Redfish Lake and Wrapping Up

I returned from South Dakota two weeks ago. I have been doing the regular stuff of life–going to the eye doctor, getting my teeth cleaned, finally obtaining my Idaho Star Card (Federal REAL ID), going to the grocery store, and cooking autumn soups (then freezing them) so I can eat healthy and tasty food after I return to work. I also caught up with friends, saw a few films, and went to volleyball games at Northwest Nazarene University and Boise State University. But the most picturesque and adventurous outing was three nights in the upstairs of Redfish Lake Lodge. It snowed for a while the night I arrived, Tuesday, but then it cleared up and I got some wonderful hiking in–above Redfish Lake Wednesday and then on the Fishhook Creek Trail Thursday.

View from my window Tuesday night

Redfish Lake Lodge


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Maiden, the film

I have seen several good films with women in the leads this summer. Wild Rose (which I blogged about earlier), Late Night (starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, the latter also wrote the screenplay), Downton Abbey (my opinion is it is all about the women, in the best way), and Hustlers (starring Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez) were all solid movies. But today I saw a film that made me cry. I checked what was playing at Nampa’s Reel Theater (our second run, which equals discount, theater) and saw a film titled Maiden.

Documentaries, which Maiden is, can be undependable. They cannot lean on great acting. They may not be able to count on great camera work, like this summer’s The Biggest Little Farm. Sometimes a director is lucky enough to stumble on a story that is so compelling and timely, with subjects so self-aware and articulate, that all he or she needs to do is get out of the way and let the story tell itself. That is what Alex Holmes did with Maiden, the story of Tracy Edwards, a 24-year-old cook on charter boats, who became the skipper of the first ever all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989. Holmes uses still photos, interviews, and video footage from Edwards’ childhood and the late 1980s. But the soul of the film is the series of current interviews with the 1989 Maiden crew. These women’s memories and insights are crystal clear, and their story is at once unique, universal, and heart-warming. Rounding out the film are current interviews with members of competing crews and a few journalists who covered the 1989 race.

I never knew this story before today, and I am so glad I know it now. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in American, my church body, is celebrating 50 years of women’s ordination right now. I am thankful to the women and men who made that vocational option available to me. But I am equally as thankful to the women pioneers in every other sort of field, medicine, law, business, and yes yacht racing, who broke barriers. Collectively, they all make it easier for people to accept women doing all sorts of things never before imaginable. I am not so naive as to say that the journey is over, but for today this film gave me hope and encouragement.



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Music of Sabbatical

Storytelling was my intended theme for the 14-week sabbatical but, not surprising since so many stories are put to music, music became a secondary theme. I knew that Ireland would have amazing music, and for the record I was not disappointed. Atlantic Notes in Westport, Trad on the Prom (outside of Galway), and the RTE National Symphony at the Galway International Arts Festival were all amazing. The music on the streets was also fun and pretty good in some instances. But the music did not stop when I boarded the plane at the Shannon Airport.

At the Monastery of St. Gertrude’s in Cottonwood, Idaho my heart was filled by chanting the psalms with the sisters and other guests. On the Feast of the Assumption I was introduced to another setting of Mary’s Magnificat.

On Prince Edward Island I loved the Celtic, Scottish, Acadian, and Canadian melodies. I smile to myself when I remember that I heard “Galway Girl” on two islands in one summer (yes, I know this is actually something of a pop song now). But the real gift of music on P.E.I. was discovering that I share a love for Broadway Musicals with my goddaughter. And we will always remember that we saw “Anne and Gilbert,” the musical, together. It has some catchy tunes, especially “Your Island Through and Through.”  And I still love that this Idahoan got to hear a song about potatoes on P.E.I.

Then I went back to my hometown of Custer, South Dakota and got to have a beer with my sixth grade teacher at the Custer Beacon, a new music venue. I was reminded of what a blessing it was to grow up in Custer, a place whose natural beauty drew gifted instructors who stayed. More significant was how many of our teachers lived lives of multiplicity. Some of our teachers spent summers working or volunteering for the park service or forest service. Some worked in the hospitality industry in the summer, yes for extra cash but their experiences filtered into our classrooms nonetheless. And every summer I watched my sixth grade teacher (banjo), the high school band teacher (drums), one of my mom’s Chamber of Commerce board presidents (fiddle), and a cast of other musicians play bluegrass in the Mountain Music Show. I think witnessing our teachers’ multiple gifts and interests gave me and my classmates freedom to live our own lives of multiplicity. I can be a pastor, daughter, movie reviewer, reader, wilderness explorer, singer, and chef. And that multiplicity will be good for me and for whatever community I am living in.

