Friday, December 31, 2010

The Valley of the Inconquerables

So, as you’ve learned by now, Torre Pellice is the cultural capital of the Waldensian Valley, rich with the history of Protestantism in Europe. It is also the spiritual capital of the Waldensians—the Valley of the Inconquerables as they are also known.

After church, Matthew took us to its spiritual heart: leading us through the center of town to via Beckwith, the Waldensian quarter, with several historic buildings: the New Temple, built in 1852, and Casa Valdese (Waldensian House), where each year the Synod, most important body in the government of the Church, meets.

The buildings are different architecturally from the typical Italian structures here in the valley, quite beautiful and orderly in line and form, and well-kept. Trees line the road, and persimmon trees dot the lawns. (And by the way, my first experience with a persimmon on this trip was not a happy one!)

Across the street, there is an athletic field, where the team has hosted sports events. Next to that is the Waldensian Cultural Center, with the Waldensian Museum, founded in 1889; it houses fine art and archaeological collections, with a modern art section, a library of 100,000 books, and photographic archives. The center also carries out cultural and publishing activities, and we hope to exhibit here one day.

This historical neighborhood covers the entire history of the Waldensians, from the Middle Ages through to today (we didn’t stop to see it all).

We are walking, and talking of course. So many questions…so many challenges…each of us with different ones, grilling the OM Italy team, as they are us. The Tellos have to raise funds, pack up their lives and move over. How will they handle culture and language learning? The Carsons have a baby on the way. Can they move over to Italy for any length of time? Can I?! I have funding issues, stamina issues, and wonder if I can handle the rigors of this training session.

We are ready in principle, but still counting the cost…the pile of work before us, and the lack of resources. Can Westerners, more used to comfort and convenience, sacrifice all—family, comfort, possibly life itself—to replicate what the Waldensians did—bring the light of the gospel to a post-modern Europe?

By the time we meander back over to Jill and Anna’s, after another obligatory stop for coffee, we still don’t know, but still ready to give it a try! It would be easy to think of the impossibilities, but I shake off the pressing concerns, ask God what my part is here, and sit down for dinner.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sunday--Part 1

Today we will meet the Torre Pellice church. Mat and I will be sharing briefly. In true Italian fashion, we arrive about the time church is to start, and go for a cup of coffee. By the time we return about 20 min. later, the church has still not started! Love it.

One of the leaders opens with Eph. 1:17-22, my signature passage to talk about the “eyes of the heart” being opened. Mat turns to me excitedly—“That ties in exactly with what I want to say!” “Me too!” I respond. Nerves die down a little as we anticipate what God has in store for us and the church.

I share what my experience in this valley has meant, what God has impressed upon me. I spot David in the back row, attentive; Matthew a few rows forward, craning his neck to hear, the Italians nodding their heads, calling out the occasional English word as my conscripted translator, assigned at the last minute, struggles. I must be patient, as I have no idea how accurate she is being; another opportunity to trust God to communicate through her what he wants.

I am determined to express some measure of the passion and vision I sense God has not only for this area, for his martyrs, but for the present, in this valley. I close with a prayer from Henri Nouwen, and a verse from Isaiah:

“…God is the God of Life, in whom no death can be found…touch our death-oriented world and call forth new life. Bring life, joy and a new vitality to those who are walking in the shadow of death…Do not let your people be conquered by the dark forces of death, but let your life-giving power enter their bodies, hearts and minds and let them recognize you as the son of the Living God.”

“The mighty man will become tinder and his work a spark; both will burn together, with no one to quench the fire.”—Isaiah1:31

Mat’s up next, and shares his heart. The congregation is so receptive. Communion follows, while Jill nails us again with a fantastic rendition of Silent Night in two languages. The sermon follows. Fun to hear a blast of Italian, interrupted by the occasional question to us in French—“Vous comprenez? Do you understand?” I missed a lot, but got the gist, and am thrilled that in this valley, so many speak French. I get to share with a number of people, in French or English, after the service.

And then we’re off to lunch at Jill and Anna’s, but first, a detour…

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Enter the Dancers!

Last summer, DanceLink came to Forterocca and danced there and in Torino. They danced in the “Gates of Hell” piazza before its famous statue, turning their backs to it and “clearing the birds” (see Matt. 13:1-4, 18). (You can read about that adventure here.

In OM Arts, we like to follow King Jehoshaphat's example and send in the dancers for some praise and worship to 'clear the birds,' so other ministry can follow more effectively. See 2 Chron. 20.) So, following in Jehoshaphat's and DanceLink's footsteps, we went into Torino on Saturday to see the city, get a feel for the spiritual landscape there, and pray.

We started in the market—the world’s largest—where all the nations are represented, but primarily the two-thirds world. One can sense the darkness. Vendors are more like bonded slaves, coming to the city for work, soon forced to work to pay impossible goals. You can imagine the prostitution and sex trafficking. We pray on one corner, peeling tangerines.

Next we walk up to one of the ancient gates of the city, near the cathedral where the Shroud of Turin is displayed. Though no one will authenticate this relic, it persists as a lucrative money-maker. We pray outside the church, for the youth of the city, that they will not fall prey to the many prevailing ideologies of the city. Matthew then leads us to the National Museum of Cinema, to see its majestic architecture, pray for the media in Italy, and use its conveniently free toilets. We don’t have time to take the panoramic elevator up its 75 meters in 59 seconds, so I’ll just have to return to get that view—360 degrees worth! It is well after noon now, and the energy from those little tangerines has been used up for some time: we have been walking for two hours. Jill and Anna peel off to scope out our restaurant. We catch up with them near the student university area, and Iz fills me in on the bonded slavery here, where there are mostly Indian merchants selling scarves and jewelry. Blocks and blocks of scarves and jewelry…do we buy anything and help them earn a little money, or boycott the slave trade? No easy answers in a complex world.

We find our restaurant and cram our hungry selves into its tiny space. While munching on panini, pizza and kebabs, Anna call us to come outside for an ‘event’: a group of Pakistani men are lined up face to face in two rows in the middle of the street, chanting and dramatically beating their chests. We watch in fascination and prayer for several minutes, before it calms down, and they begin inching down the street, still chanting and beating themselves.

