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My summer has just almost begun. This Saturday marks the first day of my 3-month break from Karis Fellowships work and from aggressive efforts to get to the bottom of my back pain. For 90 days, my focus goes elsewhere. Whew. It’s time.

I begin next week with a 4 day, 3 night personal silent retreat at Villa de Matel’s Ruah Center here in Houston. Last fall, I attended a 48 hour silent meditation retreat there led by my meditation instructor. I can’t even describe the deep rest I experienced. This time I’ll be on my own and for a longer time period. I’m looking forward to lots of meditation and prayer, stillness, naps, and no technology. I was going to say “no distractions,” but the truth is that I take myself everywhere  I go, and there is a reason I sought out meditation instruction in the first place. I generate plenty of distractions all by myself.

I look forward to seeing what this experience is like. Who knows? Instead of letting go in the care of God and the nuns, I might be climbing the walls, ready to pull out my hair. I might feel like God is 10 million miles away. I might cry myself to sleep every night. These things are so unpredictable. It’s good for me to remember that. I am going as a way to explore and to seek connection, but I do not know what I will find–in myself, in God, or in the world around me–so it’s important not to get attached to a certain outcome, which is, of course, my specialty. I need these experiences in my life to pry my fingers loose over and over and over. I want to go with gentle curiosity and openness.

After that, I have a few exciting projects to look forward to!

1. The Artist’s Way —  a 12-week creativity program I discovered on the freebie table at J’s family reunion campout last August. A few family members and friends have jumped on board, and we meet for the first time (via Skype) on Saturday morning. I’m doing my homework faithfully so far (of course–have I ever in my entire life not done my homework faithfully?). I’m excited. And scared. I’m not in love with a lot of Julia Cameron’s ideas as presented in the book, but I’m refitting them to suit my own needs. Who says I can’t be creative with my creativity course? I look forward to sharing what I learn here.

2. Spanish! I’m going to work with a tutor in Ecuador via Skype over the summer. I hope to do 10 hours of tutoring per week. It’s only $7.50 an hour. Isn’t that amazing??? I plan to try this company first. If I don’t like them, then I’ll switch to NuLengua. I did one free intro lesson with NuLengua and really liked it, but it’s about $15 per hour, which is still a super deal, but I’d only be able to afford half the lessons in that case. My ultimate goal is to attend language school for 4 to 6 weeks in Antigua, Guatemala next spring (best website I’ve found on the subject so far), then meet up with my husband and various family members in Nicaragua at this fabulous eco-farm.

3. Mythology. My mother-in-law pointed me toward an online college mythology course that one of her Classics professors used to offer. The university discontinued the course, but Dr. Gibbs left all of the course materials–syllabus, writing assignments, and readings–online for public use. What generosity! I had intended to start this project in January, but Karis Fellowships work really took off and became a part-time (pro bono) job.

So, that’s what I’m up to for now. Welcome, dear summer!

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