Remembrance

Mami As a Little Girl

My mom would have turned 88 today but it has been 10 years since her death. For  the last 10 years of her life, that celebration was overlayed by all the horror and desolation of “9/11” and I still regret that for her. Especially with the passage of time, but even from the night she died, I have not often felt my mom’s presence. Now, in light of the time after my dad’s death last August, I am struck by the fact that I feel my dad’s presence so often. I think there’s a pretty straightforward explanation for that difference—Dad was so much a part of the quotidian experience of life on our little farm that there are all kinds of memories associated with different parts of our place and the things that fill my days. I still have the sense when I am out in our small pecan grove that if I turn quickly enough, I will catch him walking with Mouse, the cats and the horses just behind me.  

This morning, I went out and did some gardening, one of Mom’s great delights.  In a flash and unexpectedly, it was as if she was right there next to me, digging into the soil, telling stories about her garden. I was so grateful for that moment of connection with her. She was a complicated person and our relationship was complicated, but in that moment there was none of that, just the simple truth of how much she loved me and how much I loved her. It is love which does not die.

I’ve been struggling to put words down on paper for weeks. The news keeps overwhelming me, leaving me struggling for a single word of hope I might hold on to or share with others. Marking the first anniversary of my dad’s death and the unraveling of the relationship with one of my siblings has been painful. There’s work to do that takes energy and small projects that require less of me and help me fill time. I’ve also had upper respiratory crud that fortunately is not Covid-19 but still has left me tired. This week though, something started shifting. My sermon for tomorrow has come together far more easily than others have for weeks. Words and then sentences started taking hold as I watched all the media kick into high gear in commemoration of 9/11. 

Day before yesterday, Sherod told me his niece, who is a retired Army lieutenant colonel, called to talk to him about the flare-up of PTSD she was experiencing. As she watched the news one morning this week, she saw a clip of the Pentagon just after the plane crashed into it that day. K had been in that wing and she realized she was watching herself pulling another staff person out who was covered in blood. She’d never known that moment was captured on film and it was horrific to watch.

This is what occurs to me about the difference between presence, remembering, and reliving the past, especially when there is money to be made and ad time to sell: I guess because of how our brains work, the sense of being present with someone who’s absent or even dead, comes from the grooves or synapse chains in our brains that place that person in a deeply familiar task or kind of experience. We know down to our core how someone we’ve loved and lost would be in this place, in this moment. Sherod and I tell little stories about my dad more frequently now—“Remember when Dad….” The edges of those pictures are a little fuzzier, there is a kind of distance that tempers whatever it was that happened.  The relentless onslaught of clips of 9/11 that are played over and over with no mercy are like the worst of the flashbacks that I have watched Sherod experience from his time in Vietnam. It feels exploitive.  And because this is such a common practice now, at a time when fractures are becoming abysses in this country, that process of revisiting is not just unhealthy, it feels life-draining and so very destructive.

I can tell you exactly where I was when I heard the news of the first airplane crashing into the first of the World Trade buildings. I find my heart beginning to race if I happen to catch a snippet of sound of that day as Sherod watches TV. I have been on the verge of tears for a couple of days now. But I do not dishonor the dead or how badly our nation was wounded when I am clear that it has been twenty years. That life has gone on. That there are things I have to do and be today that are about now. Now. 

I am grateful for the memories and what they help me learn. I thank the One who created my Mami. I thank the One who created me for my life and for everything my mom was and did while she walked on this home we call Earth. That is all.

Things Broken, Repaired, Transcendent-I

One of Enedina’s Crosses

I met Enedina Vasquez over dinner at a friend’s house in Pembroke Pines, FL, many, many years ago. An artist, a theologian, a pastor, Enedina was one of those charming, playful, full of life people who make real that phrase, “live your best life.” She was also a consummate salesperson and that night, she had things to sell! Extraordinary things!

Some of you reading this may remember the heart and cross glass pieces she made as she walked the way of grief after her husband and artistic soulmate died. Taking broken shards of glass of different colors, she’d heat them up enough to make them malleable and put them together to make something new.  Then each new piece was put through another heating process that melded all the shards into one. When each piece cooled, she made small drawings of deeply religious symbols on the glass, symbols drawn from her rich heritage as a Tejana from a family that had lived in Texas stretching back hundreds and hundreds of years, back when Texas was still part of México. Finally, she’d hang a wonderful bouquet of ribbons at the bottom of each piece—reminders of the promise of a rainbow. Some of the ribbons had tiny little charms—ofrendas, offerings we are able to make when we are grateful.