We follow them to within site of the satanic ‘cathedral’ but that is not our destination. We’re on our way to the “Gates of Hell.” Along the way, we are shown ‘access points’—a bit larger than manhole covers—to the underground world. Architecture is set up along occult Masonic lines. It is sobering to think about, but gives me great pleasure to know I am stomping under my heels the enemy whose head was crushed 2000 years ago.

We walk for another hour up the street, stopping for gelato, bathrooms, and/or coffee at two bars, making our way past shops, merchants, Christmas street vendors and monuments. The windows are beautifully decorated for the holidays. In spite of the prevalence of evil, this is a beautiful city, reminding more of a walk up a Paris boulevard than an Italian city. It even feels New York-ish, with its cosmopolitan pace and winter cold.

Finally we arrive at “The Gates of Hell” and collapse on park benches. We begin to pray. Jill suddenly marches away from us, turns her back on the evil-looking statue, and drawing herself up to her full 6’+ height (how tall are you anyway, Jill?!), begins to belt out “Joy to the World.” Wow! Way to go, Jill! We all join in, and I imagine the dark underworld squirming under our feet. Not even the police will go underground; they tolerate the darkness with the agreement that it will not be tolerated if it comes above ground. As if Evil would be so obedient… After more prayer, photos, and some banter with kids spitting water from the water fountain as far as they can, we head back to the van. We have been prayerwalking for several hours. The ride home is alternately quiet and talkative, front seat and back, with naps and contemplation, interrupted by the occasional Christmas carol.

And bed never felt so good…

Another Kind of History

Remember from last post when I wrote that Torino’s openness to exiles and liberals was key to understanding another aspect of this city? From our notebook of Italian history:

“Many feel that Torino contains important spiritual points for both ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ It is believed that underneath the Piazza Statuto, one of Torino’s main squares, lies the 'Gate to Hell.'

Piazzo Statuto also supposedly forms a point in a triangle of evil magic that stretches from Torino, to London, and to Los Angeles. Surrounded by a history of death and burials, this area is a key point in the satanic lore surrounding Torino…

“Satanism and mysticism perhaps have such a strong pull in this city because of its high concentration of varied religions...when the Catholic Church was persecuting and exiling those with different beliefs, Torino opened its doors as a haven for all religions. Anyone from Jews to Muslims came to this city, causing the Church to consider it a place of cults. This reputation built until it almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once marked as an area with a high concentration of cultish actions, people then started to form ideas about Torino and began actually performing acts suitable for cults.”

“The Gates of Hell” was the scene of the guillotine during French occupation, the scene of crucifixions and a large cemetery. It is an entry point into a dark underworld, literally an underground city where occult practioners are allowed to do whatever they want, as long as they don’t bring it up above ground. In the world of black magic, it is the apex of a triangle connecting three major cities—satanic ‘lay lines’ as they are called—but we won’t go there.

This is more than I want to know. I only want to know what I have to, and then I want to pray. And I write these things to you because Torino needs all the prayer it can get!!! Satan is a defeated foe, but boy does he have many ensnared in his darkness. I invite you into the prayer army that is needed until this city moves from darkness to light.

“May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him.”—Psalm 68

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas & Torino

When we last left off, interrupted by the whirl and swirl of Christmas, I was digesting with you the mega-vision put before us by David & Co. It was lovely to leave off thinking about martyrdom for a few days, and celebrate the ONE for whom the Waldensians accepted death.

Back to another challenge: the city of Turin (Torino in Italian), melting pot of cultures, religions and ethnic groups. Home of the Shroud of Turin, and one of the largest satanic churches in the world. Up for it?

Some history first (courtesy of OM Italy!): “The first known human settlements in Torino are believed to have been established around 200 BC by tribes of Celtic origins. These early settlers remained in Torino for about 200 years, until the expansion of the Roman Empire northwards forced them to move further north into Western Europe around the first century. Torino remained a Roman controlled settlement for several hundred years until the eventual collapse of the Western Roman Empire, precipitated largely by the invasion of the Visigoths, who, in addition to the Franks, took control of Tornio at various points in its history. The city of Torino fell into obscurity.”

The Savoy family conquered the city in the year 1280, and the city began to rise in prominence. The Shroud of Turin arrived on the scene somewhere in the 1500’s, during the reign of a Duke of the Savoy family, a defender of Catholicism. The Savoy family was also credited with bringing art, culture and architecture to Torino; the layout and architecture of the city is surprisingly “French” and is often compared to Paris.

The main branch of the Savoy family line died out, and the throne passed to another branch, whose king, in 1848, conceded to religious freedom. During the reign of his son, Torino became the destination of many Italian exiles and liberals. (You’ll see why this is important next post.)

“Torino was one of the first cities in Italy to develop during the industrial revolution and it maintained is position at the forefront of Italian industry throughout the 20th C. It was among the first Italian cities to partake in the unification of Italy and was even designated as the capital of Italy for a time. The existence of the giant Fiat motor car factories in Torino brought about thousands of jobs and led to mass migration of Italian laborers from the South of the country. Today, Torino is considered to be Italy’s second city after Milan in terms of finance and industry.”

So, now you know more than you ever cared to about Torino, right? Nope, just getting warmed up…to be continued…

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Climbing, Counting, Contemplating...

For 700 years, the Waldensians lived in hiding, under persecution. They became known as the “Inconquerables”—though thousands were martyred, they remaining dedicated to the Scriptures, traveling out from the Pellice Valley into the cities of Italy and beyond to tell others about the truth of God’s word. A community of Waldensians continues worldwide to this day. Torre Pellici, where OM Italy has its offices, is the worldwide headquarters for the Waldensians.

Each afternoon, after having climbed about the Waldensian sites, we returned to Forterocca to drink coffee and begin our meetings. Sobered by the history of the valley, we were beginning to catch the vision OM Italy has for Forterocca. And in case we didn’t get it, the OM Italy team brought out one of their secret weapons: David.

You might remember David from one of my earlier posts; he had given us our first tour of Forterocca. We didn’t see much of David, as he was on vacation, but he showed up that Friday afternoon, after we had had a chance to soak up the history of the area, after we had worked through some logistical details about a training program, and after we had talked out team dynamics. Then David gave us the vision--eloquently. A former professional athlete, David has been inspired by the history of the valley. Here was a man who was the incarnation of a Waldensian man.

