Tag Archives: adventure

More light

More light seems to be the theme of this time of year. The winter solstice was the other day, so every day will now get longer; the four candles of the Advent wreath are lit; the Menorah is getting brighter every day; and tomorrow, we celebrate Christmas—more light.


Thinking about the light of this season makes me think of where I have experienced light throughout the past year.

The first thing that comes to mind is my sister and her two grandbabies. When these babies were born in 2021 (one in November and the other in December), my sister offered to mind them two days a week. Her children took her up on her offer. She asked me to be a back-up, and I happily agreed. Spending Mondays and Wednesdays with my sister and her two grandbabies has brought a great deal of light into my life. The babies are pure joy, and my sister’s generosity inspires me. Every time I see the babies, I see some new development, and they remind me that God is always doing something new—in them and in me.

Was there something new in your life this year that was a bright spot?


This year has been one of abundant travel, starting in January with a trip to Arizona to hike in Sedona and to visit family. Then in spring, I spent a month in Europe, and then I spent a second month in Europe this fall. In between those European trips, I visited friends in Pennsylvania, and a friend from Delaware visited me. Travel expands me and reminds me of the importance of taking risks in order to keep growing.

Did you have any adventures this year?


I also completed an Internship in Ignatian Spirituality this year, a program that began in 2020. The program was intensive and arduous, and there were times when I wanted to drop out, but I persisted, and I am glad I did. I learned a lot through all the readings and lectures, and now I have joined a peer supervision group for on-going support and to continue developing my listening skills and ability to accompany people on their spiritual journeys.

What is helping you to grow spiritually?


Recently, I have been noticing how often I use the word invitation, as in “I got invited to be the guest speaker for a nonprofit fundraiser,” and “I was invited to meet with a nonprofit consulting firm,” and “I got invited to be one of the dancers in a nonprofit’s version of DWTS.” I said yes to all three of these invitations, each of which was a surprise invitation, and each of which challenges me in some way. These invitations remind me that God is still shaping me and that I am still growing into the person I was meant to be, doing what I was meant to be doing. And each invitation reminds me that the best is yet to come.

Where are you being invited to grow?


Next stop, Tuscany, Italy

After twelve days in France, I flew to Florence for an Overseas Adventure Travel (O.A.T.) tour of Tuscany and Umbria. The tour began in Lucca, a walled city about an hour west of Florence.

I arrived three days before the tour began, and I used those days to explore Lucca.

On my first day, I took a walk on the top of the walls and also visited the Palazzo Pfanner, a home and garden inside the walls. Even though it was November, there were plenty of flowers and lemons (I stopped counting the lemon trees at 25. I thought maybe they used all those lemons for limoncello, but I was told they just like lemons).

Palazzo Pfanner as seen from on top of the city wall. Those are all lemon trees lining the walkways.

I stayed at the San Luca Palace Hotel inside the walls. It was a great location and a wonderful hotel. The staff was extremely welcoming and helpful. Since I was on my own those first few days, I appreciated their suggestions and directions. I highly recommend staying at this hotel because their attention to service was outstanding.

I arrived in early afternoon, and even though it was not meal time, one of the staff offered to make me something to eat (a delicious ham and cheese panini).

Then, I needed a manicure, and the Hotel receptionist recommended a nearby salon. Even though no one in the small salon spoke English, we were able to communicate through gestures, and I got the best manicure I have ever had!

Day one in Italy was the beginning of a wonderful adventure.

St. Donato’s gate.

Mother Teresa speaks to me

Mother Teresa has been speaking to me recently. Not directly, of course, but through a daily reflection book I have been reading this year, Do Something Beautiful for God.

Sometimes, they are pithy sayings like the entry for October 19:

Life is an adventure; dare it.

I, too, believe that life is an adventure, and I am doing my best to dare it, by taking risks, traveling, saying yes to opportunities. I am doing things I love and enjoying life. I wonder, though, if that is what Mother Teresa meant. Her life seemed totally devoted to service, so when she says adventure, what does she mean?

Last month, I participated in two opportunities to serve meals at two churches in the city, and I was reminded of the importance of direct contact with people who live closer to the edge than I do. Most of the volunteer work I do now is organizational (boards and committees), so cooking and serving meals felt like an invitation to return to the kind of service I used to do. A different kind of adventure.

Other times, Mother Teresa’s words seem to be inviting me to a movement in prayer. The entry for October 14: Every moment of prayer, especially before our Lord in the tabernacle, is a sure, positive gain. The time we spend each day sitting with God is the most precious part of the whole day.

