting the plane through its paces. We did a variety of loops and rolls over the countryside. It was wonderful.

Last week, I found out I will be the recipient of not one, but two journalism awards from the state press association. One is for a series on our local homeless people, and another for religion writing. Not too shabby!

Saving the best for last: claiming the blessing

We had a great healing mission at the church not long after my last posting, with Jack and Anna Marie Sheffield. I came with no great expectations, after disappointment with big talk from leaders but not much happening at other healing missions the past few years.

I received inner healing, deep in my heart and spirit, as we prayed. I can't explain it; I just accept it. I felt the Spirit of God surround me, the words of his love pouring out on me, and his love, which is healing, flow through me.

I've had more peace since than than I've had in my adult life. Not that family, financial and other problems have disappeared, by any means.

After a month to make sure I didn't experience just a temporary emotional reaction to the mission, I know I'm operating more from a center of peace to deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, for God is my shield. I've know this, but now I know it in a more deeply personal way.

I've been inner focused, any time I've had a chance to rest. That had a lot to do with my lack of blogging.

Healing hasn't come to me in one big pow. It comes in smaller and larger measures. That's all right; the divine hands are doing the measuring.