United States

A path through the woods in Madison WI

Running this morning at dawn, back home in my woods, in Madison, I was overwhelmed by God’s voice: “Come back to me, my people. What have I done to offend you?”

Overwhelmed as when I first heard this voice as a teenager.

I am in my 50’s, and I am surprised that I can still be overcome with emotion as when I was a teenager, but there is was. Then I read this from Meister Eckhart:

First stop on my around the world tour is the Catholic Theology Society of America's annual meeting in Miami. Here, Catherine Cornille discusses the question of "Multiple Religious Belonging as ‘Unachieved Conversion’?” As much as I hate meetings, I love these gatherings—cathing up with colleagues and friends, discussing their research and how their lives are going, getting re-connected to the theological currents of America each year. 

I guess you have to be a theologian to get excited about these things, and I guess I really am a theologian at heart. Who'd have thought.

sunset from the airplane

Today I set off on a trip around the world. I am excited, but not without a bit of consternation. What did I bring, what did I forget, what will I find… so many things to worry about.

Then we flew off into the sunset. This photo is from the window of the plane at 36000 feet. The setting sun lit the clouds from below, so that they glowed from within.

I am on a short sabbatical, to learn more from interreligious dialogue. My real purpose is to reacquaint myself with the transcendent beauty of the world by seeing it from a different perspective.

Returning to Ohio for just a few days, I look out the window as evening falls. It is Spring outside, and the daffodils are up. Their spring-green leaves and yellow buds glow in the golden evening sun. Beautiful.

But what has caught my attention is giggling. My nieces are in the front yard, giggling, kicking a soccer ball around. I have a great life, but it has a serious lack of giggling. I don't think there is a happier sound in the universe, pure joy, completely unabashed.

Summer is here in full swing now. Here at the lake, that means a very full schedule of doing just about nothing. All day, if you want. The cottage has a great front porch with screens and a glider, so you can sit all day rocking, just watching the water, talking, or, for the more adventurous, sewing. Here is my mother Arlene needlepointing a bird and flower design.

When you are sitting on the porch, no one ever asks what you are doing or what you are going to do next. The answer is always the same: nuthin and more nuthin . Nothing is fine with me.

Racing go carts at Goofy Golf is my nieces' and nephews' favorite activity, as you might guess from this photo. This is Nascar Nation. Evan is the one out front grinning from ear to ear, beating his father and two older cousins.

As for us old folks (like his dad), we enjoy mixing it up with the kids, so if they are too far ahead, we slow down to drop a lap so that we are in the lead again... sort of. Because you know what they say, it's not whether you win or loose, it's how many times you can bang into the other cars that counts.

Fishing. Another great summertime activity. This is my niece Megan fishing off the dock in front of her cottage on Lake Erie.

Megan doesn't really like to fish per se; she hates to touch the worms to bait the hook, and she hates to touch the fish to take them off the line, and she doesn't actually eat fish. But that isn't really what fishing is all about.

Fishing is about sitting around having an excuse to do nothing but hang out next to the water. Megan likes that. Don't we all?

Whenever I get home to my mother's house in Wadworth, Ohio, we pass a lot of time sitting on the front porch. Most places I live in don't even have front porches, so front porch sitting tends to be a vacation activity for me. Too bad, because it is quite enjoyable. People pass by walking their dogs or their kids and always say hello. I don't get by here very often, but whenever I do, I can count on the fact that I will be able to see the neighbors and catch up on the news. It helps to tie together the gaps that I create through my long absences.

I have returned to the United States, and now have time for some important things in life... spending time with my family. My nieces and nephews are growing up fast, but we still have time to get away to my brother's cottage on Lake Erie for a few days.

After a full day of swimming, boating, and biking, the kids have still not had enough. As the sun sets, we head out to the beach for one last time before the light fails for more swimming and to build yet another sand castle.

This is my nephew Kyle in the back of his father's Chevy Suburban. Kyle is 15. He is learning to play the guitar, and is fiddling around with my road guitar as we drive. He will be a much better guitarist than I ever will be. He applies himself.