Saturday, August 16, 2014

Camp...

My happy place...

Well my fellow travelers, I just returned from vacation. This is the longest vacation that I have been able to take in years. Nine days of stepping off the treadmill and relaxing. That's right, the longest vacation in years.

It's hard to believe that you can be held back from relaxation because you are sick. But, that has been my story for far too long. The daily stability of my new treatments made it possible to enjoy an amazing vacation and file away many exquisite moments. To drink in the memories, to savor the seconds like a fabulous meal or glass of wine. In summer it is difficult to find the time to sit and write. I need a blend of silence and lack of interruption. The journey of having two amazing Beauties home is that those moments are hard to find... So as I write, the Beauties are yelling at each other about going to the park. I remind myself that these are the days I will long for in just a few years.

But I digress:

There are places in our world that offer us a break from the treadmill, a respite from the storm of life. And this vacation offered me that space. I have known Jeffrey for 23 years and the very first of his friends my Jeffrey introduced me to, were the ones who would become Norah's godparents. Fairy-godmother Jane and her beloved, we just call him the Godfather around here, Steve. I actually met Steve first. I fed him dinner and alcohol after Jane had breast cancer surgery. Jeff and Steve came and sat at the bar with me after that surgery.  I met Jane six weeks later in her kitchen drinking margaritas and eating nachos with fresh jalapenos from their garden. She had just returned from her vacation home in Maine, where she had lovingly hung, while on a ladder, cedar siding. I'm sure every surgeon would think two weeks after major surgery is the perfect time to be on a ladder hanging siding, but that is just what she was doing.  With a cancer diagnosis you have to shake things up and that is just what she did, she shook it all up. And she did it in her happy place.

Camp is that happy place. Camp is part fairy dust, part magic, and all love... It is rustic, beautiful and a place where I have never had a sleepless night and my worries have always melted away. It is something special, it is sacred in that you find yourself there, every-time. You reset your priorities, see life with the clarity of a fine Waterford wine glass. I don't quite know how the fairy's under Jane's watchful eyes do it... But, there is magic there, I have seen it! Jane could tell you how many times in the last 20 years I have visited, I really can't say, but each and every-time it has helped me chart a new course in my life. From jobs, to motherhood, to cross country travel, it has always helped me find my truth North. Camp hasn't only saved me, it brings peace and love to all who visit.

I love that it's informal, you don't bring your club clothes, nope you bring your favorite jeans, your old flip-flops, no one cares if your mani-pedi is perfect. I'm lucky to find my toothbrush, you don't need makeup. You wear T-shirts, and shorts, you never dress for dinner unless you call a lobster bib dressing. You are your real-self. Stripped down to who you are, real approachable, your true self.

Camp has been in Jane's family for years, her Grandfather and Uncle used the property as one of the original man caves, in the 60's. Without benefit of a tape-measure or level her uncle began building the A frame cottage. Steve on the other hand with his masterful touch has used a level and made the Camp's true beauty shine. Steve's superb craftsmanship and Jane's architectural eye have transformed the once lowly fishing cottage into a woodland retreat.  But the building belies the real truth... It is the Lilly pads on the lake that stop you to see the wonder of nature, even the baby hummingbirds we watch test their wings this year, the dock where too many children have learned to swim, take canoe rides, or just splash in the water, every dog is always welcome and oodles of them have fetched sticks. Then there are the countless hours of floating just off the dock, just basking in the cool waters and warm sun of Maine in the summer. The last time I was ever floating in water was in Maine. A great memory. The Godparents have hosted, every niece and nephew they have, every friend have at one time or another visited.

It has been a summer mecca for years.

I had my first Lobster at Camp, a first for many of the visitors, a true right of passing, and a tradition at least one night while there. I have eaten blueberries just picked, and sipped coffee that has never tasted better. I have been over-served and never had a drop, it makes no difference the memories are all the same...

It's heaven on earth.

Steve and Jane see Camp not so much as theirs, but as if they are care-takers of a gift, a precious and beautiful one. They are a rare team that opens their door to all, and loves each and every guest.

It's no surprise we asked them to be our Irish Princess' guide in this world. There are people in this life that are shepherds, guides... That's Steve and Jane. A godparent needs to do one thing really well, they need to "get it". And when I say "get-it", it means that they are in the world, but not of the world. They delight in the foolishness of living, but also are able to teach through example and guide our child. They are phenomenal godparents. For the record, far better than Jeffrey and I have been to our godchildren.

I'm not surprised that God put these two amazing people in our life... Not even close. They are gifts, that I know I will spend eternity with... Heaven for us will look like a small cottage in Maine, with a cool lake that I will swim in daily, the best blueberry pie imaginable, a warm fire in the fireplace every night, with lobster and a coffee called "Carpe Diem" and Jesus telling us HE is so proud of us, and telling us that we did well.

