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Traveling: Las Vegas & Sedona

In April of this year, Rich and I travelled to Las Vegas and Sedona.  We spent 3 days in Las Vegas after a frustratingly long and delayed trip. We should have arrived in our hotel by 7pm on Tuesday but didn’t get there until 2am. At first I was somewhat annoyed that we had “lost” Tuesday evening and then Wednesday morning due to catching up on sleep. In the long run I am glad (God always knows best!).

Las Vegas is, in my opinion, a sorry, sad, jaded place. I could have gotten drunk on fumes alone as we walked the streets!!!! So much alcohol, so many drunks and people out of control, so much smoking – ugh!! All the casinos allow smoking, not even one small smoke free area that we could find!. Not that we’re gamblers, but if you go to Vegas you have to put down at least one bet right? And to get anywhere in any of the hotels you HAD to go through the casino. Not going back, not recommending it to anyone. We did see The Lion King which was wonderful, but then you can see a good show almost anywhere, and we did visit the incredible botanical show at the Bellagio which is stunning (they change it for each season) and I am grateful for these two lovely moments.

The drive from Vegas to Sedona was easy and uneventful – if you can call a stop at Hoover Dam uneventful!!

P4085892P4085891What an amazing piece of human work. Some of the landscape along the way was very bleak and unforgiving. I tried to imagine what it was like for the first pioneers in this part of the country. We also passed through some of the flat "pampas" type country of Arizona and I could imagine the cowboys herding thousands of steers across them. Then, of course, as we continued the drive we elevated to over 7,000 feet and we encountered sleet and followed by snow flurries!

By the time we approached Sedona, however, the sky was clear and the view was spectacular!! The red rock formations and canyons are something out of this world and they are all around this lovey city. What an amazing piece of God’s creation.  Our condo was delightful, almost luxurious, and we were very happy and comfortable during our stay. However, nothing prepared us for our wake up the first morning: a silent winter wonderland with about 5” of snow – and it continued to snow for the rest of the day! It’s a good job we had decided to take it easy that day and we just explored the town center. By the following day the snow had stopped and all but melted away, and the rest of our stay was filled with clear skies and sunshine with fairly warm temperatures.

The rock formations surrounding the town all had very specific names that alluded to their shape.  The most important were Cathedral Rock, Snoopy Rock, Camel Rock, Coffee Pot Rock, Praying Hands Rock, Two Sisters Rock, and Bell Rock.  This last one was my personal favorite and, because it was the site of one of the many energy vortexes in and around Sedona, we actually climbed a little over half way up it.  We also visited the old tin-mining town of Jerome where we explored an amazing kaleidoscope shop and found the most glorious, decadent fudge imaginable!

There were two more notable events during our stay in Sedona: Rich took a helicopter ride around the the town and the surrounding area, and while he did that I received a massage from an intuitive massage therapist who gave me some incredible feedback, including the phrase “you are being called to more” (remember my posting Spiritual Growth- Being Called To More?).  I will make that story a separate posting. And then we spent a day at the Grand Canyon.  What can I say about that?  So much, that again I will make that a separate posting. 

Here are a few photos from Sedona.

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Spiritual & Physical: An Incredible Journey

Wow!  I am still overwhelmed.  Two thousand two hundred and fifty three miles completed on the back of the Harley.  That was the sum total of the mileage of our trip to and from San Antonio, Texas.  And Rich added another five hundred and seventy five miles to that as he travelled from San Antonio to Arlington, Texas and back.  He just had to smell the sweat in the new Cowboys stadium:-).

We spent three days on the road to get to San Antonio, and three days to get back to Jacksonville, Florida.  That’s a lot of God’s creation visited and appreciated and a lot of private God-time as we rode.

I am not completely isolated when I ride passenger on the Harley.  Rich and I have interconnecting speakers and mikes so that we can communicate as we travel.  If either of us sees something interesting we are quick to point it out to the other.  And it’s always good to say “I love you” as we ride.

But most of the time is spent individually.  Rich obviously has to focus on the driving part of the experience, which leaves me with a lot of time to communicate with God.  I get to pray for our safety and protection as well as our enjoyment as we travel the highways and byways.  This is always primary before and during any trip that we take whether it be on Harley or in the car.