Music also founds its way into my sabbatical through three films I saw this summer. “Rocketman” does a masterful job telling the story of Elton John. Sometimes flashbacks irritate me but they were used so effectively in this film. “Wild Rose” is a fictional story about a Glasgow, Scotland single mom who wants to be a country music star in Nashville. This film’s turns surprised and delighted me and I loved the mother-daughter relationship. “Yesterday” is about a struggling musician who wakes up from a bicycle crash to discover that only he remembers who the Beatles are.

If you have been watching the Ken Burns documentary Country Music, as I have these past two weeks, I wonder what you think music brings to your life and your community. Burns took us on a long and sometimes complicated journey. I do not know what my big take-away is yet, except that I thoroughly enjoyed watching and learning and pondering and I say thanks to Burns for giving us another masterpiece. It will be fun to hear what other people thought and heard as they watched. I will be on the prowl for more music from various genres to feed my soul this coming year.

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Southern Black Hills

I spent the last two weeks recovering from a cold, taking my mom to her second cataract surgery, helping pack up the house as my parents prepare for the next chapter (AZ this winter and we are not sure about next summer), catching up with family and friends, and exploring the beauty of the Southern Black Hills.

View from the house I grew up in

I spent a wonderful day with family friend Pastor Larry Peterson. He ran the retreat center on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for almost twenty years and is now in the midst of getting the Woyatan Retreat Center up and running in Rapid City.


Construction of Woyotan Retreat Center

Larry and I met for coffee at Calamity Jane in downtown Custer and had a great conversation about Lakota spirituality, linking Biblical stories to daily life in various cultures, books, silence, hospitality, community, and empathy. Then we went up to Crazy Horse Memorial. I had not made a proper trip there since I was in high school and if the mountain has not changed much, the museum certainly has, and all for the better. It is a first-rate Indian Museum. I still think every United States citizen needs to visit the American Indian Boarding School Stories exhibit at Phoenix’s Heard Museum but Crazy Horse has an incredible collection of artifacts and the curator is doing a beautiful job.

Larry and my dad catching up

Larry and I got together on the day after I celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of my ordination. It was fitting because Larry, then serving on the synod’s candidacy committee, did my initial entrance interview for ordination and was part of the clergy group present for my ordination at Custer Lutheran Fellowship, see photo below. During my second week in Custer I had coffee with Chuck Hazlett, who served as pastor of Custer Lutheran Fellowship while I was growing up and who sang at my ordination. The welcome statement Chuck wrote in the 1980s (remember that if you follow the link to read it–the 1980s!) had a big impact on our congregation, me, and the way I think about ministry today. He and his wife Kaona retired to Custer a while back.

My sister-in-law Peggy and I decided to go for a hike this past Tuesday. We drove out to Sylvan Lake and had the intention of going up Trail 9 until we could get a good view. But we were both feeling good and it was a perfect day. We made it all the way up Black Elk Peak (the highest point in South Dakota).


I was able to hang out with my sixth grade classroom teacher Hank Fridell at The Custer Beacon one evening, meet a variety of my parents’ newer (last ten years) friends, and meet up with one of my best friends from junior high and high school, Mary Lappe.

Something I did not plan on was that two of my favorite cousins, Heidi and Sharman, were staying with their husbands at the old homestead home, just down the hill from my parents’ home. The three of us and my mom headed to Hot Springs to check out Moccasin Springs. It was an incredibly relaxing morning soaking in those beautiful pools and watching dragonflies chase each other.

The next evening, the who family went to dinner at Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City.

Heidi’s husband Tom, cousin Sharman, my brother Steve

My mom and I did a lot of work–packing boxes, shipping boxes, moving bins into storage, recycling electronics, delivering donations. One of my tough but joyful tasks was choosing which books from my parents’ shelves I wanted to ship to Nampa.

Wall/shelves on the lower level (just a sampling of the the Jerry/Linde library)

But Mom and I also did some re-creating. In keeping with my intentional sabbatical theme of storytelling and what has become an unanticipated but delightful secondary theme of music, we took in three of the first four segments of Ken Burns’ new documentary Country Music. We soaked at Moccasin Springs. We went on a full-moon nature walk at Custer State Park with 250 other people, not an intimate event.

We ate an incredible breakfast at Skogen Kitchen (Custer) and then rode the 1880 Train Wine Express from Hill City to Keystone and back.

It was a rich and full two weeks. In August I spent three weeks with the Benedictine Sisters of the Monastery at St. Gertrude’s in Idaho. Benedictines strive for life at the monastery to be a blend of prayer, work, and play. I feel like that blend was truly what I experienced in my hometown and for that I am incredibly thankful.