The Waldensians picked their best and their brightest to read, study and memorize the Scriptures, before going out to the continent to bring the Gospel. Could we find artists with the same passion and commitment? Ready to follow in the footsteps of the martyrs who carried God’s word out from this valley, even if it cost them everything?

The Waldensians studied for two years, at great cost and personal sacrifice, in the face of death and at the risk of martyrdom; could we find interns who would come at some financial cost, but negligible risk, to a very nice facility, for 90 days?

A mixed group, male and female, Western and non-Western? Would we raise an additional $10,000 to ensure scholarships for the non-Western participants who might not have the means to come?

Would we recruit a pastoral care couple to shepherd the group, as well as facilitators and guest lecturers?

What was our commitment as OM Arts?

Were we going to run a simple training program, head knowledge transmitted (maybe) to a bunch of spoiled Westerners, or would we be willing to live with these interns for 90 days, and share our very lives?

In return, David promised to “rip our legs out to make this work for you, but we've only got two."

Well, don’t mince words, David!!!

Three hours later, we emerged from our huddle, David’s challenges ringing in our ears, and went to dinner. I hardly knew how to respond when someone asked, “So, what do you think!?” “I don’t know,” I answered. “I think my life’s just been changed…again…”

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:18)

I was far from even understanding the cost, never mind counting it.

“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” (vs. 33)

When I look at what the Waldensians gave up, and what I would give up, I feel like an infant disciple. All I can do is count and pray, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening…”

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cave Crawling

We headed back to the van, to drive over stunning mountainside roads to the caves. Forbidden to worship, or even listen to worship, the Waldensians met in caves to do so. We walked, then climbed down a mountain side, imagining the congregation walking along this same path, ever vigilant for the armies sent to annihilate them. The men would have stood on guard outside a cave’s entrance, while the women and children worshiped inside

After a short walk, Iz pointed her flashlight into a little hole in the side of a rock, site of a Waldensian cave church. In we went—stooping, bending, and finally climbing on all fours to get under an overhanging rock. We stood up in a cramped, dank space between huge boulders, a beam of light illuminating the space from overhead. This cave, no doubt chosen for that beam of light, by which the preacher could read the Scriptures, proved fatal: armies found the Waldnesians worshiping, sealed off the entrance, and threw burning logs down the hole. The congregation died of suffocation.

Babies, Belltowers & Higher Altitudes

Slip sliding our way back down the mountain, we stopped at the church we had passed on the way up. This church, which overlooks the church in the photo, is more rightly called a temple—the Waldensians dogmatically held that the church is the people; the buildings they met in were therefore called temples.
In front of the church…um, temple…there is a fountain, with a large Huguenot cross attached. Babies were placed on this cross and dipped in the fountain—surely a chilly experience…

In contrast to the dark and ornate Catholic churches, the Waldensian temples were typically very simple and light-filled. In the time this one was built, it was forbidden to build any structure higher than the Catholic church. The Waldensians, thumbing their noses at this restriction, built their temple squarely and defiantly on top of a cliff overlooking the Catholic church.

The Catholic Church, not to be outdone, measured their bell tower, and then the Waldensians’ bell tower. Since the Waldensians’ was lower than the Catholic Church’s, the structure was allowed to stand. And, because the Waldensians were forbidden to live below a certain altitude (the law confined them to the higher ones, presumably to kill them off by cold and famine), the church could remain. And so, to this day, a community of Waldensian believers worships in this temple, on this mountain.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Il Colegio

On Friday, we were given a tour of a number of local Waldensian sites. First stop: the training center in the mountains.

Driving up a mountain road, we arrived at a parking area overlooking a bridge which spanned a cascading mountain stream. We walked up to a church, over a little stone bridge, up a stone path—up and up until my sea-level-loving lungs were ready to burst! Leg muscles more likely to hold a laptop than a mountain path strained to grip the rocky path. Snow lay about us in patches—good for traction, but adding to the sport of trying to stay vertical!

The training center--Il Colegio--is actually a set of stone structures hanging on the side of this mountain, at I don’t know what elevation, but HIGH!!! We stared out at the beauty of the snow-covered mountains, then enter the ‘study’—a small room, with a table in the middle, with a row of crude low benches around its perimeter. This is where the finest of the Waldensian men were handpicked and trained in the Scriptures before being sent out two years later, to bring the gospel into Europe. They were not expected to (nor did many) return.

Next door was the kitchen, an even smaller room, with a rack of dishes and a small table. Next to that, a stable, and then a dormitory room. Think small, cramped, dank, low-ceilinged, and dark. This is where the men lived, ate, slept, and studied for two years. They would have had to bring the stones from the mountains here to build these structures, and eke out a living from this mountainside refuge. The structures looked somewhat Celtic to me, and I wondered about the Irish-Italian connection. If you read “How the Irish Saved Civilization” (Thomas Cahill), you would have read how Columbanus, exiled from both Ireland and France, determined to go to the plain of Lombardy in Italy, and built the first Italo-Irish monastery there at Bobbio, in about 612. Did the Waldensians, 500 years later, build or rebuild on this same site?!

We spent a bit of time here, contemplating the past, imagining the men constantly on guard for their lives from lack of food or armies sent to kill them, almost able to hear their voices, and shivering in the cold they would have experienced. At the foot of these mountains stands a new training center, ready to train the next army of disciples; we envisioned bringing our interns here to find their own place in history. And then we made our descent.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Waldensian Teachings

“In 1179, Peter Waldo asked his archbishop for permission to be recognized as a separate and approved movement and asked for permission to be organized as a preaching fraternity. The request was passed on to the pope, Alexander III, who refused the request. The group appealed to the Third Lateran Council in 1179, but this Council also refused their request.

“Convinced that they were only doing that which was Biblical, they continued to preach anyway, and thus incurred the wrath of the church which excommunicated them at the Council of Verona in 1184.

“What is particularly interesting about the Waldensians is their views. I doubt whether any group of people in all Europe, prior to the Reformation, understood the truths of Scripture so clearly as these poor people. Philip Schaff even calls them, ‘the strictly biblical sect of the Middle Ages.’ It is almost impossible to imagine how these simple folk could have come to such excellent knowledge of the truth in the times in which they lived. They were the lowly, the uneducated; …forerunners of the Reformation…when the Calvin Reformation dawned, most of them were quick to join it; it was as if the Calvin Reformation was exactly what they had been waiting for all these centuries. Only the fact that God preserves His church can adequately explain their existence.