So maybe that is what Camp is... A door to Heaven, a taste of eternity, a place to find God without looking at all... Because HE is present with us at the table.

Hope your Summer is filled with Exquisite Everyday Moments just like ours... We are overwhelmed with gratitude, love and well more love.  Please know I'm praying for each and everyone of you, today and always.

xo
Kathryn
PilgrimageGal

Photo credit: Mr. PilgrimageGal


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Love Letter to Meghan...

Meghan week comes to an end...

I love a good love letter...

This one is for my sweet and beautiful niece Meghan.  I have never been more honored as I was this year, when I stood behind her as her Confirmation Sponsor.  She spent the last week with Team Fergie, and she knocked my socks off with her faith, her love and her honesty.  This letter is to her, but I share it here because I hope it leads you to an opportunity to openly love the people closest to you... And I can't help but share, because, well I love her so very much...

A little background:

Meghan lives with her mom and older and younger brothers.  Jen, my sister in law, is one of my longest friends. We met for the first time when her mom was my third grade teacher and we became very close friends in high school.  Jen and I have been through the joys and struggles of a faith filled life. We are godparents to some and aunts to all our combined five children.  And when you share a lifetime of wonderful moments you also share the difficult ones too. Like when she ended her marriage to my brother. Jen handled the entire experience with the grace and love that emanates from her whole being.  Of all the women who love me and I'm blessed to know, I don't know any that are better, more loving, faith filled then my Jen. She is a gift. So it's no wonder that her sweet girl would be just as wonderful.

K
Sunday, July 20, 2014

My Dearest Megs,
I have had the loveliest week with you. Last Sunday, Uncle Jeffrey and I loaded the Beauties into the stinky Mini-Van and road tripped a couple hours to "borrow" you for what we called "Meghan Week" .  We grabbed you so you could experience a week as a Ferguson, but more selfishly so that I could have some high quality one-on-one time with you.

You want some "exquisite everyday moments?", let me tell you my cup is overflowing. You are exquisite my lovely, absolutely exquisite.

Meghan, as women of faith, some of the hardest decisions are the ones that seem so counter to what we have grown-up learning, but they can be exactly what God is calling us to do! You learned that lesson when you saw your parents' marriage end. It is ever so painful, when we experience that type of loss. But, we have to understand that even in the toughest of life's challenges, the beauty of God is present, waiting and open to loving us in all the foolishness and messy.

So as I sit her reflecting on Meghan Week, I learned something about myself--I had received a gift that the Spirit clearly sent just for me. Last week (in my blog) I shared this quote about Norah:

"As she lives with my chronic disease, she has been honing her skills from an early age. This is how you frame life's horrible truths. You realize that someone else will benefit from your struggle. We are paying it forward in the most unorthodox manner."

I learned that I too was "paying it forward", that my pilgrimage to date, had some very real experiences that I could share with you and only you.  What I learned, is that for all of the blessings in my life, I have also had moments of pain and disappointment, like most people. Our sweet chats, gave me the chance to share my truth, my silly stories from my high school adventures, and my big picture ideas for this world we live-in. You patiently listened and smiled, you laughed at me, and with me...

It was very special. But don't you worry my Beauty, you taught me a few lessons, a few gems and some spiritual lessons, that I will be adding to my life tool box. You are just as much teacher as you are student-- so thank you.

If I can teach you only one thing, about the challenges that you will face, it is this: we must own this concept of paying it forward. It is the only real good that comes from suffering, the ability to empathize, to love and support those we love most and even those strangers we meet. Yes, even strangers.  To quote from Hebrews, I love this translation from the New American Standard Bible:

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2

It just means you never know when your words can be a gift to someone in need of a little light: at the grocery store, when you smile, when as you get a little older someone shares a private truth. When we give a little light to someones suffering, we provide a small but o' so important gift. We show our soul. We let the Divine in us do the heavy lifting, God shines through us. We enable the Spirit to move among us, to really work. It is the most powerful super power, it's how we find the good in the horrible, the grace in the tragic and the light in the darkest corners. That is the power of the Divine, its ability to create love among us. I promise, you will be on the receiving end of this power, this love more than you will ever have to give, but when you are able to provide comfort, strength, forgiveness and a soft place to fall for another, it is these moments that you understand what God's love is.

While with you, I feel the Spirit moving, quietly, beautifully-- and I delighted to see, to witness and to watch, one of the most precious and beautiful creations that God has ever made, and see the true gift. The real GIFT, that the Divine gave me, is to be graced to know you so closely, to love you and to be loved by you daily, and always.

For the record, I do love you more, Miss Meghan... I do.

The Divine in me bows to the Divine in you sweet one.

Always and forever your,
Aunt Kathryn

photo credit: PilgrimageGal