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vacation thoughts

Today is the last day of a truly lovely vacation. I'm writing on the screened-in porch of our cabin overlooking a New Hampshire "great pond" (think small lake), listening to the wind whispering through the trees and reflecting on just how much good it's done my soul to spend a week getting lots of sun, fresh air, and time on the water, preparing and enjoying simple and delicious meals, watching clouds drift across the sky, and thinking.

I did some reading on development to reduce or eliminate extreme poverty. Since the U2charist has taken on such a remarkable life of its own around the world, I've felt the need to be better informed about issues related to extreme poverty. I have often preached and written about the spiritually dangerous position we place ourselves in when our response to poverty is to lob money at or in the direction of poor people such that we feel generous, but retain a death-grip on the power and privilege that keeps us in the position of deciding, in effect, through our charity who lives and who dies. I worry that sometimes when I'm talking with people planning U2charists, where the money should go and why seems like an afterthought. I think about how many times I've heard an American Christian say something along the lines of, "well, it really doesn't matter WHAT you do to help; what matters is that you try to do SOMETHING, and that your heart's in the right place." It matters a great deal, I dare say, to those who do live in extreme poverty whether what you do is effective and for whom, and I want my work to support organizations and approaches that make the most difference for those in greatest need. I think in the months to come I'll do some more blogging about what I've been reading and what thinking it's prompted, though I'm still deciding whether Grace Notes or the U2charist page would be a better venue for it.

But I haven't been spending all of my time or even most of it this week reading and thinking about development. This has been a real, honest-to-gosh VACATION, and the first one I can recall of this length in I don't know how long. I've used many vacation days over the years for speaking or conference engagements, and have sometimes been able to surround the work with a few days in a nice spot nearby to make a sort of working vacation. I've visited family or friends, usually for a long weekend and also often in conjunction with some kind of work. It's a different experience altogether to go somewhere beautiful and quiet -- no cell phone reception to speak of, no Internet access, and no intrusions of concerns from elsewhere. To post my lectionary blog, I drove around until I found an open wireless network -- and New Hampshire must be the top state in the Union for Internet security, as it seems just about everyone keeps their network locked down tight. I finally found a tiny public library -- the Frost Free Public Library, a name which must strike many as ironic in New Hampshire winters -- that was closed, but that kept its wireless up and open. But at the cabin, there's no 'Net at all, so not even Anglican politics could intrude. Lovely.

Tempest_170_pro_top

I'm finding that the Impact self-defense classes I've taken have inspired me to renegotiate my relationship with my body, which I'd been seriously neglecting for quite some time. For my honey's birthday, I arranged for us to take kayaking lessons, and we now have a "season pass" on kayak rentals that lets us try out all kinds of kayaks whenever we want for the rest of 2007. This week, I've been paddling a Wilderness Systems Tempest Pro 170, and I love it. It's a versatile kayak, suitable for ocean use, long enough to track decently, and maneuverable enough to still be fun in quieter water. It's longer and narrower than the kayak I used in our class, which makes it easier to tip and a little more difficult to get into and out of (especially for a gal with dislocating kneecaps), but it's also significantly more responsive, which is fun -- and very useful when the wind kicks up. It's got a composite hull that's lighter and seems to allow for more speed than plastic ones as well, and I've very much enjoyed paddling fast enough to get a nice breeze in my face and to work up a sweat. I'm almost tempted to say that this is the kayak for me, but I do plan to try others, and it's nice in the meantime to have a physical, outdoor activity that I actually love (other than surfing, a sport for which the Charles River and Boston Harbor are far from renowned). I think it'll be good for body and soul for the rest of the season to walk once or twice a week to the boathouse and paddle for a couple of hours.

Tempest_170_pro_side

August 17, 2007 in Life and Whatnot, ONE campaign/Millennium Development Goals (MGDs), U2charist, Where's Dylan? | Permalink

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