-Being brave and getting my hair cut in a pixie. I really like it, but also don't quite recognize myself in the mirror yet. As I left the hairdresser, he asked the woman waiting, "Are you going to be as brave as Whitney today?" She replied that she can't pull off short hair because of what she called a "giraffe neck." I said that I didn't have a giraffe anything and we all chuckled.
-Feeling grateful for my ability to pack boxes and lift them (well, most of them) and also grateful that manual labor is not what I do for a living. I will have newfound respect for my movers when they come.
-A thoughtful invitation and hospitality experienced before I even arrive in North Carolina.
-Reading a bit of Annie Dillard as I sermonate on Isaiah 64 for Sunday:
There was no formerly heroic times and there was no formerly pure generation. There is no one here but us chickens, and so it has always been: a people busy and powerful, knowledgeable, ambivalent, important, fearful, and self-aware: a people who scheme, promote, deceive and conquer: who pray for their loved ones and long to escape misery and skip death. It is a weakening and discoloring idea – that people knew God personally once upon a time — or even knew selflessness or courage or literature — but that it is too late for us. In fact, the absolute is available to every one in every age. There was never a more holy age than ours, and never a less.
...And later in the afternoon, as irony would have it, I saw a chicken wandering around the Goodwill parking lot. I immediately thought, "there's no one here but us chickens" and giggled a little.
-The moving company giving me loads of boxes for free, including wonderful wardrobe boxes with hanging bars in them for clothes. It's such a kind thing when people go out of their way to be helpful. When I arrived to pick up boxes, the woman who works in the office came out and said, "Are you Whitney, who called about the boxes?" like she was excited to be seeing an old friend. She cheerfully gave me plenty and wished me a great day.
Meet Katy. She's a dear friend of mine from seminary and we've managed to keep in touch pretty well in the years since then. Katy is one of the most unique people I know: the girl who wore vintage skirts, pearls and tennis shoes to class, who takes stunning pictures, who laughs infectiously and who is always up for grand (and sometimes random) adventures. Our most recent time of catching up was no exception. Katy was home visiting family in San Antonio and I live in Victoria, so we made plans to meet somewhere in the middle. As we went to Goliad and explored the missions last time we met up, we were looking for something new to do. Our conversation went something like this:
Katy: "Hey! What about meeting in Smiley or Nixon? They're halfway
Me: (pausing to think of what there could possibly be to do in Smiley, Texas)
"Okay, that sounds good."
Katy: "Do you like old cemeteries?"
Me: (pausing to take in that question) "Um...sure."
Well, apparently Katy and her husband Will loved wandering around old Victorian cemeteries in Atlanta and sort of have a habit of exploring tiny, old cemeteries. (This was apparently a very romantic first date of theirs!) Katy takes pictures, Will takes in the peaceful quiet and they have themselves a grand ol' time. I've learned in my friendship with Katy that if she suggests something new to do, as strange as it may be, you'll wind up having the most fun day ever.
And so on Friday we did. It was fantastic to see Katy and Will again and they had mapped out on their iPhone all sorts of teeny country cemeteries to explore.
And you know what? They were beautiful and holy, peaceful and relaxing.
I loved all the different imagery used, and could feel the love with which people were remembered.
We also discovered some caterpillars: this quite friendly looking one.
And this not-so-friendly fellow.
Katy and I took pictures and talked about seminary days and exciting calls we're both starting soon.
Cemeteries really are beautiful places: in Victorian days, folks used to go to cemeteries all the time. They were like parks, with winding pathways, benches and families enjoying picnics, celebrating life in the midst of those who have passed on.
I loved the different ways people were celebrated: some with hand-written care and thought.
Others, simply remembered with a cross (what else do you really need?).
Smiling, adventurous Katy.
We then went to this cemetery, where color and imagery abounded.
Will was feeling quite inspired.
I wonder about who made this heart in the dirt and left the rose. Such deep love. Cemeteries could be seen as depressing, but I think they remind us of our connection to God and one another that never dies. And in a world where everyone is pressured to be fine all the time, they create space to acknowledge our grief and express our emotions.
It was definitely an adventure. In the middle of finding ancient resting places and admiring unexpected beauty, we also took time to sit on a blanket and eat lunch, tell stories, laugh and breathe and celebrate life for the gift it is. What an unexpectedly lovely day.
First, a glimpse of grace from a few days ago: perfect cheery sunlight streaming in through the window and onto my chair, making it seem like that's exactly where I was to be sitting in that moment. (And under the chair seems to be exactly where Hayden preferred to be resting at that moment.)
With a move to North Carolina coming quickly, I decided to take a break from packing (going great!) to visit my Grandmother. Isn't she lovely and joyful? We had a wonderful time.
She made me what I've had at her house for as long as I can remember: biscuits and gravy for breakfast.
There's nothing as good as my Grandmother's gravy.
(And of course, copious amounts of coffee to go with it!)
I went with her to get her hair fixed, and met her hilarious hairdresser. As you can see, they get on famously.
My Grandmother lives in Alice, Texas, a small South Texas town with plentiful palm trees, several Mexican restaurants, a friendly feel and, apparently, an old Mexican-Italian restaurant. Judging from the disrepair of the place, I take it fusion food isn't too big in Alice. We did, though, discover some very fun boutiques in Alice.
This monarch butterfly fluttered around a blooming bush near Grandmother's apartment. If I got a bit too close, it would just take off in large arcs around me before finding its way back to that same bush.
Thanks for everything, Grandmother! What a fun time. Love you!