Home Again

Home again. It’s always good to get back home, back to the familiar although I must say, my stay in Sitka is becoming familiar, almost like a second home, so the familiarity gap isn’t as wide as it once was. I think a lot of it has to do with the simplicity of my Sitka life, a routine of writing in the morning in the seclusion of my apartment, then the mile walk to the gym, a good workout on the machines and on my return, a stop at the organic restaurant now called “Fisheye” (formerly “North Sister”), for a smoothie and then back to the apartment for an afternoon of reading. The evening always reserved for a family gathering over a meal of some kind. This time Marsh, our resident chef, frequently cooked fresh salmon (from Sitka Salmon Shares) to perfection.

The only thing missing in this picture are my friends in LaConner, starting with Sherry, my companion and Kornelia, my housemate. But, of course, those are big absences. So, as I said, its good to be back, although for only a little while, since I’ll be heading for Santa Fe to spend time with my daughter and her son and her partner in October. Having returned “home” means returning to ongoing routines and connections which are themselves coveted chances to learn something, maybe even to experience God’s presence in another person or event. I’m trying intentionally to keep myself open to miracles, a mantra I’ve been practicing right along.

As I’ve mentioned in previous journal entries, I’m concerned to slow the aging process. It may be that I can’t reverse it although, I must say, I feel younger now then I did six months ago. I’m convinced that spending time with young people is another help in staying young. Yesterday I took my young friends to lunch at Village Pizza in Anacortes. One daughter is a mere six months, the other three years. The mother’s younger sister  was visiting here from Seattle so that was an added dividend as we talked and ate, laughing at the antics of the two kids but talking, too, about what they, the parents, are bringing to this changing world of ours. In the world I grew up in, the labor division was clear, the wife and mother staying home, the husband and father off to provide the financial support. With these young parents, both are working but he’s arranged his work hours so that he’s home four days a week to help nurture and care for the two children. And then, I’m party to seeing them working hard at clarification, keeping everything open and transparent as possible, as they walk and talk their way through the day. Transparency often did not happen in my experience as a husband and father. Many matters we might have talked about to our mutual advantage ,we were closed-mouthed about, and never did discuss. I’ve learned over time about the advantage of transparency and employ it on a regular basis now. This young family keeps me mindful of transparency’s central place as I continue to work at it, keeping myself in integrity as well as my relationship with others. As the young mother pointed out, it is always a work in progress. Yes, indeed. Virtues seem not to come easily, always requiring daily practice even after they reach the stage of habit.

A lunch of pizza with my young friends on a Saturday afternoon was enjoyable, more like a celebration I like to think, walking,( instead of getting in a car) up Commercial Street, holding the daughter’s hand, talking with the young sister about her future, all of them with big dreams to match the sheer determination and energy emanating from them. Another kind of celebration continued a few hours later as we gathered at the Pastor’s house for a surprise birthday party for a church member who had just turned 70 years of age, He and his wife were both totally surprised and I think a little overwhelmed by the large turn-out of fellow church members. It was celebration at its best, gathering to honor a fellowing human being, taking a brief moment to acknowledge one among us, for whatever reason, and in that acknowledgement, acknowledging one another. Lives matter! All lives matter! I surprise myself here about how strongly I have come to feel about human life and the importance of finding ways constantly to celebrate it. Poetry is another way to celebrate life, to highlight its beauty and mystery. Likewise with music and the other arts. I like birthdays especially, because its something we can easily do, at the drop of a hat.