Monday, February 25, 2008

A Lenten Break

Yesterday after all the church services, after a scheduled conversation with a member of my congregation, and after dropping Scout off at a new dog sitter's house, we headed off for a little retreat at one of our favorite scenic small town destinations: Red Wing, Minnesota. After a lot of vacillating back and forth, we finally decided to again stay at the St. James Hotel, an historic inn that is, in some ways, like a bed and breakfast. Last year we stayed at the St. James for two quiet days while a snowstorm raged outside. It was a wonderful, quiet time. The only dark spot was coming home and shoveling a foot of snow out of out driveway.

We have a large, elegantly appointed room, which also includes all of the modern conveniences, and two plush white robes for us to lounge around in. The hallways are wide, and the stairwells are decorated with historic photos, quilts and other odds and ends. Last night we walked down to a Caribou Coffee housed in a historic building, and then collapsed and fell asleep pretty early. Today we made appointments for massages (tomorrow), decided when to go swimming later today, and walked along the historic district for a little while. Since the temperatures are hovering around freezing, it's a pleasant walk.

We took a little drive across the Mississippi River and down to Lake Pepin, on the Wisconsin side, and stopped to look at a large eagle's nest lodged in a great tree. It was foggy, but I took a picture anyway. We could see one of the eagles out on a limb, looking like a black shadow against the gray distant sky. According to the expert I consulted, the eagles are pretty lazy; they don't move much, except to swoop down and pick up something small. Their nests are huge, though. Now that I have seen one, I'll be on the lookout.

Now I'm planning to spend some time reading A Three Dog Life, a memoir by Abigail Thomas. We hope to have a quiet dinner and evening, and another meditative day tomorrow before the short drive back tomorrow afternoon. Then we'll be thrown right back into the busy season on Wednesday morning.

On the one hand, I needed this little break. On the other, I almost felt that I couldn't afford it, with all of the things that need to get done. There is a wedding on Leap Day, that I am co-officiating (yes, they wanted to get married on Leap Day). On Saturday, I will be spending time with our 8th grade confirmation students. On Sunday, I preach all services. And Holy Week looms, a week of great promise and depth, but also sometimes of sheer exhaustion.

In the meantime, I long to see more eagles, who spend their time watching the river, who know better than I do where their life comes from.


Rowan The Dog said...

I am glad you got away for a mini-vacation. Sometimes just a little break is enough to give me new life. Red Wing suonds great.

Anonymous said...

You have a great blog!
Let me invite you to:
Present yourself
and meet your friends.
Join now:

RevDrKate said...

Sounds like a lovely break...the St. James is such a great place to just hang out and be....and I like the lesson of the eagle...we might all be a bit wiser on that front.

Anonymous said...

Diane, there is a park outside of RedWing (away from Mpls and toward the prison) called Colvil park.

My hubby and I were there Sunday afternoon and saw close to 15 eagles flying. We walked out on the dock and were within 15 feet of several eagles feeding off of a deer carcas. It was amazing.

Diane said...

road to hana - it sounds amazing! we will check it out before we go home tomorrow!

Anonymous said...

What a great trip! I love the way you make sure to take time away. As one who will soon be graduating seminary and anticipating first call, I can see the value of such self care.

Jiff said...

How wonderful!
Mini-breaks are sometimes better than week-long expeditions.
May it be blissful for you!

Anonymous said...

Enjoy your break!

Barbara B. said...

Sounds like a wonderful break in a great spot!

LawAndGospel said...

Sounds wonderful. And maybe the eagles are not lazy- they are just better at only getting wound up when it is worth it. Enjoy your respite!

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

kudos to you for taking & making the time for a break... don't beat yourself up for it. i know it's tempting... but remember even our savior went away, to a place set apart. (at least that's what i keep telling myself before i head out tomorrow!)

caribou coffee... yumolicious!

P.S. an after-thought said...

We usually go through RW to the next town where we have relatives. I haven't done the touristy tour of RW. But I have been up to a park up on one of the hills or bluffs.

Your essay makes me want to stop in RW for lunch next time we go south.

Diane said...

p.s., by all means stop in! Eat at the Veranda in the St James. There are a couple of other cafes too, but I can't remember their names.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Diane, your little holiday sounds lovely. Aren't the eagles nests awesome? A mating pair with baby eagles was nearby for a few years running, with a nest in a tall tree near a fairly busy four-lane road. We could see the young eagles heads sticking up out of the nest. Sadly, we heard that one of the eagles was killed by a car, as it swooped down to catch prey. Eagles mate for life, and we wondered what happened to the mate of the dead eagle. Whatever happened, no eagles have nested there since then.

Back to work for you, then.