Wednesday, May 24, 2006

be still

Our whole staff from St. James's spent Monday and Tuesday on retreat at the Cathedral College of Preachers, an ecclesiastical continuing education center attached to the National Cathedral in D.C. The sole purpose of this retreat was to force the thirteen of us into a place where we could not work or do anything other than relax and participate in some guided meditations and contemplative prayer. We were led by Tilden Edwards, the founder and 27-year director of the Shalem Institute dedicated to the support of contemplative living. The guy is pretty amazing - his guided meditations were so effective, and following one of them after lunch, we were asked to move about the grounds of the cathedral (or sit still) on our own and just "be" in silence for an hour and a half. I realize it may sound a little cheesy or New Agey or something. But imagine if you could take your brain out of your head and scrub it clean of residue and clutter before putting it back in your skull. The whole experience felt kind of like that. Clarity. A clean slate. An ease of being. An openness to things just as they are without trying to make them into something else. A reliance on intuition and experience rather than analytical naming. (I sound like a total hippie.)

It was a renewing, centering experience. And yes, there was more to the retreat than the meditations. There was lots of food. And some wine. And more than a little bourbon and cigar smoking. Mostly it was an enjoyable two days with a group of people I consider to be my good friends. Having now returned to "real life," I only hope that I can hang on to the sense of balance and openness that I managed to find - or that found me - once I was unplugged for a while.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

worth 1,000 words? maybe a dozen or so, anyway...

Finally, some pictures from our grand beach vacation...

The Fam:

Erin on the porch:

Les and Jorge:

Is Leslie actually pointing at my mother rather mockingly?? Or just being generally retarded? And why does mom look a little confused?

Mom bought "Crocs" for all of us - about as perfect as a beach shoe gets. Thanks Mom!

I shaved the beard over vacation and for just a brief, shining moment, I had a moustache that would have been the envy of porn stars and rednecks everywhere:

Dad getting ready to take us out in the boat:

Exploring Little St. George Island:

Mom at the porch door:

Doing what we do best - eating and drinking!

A view of the sunset from the house:

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

all good things must end

A brief recap of the vacation week:

Things got off to a bit of a rough start when our plane was more than three hours late leaving Richmond. After another delay in Atlanta, we got to Panama City about midnight and walked in the door at the beach house at quarter to 2:00 in the morning. If it weren't for Erin's patience and unflappable good nature, I probably would have thrown at least one tantrum at some point in the travel process. As it was, though, we enjoyed getting some time to sit and relax and revel in the fact that we did not have to be anywhere (not that there was anywhere to go in the airport). So the night ended late, to be sure...but not late enough to forego a big plate of veggie lasagna that our parents' friend Ronnie had made for us.

Despite the delayed beginning, the rest of the week was indescribably great - got to see Mom, Dad, Les, Jorge, my Aunt Anne and Uncle Joe, various friends, etc. Read a lot. Slept a lot. Drank my fair share (and then some). Poor Erin was subjected to a tidal wave of semi-drunk relatives and satellite "family" who descended en masse upon Monday night dinner. Thankfully, she not only tolerated this spectacle...she actually enjoyed it. (Hallelujah!)

Pictures of the week will follow soon. Meanwhile, I'll just be sitting inside working, watching my tan fade as I wallow in post-vacation self-pity.

In other breaking news: David Blaine is a moron. Seriously.