“At the beginning of the movement the Waldensians did not depart from Roman Catholic teachings. They did not reject the authority of the pope, the entire sacramental system of Roman Catholicism, nor the church itself as the mother of believers. They were, in fact, very much like a religious order. They demanded vows of poverty, chastity and obedience for full membership and insisted on a novitiate before allowing adherents to become full members.

“But from the outset their main emphasis was on preaching. It was preaching that got them into trouble with the church, for they preached without permission. But they continued even in the face of excommunication because they were convinced that preaching is decisive for salvation…

“It really ought not to surprise us, in the light of the times, that the Waldensians even went too far with their idea of preaching. They were opposed to Roman Catholic clericalism, and soon came to see the importance of what Luther later called the office of all believers. With their emphasis on the office of all believers, and failing to distinguish between the special offices in the church and the general office of believers, they gave to the laity, including women, the right to preach. All God's people were preachers, and they were preachers not by virtue of ordination, but by virtue of a Godly and spiritual life which manifested that they were believers.

“One benefit of this erroneous viewpoint, however, was the fact that they saw the need for all God's people to possess the Scriptures. And so they translated the Scriptures into the vernacular, and even insisted on the final and absolute authority of the Scriptures for life, doctrine and preaching. Preaching had to be exposition of God's Word.

“After persecution and excommunication, their views developed. They saw inconsistencies with the position they had taken and the other teachings of Rome. And so, bit by bit, they rejected the oath, purgatory, prayers for the dead, the mass, and transubstantiation.”


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Waldensians

Forterocca sits at the foot of the Italian Alps. Eight miles to our left is the French border. Directly behind the facility, wedged between some of the mountains, stands a very pointy sort of—well, either a mountain or rock, I can’t quite say, but it is quite distinct. To the right of that pointy rock/mountain, there is a cliff, which requires an hour and a half to hike up to. And to this cliff, the Waldensians were marched, and from this cliff, Waldensians were pushed to their death—in such numbers, that the river below ran red. Who were these Waldensians, and why were they pushed to their deaths?

“Although there is some dispute over the origin of the Waldensians, most historians consider Peter Waldo, after whom they were named, to be the founder of the movement.

“Although almost nothing is known of Peter's early life, it is known that he was the son of a rich merchant in Lyons, France, and that he inherited his father's wealth. No one knows the date of his birth, but his death was in 1218; which puts him very early in the Middle Ages, a child of the Twelfth Century.

“Troubled by his wealth, the fact that it had been increased through usury, and the obvious worldliness of his life, Peter asked his priest concerning the best way to God. He was told, as was common in those days, that the way to God was to sell all that he had, give to the poor, and follow Christ.

“Peter did not hesitate to follow what to him was a clear command of his Lord. Because he was married, he provided sufficient money for his wife; he placed his daughters in a convent to be cared for there; he paid back all those from whom he had taken usury; and he gave everything else he owned to the poor.

“Peter Waldo gathered about him a small group of men who began to translate the Scriptures into the vernacular and began to assume the responsibilities of preaching. They were known by different names: The Brethren in Christ; The Poor in Christ; The Poor in Spirit; but finally became known by the name of their founder, Peter Waldo. They lived lives of total poverty and dedication to God.”


In the first picture, taken by David Wheeler, you can see the "Rock" described above. In the second picture, although you can't really see it, you can get an idea of where it is in relation to Forterocca: directly behind the property, behind the tree; nestled between the mountains, you might be able to make out the point top of the Rock, and the cliff to the right.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


The Milano airport is…well, green. Italian green. In-your-face green. But pretty straightforward, uncrowded and a breeze to pass through with only carry-on luggage. The customs cops return our quizzical looks with epic indifference. Out the doors we go.

Jill finds our jetlagged bodies, and leads us through the parking lot to Giorgio, a teal-blue van we climb into, finding a goodie breakfast box some angel of hospitality has put together for us (although I am feeling quite overfed from my Business Elite meals). We drive off into a day of brilliant sunshine, towards the snow-capped Piedmont mountains in the distance.

Despite jetlag, our talking marathon begins…introductions, personal histories, background for our visit here (we have two guests with us, a couple considering full time service with OM Arts, interested in Italy), hopes, expectations, questions...

Three hours later, passing Turin, we arrive in the valley of the Pellice River. The road winds past cows, sheep and the villages of Torre Pellice, Val Pellice, and finally Bobbio Pellice, our destination. Soon we are standing before an imposing building, a former army barracks, painted a bright Italian ochre: Forterocca (literally Strong Rock; the name is taken from Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”). Here we will spend the next four days.

Iz Holidae meets us behind the reception desk, with a bright smile and a few instructions as she hands us our room keys. We are free till four; time for a quick nap, to settle in a bit, and take a picture or two.

At four, after coffee and cake, we meet David, who takes us on a tour of the facility and the property, giving us some of the history of the area, the site we’re standing on, and why this place is important. Already I feel vision coming on. This place is soooo significant, for many reasons, and I'll be writing about them over the next few blogs.

Buddy Pass

With apologies for not writing from the road, let me just say I didn't have a nanosecond!!! So backing up to the takeoff, let me catch up now that I'm back, with a highly self-indulgent post!

Delta Business Class Elite. I am escorted to my seat, handed a menu, a warm washcloth, and a little white dish of warm nuts. A tray of glasses, filled with orange juice or champagne, follows; what would I like to drink?

I sip a glass of Casillero del Diablo Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon…Puente Alto Vineyard, Chile, 2008. “One of Chile’s famous Cabernets, named for the famed ‘Devil’s Cellar’—the private collection of one of the founding fathers of Chilean wine, Don Melchor. This one Bordeaux-like, with dusty cedar and lead pencil scents and dark cassis fruit on the palate.”

I’m not sure I noted the ‘lead pencil scents’…

Delta’s Master Sommelier writes on today’s wines: “I’ve chosen a mix of classical and cutting-edge selections so you have some fun choices, all of them excellent. We tested every wine in-flight to make sure it tastes just as good at altitude as on the ground. Enjoy!”

