Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. (1 Peter 4:10)

Archive for August, 2014

Journey 14 – Day 1

Childhood memories … I heard a report on the radio recently that suggested that our brain constantly reforms our memories, so that years later what we think we remember so clearly is quite different from the actual event. Today, I saw it in action. When I was quite young, we used to come up to my Aunt Pearl’s cabin near a wide spot called Eckerman on M-123. As I drove along M-123 today, I saw a sign that said “Eckerman – 2 Miles,” and I started looking for the cabin. I never saw it, although a couple of spots looked familiar. I spent a lot of happy times in that cabin with family and friends, and I now have no clear idea of where it was located. Also, in my childhood memory, Tahquamenon Falls, Whitefish Point, and Grand Marais are all right next to each other. Not so much. It turns out that Whitefish Point is about a 2-hour drive north and slightly west from Mighty Mac; Tahquamenon Falls is some 20 miles from it; and Grand Marais is a good hour and 45 minutes from Whitefish Point by the main roads. We used to visit all of these places when we came up here — oh, and there was the little town of Strongs, home town to the first boy who asked me to marry him. He was 22 and I was 14. I met him the last summer I came up here before going away to the convent. He was in the Army and home on leave; he wrote me passionate letters after I went home, begging me to come and join him on base in Kentucky and get married. I still remember my mother telling me I had to decide whether I wanted that or wanted to go to the convent. I was incredulous and said, “I can’t believe you would really let me go and marry him!” She just shook her head and repeated that I had to decide what I wanted. In the end I thought about what life would be like with him — I had a friend just a few years older than me who had married very young and who already had several children by the time she was 20, and I didn’t think she seemed very happy — and chose the convent. Right choice for the time, I am very sure; but seeing the sign for Strongs today sure brought back some memories.

On the drive up M-123 and Whitefish Point Road, Lake Superior sneaked up on me — I came around a curve and there it was! The majesty and beauty and power are still remarkable. I walked on the beach at Whitefish Point, and listened to the waves and looked out across the water. And I walked over the dune and out to the water here at Grand Marais and gazed out over Lake Superior again. I have great memories of being here with my mother 30 and 40 and 50+ years ago, but I realized today that these places don’t hold such a strong pull for me, on my own and for themselves. It was nice to visit, and to mull over the memories of my mother; that said and done, I may not need to come back this way again.

That realization leaves me feeling vaguely disappointed. I have a sense of loss for a place that was so important to me when I was young but which seems to have lost its charm for me now. Ah well, The Little House In The Woods By The Lake has its own charms, and I am on my way to create new memories with the rest of this trip as well as to revisit new favorites in Wyoming. And I can’t wait to see my Brother Odd and the lovely Maria!

Much of tomorrow and the following two days will find me in what is, for me, uncharted territory — following a route that I haven’t taken before across the northern UP and on to Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana, then into Wyoming. The mild disappointment of today’s revelations will be shed as I leave the driveway of the North Shore Lodge, and my spirit will once more be ready for adventure. As for JD — he just loves to ride, and he is not fond of water.

I will still walk down to the beach again early tomorrow morning, and find the pieces of driftwood my daughters have asked for…and perhaps, then, just a little of the magic will be back.

Journey 14 – Day 0

At first, I was going to call this year’s travels “The New Ultimate Road Trip.” Then I realized that (a) there really can be only one “ultimate” road trip, and I took that one in 2012, in memory and honor of Tom Hunt; and (b) the initials would spell “NURT” and that acronym really does not have a ring to it. So this morning, it came to me that it should simply be called “Journey 14.” Today is Day 0, because it is dedicated to packing and preparation.

 I started the day out with unexpected blessings. I have volunteered to serve as a lector for Masses at my parish, Holy Family in East Tawas. Today was my first turn at reading, and despite my years of public speaking and teaching, I was nervous. Our sacristan reminded me that the Holy Spirit would guide me, and that was a reminder I needed. And He did. And the added blessing was that Mass was being said this morning by a guest, Bishop Oliver from Maiduguri Diocese in Nigeria.  Did you know that people are shot and killed weekly in Nigeria simply for the fact that they are Christians or Muslims; that the Boko Haram insurgents kill the men of these faiths with the intent of marrying (thus controlling) their widows and thereby stamping out these faiths? And yet Bishop Oliver’s message was that these trials and troubles will not last forever, that God will protect His people and faith will prevail. I spoke with Bishop Oliver briefly before and after Mass, and came away from those moments and from his homily with a sense that I had been in the presence of a holy man and one of strong unshakable faith.

Then I was on to more mundane matters: A final trip to the laundromat before hitting the road tomorrow. While I was there, a trio of women came in — obviously wrapping up a vacation and having the time of their lives. As I listened, I realized there were three generations, and I was reminded of the time (some 55 years ago) that my mother, her sisters, my grandmother, and I took a trip along the shore of Lake Superior. We camped in a tent, and all rode in a single car. We had some wonderful times, and some arguments; and we created some wonderful memories. The women in the laundromat turned out to be a grandmother who lives here, and her daughter and granddaughter from New York, who had been similarly traveling about Michigan together for a couple of weeks. I shared with them what a pleasant memory their banter had brought to me, and we had a nice chat.

And so tomorrow I start out on Journey 14. This trip is similar to the trips of the past two years in many ways, and profoundly different in others. That first trip in 2012 was undertaken in the throes of grief just a few weeks after Tom had died. I went because it was a trip we had planned to take and then, because of his worsening condition, were unable to complete. My travels took me from Michigan to Wyoming with a brief foray into Montana; through Denver to Kansas City, then south to Arkansas and New Orleans before heading home by way of Georgia and Ohio; the trip took me into the homes of siblings I had not seen in years, as well as into the homes of siblings I had met only briefly on one or two prior occasions; I saw sights I had never seen before, and I had many wonderful conversations with family who universally welcomed me with open arms. I healed as I drove and experienced the open road.

 In 2013, my brother Paul joined me on the trip, and we varied the route a bit — traveling north and west from Atlanta to Kansas City and on to Wyoming, then back to Georgia for a bit and then home. We had some wonderful adventures and saw some new things, and thoroughly enjoyed spending the time with each other.

 This year, for Journey 14, I travel alone again. The route is a new one for me — north through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, then west across the UP, Minnesota, and North Dakota into Montana and then south into Wyoming. I have intentions, if not definite plans, for things to see and do; and I am not yet sure what direction my travels will take me when I leave Wyoming. I am keeping my options open and will do some planning as I go; the possibilities are endless and limited only by my imagination and daring! My first stop, tomorrow night, will be Grand Marais, Michigan, where I will stay at the same lodge my mother used to love, and where I will walk the agate beaches and visit Whitefish Point and sit and look out over Lake Superior and let her spirit settle on me. Mom always loved a good road trip, even if she was the “mother” of all backseat drivers! ❤ 😉

 JD, the little brown spotted puppy dog, will be with me — and I dare say that Tom will once again ride shotgun, for although he is physically absent these past 25 months, I feel his spirit nearby so very often. And I will probably take pictures out the car window and eat too much fast food, but I will keep safe and try to be reasonably healthy in my habits.

 So here’s to Journey 14 and all the adventures it is sure to bring!

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