That night at dinner she explained that she’d never worked with glass before but found it the perfect medium to express the quiet hope that began to walk with her through all the shadows cast on the path through her husband’s death. After being baked the second time, the hearts she made had all kinds of imperfections and small holes in them. Her own heart had shattered and then been slowly remade after losing Arturo. Life ran through her, and her heart never stopped pumping. But it was a new life, a new heart, both fragile and strong, holy, whole, and incomplete. 

I kept in touch with Ene through the years, mainly through Facebook. It was my joy and privilege to give lots of friends crosses or hearts of her making. I was even able to host her at Church of the Ascension in Montgomery, one All Saints weekend. We had some time before she started her workshop so we rode around so she could see the traces of the Civil Rights in West Central Alabama. I took her picture as she walked down the Edmund Petus bridge in Selma and then we stood quietly for a while at the foot of the bridge. So many spirits walking with her.  Such thin space. We were both deeply affected in the sunlight that didn’t warm much because a north wind was blowing cold.

Day before yesterday over and over again, I thought of Ene and I told myself I’d track her down this weekend. This morning, I got a text message from T. who met Enedina at the Ascension. She wanted to let me know that on Tuesday, Enedina died of cancer. I am very sad. I am extraordinarily thankful for what Ene taught me about sorrow, grief and our capacity to grieve, love, care and give even in the face of terrible loss. 

I have started gathering a small handful of stones for my journey on the Camino. Some are about relationships that have been profoundly damaged. Those stones will be offered with prayers for healing that I cannot bring about on my own. I will carry one to offer with the deepest thanksgiving and joy for an extraordinary, beautiful, holy woman, and friend named Enedina

Day by Day

One morning as summer was just beginning, I had been working on my laptop for a while. I became aware I was having a harder time seeing the screen.  Immediately, I felt a pang of fear and shame. As a very, very young child who needed extensive, sometimes excruciatingly painful, medical care. You can read some of the details here. The results of that experience are: a life-long resistance to going to the doctor, a fear of needles and shots and an aversion to the smell of rubbing alcohol that was used liberally on open wounds when I developed bedsores during the years I spent in a full-length cast.

At any rate, here I was with some deterioration in my eyesight that I’d been ignoring. I am still not sure what prompted me to do this, but first, I put my hand over my glasses on my right eye and looked at the screen. I didn’t see the screen nearly as clearly as I should. Then I covered my left eye and it felt like the ground gave out under me. All I could see out my right eye was light and shadow; it was as if I was swimming in milk with my eyes open. I needed to find out what was going on.

I finally made it into the doctor in late June. It’s a cataract. One so thick the doctor could not see through it to the back of my eye when I got my eye exam. My other eye also has a cataract, but not nearly as bad. However, based on what he saw in my left eye, the doctor is pretty confident that once the cataract is removed, I’ll be able to see just fine. 

There is such a backlog of folks needing eye care that I won’t be evaluated for the cataract surgery until early in September. I have no sense of how long it will be after that before I get that cataract removed. It’s no fun having such limited vision right now. I’m not driving at night. I am super cautious even during the day when I drive and I’m doing some other things to make it easier on myself while I wait for the surgery.

As I keep poking around all the different places that have information about the Portuguese Camino, the pictures suggest there is some stunning beauty to behold on that pilgrimage. These nights, as I sweat through my workouts on the elliptical, increasing the amount of time I spend on that wretched machine, jacking up the incline level to prepare for hillside walking, I sometimes sing along to one of the pieces of my ‘oldies but goodies’ go-to music, Day by Day Godspell. With this impaired vision of mine, that song has a whole new meaning.  

Journey

This one was a very short journey—a little more than a half-hour drive. J & P, two remarkable men, got home from México a week ago with their new-born baby girl. Earlier this year, they were able to bring home their first child, a little boy with the bluest eyes. Both babies are thriving; the papas? Awfully sleep deprived! Trying to imagine what it’s like to have a 5-month-old and a 2-week-old, I’d prepared a meal of Colombian comfort food to run over to them. Then I remembered there was something else I’d been planning to take. 

