Time at the Monastery

I am so glad I decided on three weeks at the Monastery of St. Gertrude. I have been here almost a week and I feel like I am just settling in.

Crazy coincidence, when I arrived, another woman pastor, also on sabbatical with a Lilly grant, was staying down the hall. Laurie and I have several friends in common, she is going to Ireland later in her sabbatical, and both of our dads are age 92.


The Spirit Center, where I am staying, is quiet. I have been doing academic reading in the afternoons (the center has its own library) and fiction in the evenings. In the mornings I walk the grounds, including the big hill (with great views of the Palouse) behind the monastery. There is a beautiful, in my opinion, structure to the day. Generally we are in the chapel for prayer at 8:30am, 11:30 am, and 5pm. I cannot emphasize this enough–I love praying through the psalter. I love the moments left for silence. I love praying scripture aloud as a community several times a day. I do not know what all of this means for life in Nampa but my spiritual director assures me I do not need to have that figured out right now. I can just enjoy the time here.

Today is the Feast Day of the Assumption of Mary so Eucharist was especially festive and we had an actual feast in the dining hall.

Today also happens to be the middle of the Idaho County Fair so the two artists-in-residence (an important piece of life at the monastery which I will blog more about later) and I went into Cottonwood to take in the fair and go to the local coffee shop, which pays tribute to the sisters at St. Gertrude.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Friendship, Church, Idaho

One thing I wanted to do on sabbatical was explore some parts of my home region. When our sabbatical task force first put together the calendar we never dreamed that I would get to do the exploring with friends from Iowa. I met Dan and Molly Gerrietts when Dan I were in our first-calls as pastors in the Western Iowa Synod. We were all part of the group that met at Buffalo Alice’s in Sioux City, which I blogged about earlier this year. Dan now serves as senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran in Mason City and is also on sabbatical this summer. Dan, Molly and their two daughters joined me for four days before heading to Seattle. We had many wonderful conversations about religion and culture in the Intermountain Northwest and Midwest, the future of the mainline church, our families, books, music, late night television, and the gifts of rest and reflection.

Facilitated a reunion: my friend and colleague Casey and Dan overlapped at Warburg Seminary

Had a long talk with Pastor Andrew Kukla at First Presbyterian Church before lunch with my colleagues Pastor Mike Sager (Hope Lutheran, Eagle) and Pastor Gretchen Bingea (Immanuel Lutheran, Boise)

Spent a blissful afternoon in the excellent and air-conditioned Idaho State Museum. Here we are reminiscing about Oregon Trail.

Photographing Boise’s Freak Alley Gallery.

Presentation at World Center for Birds of Prey

Took the girls on their first trip white-water rafting. Class 1-3 rapids on the lower Payette River. Kudos to Cascade Rafting for a great afternoon.

Showed them the shipping containers turned into houses at Windy Court.

Shopping for dinner at Albertsons Market Street in Meridian. It did not disappoint.

Dan’s FB post after we all visited Trinity, Nampa.



Posted in Sabbatical | 1 Comment

Big Wonderful Sunday

A friend texted this morning, “So what do you do on a Sunday of sabbatical?”

I got to attend a goodbye party for a friend and colleague. Marni and I met the first time I taught the Enneagram Journey, about four years ago, and this year she was the MSW supervisor for our Trinity New Hope (affordable housing) MSW Intern from Northwest Nazarene University.

Then I attended worship at St. Paul Baptist Church near downtown Boise. Thanks to colleague Pastor Mike Sager for the recommendation. They have a great choir and the sermon provided what I needed after the two mass shootings. A member took me out to lunch after worship.

I read at a coffee shop in Eagle for a few hours.

Three great friends took me out for a late birthday dinner: Gretchen, Candice, and Joy.

Posted in Sabbatical | Leave a comment

Re-entry, Friends, History

I predicted that the sabbatical would really hit me when I woke up after returning from Ireland and did not have to go back to work. I was right. The last week and half has been weird while also being great. I have cleaned parts of my house (like that plant shelf in my kitchen) more thoroughly than I have in the past. I have slept, read, caught up with so many friends, seen some good films and explored some of Southern Idaho.

Saturday breakfast with Phil and Jodi, before they spent the weekend with Trinity Lutheran, Nampa.

Friends: Thank to everyone who wanted to catch up with me during this interlude between Ireland and the Monastery at St. Gertrude’s in Cottonwood (where I’ll head Aug. 8). It has been great fun to hear friends’ stories. I value friendships so much and am thankful to have friends who are colleagues (professional public ministers who totally get what I do) and to have friends who work outside the church (who give me insights into fields like public education, science, and private practice). I also got to meet new friends (Phil and Jodi, pictured above).

Last Trivia Night with Emely and Brendan (center) before they move to Costa Rica for new jobs.

McCall: I had not been in McCall for a weekend in about seven years. There were so many people! Still, the lake front is beautiful and it was good to worship Sunday morning with about 30 people at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

Movies: Toy Story 4, Rocketman (such great storytelling!), Late Night (great cast), and Joy and I saw Apollo 11 (incredible technical work on this one) on a rainy night in Limerick.

