Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Mental Health Weekend

I haven't had more than one or two days off from work since before the holiday season so I decided to take this past Friday off and have an extended weekend. I decided on Thursday night that I would get up at my usual time on Friday morning, take my wife to work, and then drive to the home of my friend, Father Dennis, who lives a solitary life as a hermit not too far from the Abbey of Gethsemani. I was happy to awaken on on Friday morning with no new snow on the ground or highway. As I sit here now on this very sunny day it's difficult to believe that this has been one of the snowiest winters in years. This weekend has given us beautiful, if cool, springlike weather but I am getting ahead of myself....

The roads to Bardstown were clear and dry on Friday. I was listening to a mix of my all time favorite songs and I was totally one with the beauty of the countryside. I was also trying out my new GPS. We had some disagreements and when it didn't tell me to get off at the exit where I usually get off, I choked and did it my way. I've decided that next time I will be more trusting, follow it's lead, and stray from my usual path. I rarely leave my comfort zone and I should.

When I finally arrived at the home of my friend, Father Dennis, I was so happy to see him. We've known one another for forty years and he is now like a big brother to me. For most of the last year I've had no official business at the monastery so I haven't been going there as much. In the past I always combined business at the monastery with a visit to Father Dennis. After a brief chat we decided to go out for breakfast at a small country restaurant called "Tom Pig's". We shared our meal as two old friends who could have easily been mistaken for two local farmers. Sometimes people do think we are brothers. It must be the beards! After breakfast we went to the monastery gift shop. I overcame my addiction for more books but I was seduced by the Trappist jelly and coffee. All it all it was a wonderful day. When I finally decided to head for home Dennis gave me a big hug and said, "This has been a great day. It's been like a Day of Recollection"! Dennis is one of the few people in my life with whom I can have serious and deep conversations about life and spirituality and who I can be completely open and honest with about whatever is on my mind.

When I got back to Louisville I picked my wife up and we headed to a restaurant to meet my youngest son for dinner. He is a 2nd year theology student at St. Meinrad School of Theology and was home for the weekend. If all continues going well he will be a priest in a couple of years. Dinner was filled with discussion of his recent trip to Washington, D.C. for the annual Right to Life gathering.

The biggest chunk of my weekend was taken up with my role of being Paw Paw to my six year old granddaughter. I was awakened at 7:30 AM when she appeared in my bed. Her Dad was dropping her off on his way to work. The weather has been so nice this weekend that we were able to spend a good deal of time outside where we fixed my bird feeder and put out birdseed and food for the squirrels. At times, we simply sat side by side in my swing and enjoyed the warmth of the sun on our faces. Between the silence and the Zen moments we had those wonderful conversations that only a grandparent and grandchild can have.

It was a great long weekend. Unfortunately tomorrow is a return to the madness and drama of the workplace. Unlike my friend, Father Dennis, my life is not quite at the point where "everyday is Saturday morning".

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