First, the backstory. My mom had a very hard time with our decision to adopt Luz María. About 10 months into the adoption process, she made a comment about this child that was already my daughter in all but the legal formalities; her comment was crushing to me.  It left the two of us deeply estranged from each other. Fast forward a year, when the adoption process was almost complete. Unexpectedly, I got a call from an acquaintance from Colombia who had travelled to Miami. She told me she’d brought some things with her from Cali that my mom had sent so we made arrangements for me to pick them up the next day.

The gifts were not for me. They were for my girl. They were a set of the most beautiful little dresses imaginable, along with one little night gown. This was a peace offering, the way my mom knew how to express acceptance of my daughter, how to show her love for her own daughter.  

They were all gorgeous and one in particular stole my heart—a little yellow dress not unlike one I wore when I was a girl not much older than the child I would soon bring home to finish raising. That yellow dress was the only one I took with me to México twenty years ago, when it was finally time to receive María.  We arrived on a Sunday morning and went straight to the orphanage where she was staying. The staff had bought María a very cute outfit and I regret that on that day, I couldn’t wait to change her into the little yellow dress; I wish I had been better able to rejoice in how she came to me instead of being in such a hurry to impose my vision of who she would be. I can’t go back and change that moment and I want to believe I grew into being a more thoughtful and aware mom. Over and over again, that dress has still been a reminder of the joy of becoming a mom, of having a stunningly beautiful child, of feeling her slip her little hand in mine wherever we went. 

As María outgrew her abuelita’s dresses, they went into a special keepsake box I had for them. For years, I kept them carefully packed away, occasionally pulling the box down from the closet shelf to look at those lovely pieces of clothing and remember those early months as a parent. The day we placed her in her residential program when she turned 16 and needed more care than we could provide, I came back home, pulled those dresses out again, sobbed and raged at the injustice and the brokenness that had gutted the promise of providing our daughter a home to grow and thrive in until she was ready to have her own home.

Slowly—very slowly—I became aware that I was holding on to those dresses in a way that did them no honor. Even more slowly, I made my peace with the truth that these were not clothes a granddaughter might one day wear. Instead, one found its way to the UK, to María’s cousin. Once I had done that, it became a lot easier to send each of them to another little girl, and then another, until all I had left was the yellow dress. 

When J and P told me they were going to have a little girl who would be born in México through a surrogacy program for gay men, I knew little R would get this last dress. I got to bless these two men’s marriage. I have come to cherish them. My both beautiful and broken family is now part of so many different expressions of what it means to be a family, so many different efforts to provide for children in ways that are life giving. I am beyond thankful for that much broader vision and understanding of love and devotion. 

I’ll confess I cried again yesterday, as I ironed that little part of who my girl was and who I was twenty years ago. I allowed myself to abide in the realization that all journeys are about death and life, letting go and receiving so much more than I can earn, all those paradoxes inextricably bound together. After a lovely visit with this new little family, I came home to an empty house; my Spouseman is on a trip to Kentucky to see his daughter M. I immersed myself in an app I found for my phone that is a pilgrim’s guide to all the villages the Portuguese Coastal Camino goes through. One journey (or perhaps, one part of the journey) is complete.  Another beckons. 

Now

I don’t fight them and in fact, simply let them visit. But the parts of me that tend to be the most pessimistic and fearful pipe up from time to time these days, enumerating so many ways in which the pilgrimage to Santiago may not work. Soon enough those negative thoughts dissipate and there is such a sense that I am already walking. That now matters as much as the day I walk into the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

On Saturday, I officiated at a burial out in rural Alabama. Just the name, “Oak Bowery,” is so beautiful. A good part of the drive to get there was on country roads. We had had blistering heat for several days and as I got closer to the funeral home where the visitation was taking place, the rain started–welcome for the relief from the heat, challenging for a graveside service. That old cliche, “even the skies are grieving” seemed appropriate for a person who died too soon. However, I barely made it to the funeral home in time to join the funeral cortege. Because I was late, I ended up fairly far in the back of the line of cars following the hearse. The woman who died comes from a large family so even a small family graveside service meant about 25 or so cars slowly, carefully, driving in the rain.

Over and over again, on the opposite side of the road, cars had pulled over to the side, out of respect for the solemnity of that moment. Most of them had pulled off enough that if there was an emergency vehicle or someone in too much of a hurry that needed to get through, they could do so–probably the kind of thoughtfulness that does not require thought if you’ve lived out in that part of the country.

