Nature does not hurry

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
~Lao Tzu

I am trying to take this to heart. But I am often in a hurry, or worried about something.

Today I woke at 5:30 a.m., worried about my Dad. His divorce from my stepmom just became final. Starting on Monday, he’ll be living by himself for two months in my mom’s home in Maryland. In the winter.

He’s 78, had a hip replacement recently, and while he also recently went on a fitness kick and lost about 12 pounds, he’s just not as steady on his feet as he used to be. And the fact is, accidents happen to all of us. I recently smashed my finger in the kitchen. It really hurt, but I shook it off because I needed to finish making avgolemono (a Greek egg and lemon soup) for dinner for Dad and me. I finished the soup, and called my husband, who was away on business. He said my finger would be fine, or “would dry up and fall off” (his mother’s favorite expression).

Long story short, after two Emergency Room visits – both ordered by my doctor – and 10 days of an antibiotic strong enough to kill MRSA (which my doctor says I may have had), I’m healthy again and am typing with my left index finger for the first time in weeks.

Even young, healthy people can have medical emergencies. So I started a two-fold quest at 5:30 this morning: Somehow, get Dad to wear a medical ID bracelet. I would wear one too, so he wouldn’t be the only one in the family to need one. Ideally, he’ll also agree to wear a medical alert pendant or wristband.

The worry, research and calls ate up three hours of my so-called “retreat” today. It was very productive time, but not what I’d intended to be doing.

A Hike with The Herd
7:40 a.m. My computer’s clock said it was five minutes before morning prayer was to begin, but when I walked down the hall I heard singing, peeked in the cracked door to the chapel and saw that the nuns had already started. Maybe it’s OK to walk in late, but I wasn’t sure. I’ll ask later.

I grabbed my hiking boots and went outside. The air was crisp, cool and clean – welcome to the suburbs! 🙂 Not at all like the city air where I live, which is close to both Interstate 75 and polluting industries on Cincinnati’s West Side.

On the trails this morning, I was hoping to see my favorite deer again, a young six-point buck (with enough antler growth that he’ll soon be an eight-pointer). I first saw him while at evening prayer on day one. Sitting inside the chapel, I looked outside and saw the buck reaching up, up, up with a long neck, extending his tongue and eagerly lapping bird seed from the feeder outside our windows. The nuns laughed and encouraged me and another visitor to take pictures.

Yesterday, the same buck crossed my path on a morning trail run, with one of his does. I stopped running about 20 feet away from them. The buck stared me down, calm and confident. The doe, who was standing on the trail facing me, stomped her hoof in warning.

I stayed still for a few minutes, thinking it best to give the buck some space. Then I stepped forward, slowly. The doe turned first, lifting her fluffy white-tail flag of warning high, bounding in six-foot leaps. The buck followed.

I walked further up the trail until I came across a third deer. This doe was only about 10 feet away when I stopped. She looked smaller, younger and more curious than the rest. She stared at me, flicking one ear.

The trail would take me past her while maintaining our 10-foot distance. After a few minutes, I walked on. She had lowered her head to graze, and raised it only as I walked past.

Cincinnati’s Silent Flyers
Today I explored more of the many-branched trails surrounding the monastery. Yesterday, I made mental maps of most of the nearby trails, including one that leads to a small park, where I’ve asked my husband Philip to meet me for a brief visit and hike with the dogs tomorrow.

This morning I explored a different trail, one that led me over two large hills to a landing field for Cincinnati Silent Fliers – a model plane club. As I came over a ridge and saw a yellow wind sock in the distance, I noticed a man had parked his truck and was doing something in the field.

I don’t like running into strange men in empty fields – or any other time I’m alone. Walking behind some tall winter grasses for cover, I circled the field to avoid him. By the time I had walked all the way around, he was gone.

Sun Salutations for Mary
On the way back, I explored more new trails and lost my way. At first, I was nervous. But I kept an eye on a landmark row of single-story houses, far away but visible in the distance through the dense but leafless winter woods.

I found my way, and headed for a trail I’d found yesterday that leads over a hillside in front of the monastery and down to a small creek, across a stone bridge, and up stone steps to the grounds of Saint Francis Seminary.

IMG_20160106_090117566On the grounds there are several statues of Mary and St. Francis, along with a small garden. My favorite spot to stop, pray and do my morning sun salutations is in front of a small, shallow grotto that shelters a weathered metal statue of Mary, along with another of a small child bowing before her. Sun- and wind-worn artificial flowers adorn Mary and the child. I stop here because I love Mary’s face, and wish I knew the name of the artist who rendered her.

Today I prayed. For Dad, for safety and happiness during his two-month winter stay on his own in Maryland. I prayed for my sister and brother-in-law. I prayed for my brother-in-law’s aunt, who lost her adult son just days before Christmas.

I also prayed for love, peace and happiness for all who seek it. A tall order, but worth praying for and working toward daily. I’ll do my part toward love, peace and happiness in my own life by spending the rest of my retreat focused on what I came here to do: write, meditate and pray.


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