I sip while perusing the menu: salmon française or filet of beef? Lasagna Pasta Bites or Roasted Beef and Gravlax? I don’t even know what gravlax is.

I opt for the Filet of Beef, with grain mustard sauce, sweet potato wedges, zucchini and yellow squash. But first, the appetizer: shrimp with lemon grass and marinated hearts of palm, with roasted beets and blue cheese.

This is my second time in business class, and I love the irony of saving money with a buddy pass, in order to get treated luxuriously. I marvel at the fact that I, flat broke, get to indulge in such luxuries. I have not put a knife to my throat, as the Scriptures advise, but totally appreciate this first class meal, in Business Elite. What a pleasant way to begin a journey. And what a contrast it will prove to be, once I am in Italy.

Mat is sitting next to me, and comments, “It seems positively vulgar now to think of watching a movie.” Our quality of life has been raised beyond the banality of airplane movies by the fine dining. Mat turns to reading, I to poetry...until we both nod off for our brief airplane doze that will pass for a night’s sleep. In a few hours, the adventure begins…

Buddy pass, I love you!!!

And since I didn't have the wits to get a photo of the decadence, here is one of a far more simple, but simply wonderful, treat in Italy: the winter tangerines...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

We interrupt this sketchbook...

to bring you important news about an upcoming trip to Italy!

Yes, fans, I'm on the road to Italy again, in about 24 hours...carbing up for travel with pasta to get in the mode/mood...

This is going to be a think tank/brainstorm: can we pull off a major training initiative in Fall 2011, or are we nuts?! Maybe both...but hopefully we'll figure it all out over the four days I'm there, and I'll know more next week.

We are going into Waldensian territory, about which I know very little, and so imagine I will be learning a lot! After flying into Milan, we (I'm flying in with 3 others) will be picked up and taken to Torre Pellici, Piemonte, at the foot of the Alps in northern Italy. We'll begin our brainstorm that evening.

The facility we're staying in is called "Forterocca" and you can find some neat info and pix about it here:

But the sketchbook is packed, and I'll be working on it, other sketches, photos and who knows what...and mostly just trying to learn what God might be saying to us all for Forterocca.

Until the next time...prayers please!!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fonts, Fruit & Pan Pastels

Ever see the movie ‘Helvetica?’ Yep, it’s all about the font.

There was a time when we didn’t even know what fonts were. Now I have a vocabulary of font names, as I’m sure you do. I download fonts. I sketch them in sketchbooks. Somehow this is pleasing to me. Whatever. For the moment it’s about the only thing I am finding on napkins….so until something else appears, fonts it is…fonts and fruit...with a touch of commentary. The Air Tran one is positively tacky, but at least it had a touch of color. Tried the new pan pastels on that one - and recommend them - neat new product. I love the minimalism of "Paul" and "Meert"--two napkins that came all the way from France to join the party.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Things Found on Napkins

This theme is harder than I expected. Did you ever stop to notice how few things are actually found on napkins, unless put there by humankind? I even looked for those little gems of profundity scribbled on napkins…solicited and even set up some stations to elicit poetry, cartoons, maps, whatever!!! Let the imagination soar! Results? Nothing! Nada! Zip!

Is our creativity so destroyed? Has the economic crash obliterated fantastic graphic design on napkins? Are we so busy that we are subconsciously waving a white flag of surrender: the totally undecorated white napkin!? Or is it the last bastion of white space?

I’m a little disturbed by this. Almost as disturbed as I was when I found us decorating toilet paper. Toilet paper? Who needs to decorate that, I clearly remember thinking. But yes, I agreed. Such is the need for the human spirit to express itself, that we even leave our imprint on our toilet paper.

So the fact that we’re not expressing ourselves on napkins anymore seems ominous to me, a portent. Historians may describe this cultural phenomenon as the beginning of the end. A subtle shift in the Zeitgeist. Just remember you read about it here first.

But I digress. This is only a sketchbook project, after all. I must return to the task at hand, cultural collapse notwithstanding…

Ok, so what can I make out of my own napkin collection? A few quasi-poems written in ballpoint pen, with a date. The occasional quote from a book I was reading on a plane, with an ad for Coca-Cola. And a Starbucks one, with an idea from a friend for an art project. I am underwhelmed.

Ahhh…but look what I found in Italy!!!! Now here are some graphics to sink one’s creative juices into…

After abortive attempts at printing them on various image transfer papers, I give up and start drawing the napkins themselves. Or at least their graphics.. A sketchbook is for sketching, after all, right? (She affirms with an intuitive grasp of the obvious.) Sketching it will be…how’s this for napkin sketches?!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Intimate Life of Sketchbooks & Coffee Houses

Trying out a bunch of different types of image transfer papers: Jacquard Silk Inkjet Printing Paper, Lazertran Inkjet Waterslide Decal Paper, and Tailor Computer Printer Fabric…printing a few images of napkins and café scenes on the three types of paper, trying placement, size and texture, and then trying different color tones: sepia, faded, green… deciding I don’t like anything!!!

At least, not for the sketchbook. At least not yet. Way too heavy for this thin paper. But this early in the process, who knows...anything is possible….

I do love the coppery-toned pictures taken at Café Intermezzo here in Atlanta, my favorite. Actually, I think my whole sketchbook is inspired by this café, which in turn took its inspiration from café life in Austria and Germany. Check it out:

“Your visit to your café isn’t simply a benefit, a treat, a perk…it’s an absolute necessity for your life to move ahead with quality. It’s as essential as breakfast and lunch…indeed, it is breakfast and lunch. Food for thought, food for life come to you through your moments in the coffeehouse. The beverages and pastries you enjoy there are secondary to your just being there.

“Alfred Polgar wrote in the Café Centrál in Vienna, ‘The actual delights of this wonderful coffee-house can only be shared by those who want nothing other than to be there. A lack of purpose sanctifies the sojourn.’

“Count Gasparo Gozzi, in his 1770 book, Memorie Intuiti, which he wrote almost in its entirety in a coffeehouse, wrote, ‘I should recommend coffee-houses as excellent recipes for fleeing from worries, and raising the spirits when one feels gloomy.’ He further wrote about another man at the coffeehouse: ‘He had no greater joy than that, which was to sit some hours at the coffee-house, listening to the various conversations, analyzing different minds and characters.’”

