A Roadtrip

I woke up this morning tired. My right heel has a burning sensation that wakes me up at night when I move my foot to a different position while sleeping. I thought about staying home, but my work ethic is sometimes just plain ignorant of what is best for me.

When I got to work, I  walked over to the library to watch a presentation. It wasn’t  going very well due to technology problem. These things kind of bother me because when I do a presentation I usually have Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C…Yes, I am anal retentive. Many of the young people waiting for the presentaion to get going were sitting with the protective shields up – using their cell phones, avoiding eye contact, sending out a vibe of “leave me  alone.” I see this a lot. I walked up to the most defensive of them, offered my hand, asked how they were doing, and told them I was glad they were there.  Every single one responded with a friendly gesture back. I don’t often do this. I often just make the situation worse by putting up my own  protective shield.

I  wandered out of the non-presentation and sat among the books for a bit. There I found a very old copy of Thomas Merton’s “The Seven Story Mountain,” and I checked it out. library

The student librarian said, “This is due back in … one year.” I thought to myself, “Huh, no shit? One year?” but instead I said, “I should be able to get it read by then.”

As I was walking back to where I should be, my foot started hurting again, and  I felt even more fatigue. I  also was missing Jesus. Huh? Yeah, for some reason I’ve been thinking about Jesus – I guess because it is the Holy Week and I don’t have any religious traditions left in my life.

I decided I needed a break from work for a couple hours. I have been putting in many hours and I was tired. I needed a vacation. So I got in my car and headed up the road about 20 miles to a monestary called  New Clairvaux. I believe the monks from Thomas Merton’s home monestary actually started New Clairvaux – small world.

Let me share some photos and videos with you.

A lot of  open space  on the way up there. The mountain is Mt. Lassen, an  active volcano.


I think Mt. Lassen is about 10,000 feet in elevation. Further north is Mt. Shasta and it is about 14,000 feet or so.


Driving into the  monestary…



And then I sat with my favorite tree…a very old Black Walnut tree. Someone said it was 230 years old, but I ain’t buying it…but then again… This tree always touches me deeply.  I don’t know why.


I spent some time in a chapel and I got a little bit teary eyed, not like a cry baby or anything like that…still. I would make a lousy monk though. I don’t handle solitude very well, so I  hopped up and  went out to see what they were doing in the Koi  Pond. (They were cleaning the algae out of it.) I asked one of the helpers what was their oldest fish? They said that they had one for 45 years. I then asked them if it had a name and he said, “Yep, Big Bertha.”


From there I walked out by the vineyards and I found a bench and  I sat quietly again…for a few minutes…and opened up the The Seven Story Mountain that I was carrying  with me for some weird reason and I read this line, “…what kind of place a man might live in, to live according  to his rational nature, and not like some stray dog.”  This hit me hard-smack right between the eyes. I have been  thinking a lot about what I want to “do” when I retire, without much success in finding an answer. It struck me, I have been concentrating on “doing” and not “being.” I “do” it all the time and it makes me very anxious. It makes me hungry, even when I am full. It makes me grumpy even when I have nothing to be grumpy about. It has me running around, like a stray dog. Just be.


Ok, so  I am up again walking back to where the wine is sold. Along the way you can see the church with the most fascinating story.   https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Medieval-church-finds-home-in-California-4145608.php



I bought a couple of bottles and then found another bench where I sat.  I opened  up another section of The Seven Story Mountain and read Merton descibing someone’s characteristics. I thought, “Not only am I focusing on my “doing” but I’m not letting other people just “be” either.” Yuk.  This took up about 3 minutes of silence, ok probably 2 minutes,  and then I got up. By now, my heel was really hurting and I limped back to the car. I passed a couple of the monks along the way. I have to admit, I don’t know how to talk to a monk. But to be honest, I don’t think chit chat was really on either one of their agendas for the day.

Then I  thought of this wonderful swimming hole along the way. A few years ago, I sat from the bridge and watched as family members swam on a late summer day in this hole. They were surrounded  by salmon who were returning from their journey out to the Pacific Ocean and back… and now were going to lay their eggs, or fertilize the eggs, and then die.  (The fish, not my family members.) OK, I can’t even put that feeling of watching them swim with the salmon in words. Here is a video of the place now and the snow melt makes it no place for swimming…yet.

Finally I thought, all this water runs into the Sacramento River, just down the road, …so off I went. But, first this horse caught my eye.

Now as I  review all of this, I think I might have actually taken a roadtrip with Jesus. Maybe all you need is the longing and things start falling in place. I don’t know. I don’t know nuthin’.  It was a nice vacation though and much needed.