Monday, July 8, 2013

Monks and Platypus {Anomalies}

Mary Lake at Westminster Abbey, Mission, BC, Canada
After collecting Peter and a friend from another live-in weekend at the Benedictine Monastery's high school seminary in BC, a long and boring border wait was followed by a bizarre exchange with the customs guard in the booth.

We suffered the usual stern exchange once our ID documents were in his possession, including, "Where do you live?" and "Why were you in Canada?" I answered, "The boys were at the monastery in Mission for a weekend visit," which launched a series of strange follow up questions:

"What is that?  Church of England? Roman Catholic? Orthodox? Protestant?"
"It's Catholic, Benedictine, the religious order founded by Saint Benedict."

"So do they walk around in floor-length sackcloth whipping themselves all day?"
"No. They do wear habits, which are full length, black garments with hoods."

"So did they beat their hands with rulers?"
I turned around and asked the boys, "Did the monks beat your hands with rulers?"
"The boys got to swim and play roller hockey, they had prayer time and talks.  They have a great time up there. The monks are very holy," I added.

"I think God has a sense of humor."
"I hope so."

"Otherwise why would he have created the platypus?"
"Now why does everyone always pick on the poor platypus?"
"I'm not picking on the platypus..."
"The platypus is an anomaly, that's why people pick on the platypus," said Peter's wise friend.
Anomalies do seem to invite being singled out, don't they?

Seminary of Christ the King; Monastery of Westminster Abbey, Mission, BC, Canada

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Uprooted & Replanted {Journeying}

Final tagging of baggage before check-in at the departure gate
Another family transition officially transpired without (reported) incident: Zachary has been transplanted to European soil.  Zac's departure via Vancouver, BC, went off without a hitch; other than a very random series of questions by the Canadian Peace Arch border guard, the event was fairly uneventful. We officially received word that he landed and found lodging:
"Couldn't sleep on flight...took a train to Innsbruck and am here now."
Although the first 5 nights of his European stay are unstructured and mostly unplanned, we trust in his survival skills and good intuition, and eagerly await his occasional email updates and hope for photos, too.  As his first update arrived ~at the very moment Tim read it at work~ a customer who lives in Garmisch-Partkirchen, Germany, happened to be in our shop.  The customer overheard Tim sharing Zac's whereabouts and offered him lodging in a six bedroom apartment with a view of the highest peak in the Bavarian Alps, where her husband is currently stationed.  Whether or not Zachary takes the free lodging offer shall remain a mystery for the time being, but talk about Divine Providence at work!
Zac fires away during a pre-departure target practice session for fun on our private property.
Zac's unarmed on this journey, except for his trusty pocket knife, but he's packing a whole host of prayers and an extremely talented and holy guardian angel.  His hammock and lighter may prove useful; whether or not he'll miss his sleeping bag and hiking boots remains to be seen.  He's traveling light, with backpack and day pack, yet stuffed in his Church clothes ~ hand-me-downs from our former parish priest, Father Qui Thac~Marion who passed down and gave away all his belongings before taking the Benedictine habit and living the vow of poverty in extreme simplicity during this past year of discernment.  So in a way, Father QT~M is along for the journey with Zachary as well!

Quote of the day:
I announced, "Zachary is in one of the most beautiful places in the world today!"
Peter replied, "So are we." 
So true.
On top of the world
Like father, like son; at the target range with Mt. Baker looming in the distance
Family supper with our very special guest from Mission, BC
Speaking of Benedictines, we had the pleasure of hosting Father Peter Nygren, OSB, rector of Christ the King Seminary in Mission, BC, for dinner at our home a few days ago.  Father Peter makes a few stops after the school year ends to visit families whose boys have attended the live-ins and made connections with the Catholic boys' school.  We served grilled pork chops and corn on the cob and in return received a beautiful blessing and the opportunity to chant Vespers together in our living room (more or less on key).
Zachary, Peter, Father Peter and Joseph
Dr. Dude gives Zac the business over his beard
Speaking of special visitors, our Goddaughter Hope, and her family are visiting from San Diego.  Former neighbors and faithful parishioners of Sacred Heart, this adorable, growing family lights up the whole city upon their return.  We have cherished a few rowdy suppers at home and some squirming in the pews.  Things are always more exciting with little ones running around, and the timing of their visit coinciding with Zachary's departure helps ease the heart strains a bit.  
Zachary and Dominic chill in the company of Dominic's wiggly sisters: Miriam, Hope and Hannah
Three brothers; apart for the time being, but very close at heart   

Monday, July 1, 2013

Time Flies {Zachary to Munich}

At the Ballard Locks on Zac's first day home from Notre Dame; Ascension Thursday, before Mass at N. American Martyrs on Joseph's confirmation day
Another bittersweet parting with Zachary looms on the near horizon as he packs his backpack for a month of German studies in Munich.  Last minute errands are on our to-do list today, including a possible stop at a local strawberry field to pick a bucket of berries for dessert.  We have thoroughly enjoyed having our whole family together these past two months, and anticipate a few withdrawals as we adjust to life without Zachary again.  
Hitting the Chuckanut trails on a training hike with the Scouts
After spending the past two months at home, Zac eagerly anticipates his European adventure, which begins in Canada, land of the cheaper departures.  After an hour's drive to the Vancouver airport, give or take depending on border traffic, Zac will spend eleven hours or so en route to Munich.  Upon landing, his plan is to find a place (or a few) to visit for 5 days before his classes begin; maybe in Vienna, maybe somewhere else.
Tutored by a pro, Zachary learns the art of cooking dumplings with Grandpa Cliff.

After a hard day's work at the sawmill

Many hours laboring in the sawmill for a few dollars
The product of many hours' labor
Zachary's primary endeavor while home on his first summer break from university involved holding down a full time minimum wage job at a local lumber mill while maintaining constant contact with friends and balancing family time and recreation.  Quite a juggling act, but by simply and consistently reducing the total number of hours of sleep, Zachary made ends meet.  Unlike my first smelly job packing pickles at Nalley's in Tacoma, or Tim's first stinky job gutting salmon around the clock in South Naknek, Alaska, Zachary exited the lumber mill each day smelling like a cedar chest.  On one of his more educational lunch breaks, his co-workers boasted of places where they'd done time.
Zachary and Roy taking off on the 18 mile canoe leg of the annual Ski 2 Sea race on the Nooksack River.
Zachary trains Peter in the fine art of Polish dumpling cooking.

Floating Lake Padden on a sunny Sunday afternoon

3 bros ready to hike the shores of Baker Lake

A revival of sorts: all the men in our family assisted with the Corpus Christi Eucharistic Procession; Zac crossbearer.
Manly men celebrating bearded faces
With only hours left before our next farewell, we pause to remember (and document) the wide variety of wonderful events and experiences we've shared with Zachary and his awesome peeps during these past few weeks of togetherness.  Godspeed, son.  We're all praying for you!
Zachary, Joseph and Tim (with Caleb) honor David at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor.

In one last pre-departure attempt at raising cash, Zac flags traffic toward our family fireworks stand.
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for Zachary's German adventure.