Twenty-Seven Beds

Part of the Pilgrimage Summer 2013 Series

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Twenty-Seven. That’s how many times I’ve changed where I laid my head at night since I moved out of my Indiana apartment in May. Twenty-seven times I’ve picked up my toothbrush and put it back in its travel bag. Twenty-seven times I’ve put my head on a pillow, knowing that in day or week, I would be in another place.

Earlier this week, I settled my head on my own pillow, with my very own white striped pillow case, pulled the matching deep red comforter that I made back in my Colorado days up to my chin and breathed into new space: one that is mine for this next season. Unpacking in my new home, my mind flies back over these twenty-seven beds, and the places and days spent between them. It’s been a summer overflowing with rich experiences, learning, growth, travel, and change.

I’m reaching for a “concluding blog post.” One where I tie everything together, tracing those threads back through each location and tie up each theme in a nice crisp bow.

Nope. Not going to happen. And it wouldn’t be honest to the pilgrimage to try. The tangled, interconnected, still processing, led by a Force greater than the journey, energy resists being wrapped up and captured in a few pithy phrases.

But here’s what I can tell you.

I can tell you that I have lived these months of being a pilgrim fully.

I can tell you that the Divine had themes woven throughout my travels that changed me.

I can tell you than I laughed more than usual and that I’d like to continue that trend.

I can tell you that nature and I reconnected and have taken up our old love affair with a passionate commitment.

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I can tell you how there are beautiful and fascinating people everywhere and potential for human connection around every corner.

I can tell you that coming home to a place that has been a grounding space for years is sweeter than ever.


I can tell you that new friends who you swap stories with fresh energy are gifts, and that old friends who know your story because they were there are blessings.

I can tell you about my time in various Swedenborgian communities and how connecting with my faith heritages has strengthened and formed my future ministry.

I can tell you how I love children and how spending time with them feeds my soul.
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I can tell you how exploring a city and finding out of the way coffee shops and secret gardens is one of my favorite ways to spend a day. Especially days when you do it with two good friends and you climb a tree and visit while swinging your legs in the air and having deep theological conversations. 

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I can tell you that the life of a nomadic pilgrim is humbling when you’re relying on others for your “homes.”  And how I know that my experience of this is incredibly privileged.

I can tell you about that privilege and how I always knew where I would sleep and I thought a lot about the people who cannot say that. Especially one day when I was sick in the UK and we had to move and all I wanted to do was be home in my own bed and I began reflecting on those who are sick and don’t have their own bed, until my prof told me that I really didn’t have to be doing theological reflection all the time and to have some more vitamin C and water.

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I can tell you than I see God in more places now than I used to, especially as I hunt for God’s image in the faces of people. 

I can tell you that I trust the Divine leading more now than I did three months ago and that doors keep opening and my trust and delight is growing.

I can tell you about how I’ve stood and preached when there were no words to say and that God gave the words.


I can tell you that the curved balls came, as they always do, and that with them always came the breath, or laughter, or strength, or help that was needed.

I can tell you that some of the best conversations happen over a drink in the evenings after the meetings, or workshop, or class.

I can tell you where the yarn shops are in a number of cities in the US and UK. And about how I met the sheep that gave me this yarn.


I can tell you how long it takes to fly and drive and walk all sorts of places. And I can brag that my sense of direction has improved with dedicated attention.

I could wax on and on, worthy of commercial or two, about the virtue of my Sherpani carry-on suitcase, my Haiku purse, my Jambu shoes and my NorthFace jacket, four items that accompanied me without exception throughout all my travels.  And I could tell you about the women who tried to steal my shoes at camp because they loved them so much.
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And I can tell you about how I found home in the few moments of intention as I entered each space, and how my mini art and spiritual practice kit was pullout out all over the world and how I kept crocheting that prayer shawl.

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And I can tell you about how I appreciate and fought my commitment to blog throughout the trip and how much your comments and accompaniment brought companionship and joy.

So that’s what I can tell you today. And the steps of the pilgrim continue.

It’s about seeing beauty and humanity everywhere, feeling the Divine infused in all things, and showing up to what is in front of us. Here’s to the continued pilgrimage called life. 


Penny: Ode to my Vehicle

Part of the Pilgrimage Summer 2013 Series

This is a piece I wrote about my 1995 Honda Odyssey last spring during a writing prompt in class. Having just driven her 1,100 miles from Indiana to Colorado and then another 1,200 miles from Colorado to California to start a new adventure, it seemed appropriate to honor her with blogging this as part of the Pilgrimage Summer 2013 series.


The paint moved beyond “beginning to peel” years ago, back in our Colorado days.  This morning as I chipped the packed snow off the windshield, I noted the growing patch of silver emerging from the green paint on her hood.

She’s been with me a long time, my ’95 Honda Odyssey. I bought her in 2001, right after college, alongside my first full-time job and my very own apartment. I named her Penelope, in hopes she’d embody the steadfast character Homer chronicled so long ago. She goes by Penny and is still running some 270,000 miles later.

Sometimes when I look back on the past 12 years I feel lonely. Eight homes in five different states, three jobs, and now graduate school.  I’ve been living a life that edges on overload in the “new and interesting opportunities” department. I’ve left homes and communities that are dear to me and started new with tentative taproots. I’ve explored numerous places and many miles. Some on planes and trains and buses, most in my fading green Odyssey with her sun-roof and flip-down backseats that accommodate a whole summer’s worth of living supplies without a fuss.