Sigh…just when I was beginning to think we are way too obsessed with Starbucks in particular, and coffee in general, this café makes me want to go and sit for hours, with a total lack of purpose other than to raise the quality of my life. And I am soooo happy to learn that Café Intermezzo has opened up a third coffee shop in the area: Concourse B, in the Atlanta airport!!!! I am SO going there on my next trip out….with my sketchbook…

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Perk

Percolating…first step in the creative process…sitting with my collection of napkins, some potential collage papers, and having explored some websites for ideas, wondering where to begin…first inspiration comes: burn the edges!!!

Envisioning a sort of nouveau ancient look, to evoke a smoky European café…maybe cross-pollinating with a cozy English pub look, complete with fireplace, glass of sherry, and wood paneling, I imagine a place where one parks, sips and discusses for hours with soul mates, finding the wherewithal to continue the herculean voyage through life, with notes jotted on napkins to remember all the epiphanies the next day. What kind of a sketchbook would go in that scenario?

Using incense sticks and cones, I burned all the edges. And a hole or two in some of the pages, in honor of my friend Martha who is toying with a sketchbook about cigarettes. Cigarettes, pubs and holes in sketchbooks...yep, works for me!

The paper, now impregnated with a smoky odor of Jasmine and Mango incense, now recalls a fireplace that might be crackling in the background of the pub/café...

Leaving the sketchbook outside on a table to ‘air out’ a bit, then forgetting it, I later doused it while watering the plants. Oops! Now a number of pages have a nice crinkly look...not so bad! Definitely beginning to look like a sketchbook that’s kicked around a café or two.

Step 2: I tried an ink pad on one page to see if I could get a sepia look—quickly aborting that idea when I saw how porous the paper was. Next choice: rub Pearl Ex Pigment #664 Super Bronze into the pages with a paper towel. Much better. Nice coppery/pink glow to the paper, a bit of iridescence, maybe not so visible in the photo.

Now the book refers to a time a couple of decades ago, when (mostly) men and (more recently) women in cafes sat and lingered over a long coffee, writing grand thoughts on napkins. Before the days when we interacted virtually, we doodled on napkins.

What did we doodle? What were some of those grand thoughts?

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Sketchbook Project

Ok, sketchbook it is…I’m finally immersed, after sitting on the sidelines for a while, and will blog through, as some of my friends have. It has been really neat to not only watch the development of the various sketchbooks, but also learn a few tricks, and meet some new artists around the world. So, I'm launched, fellow Sketchbook artists!

For those of you new to the blog, or who haven’t followed the saga via Facebook, and/or to save you a click to a website (which you can still do--see sidebar), here’s what it’s all about from the website home page:

“It's like a concert tour but with sketchbooks!”

“Thousands of sketchbooks will be exhibited at galleries and museums as they make their way on tour across the country.

“After the tour, all sketchbooks will enter into the permanent collection of The Brooklyn Art Library, where they will be barcoded and available for the public to view.

“Anyone - from anywhere in the world - can be a part of the project. To participate and have us send you a sketchbook that will go on tour, start by choosing a theme to the right.

“All books will be included in an exhibition that tours the following cities:
Brooklyn, NY Austin, TX San Francisco, CA Portland, ME Atlanta, GA Chicago, IL Washington, DC Winter Park, FL.”

Here is the packet, as I received it, with instructions to return by Jan. 15. My theme is “Things Found on Restaurant Napkins.” Strangely enough, I had already started a collection of airplane napkins on which I had written poems. And then, while in Italy, I had randomly collected a bunch more, just because.

So here I sit, with my collection of napkins, and one sketchbook. Now what?!

Input welcome!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What next?!

My French blog is officially over...sigh...the French has slipped under the surface again, although I did meet someone last night who began speaking to me in French and asking if we could meet for lunch to speak more French! Man. I'd love to but where in the world do I crowbar that into the schedule?! In fact, last night, I got three invitations from one event, to add to another received by email. To add to the list of several from friends I need to catch up with after France. To add to the list of phone calls....blah blah in America.

As one dear friend wisely counseled, "Welcome to back to the USA where life moves quickly. Give yourself some intermittent moments of mentally drifting back to a lovely, slow moment of your vacation..."

And so I am...mulling over the next direction of this blog. I'm thinking of two: the Sketchbook Project (see Icon on the Sidebar) and Poems from the Boatyard. Both require my attention almost daily now, until deadlines are reached, and next week is some vacation time to devote chunks of time to them, rather trying to eke out an hour or two here and there, and I'll do that again in December over the Christmas holidays.

And I am setting up a separate blog for Poems from the Boatyard, which has taken on a life of its own. And not to compartmentalize my life, but I find it easier to think in different streams, so the waters don't get too muddied, but just splash over onto one another now and then.

Suggestions? Comments?! Input?!

Meanwhile, mentally drifting back to the slow, lovely moments of vacation in France, while enjoying a slow, lovely morning in Tyrone.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Seeing Purple

Well, my first week States-side is over, I'm re-Americanized, and my body has made its way through jet lag. I’ve plunged back into desk/office life with a vengeance, fired up with new thoughts and ideas and connections. But where does France go?

One never knows, do one? One goes overseas, not knowing what will change, internally or externally, or what to do with the changes. Readjusting back to life here is in part discovering what those changes are, and what to do about them. Sometimes it’s just bumping up against some activities and deciding, “You know, I don’t think I’ll do that anymore.”

Or the mind has been challenged, changed or forgetful. One must readjust thinking accordingly. I jot down a few notes for a poem. I need to carry John 4:34, learned in a new way in the Alps, into my Tyronian world. And that conversation with one artist lingers…what was that website she recommended?

As someone said, “When I lived in the States, I saw red. When I traveled overseas, I saw blue. Now that I’m back in the States, I see purple.”

Actions bring with them a strange sense of disorientation, until one remembers one’s habits. (Oh yeah, I bring a bottle of water from home because I hate the taste of the tap water at work. And oh yeah, I go shopping now on Wednesday because I qualify for the senior citizen’s discount. Oh yeah, so that means it’s better if I go to the gym Tues, Thurs, Sat…and so on…) And I call my sister and Donna on Sundays…slowly, disorientation dissolves into remembering…reorienting…routine.