I kept wanting to stop and lean out the window, thank each stopped car for the respect they were showing, for acknowledging the hearse not only carried the precious remains of a beloved person, but had opened a thin, a liminal, space. Each person in the cars that had pulled over was surely reminded how even in life, we are always closer to death than we want to accept. Just as important, especially for those grieving intensely, all those cars that had stopped were a silent reminder that we carry our grief in community, that no matter how isolating sorrow can be, there are always other pilgrims walking along the way. That companionship matters.

Hoping to walk from Porto to Santiago de Compostela means so many different things, even now. I’ve buried a lot of folks in the past year; just since Easter, I’ve officiated at 4 funerals. After I got the news that B had died, I sat with the parish administrator who has also become a good friend, and said, “so, so many losses.” Her response took me by surprise. She said something like, “yes, but then that has to do in part with the fact that we are getting older, more deaths come with the territory.” I was startled–after all, I simply cannot fathom that I am already more than 60 years old. But she has a point.

Without wanting to be lugubrious or morbid, one thing the pilgrimage means to me is an opportunity to recognize that in this time of my life, I am walking towards my own death. It isn’t that I anticipate it any time soon, or want to obsess about my mortality. It is much more about the realization that there is hope and grace to be found in not running away from, nor denying my days will come to an end. I yearn to meet death with dignity, grace, to have lived so even the last days have space for joy and laughter in the absence of fear and regret.

It looks like there is a place on the Coastal Portuguese Route, where pilgrims who have gone before me have left stones engraved with a message, a word, a simple image. The most famous of these rock piles is on the French Route of the Camino, at the Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross). The tradition of putting down a stone on such a pile is ancient. It is a gesture of penance, of gratitude, of putting down a burden. You have to travel light for this journey and I am trying to think what small stone or stones I’d want to put down if there is a rock pile like there is at Cruz de Ferro on the French route. Perhaps it will be those two words, left behind to open more space for life.

That part of the road is far off still. Here today, there is now…

Oh God of Second Chances…

As we entered the rush before Christmas in 2019, I had less time and less inclination than before to write. After 8 years of blogging, I wasn’t sure anything I might write about was fresh or particularly meaningful. Then, as some friends, Sherod and I sat watching the 2020 Super Bowl, I got a call from a doctor from one of those “Doc in a Box” places. The day before, Sherod had taken my dad for help with some kind of pretty awful respiratory bug that was afflicting Dad. An x-ray of his lungs showed what looked like pneumonia. Now, on Sunday evening, the urgent care doctor who had examined him was calling to say a radiologist had reviewed the x-ray and was very certain the shadow in my dad’s right lung was not pneumonia but a rather large tumor. By the end of that week, we knew my dad had lung cancer. That marked the beginning of walking with my dad right up to the gates of heaven on August 26th of last year. On a blazing-hot summer morning as August became September, I picked up the container holding my dad’s ashes and carefully poured them into a small grave, dug in the memorial garden of the church I serve. Dust to dust. Ashes to ashes.

Six weeks after my dad got his diagnosis of lung cancer, on a Thursday morning, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama sent out an ‘all points’ notice that all churches were to shut down immediately in response to Covid-19. Fast-forward to October of 2020 and my siblings and I found ourselves following the path of conflict and brokenness previous generations of my family have walked as they sorted through estates and who gets what. It was devastating. Plenty else went on that made it harder and harder to find much more energy than needed to get through each day.

Although, Lord knows, there is plenty left to find our way through with the Delta variant of this damned virus, bits and pieces of goodness started weaving back together in my life in these last few months, making it easier to do less self-isolating. Then, in a totally unexpected and truly marvelous way, a new path began to open for me that beckons and calls daily. I have renamed this blog to reflect yet a another new chapter (I think the 3rd or 4th since 2011, when I started my blog).

There will be plenty more to say in the days and months ahead, I hope; but this is the very brief sketch: One of my best and oldest friends has just moved to Porto, Portugal. Out of curiosity, I began to poke around with Google to learn more about the second largest city in Portugal. As so often happens with Google, I stumbled on a blog by a woman who had written about the “Portuguese Coastal Caminho de Santiago” that begins in Porto. Wait. Whaaaatttt?

For years, I dreamed, planned, prayed to get to walk the French Camino de Santiago–a trail that you enter in the French Pyrenees and follow to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The time was never right and I could not imagine a time when I’d be both young enough and have enough time off to walk the entirety of that route in what in English we call “The Way of Saint James.” I finally accepted the reality that this was one dream I had to be willing to let go of and so I did. And then, here was this alternative route (and I didn’t even know there was such a thing!). The coastal version of the Portuguese route follows the Atlantic coastline of Portugal and a piece of Spain before heading inland to Santiago de Compostela. The length of the path is about 174 miles. Many people make the pilgrimage in under 15 days. I don’t imagine I can do it that quickly but the thing is–this actually is doable, even now. I have set the goal of walking the Camino in 2022.

