The most recent blessing was received last last night, when Gregg and I got to meet and break bread with Karen & Joe Johnson, of the "Firefly Ranch" and "From Paradise to Plan B" blogs (you can find them on my sidebar).
Karen & Joe are the parents of Joey, a gorgeous young man who passed away due to SUDEP in the very prime of his joyful, talented life. Karen writes beautifully about her journey on her blogs, and by the grace of God, we met online. We were joined by Robin (Josh's mom) and Chris (Sarah's mom) in writing through our spiritual journeys with grief on a private blog. The process brought us close to one other in our hearts, though we live apart, geographically speaking.
I have had the pleasure of meeting both Chris and Robin (and their husbands) in person, but had never met Karen and Joe...until they flew into Seattle last night for a brief layover, on their way home to Virginia. Gregg and I drove to SeaTac, picked them up, took them to a nearby restaurant, and enjoyed a couple of hours of instantaneous fellowship. It went all too quickly, leaving much more to discuss; we hope they will be back for "round #2" soon. Thank you for dinner, Karen & Joe! Next time, please be our guests!
Prior to Karen & Joe's visit, another great blessing occurred. That is a story which deserves to be told in installments.
“…See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” - Isaiah 43:19 NIV
I took a trip - a journey is a more accurate description – to Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico. It was a life-enhancing week of reflection, new activities, delicious organic food in healthy portions, gentle self-care, fellowship and learning.
Read along if you want to hear what it’s like to step outside of your regular lifestyle, off of the merry-go-round, unplug from “the grid,” and do everything with an open mind and heart in a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
Before I embarked on this adventure – a couple of months ago – I was talking to Katie in my mind one night, before I went to sleep. I told her that I was doing the best that I can with what I have - doing my best to honor her life. I heard her reply as clearly as if she was in the room with me: “That’s great Mom, but what about your life? The rest of your life doesn’t have to be all about my life.”
Whoa. That stopped me in my tracks, and I’ve been pondering it ever since.
What could be next for me, if it isn’t about Katie? I reflected. I was me before she got sick, before her passing – even before she arrived in our lives. I was me before David’s arrival, before my marriage to Gregg. What about me – what is my own life about, now?
This trip came at the perfect time to open to that question.
I have wanted to take a spa retreat (and a spiritual retreat) since our children were small. My mom and I have spent a day here and there at a spa, and have been away on church retreats, but we’ve never taken one like this. It seemed self-indulgent - something that other people did, but not me. I wanted to do it, but never would have treated myself to it. My mom’s generosity – and her need for a break, after a difficult summer – made it possible.
As the date of departure approached, I wondered how to open my heart to prepare for the experience. The words that dropped into my mind were: “See, I am doing a new thing…” I didn’t recall where in the Bible that phrase originated, but I knew that it was God speaking. That phrase became my mantra as I prepared, mentally and physically, for the trip. I resolved to look for Him everywhere, to intentionally allow God to do a “new thing” - whatever that meant - with me.
Gregg and I flew to Palm Springs and drove to my parents' condo. He and my dad had a week of activities planned; Mom and I got up early the next day and set out for San Diego. Five highways and 2 ½ hours later, I dropped off the rental car and we were met at the airport by the welcoming staff of the ranch. They took our bags, gave us each a bottle of water and a little bag of homemade granola, and invited us to board their van.
After another couple of hours on the road (and a border crossing), we arrived at the gates of the ranch. We were each greeted with a fresh cup of lemonade and a cool towel as we disembarked the van.Following the porter who took our bags, my first sensation was of the delicious scent of herbs. The largest rosemary bushes I had ever seen, abloom with purple flowers, as well as laurel, lavender, sage and thyme, wafted their fragrance in the warm air, enlivening our senses with nature’s aromatherapy. As we followed the young man along the path to our casita, enjoying the perfume in the air, I began to see that this was going to be a trip greater than anything I had imagined.