Which surely won’t last long, but there it is. I crave it until I get into it, and then I wonder when I’ll hit the road again…

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Paris Mosque

Take the metro to Place Monge, cross the little square, and few side streets over you will find the mosque. You will come to its entrance, in front of which a woman is begging. On the other side, at 39, rue Geoffroy Saint Hilaire, you will find the entrance to the tea room, restaurant, and hammam, which, if you haven’t already experienced somewhere in the Arabic world, you need!!!

I met a friend there for lunch (see photos on Facebook), and we checked the prices and protocol for the hammam (meaning, how naked did we have to get?! We’ve gotten caught more than once in compromising situations in other European spas!!!)

As it turned out, the hammam prices proved prohibitive, but lunch was affordable and copious, with sparrows flying through the air, picking up crumbs. Couscous and tajine, with some mint tea, and we were stuffed and happy! No dessert, because they didn’t ask, and we were too full anyway, in spite of a tantalizing platter of baklava and other honey-gooey goodies passing around under our noses.

A stroll around the 5th and 6th arrondissements on the beautiful fall day did not negate talking about some of the hard issues my friend is up against, and how to survive emotionally in a spiritually barren landscape. I recognize the signs in all too many of my friends there, because I lived it too. There are no easy answers, just some good old heart-to-heart conversation, listening and empathizing, with the occasional kick in the butt! Working in France is often an isolating experience, and without connections and community, one is quickly overcome.

Back to her house for dinner with her husband, and more conversation on the arts. A flicker of light came back on in my friend’s eyes as we talked. One of her dreams is to write a novel, and she has been working on one for some time. I shared my happy news that I’m about to be published, after 7 years of work, and encouraged her to not give up. I left them both with a list of resources, both online and live, in Paris and not, in hopes that God would take it from there.

Take it he did! The next day, who should I happen to be sitting with, but a novelist, telling me of her writer’s group, and where and when they meet, and the upcoming November writing challenge they were going to participate in! I quickly scribbled down the info, asked if I could introduce her to my friend, and fired off an email on my return to the hotel. They are now connected, and I trust my friend will now have a community of writers to help her get out that novel that is in her, just waiting to get out.

I barely had time to digest my coucous…some answers to prayer move more quickly than others!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Poetry of Time

Jet lag is a dark morning, awake hours before the rest of the world, contemplating the gift of this trip, and the muscles aching after hauling luggage around the Paris metro system. There is a bagel for breakfast instead of baguette, and a good shower a few footstps from my bed.

The flight home took 9 hours and 40 minutes, and I needed every second to shift gears back into my American personality. (I'm not sure I made it.)

The flight was uneventful, and gloriously empty, so I could stretch, squirm, and breathe deep again in the expansiveness of American space, something I sorely missed in France. With no seatmate next to me, I created an in-flight studio, and worked steadily for several hours. (This caught the attention of one of the stewards, to whom I offered a portrait. He didn't take me up on it.)

But I sorely miss speaking in French too, and my morning walk around the Montparnasse neighborhood. On the other hand, no more bundling up under cloudy skies and unseasonably cold temps. A glorious sunset greeted me last evening curbside at the airport, and temps for the next few days will be in the 70's here.

Gone are the French pout, the vertical jaunt to their step (born of claustrophobic space), and the extravagant elixir they call coffee. I still don't quite trust the ubiquitous American smile, but it does make for a more pleasant environment overall. And I will head for Starbucks today for my welcome-home coffee.

I do not miss the bathroom down the hall, or the shower two flights up, or dodging the strikes. But after dispensing with the blow dryer in a country that invented bad hair day, I know I will have to be somewhat more well-groomed here in the South. And I cannot wear the same thing four days in a row.

So the 'bilan' (resume) is in progress, the laundry will start soon, and emails will be beaten back. No more standing on my head, walking around a facility, waiting for one more bar to get a fluid internet connection. I am back in Tyrone, to continue to cultivate the stretch of Kingdom the Lord has given me here.

A Facebook friend posted this little bit of fun: and I highly recommend Eric Maisel's A Writer's Paris. Whether or not you're a writer, he has masterfully captured the essence of time spent in Paris, and some quirky little fun spots to check out.

I don't enjoy having to make these huge psychological shifts as I go back and forth between cultures, because I never feel like I have enough time to make the shifts. Duty calls, phones ring, invitations come, emails clobber, and there is a manuscript of poems are waiting to be organized. But there is a poetry of time too, as this ad in CDG airport reminded me; a time to stop and notice: what did God do? I don't want to miss that. And I want to thank him, deeply, for the gift he just gave me. Otherwise I am the child on Christmas morning, ravaging open gifts, barely seeing what I open, in my eagerness to get to the next one. Just another toy on the toy pile.

I close with my mantra for these journeys, with their paradoxical mingle of joy and sorrow: ‘Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”—Dr. Seuss

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Ok, made it to Charles deGaulle Airport with a minimum of inconvenience, with some very helpful folks along the way, and with enough time for a last blog post, cup of coffee and pain au chocolate!

Charles de Gaulle has had a facelift, at least in my neck of the woods of this enormous airport. I’ve been dropped into a bubble of affluence, cleanliness…dare I say efficiency?!

The law for retirement was passed yesterday, unblocking some of the gas distributors, and thus canceling some strikes. This week, in contrast to the first two weeks, the French seem less aggressive, less angry, at least in my little slice of perception. This is a vacation week in France, so folks are less likely to want to strike. In spite of the continuing strikes, the French seem happier than when I last left them.

In a bit more time, most likely, France will calm down even more, and enter winter with its focus on the holidays, the cold, and perhaps another strike or two around Christmas. This is the rhythm of life in France.

I leave filled to overflowing with amazement. It seemed that every encounter, each person I planned to see, was a divinely scheduled appointment. There were some meetings off the agenda of course, but equally if not more potent for their unexpectedness. I was able to make some connections I hoped for, others morphed into something else, and some new ones opened up.

And while I arrived feeling like a ‘stranger’ (as the French would put it), within two weeks I felt ‘back home.’ Language was flowing, cultural cues had emerged, and some of my favorite foods ingested.