This one spoke to me on several levels. First, I don’t tend to spend time before our Lord in the tabernacle, perhaps because it was not part of my religious upbringing and because I have to go someplace to find a tabernacle. I pray in the morning at home, but I know that when I have prayed in chapel (on retreat mostly), I have found it peaceful. When I read this reflection, I wondered why I don’t go to chapel more often.

That led me to reflect on my time in prayer every morning and if it is the most precious part of the whole day. I know that when I am on retreat, spending a whole week in silence and focused on God 24/7, my prayer seems to be deeper and more precious.  Perhaps the invitation is to be more attentive to God throughout the day—on retreat or not.

The entry for October 16: If you were to die today, what would others say about you? What was in you that was beautiful, that was Christlike, that helped others to pray better? Face yourself, with Jesus at our side, and do not be satisfied with just any answer. Go deep into the question. Examine your life.

When I left Pennsylvania nine years ago—after having lived there for twenty-eight years—friends had a going-away party for me and one after another, people said all kinds of wonderful things about me. My friend Ted said it was like being at my own wake, and I still smile when I recall that party. One thing that stood out to me was how many people thanked me for doing some small thing that I did not even remember doing—a kind word or some small favor that meant little to me but had a big impact on them.

That reminded me of Mother Teresa’s saying: Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.

Through the door

I walk unsteadily,

like a toddler finding my center of gravity,

arms out for balance,

taking one wobbly step after another,

crossing the threshold into a life I have never known.

A flicker of familiarity encourages me

(I don’t have to leave everything behind)

and the known calms my uncertainty.

Is the light coming from ahead to guide my steps or

from the experiences of my past,

encouraging me onward

to step through the door and

begin this journey into

the next chapter of my life.

Let the river carry you

Leaves gently falling onto the river,

just a few these first days of autumn.

How would it be to fall into the river and

be carried away,

past farm and forest,

floating freely?

Is it too late to start again?

To step into the river and let it carry me away?

To let go of all that I have been clutching,

all the history that fills my heart,

taking up all the space and

leaving no room for what might come.

Be the leaf.

Let go and fall into the adventure

that awaits just around the bend of the river.

Adventures in Britain

My first trip to England was to hike in the Lake District with three friends. One friend had been to Grasmere several times for Wordsworth conferences, and he was our leader. With his trusty guidebook in hand, we set off.


Unfortunately, he neglected to take into account that the length of days in summer (when the conferences were held) was different from the length of days in November, when we were visiting.

This became apparent on our first hike. We went out in early afternoon, when he thought we would have six hours to ramble through the countryside. But the light quickly began to fade around 4 p.m. and we were soon plunged into darkness. We had no flashlights and this was before cell phones, so when I say darkness, I mean darkness. There were no visible lights from houses and no streetlights to guide us to a road. We were sunk.

I remember telling myself that I was on an adventure with three friends and had nothing to fear.

Somehow, we got back to town safely.

The next day, we left much earlier and remained cognizant of the time.

After two days of hiking, though, I decided to stay in town to poke around the shops and visit Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s home. When I announced my plan at breakfast, our leader said, “You can’t.”

“Why can’t I?”

“We came to hike,” he said emphatically.

“And I have hiked,” I replied.

He found it incomprehensible that I would take a day off from the very purpose of our trip. But I was not deterred.

Don’t get me wrong—I like to hike. But hiking in the Lake District is arduous.


When the book instructed us to scramble across a brook, it neglected to mention that in November the rocks in the brook would be covered in ice. The same with scaling rock faces. After two days, I had had enough and wanted a day off.

Besides, I enjoy poking around in little shops and visiting museums.

At the end of that day, I met up with the other three for drinks at the local pub.

Intermittent rain had made their hiking even more challenging (and less enjoyable), and they were exhausted.

I was happy I hadn’t gone hiking, as I enjoyed shopping in the village, visiting Dove Cottage and walking around Lake Grasmere.


My next hiking trip to England was to the Cotswolds where the Cotswold Way sounded much gentler than the Lake District walks. I went in the summer when the days are long, but I still had unexpected challenges—like not being able to find the gate in a field and having to climb a tree to get over a barbed-wire fence (hoping no one was capturing this escapade on video).

Being more of a city girl, both trips challenged me and gave me a sense of accomplishment.

Next year, I am going to the U.K.—this time to Wales, where I plan to walk leisurely around gardens.