Next on the list to God are all the people that are under my “prayer candle” at home.  This is a candle that I keep on the Italian granite island in my kitchen.  The candle rests inside a candle jar, and the jar sits inside a metal holder. When people put out requests for prayers for either mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical healing, I put their names on a piece of paper which goes inside the metal container under the candle.

When there are too many names on any one piece of paper, I start a new one on which I always write, “for all those who have gone before and…”  Under this I add the new names.  So once you make it under my prayer candle you’re there to stay!  When I light the candle I do so “with intention” that all those named be lifted up to the Lord while the candle is burning.  And as I go about my day and I see the candle I offer more prayers for everyone.

Once this is done I then turn over my sorrows and heartaches to God and ask that He relieve me of them, that He resolve them for me, if it be His will.  That last phrase is always the hard part of praying to God.  But if I am to practice total trust in the God of my understanding and His plans for me and others, then I must add that phrase, otherwise I am dictating to God what I think He should do!

And then it’s on to world intentions.  Now that could take up a trip to the moon and back!  We, mankind,  have made such a mess of this world and continue to do so today.  Sometimes I get a little despairing when I realize we are still making the same mistakes, doing the same things as we did thousands of years ago, and expecting different results.  I read somewhere that’s a true definition of insanity!!

I spend a lot of time asking God to please change peoples’ hearts, to lead them on the path of love and compassion. I ask him to remove hatred and greed and the quest for power.  I ask Him to take care of the defenseless ones and to bring food to the hungry.  I ask Him to shower humankind with His love, His grace, His light, and His energy.

So as you can see, my Harley time is put to great use.  It’s usually a very intense and focused time for me and the tears flow frequently.  I have accepted this as part of my mission in life and I am very willing to do it.  As I pray for others and their needs, I also benefit because I am deepening my own spiritual life and my relationship with God.  So it’s a real win-win situation for me and the tears are a small price to pay.

I almost forgot.  Some of my Harley prayers are simply words of worship and praise.  I forget who the singer is but the song says something like, “Our God is an awesome God”.  I like to let Him know that I see that and appreciate it.  And let me not forget the gratitude.  My soul is full of gratitude for the many blessings in my life, and so I thank God for all He has done and is about to do.  Amen!!       

Joy: Tis the Season

Joy is such a short simple word for such a full and rich and complicated emotion.  How can I describe joy?  It has so many facets and so many ways of manifesting in my life.  It is most certainly an emotion that fills me up, rather like an exquisite meal fills my tummy.

But joy is not tangible.  You can’t see it, except as a reflection in yourself or someone else.  And you certainly can’t touch it, or smell it, or taste it.  And you really can’t hear it unless it is expressed through someone’s words or laughter.  And yet there is nothing quite as magnificent as experiencing joy.

When I sit on my lanai in the morning I am filled with a quiet joy.  The feeling creeps gently inside me at that time of the day.  I am slowly coming to my senses out of sleep.  I am not a morning person and it takes me a while to be fully present in my body. 

So I sit and listen to the birds as they too slowly awaken to the day.  I smell the fresh air which usually carries the subtle fragrance of the pine trees behind my garden.  If the sun is rising I watch it wake the day with rays of light and this always bring light into my heart.  This quiet morning time is very blessed as I make my connection with God and invite Him to join me in my day.

Joy can also be a noisy, rambunctious (now there’s an old-fashioned English word!!), eruption of feeling.  I know that Rich and I felt that kind of joy as we watched the Dallas Cowboys play victoriously against the New Orleans Saints just a few days ago:-).  Nothing quiet about that one as we jumped for joy and punched the air in exhilaration.

Joy can be felt at the sight of an amazing God-created sunset or an equally beautiful sunrise.  It can come with the birth of a new baby or in a froth of white wedding gowns.  Joy can manifest at something as simple as receiving an unexpected letter or card or hearing the voice of a distant loved one on the other end of the telephone.

And joy is also a warm excitement that radiates from my heart throughout my body as I realize that we are once again at that moment of the year when we celebrate the birthday of our Saviour.  As I prepare to go to Mass this evening there is a sensation of anticipation in my heart that has nothing to do with the gifts under the tree.  Although they will also produce their own joy upon opening.

Tonight there is the joy of knowing that I am a beloved child of God.  Of knowing that God loved me so much that He gave me the ultimate gift of His only Son, Jesus.  And then realizing that Jesus, in his turn, loved me so much that he made the ultimate sacrifice that I might know Him and be with Him eternally.  Tonight is the ultimate night of joy.

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