It will all go underground again in a matter of minutes. I’m organizing my final photos while waiting for my flight, which is expected to be on time. Yes, life is good.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Villa Seurat

Just off the rue de la Tombe-Isseoire, you can find the Villa Seurat, with its little houses built for artists and sculptors. It was the home of Georges Seurat, and Henry Miller also lived here, from where he wrote such masterpieces as Tropic of Cancer and Max and the White Phagocytes. As he describes Villa Seurat:

"The whole street is given up to quiet, joyous work. Every house contains a writer, painter, musician, sculptor, dancer, or actor. It is such a quiet street and yet there is such activity going on, silently, becomingly, should I not say reverently too? This is how it is on my street, but there are hundreds of such streets in Paris. There is a constant army of artists at work, the largest of any city in the world. This is what makes Paris, this vast group of men and women devoted to the things of the spirit. This is what animates the city, makes it the magnet of the cultural world."--Henry Miller

This cultural magnet was destroyed during World War II and with the construction of the towering and incongruous Montparnasse tower, the tallest office building in Paris (which has a law that buildings can only be built to a certain height, in order to keep the city ‘intimate’—not sure how Montparnasse slipped through!). But the area continues to draw the culturati and is a lively, café- and theatre-filled quartier.

And so I met my artist friend for raclette and a complimentary kir here in the midst of Montparnasse, not far from the hotel (where Sartre and deBeauvoir lived for a time, by the way). After a catch-up and rabbit-trail-laden conversation, we ditched our original plans to museum hop, and went to her studio instead. What a delightful time seeing her artwork, brainstorming and dreaming, and sensing another piece of the puzzle of arts ministry going into place. Stay tuned for that one…

Late again getting home, I merged back into the black-robed Parisians in rush hour, thankful that this part of French life is almost over for me.

So now I’m packing and consulting alternate routes to get to the airport. France is calling for a general strike tomorrow, and that will surely make things interesting in the morning…stay tuned for that one too!

The Ghosts of the 14th

I am in the 14th arrondissement, an artistic and literary center about 100 years ago. Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Seurat, Hemingway, Cocteau, Giacometti, Matisse, Modigliani, Miller….the names are everywhere, on cafés, bookstores, buildings, cemeteries. The statue of Balzac by Rodin stands near the Metro Vavin, where I had a cup of coffee with a friend on Monday. But the Brancusi statue eludes me…although my second visit to the cemetery yielded this find of Charles Pigeon’s tombstone!

It’s a bit staggering to walk around in so much cultural history, stamped into such a little bit of geography. The ghosts of artists past are haunting discussions with artists today. Is it possible for Christians to even approach what these artists accomplished last century?

That’s the question we’re asking—me and the artists I’m meeting with daily now. Why are we so mediocre in comparison to these surpassing talents? It’s an enigma. I have a hard time believing I’ll see the church reach these heights, but I’ll be darned if I’m going to give up. “The kingdom of God is forcefully advancing, and forceful men take hold of it."

So today I walk past these ghosts, and board the metro in a sea of black-garmented Parisians during rush hour. The sky is still dark, the moon is up, the eyes are mostly at half-mast. I travel out to the eastern suburbs of Paris, eyeing the frost on the ground, and regretting that I have not added another layer of wool. I am following up on our SALT attendee Paul Dixon, meeting with OM France leadership, other team members, and one couple considering joining OM Arts.

After a full day of meetings and meals, we inch forward, and a stake is very definitely in the ground. Some of these artists have persevered for over 20 years. Some are afraid, some broken, some mystified as to how to proceed. Or all of the above.

But we can do nothing else. As the disciples responded to Jesus when so many deserted him, and He asked if they were going to quit too, so we respond: “Where else can we go, Lord? You have the words of eternal life.”

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Montparnasse, the Grand Palais & Rodin

What a delight to start a crisp autumn Sunday with a slow wander through the incredible Montparnasse cemetery, where such luminaries as Guy de Maupassant, Alfred Dreyfus, Andre Citroen, Brancusi, Saint-Saens, and Baudelaire are buried. My goal was to see Brancusi’s “The Kiss” (a response to Rodin’s “Kiss”) but this is the nature of the larger Paris cemeteries: huge and labyrinthine, requiring a map. Which I had, but…well, an hour later, I was done with the cemetery. Since it’s practically across the street from my hotel, maybe I’ll try again tomorrow…

My ultimate goal was the new exhibit at Grand Palais, on the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. On the way, I was seriously derailed by finding an art flea market, and spending some time talking with a number of the artists. Serendipity! What a pleasure, treat and delight to meet these artists and see their work, discuss their process.

For a peek at one of the artists, go to I made the ultimate error of picking out three of her pieces, having read the price wrong, and then having to tell a very excited artist that I couldn’t afford any of them! Sigh….I hate that.

Onward and forward. Metro over to Place Concorde, one of the most stunning places in Paris, if not France, if not the world. One of its arteries spins off into the Champs Elysee. Up I went with hordes of other tourists, in the direction of the Grand Palais, stopping first for a hot dog (I know, shameful) to bolster flagging energy levels.

Why did I imagine I would saunter into a major museum featuring a new exhibit on a Sunday?! I saw lines I’ve only seen once before—at the Louvre—and quickly abandoned Plan A. Heading in the opposite direction of the crowds, I crossed the Alexandrine bridge, an incredible beauty that makes you stop and watch the Seine underneath, and the occasional Bat-O-Mouche.

Crossing over to where the Assemblee Nationale stands, I found myself a cozy little café for some coffee, a bathroom and the development of a Plan B. As it turns out, I had wandered close to the Musee Rodin, one of my favorites in Paris, so that was my next stop.

The museum had its own little line, paltry by Grand Palais standards, but a line nevertheless. The bonus: an expo by Henry Moore, a British sculptor I first discovered in Lille, who does monumental work. One of his works, “Warrior with a Shield”, has an interesting history. As Moore describes it, “The idea for the warrior came to me…very early in 1953. It evolved from a pebble I found on the seashore in the summer of 1952, and which reminded me of the stump of a leg, amputated at the hip…”

Only an artist could write that!

After a couple of hours, my legs instituted Plan C, which meant sitting down a lot! A few sketches of the extraordinary sculptures in that museum, and I was ready to make my way back to the hotel.

And so, feet now up and contemplating a new work week about to start, I marvel again at the privilege I have, and the wonders I have seen. Yet the desire remains to do only what I see my Father doing. I’ve been on the look out, but no particular spiritual bonanzas have been apparent. Maybe tomorrow…