An act of kindness

I was introduced to the treasures of libraries in elementary school. Our school library was paneled in dark mahogany and was, of course, very quiet; just walking into the room calmed me.

The nearest public library was a half mile from home and as soon as I was able to walk there on my own, I became a regular patron. By the time I was twelve, I was taking the bus downtown to the Main Branch of the Detroit Public Library.


Main Branch, Detroit Public Library


Fine Arts Reading Room, Main Branch, Detroit Public Library

The libraries in my young life were havens, offering me peace while there—and then adventures through the books I carried home.

I think it was no accident that my neighborhood library was named after Laura Ingalls Wilder; her books opened my eyes to a different way of life in a different era.

As a teen, I volunteered at my local library and was entrusted with re-shelving books. My reading list was influenced by which books repeatedly appeared on my cart.

Looking back, I can see that those early library experiences formed not only my love of reading but also my sense of adventure and love of travel.expectations-mindfulness-blessingLibraries are a world I inhabit comfortably—no matter where they are.

In England last summer, I checked emails on the public computer at the Chipping Campden Library. A large jigsaw puzzle caught my eye. It was half finished, and the librarian told me everyone was welcome to help finish the puzzle. I brought that idea back to the cancer support center where I work, and we now have a puzzle in process.

Last week, doing research at the Wayne State University Library, I passed by their community jigsaw puzzle and wondered if the librarian there had also been to Chipping Campden!expectations-mindfulness-blessingLibraries continue to offer new books, new programs, new ways for communities to come together and new resources. Although my relationship with libraries spans sixty years, I can still be surprised when I visit the library.

When I was checking out some books at my local library the other day, the woman at the counter said, “Just a minute,” and she walked to the far end of the counter. I wondered what was going on.

“You left this in a book you returned,” she said, handing me a bookmark with the Doors of Dublin printed on one side. It had been a gift from a friend who had visited Ireland. “How did you know it was mine?” I asked.

She explained than they flip through books before re-shelving them, and when they found the bookmark, they looked up who had most recently checked out the book.

The kindness of that gesture surprised me.

I realized that I expect library staff to be informative and helpful, but this was an act of kindness beyond anything I had expected. It was a pleasant surprise, and the positive feeling has lingered.

I feel so fortunate that I became acquainted with the library so young and grateful that I feel at home there.expectations-mindfulness-blessing

Looking for the opening

St. Philip’s Mission in rural Swaziland was one of the places I visited as director of Cabrini Mission Corps. Getting to the Mission required a thirty-minute drive down a dirt road lined by high, dense brush. The brush appeared to be unbroken, but on my first trip, I learned that there are small openings that lead to homesteads and farms.

I could not see any openings, and I would spent the thirty-minute drive staring at the brush, hoping someone would be entering or exiting at the exact moment we were driving by.

I was reminded of those trips down that dirt road when I went kayaking recently with my brother and sister-in-law on a small lake in a state park. It was a beautiful Michigan summer day, sunny with a bit of a breeze, low humidity and the temperature hovering around eighty degrees. We paddled and floated on the calm water and then my brother suggested we move to another lake. “How do we get there?” I asked. “There’s a canal,” he said. “Where?” I asked. My sister-in-law said, “You can’t see it, but there is an opening along the shore.” She was right; I could not see it.

But my brother confidently led us toward the shoreline and sure enough, an opening appeared, revealing a small canal, barely wide enough for our paddles. We followed its twists and turns through tall reeds until it opened up onto another lake about the same size as the one we had left.

It was magical.

As we paddled around this second lake, my brother suggested the possibility of another canal on the far side of the lake. My sister-in-law and I could not see any openings, but my brother wanted to explore, to see if he could find another canal that would take us to another lake.


Floating along on that lake, looking for the openings that would take us to other lakes, reminded me of the dirt road to the Mission in Swaziland and how the breaks in the brush led to homesteads and farms.

It also reminded me of my walk with God.

Recently, I have been praying about direction and trying to be open to where God is leading me. Through scripture, prayer, conversations and dreams, I believe God is inviting me to something new. But, like the openings in the brush in Swaziland and the reeds on the lake, I do not always see the possibilities.

My spiritual director reminded me that how God is inviting me to proclaim Good News might not be what I expect, and that responding to God’s invitation might require me to move out of my comfort zone.

I reflect on how my brother’s spirit of adventure enabled him to discover hidden canals which lead to other lakes; I want to be that adventuresome so I can recognize and respond to the openings God is revealing.