I have been reading voraciously about this possibility. I found a list of “what to pack for the Coastal Route.” Because there is still a whole, whole, whole, lot that needs to come together, I had to fight back my impulse to buy the backpack that’s recommended, a lightweight sleeping bag, etc., etc. But I allowed myself to get one item. There are a series of ‘albergues’–basically, pilgrim hostels–all along the way. Most have communal bathrooms and it is recommended that the pilgrim have shower slippers for the relatively few showers she or he will get to have in communal showers along the way. I could get a pair for real cheap. I’ll certainly need something very different for the actual walking but it is not time yet to do more than this in terms of purchases and they are my reminder that even an audacious dream like this one is for me, requires a level of practicality and clarity about the essentials.

The slow, patient and careful preparations are part of the pilgrimage itself, I am finding. I wake up these mornings, thinking to myself, “Buen Camino.” This is the phrase exchanged by pilgrims and by those how encourage them on along the way. Literally it means “Good Way”–as in, have a good journey, or make the journey good. In its most literal sense though, there is the simple acknowledgment that the Way–the path itself, ‘the journey,’ is good. These days themselves are good too. In fact, very good.

Thanksgiving

María and Sherod, November 2019

We thought we were flying down to Fort Lauderdale to spend the day with our girl. Then our flights got all gnarled up so instead, on Tuesday we drove for 15 hours, with I-75 and then I-95 traffic slowing down to under 10 mph twice. The time we had yesterday and the time we’ll have today with María makes every second of that long, long road worthwhile.

Joy. Plain, simple, pure. My daughter makes gratitude as real as breathing in and breathing out. May there be much to give thanks for in your life this day…

Sixty

Out boating with the fam on the Alabama River

Tomorrow is my 60th birthday. I am not the first and I am not the last to say, “it just doesn’t seem possible.”

In the last year, life has changed more than I could have anticipated. I write a lot less these days. My energy is spent in the ways a new rector must use her time and love—doing the largely mundane, trudging work to keep the AC running, the sermons at least somewhat decent week after week, the ministries and Bible Study, parishioners who are sick and in need, all tended to. My days include time doing things like this: https://vimeo.com/365981751

On the home front, my dad is becoming more frail—as he approaches his 93rd birthday, that is to be expected. Maria seems to have stabilized, is more connected and usually, less delusional; she is in need of constant reassurance that she is loved by us, even when 2-3 months go by without our visits. Sometiemes she calls three or four times a day and I have to gently remind her I am at work. Sherod, and our marriage, are still alive and deserving of care and attention as well.

As I moved into my role as Priest-in-Charge and then Rector, at Holy Comforter, I realized how important it would be to have more support in place than I’d had before. I come from a family that in previous generations has had more than its fair share of alcoholism. I have turned to Al-Anon, which is a program for family and friends of people who are alcoholic, and is based on the 12 steps of AA.

As often as I can possibly manage it, I get to meetings at 6:30 AM, even when it means hauling a rather tired carcass out of bed and into Montgomery when everything in me hollers, “But I love my bed.” I find in the Al Anon rooms the combination of hope and accountability that pushes me to dig deeper, go further, and try to be braver, in living the life I believe God wants for me. There are days that leave me as raw as if someone had gone over me with sandpaper, and mostly, what I have found is an even greater capacity for joy. For that, I am grateful.

That joy is essential at a time when I see the whole world slipping deeper and deeper into darkness. I could go on and on about what is happening in our own country. But it is not just here. Guatemala. El Salvador. Honduras. Chile. Lebanon. Hong Kong. Ecuador. Great Britain. Syria. Myanmar and the ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas, China with its ‘re-education’ of its Muslim Uighur minority population. And Colombia, my beloved country of birth. It was scarcely three years ago that hope grew into a seedling of peace, when the main guerrilla group and the Colombian government signed a treaty to end the violence and put down the guns. The commitments that were made were going to require both sides to stretch into some real sacrifice. And in the end, the stretch was too much for too many so violence is accelerating again, into far too much death and suffering.