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Adventures on P.E.I.

In her Anne of Green Gables books, Lucy Montgomery makes many references to the Presbyterian church and its ministers, so on our first morning on Prince Edward Island, P.E.I., we worshiped at St. James Presbyterian Church.

Jennifer has a veterinarian colleague who teaches at the local veterinarian school on P.E.I. and he had his wife hosted us for Sunday lunch. They gave us great tips about what to see on the island and gave us some history as well. After lunch, we parked the car at our cottage in Charlottetown and headed to the waterfront and then to the theater.

Not “Hamilton” but we all enjoyed “Anne and Gilbert,” based on Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island.

Day two included Anne of Green Gables sites, the beach, and more music.

Lovers’ Lane

Many translations of Anne of Green Gables

Headed to the beach.

We then drove over to this amazing boardwalk, part of the Greenwich Dunes Trail.

At one of the Anne sites I saw a little poster for a Ceilidh (pronounced Kailey) at a hall not far from Charlottetown. The musicianship was fabulous.

Day three was lighthouses, Montague, and the Ross Family (singing and dancing).

On Wednesday I delivered people to the airport, went shopping, and then attended an amazing performance called Atlantic Blue at The Mack. PEI singer Tara MacLean put this show together, introducing the audience to Canadian East Coast legends  like Gene MacLellan, Gordie Sampson, Sarah MacLachlan, Stan Rogers, The Rankin Family, and Rita MacNeil.

I love how several of the performances were preceded by recognizing the First Nations (Native American) Tribe who had lived there long ago. I asked someone at The Mack about this and she said it was a local movement among the arts community.

I knew that there would be Irish and Scottish melodies but had forgotten, until I really started reading the maps, how much of the Eastern provinces were part of Acadia, French colony. The English pushed these Acadians off the land and many ended up in New Orleans.

I am so thankful I included a trip with Jennifer and Celia in my sabbatical. It is great to go to someone’s home and see them in their normal environment but it is equally as valuable to go somewhere altogether new and experience that place together. We all loved the beauty of the landscape, the delicious food, and the wonderful music.

One song which was sung at both the Ceilidh and Atlantic Blue was Stompin’ Tom Connors  “Bud the Spud,” in which Connors pays tribute to the many potatoes grown on P.E.I., it’s a song my Idaho readers will especially enjoy. Check it out on YouTube.


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Encounters at the Monastery

Sister Bernadette greeted me upon my arrival at the Spirit Center and made me feel so welcome. During the end of my time at the monastary, she and Sister Corrine spent about an hour with me, telling me about working in the Boise Catholic Diocese Christian Education Office in the years after Vatican II. It was fun to hear them tell stories about that exciting time.

Sister Lillian served as primary host for me and all of the other guests at the Spirit Center. She took me down to the Clearwater River one afternoon (below left). One evening, she took me and Sister Celine (lower right) to view Hells Canyon. Sister Celine was staying at the Center for an entire month, a gift from her monastic community in Norfolk, NE for her jubilee, and also a gift for me.

Hells Canyon at dusk

Sister Carlotta took me on a long hike up the hill, bushwhacking around the backside (where we tried to find old deer and cow trails), finally to the pond, and home.

After the hike







I already blogged about encountering Laurie, another pastor on sabbatical this summer.

The Monastery of St Gertrude’s has an active artist in residence program. Early on in my time I went to the evening presentation of a Boise State University undergrad art student who had been artist in residence for two weeks. I liked her oil paintings but what I loved where her photos of the Milky Way, taken on the highway in front of the monastery late at night.

Artist Cindy Steiler came up for a silent retreat but will probably be back as an artist in residence. She was artist in residence at the James Castle House in Boise this summer. We had some great conversations about art, the Catholic Church, and places of healing of rest.

Shortly after I arrived, two artists, both writers and both staying for about a month, began their residencies. What a gift to be there with Dana Stevens from Brooklyn and Heather King from Los Angeles.

Dana and me on top of the hill at sunset

Me, Dana, Heather in the dining room

The land itself became a character at the monastery. I never got tired of these views.


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Silence Helps

We had a sabbath of silence at the Monastery of St Gertrude’s Aug. 24-25. I experienced a great deal of silence during my time here and I cherished it.

Silence helps me hear the deer in the woods before she bounds off, flashing her white tail.

During morning prayer, silence helps me ponder the psalmist’s words and make them my own.

During our noon meal, silence helped me savor every bit of deliciousness in our peach cobbler.

On a blustery afternoon, silence helps me pretend that the wind in the trees is a river.

Moments of silence during the Lord’s Supper help me experience wonder.

In the silence I remember to listen.

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