For the past ten years, I have received daily inspiration and nourishment from Give Us This Day, a monthly publication produced by St. John’s Abbey Press.
Since we moved, we’ve been able to return to visit only twice. Since then, health crises and Covid-19 kept us confined to our home. But we continued to talk about a possible trip when Bill got strong enough. This Sunday, the day after the anniversary of Francesca’s death we decided to take the change. It was a beautiful fall day. Bill felt strong enough to take the chance. Portable oxygen gave us confidence to risk the four-hour drive to Schroeder once more. It was one of those crazy, impetuous decisions that drove us to buy a home on the Northshore in the first place. I packed a picnic lunch and off we went.
Francesca’s grave was in surprisingly good shape. No grass or groundcover had crept over the stone marker and we were able to remove those that might. While we were there, we also cleaned up our markers and visited the graves of the friends and neighbors we’d lost. We’d hoped to have time to walk the lake shore but as we had to drive back that evening we decided to take a quick drive up the Cramer Road from the cemetery to check on the fall colors.
We hit peak season on one of the best Fall Color Drives on the North Shore. We didn’t have to drive far to enter the jeweled cathedral that draw so many enthusiasts. We were surprised to find the road to ourselves. Driving through miles of miracles can be overwhelming. The brilliant colors lining the road became even more exquisite within the forest. Evening sunlight filtered through the maples, piercing the leaves, and illuminating the trunks. Oh, the colors, the quiet, the glory we got to view. And all because we’d taken a leap and driven north to visit Francesca’s grave.
With only an iPhone camera to catch the experience, and shooting into the sun, we had to operate blindly. Amazing what those cameras can do!
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Daily walks are for looking, listening, feeling, sensing. I seek especially, the great vault of the sky. It frees me. The heavy cloak of confinement drops away and I feel complete. Treetops and sky never cease to thrill me. Especially the tops of those wondrous giants that push ever upward in their search for the sun. It can be dizzying to stand beneath one (or sit or lie) and gaze upward. I love the way the mighty trunks reach for the sky. The way their leaves filter and scatter light. And yes, the way they enlighten and assist me in my search for God.
“A tree gives glory to God by being a tree.” writes Thomas Merton in Seeds of Contemplation. It glorifies God by being itself. “…by spreading out its roots in the earth and raising its branches into the air and the light in a way that no other tree before or after it ever did or will do.”
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