“Ay, mi tierra hermosa y adolorida” Oh my beautiful and aching land. It’s a lament for our whole world, this ‘fragile earth, our island home,’ for the country I call mine now, for the country that I came from. I will be sixty tomorrow and I believe I will see a great deal more darkness in the time left to me. My prayer today is that I will be able to keep finding joy because I still believe that each of us can be a light of kindness and generosity and courage even in the deepest darkness. And it all starts with joy.

This is the day our God has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Another Banquet

View from the Pacific Surfline train headed to LA
Union Station, Los Angeles
Len, Rosie and Sherod back in San Diego

It seemed like a wonderful plan. Sherod and I would leave from the ARAA reunion to catch a train at 8 in the morning that would take us to LA. There, we would get to spend about 4 hours with Len before coming back to San Diego. For a time, when we lived in Fort Lauderdale, Len and his now husband, David, were neighbors. We became very good friends and fell into an easy rhythm of going back and forth between our homes for Sunday supper. They live in LA where David is a highly regarded psychotherapist and Len is an artist. We have missed them since they left Fort Lauderdale in 2005 and though we wouldn’t get to see David, because he was out of town, we were simply thrilled to get to see Len.

We got to the station in San Diego about 20 minutes before the train was supposed to come through. At 8:04 (departure time), no train. Forty-five minutes later? Nothing. More time goes by, no train. And then some more. Now it’s starting to get dicey–we’re not going to get to spend hardly any time with Len because we have tickets to come back to San Diego at 3:00 pm. Do we go or do we stay? Go. It matters too much to get to see Len. Finally, 2 hours late, the train came in. The ride is lovely as long as the train goes along the shoreline, much duller once it curves into the ‘burbs of Orange County and LA.

We got to Union Station in LA, which is a magnificent building. We tried to use the Uber ap and at each and every step, it gave us problems and meantime, the time was ticking. We finally caught a cab but we barely had an hour to spend though Len had prepared the kind of vegetarian feast like he used to prepare when it was his and David’s turn to have us over in Fort Lauderdale. Finally, the Uber ap worked, the Uber car got there too fast, and before I felt like I could blink, we were back on the train, heading back to San Diego.

I rode back south with a huge knot in my throat. I have a hard time describing the friendship I have had with Len for so many years. Len is a brilliant artist and perhaps because of that, has a way of seeing the world and a way of being a friend that has made my life so much better, richer, more meaningful. My grandmother and mother both had their brokenness and issues and both also understood the place of beauty. Len does too, in ways even more profound than I had known before I met him. I still have the hand-me-down cutting board he gave me when he and David were moving west because it is the most perfect blue. Whenever I take it out to use, I smile. To have had to rush through lunch when we used to sit for hours around the table, talking, laughing, and breaking bread together was absurdly, heart-breakingly wrong. I kept telling myself, at least I got to see my friend. But it wasn’t enough.

We got back to San Diego, got settled in the Airbnb we’re staying in for the remainder of our time here and crashed early. This morning there was a text from Len and then a flurry of texts back and forth. Schedules were rearranged and Len, together with the two pug girls he got from a pug rescue organization in Korea, Rosie and Viola, drove down to hang out with us. The traffic he encountered was minimal and we ended up having this big, beautiful chunk of time together that just made my soul sing.

We ate at a lovely Lebanese restaurant close to Balboa Park, with the two dogs amusing us and laughter abounding. Then, Len, Viola, Rosie and I walked to Balboa. It was beautiful. Because the two sweet girls were with us, we couldn’t go into the museums we would have spent hours walking through under different circumstances. What Len did urge me to do was walk into the Botanical Building. It was like walking into my mother’s garden in Cali. It was so beautiful, and so alive, and so, both exotic, and so familiar, to this woman who is now every bit as much Alabama as Colombia, it left the kind of stillness of the soul that only comes with great joy.

We came back to our Airbnb, Len fed and walked his girls, allowed us to babysit them while he went for a run. A little more conversation and then it was time for him to head back to Los Angeles. Here’s what I see about the time we spent in Del Mar on Saturday, and in San Diego today: it’s about time. The kind of time that comes with shutting off phones, with letting time go where it will go, quickening and slowing down in ways that are so mysterious and open to the Spirit. The Spirit blows where it will and there’s a kind of time that only comes with trusting there is enough of it. And that’s at the heart of the matter, isn’t it? That we live as if there is not enough time, though we really, we don’t have to live like that, at least not all the time.