Museums: I still have a few on my list but I did get to visit the Idaho State Museum. Here are some of my favorite sections:

In Mountain Shadows is on my bibliography for my Doctor in Ministry project.

Trinity Lutheran Church delivers school supplies to Duck Valley at the end of each summer.

Loved going into the theater and listening to each of the origins stories–so well done.

Every Gen X person, like me, will love seeing this.

Wonderful interactive displays, like this one, on the lower level.

Good use of visual arts.

Posted in Sabbatical | Leave a comment

Musings after the Ireland Trip

I have so many things to write about after my trip to Ireland with my friend Joy (July 5-23). It was a great decision to not take my laptop and to only post photos and captions in my blog. These factors allowed me to really experience each day without over processing everything. Here are the ten things, in no particular order, I am pondering the day after my return.

My parents gave and continue to give me so much. Everything from the way I pack a suitcase to the way I make connections to my love of learning can be traced back to both the home I grew up in and and experiences they encouraged me to have without them.

I will always love physical books but I cannot believe it took the Lilly grant for me to finally buy a Kindle. For traveling, there is nothing better. I am always sure to have enough reading materials in case I get stuck somewhere (thanks again Mom and Dad). Now I will always be prepared without having to lug multiple books.

Go to enough museums, have enough conversations, read any history and you soon realize that the Irish narrative is one of continual invasions and robbing the Gaelic people of their language and culture. I do not know what to make of this yet but I think it is an interesting coincidence that I a began my sabbatical in Ireland and will end it on the Pine Ridge Reservation in my home state of South Dakota speaking with the Lakota.

My travel companion Joy has told me about John O’Donahue’s book Anam Cara since she first studied in Galway. I finally read it on the trip. It is beautifully written and so full of wisdom. Wow!

I love my job as a parish pastor but I also still love history, one of my college majors at Concordia, and I think I would have loved being a museum curator today. We visited a variety of museums which use technology to different degrees. The Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin and King John’s Castle in Limerick both did masterful jobs using technology to tell stories.

When I was preparing for sabbatical I will admit that I was thinking of storytelling mostly with words, probably because I have always loved words. My other college major was English writing. But the art galleries and concerts we attended reminded me that the arts (music, painting, dance) can all tell stories very effectively.

Joy and I only spent a little under two hours with an intern at Narrative 4 in Limerick but it was an important piece of the trip. I love what this nonprofit does–teaches kids empathy through listening and storytelling. Thanks to my college English professor Dr. Dawn Duncan for recommending this stop.

Another small (if measuring time spent) but significant stop was the Moth and the Butterfly in Galway. They only meet once a month so I am so happy we were able to join them for the evening. The stories we heard are still swirling around in me. I bought Moth and Butterfly founder Orla McGovern’s book, Dublin Folktales for Children. I have added The Moth (produced by The Moth in NYC) to my list of podcasts. So far it is great.

Joy has been teaching in the United Arab Emirates for two school years. I knew hearing about her experience would be part of the trip. In addition to being proud of my friend for following her dream to live overseas, I am now fascinated by this country; I even looked up books about it while at the Newark airport yesterday. I picked up my mail today, which included the latest issue of The Christian Century, and turned to this article about religion in the UAE.

Finally, staying in Bed and Breakfasts is an amazing way to hear stories. I thought we would hear stories of the Irish people in the pubs in the evenings but it was hearing from our hosts upon arrival (or in their cars as they drove us somewhere) and then hearing from other guests over breakfast that ended up being the biggest surprise. What a gift to exchange stories over morning tea and toast.

Posted in Sabbatical | 1 Comment

Ireland Part Three

Venue-Katie’s Cottage, Galway

Ready for storytelling

Joy and I with “Moth and Butterfly” founder and host Orla McGovern

At the Cliffs of Moher

View of Aran Islands and Connemara from the Cliffs of Moher

Attended “Trad on the Prom” in Salt Hill.

Part of the Galway International Arts Festival (GIAF)

Three Oscar Wilde stories woven together into one play (GIAF)

In the big tent at GIAF. RTE National Symphony John Williams tribute concert

Worshiped at St. Mary’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland, Anglican)

Great exhibit at Limerick’s Hunt Museum on a rainy Sunday afternoon

Wonderful morning with staff at Ireland’s Narrative 4

More storytelling through visual arts, this time at the Limerick City Art Gallery

Limerick City Art Gallery

View from atop King John’s Castle (begun in 1212)

King John’s Castle and bridge over the Shannon River

Posted in Sabbatical | Leave a comment

Ireland Part Two

Sheep block the Western Way in Connemara


View from the front door of our Saturday night lodging at Lough Inagh Lodge

Leaving Lough Inagh

Into the Shire (what Joy and I began calling every forest)

Boat ride out of Leenane on Ireland’s only fjord-Killary Harbour

One of many stiles we used July 15

Our Western Way guidepost

Descending from Sheefry Pass

Croagh Patrick (Patrick’s Mountain)

Track down to Westport Bay

Town of Westport in County Mayo

Attended “Atlantic Notes” at Westport’s Town Hall Theater-music, dance, and stories from the Wild Atlantic Way


Posted in Sabbatical | 1 Comment