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.