In 2010 I left my home where I had put down eight-year-old roots at the base of the Rockies. In saying goodbye, the dearest five-year-old gave me a picture he’d drawn. It was of him and me holding hands and he insisted it hang on my ‘fridge.  Bowing to the realtor’s advice for salability, the refrigerator was to stay “clutter-free and neutral.”  So I took the Scotch tape out to the parking lot and hung that crayon offering on the passenger glove box, where it brought close the love for a few years to come.

I’ve been with Penny through two timing belts, and a few batteries, an ongoing saga with cables, new brakes and ball bearings, and more oil changes than I can count.  She’s driven me through relationships beginning and ending, career changes, loosing grandparents, long-term illness, starting graduate school, my parents’ divorce, and the weddings of more friends than she can count.

I look at her graying hood as I pat her dash and whisper,
“Just get us through grad school Penny. A few more years and then you can rest.”


Sabbath, Sorrow, and Sending: Sermon at Almont Camp

This sermon was offered on Sunday at the close of Almont Summer Camp, addressing the Seventh Day of Creation and Sabbath rest. It was adjusted significantly just before and during to strive to respond to and meet the needs of a community that suffered an unexpected loss in the community late the night before. I was humbled to stand before the community and strive to offer words and space in that moment. 

Traveling Yarns

Throughout my travels, I have continued to collect yarn at each place I’ve been.  At the end of June, I arrived directly back from the UK, via an extra 24 unwanted hours in Chicago due to weather. I found my car, a shower, and my pre-packed second suitcase of clothing at a friend’s in Indianapolis and then drove three hours to Urbana OH. Urbana held the Clergy Meetings and the Annual Convention of the Swedenborgian Church of North America, my denomination and the group that I am seeking ordination with.

580249_10151569647929094_1245221275_n After I had my ordination interview with the clergy I settled into the General Convention meetings and brought out my handwork.  I sat next to my good friend Sage, who was knitting a sweater.  She wanted to know the story of the project and when I told her, she offered a length of the soft, rich green yarn that she was knitting her sweater from for this leg of the journey.  Lovely!

My next migration was driving West…to my half-way point on the move, Boulder Colorado.  The next two weeks were spent with the joy of taking care of three dear children in my life.  The eight year old is an avid knitter and he wanted to learn how to crochet, as did his younger sisters. So we all played with yarn a fair amount in the time we spent together.  I added some strands from their projects into the mix…


My next stop was Almont Summer Camp, a Swedenborgian Church camp in Michigan.  The lectures on the Seven Days of Creation each morning were prime handwork times.  I was clear a day or so in that I’d need to find some red and white yarn for this section.  The camp is swathed in red and white, the colors that have been flown over the camp since it’s inception, embodying Swedenborg’s teaching that red represents love and white wisdom, the essence of everything.

And then back in Colorado for a few weeks. I think I may have to use this as an excuse to go down to my favorite Boulder yarn store and find a little something….

Fish and Birds

Reflections on Day Five of Creation at Almont Camp
July 26, 2013

1001526_10151588029549094_1631139397_nAt Almont, a Swedenborgian summer camp in Michigan, we spent the week exploring the Seven Days of Creation and the rich theology that Emmanuel Swedenborg presents on it. Swedenborg spends pages laying out how the cycles of the days of creation offer a blueprint for the process of spiritual growth and spiritual creation. Each presenter took a day, and I got Day Five: the birds of the air and the fish of the sea.   The audio is of the lecture portion of the morning.


Threads Throughout the United Kingdom

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What fun I had finding yarn in the United Kingdom.

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I found most of it on my time on the Island of Iona. Two of the skeins I found in a little shop down in the village, one from England and one from Wales.  


The third yarn I got was raised right there on Iona. I even got to meet the sheep and the woman who raises the sheep and sells the yarn. It was spun at a manufacture across the isle, but besides that short trip, born, harvested and sold on the island of Iona.

2013-06-12 09.46.28My final UK yarn came to me on our very last evening in the country.  We were in Sheffield England with a group of incredibly kind and hospitable church groups.  One of the women saw me working on the project during our workshop with John Bell and asked me about it afterwards. I told her about how I was gathering yarn along my way. Later that evening she came back with some red and blue yarn from a project she’d been working on.


Red and blue for the UK colors of course.  I was touched and wove it right in.

2013-06-12 09.46.06Thanks to the people and sheep of the United Kingdom for adding their threads to my journey.


Baptism: A Poem

Part of the Pilgrimage Summer 2013 Series
Written during my time on Iona

2013-06-10 10.24.44Baptism: A Poem

I met the shore,
greeting the sea I’ve
seen now from multiple angles,
but had yet to touch.

It seemed right that
this was the moment,
in this cove where
and flesh

This place where pair
after pair
of feet have trod.

To wonder and
pay homage,
to the Saint,
but more,
to the thin space
curled within
this cove.

I stoop.

People fill the rocks,
each of us in our own moment.
Mine with this rock curled in my hand,
and the water.

I took off my glove,
and dipped the tips
of two fingers into the salt bay.

To my forehead,
and my breast,
the cross etched when I was a wee one,
just four weeks old.

The crosses I’ve traced so many times
when I greet the ocean,
the Divine Movement
throughout my life.

In the name of the Creator,
Redeemer and Sustainer.
I commit again,
To a life of service,
to my God
and fellow humans.

The wave comes and covers my boot.

I rise and step back,
hesitant to leave this moment
of ritual.

Refocused on my life
in the world.

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