Friday, April 18, 2008

Trip to the Skagit Valley / Reflections on this Time

Some of my Scandinavian ancestors farmed in the Skagit Valley in NW Washington. Five of them are buried there. My mother, who has been getting into genealogy, wanted to check out the church records and visit the cemetery. Yesterday we went. It was a nice outing - complete with stops for ice cream and coffee!

While we were in the area we visited the La Conner Quilt Museum and went to look at the tulips, just coming into bloom. To view more pictures from the day, click here.

In other news, my plans for the next week or so are up in the air again. My grandfather, back in Indiana where my dad is from, seems to be dying. I will try to make it back for his funeral. This may mean canceling commitments I've made in Washington and/or Colorado, but I'm not sure yet. He is an old, old man, and began the process of dying many years ago; I think he's ready to go. Who knows, maybe things will turn around and he will pull through. But that's not what's expected.

Whether I get on a plane to Indiana on Monday, or keep my original plans to fly back to Colorado Thursday, my time away from the office seems to be coming to a close to quickly. Yes, I'm still kind of stressed about how I've used my time here. On the up side, I did some teaching at church which went pretty well, and got together with a college friend I haven't seen in maybe five years, and I have plans with another, tonight. I've worked out every other day, and am getting plenty of sleep. I'm getting along well with my family, even if it's difficult to meet their expectations without becoming overextended. I've read quite a few books. I spent some time processing my last six months at work, assessing what I've done and how I feel about it.

On the other hand, I find 30+ unread emails in my inbox today, sitting on top of several hundred I had hoped to clear out, and I've done little writing, and not enough reflection. In less than an hour I have a lunch appointment which I am dreading. It could be she just wants to spend time together because we are friends, but I can think of three or four ways I have let her down recently and am fearful that she wants to confront me about these things and point out what they say about my character (that I don't keep my commitments and follow through on things. It's true!)

[Update - well, she did not bring any of this up. Nor did I... which would have been another way to clear the slate. Now it seems silly that I thought she was mad at me. I must have been looking through a lens blurred by guilt...]

I think back to my days as a Girl Scout. Grownup life, you know, still seems to include time for snacks and games and singing, but is remarkably short on merit badges and other ways to mark and celebrate one's success in exploring a new area or facing a fear or mastering a new skill (like learning to rollerskate backwards or do CPR or build a fire).

I may have written about this before, but when I was a Scout we closed all our meetings with one of several songs. The one I think I've taken most into my heart is the one that's most spiritually questionable. We called it Canadian Taps (though probably it is no more Canadian than Canadian bacon or Canada geese).

Softly fades the light of day,
As the campfire dies away.
Silently each scout shall ask,
"Have I done my daily task?
Have I held my honor bright?
Can I guiltless sleep tonight?
Have I done and have I dared
Everything to be prepared?"

Try sleeping easy after that. It's pretty unnerving. Because I fail, so often, to be prepared, to preserve my honor and integrity and clean conscience. Well, let's deal with the deeds undone, let's face our ghosts and failures and wounds. And if my friend wants to confront me about the ways I failed her, far better to weather the confrontation and come out cleaner on the other side.

If you want to sleep easy, though, meditate on the much more soothing words of this song - 'regular' taps. You know the tune I suspect.

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky.
All is well, safely rest.
God is nigh.

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