In my previous posting, God’s Creation: Minnesota, I shared the wonderful experience Rich and I had at our friends’ house. However, we didn’t stay at home all the time we were there, even though it was difficult to leave that place so filled with the joy of nature. We actually played the tourists for a couple of days and visited some very interesting places.
I was told that everyone who comes to that particular area of Minnesota needs to visit the small town of Nisswa. Actually, Nisswa is about the size of an overgrown village. It is very quaint and is filled with wonderful little shops (yes, I did some shopping!). I love places like Nisswa because I’m never quite sure what exciting little treasure I may find. For someone like me who has very unique antenna up throughout the year, Nisswa is rather like Aladdin’s Cave.
When I talk about my “unique antenna”, I’m referring to that constant awareness of the people in my life and what might make them happy. When I’m out and about I have my bloodhound nose ready to sniff out gifts that will please my friends and family members on their birthdays or at Christmas. And Nisswa did not disappoint. I could have dipped into my wallet several more times than I did, but all the time I had to keep in mind that we were travelling on our Harley and there was limited space, even though Sherry and Greg offered to bring things back for us when they trucked back to Jacksonville in October.
Another day we drove out to visit Itasca State Park which is absolutely gorgeous. The Park boasts pristine wilderness at its best surrounding the largest lake, Lake Itasca, and many other smaller lakes. Did you know that Minnesota is known as the State of 10,000 lakes? We took our time driving through the Park, stopping at several lookout points such as Preachers Grove, that overlook the lakes. Our main goal at the Park was to go to the Headwaters of the Mississippi River. I was totally mind-boggled that this mighty river has its source almost in Canada and runs the full length of the USA before emptying itself into the Gulf of Mexico in Florida.
Before taking the path to the Headwaters, we stopped at the Visitor Center, which I think is one of the best and most interesting of such centers that I have visited, to learn a little more about the Park. I thoroughly recommend that you visit http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/itasca/index.html where you will find a wealth of interesting information, photos, and history of Itasca State Park, including the story of Mary Gibbs who was a feisty woman who risked her life to protect Itasca Park against the logging industry at that time.
I’m sure that Minnesota boasts many other beautiful areas. It is such a lush, green State and the presence of so many lakes, large and small, makes for the presence of plentiful wildlife and many interesting and beautiful places. I know it’s definitely a place that I’d like to visit again and if you enjoy the magnificence of God’s creation in nature you will surely enjoy it.
The other day I was reading a small reflection about how we are all part of the tapestry of life. The reflection said that we are all unique threads in the great tapestry of life, each with our own subtle texture and color. It lead to to think about my own life and to see how that is a unique tapestry of its own. The events that have taken place, the people that have crossed my path, and my response or reaction to both of these, have all contributed to the rich cloth that has been woven.
I also think of my life as representative of the seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter. Some of the threads are black and grey and dark brown and these form the winter scenes. Others are bright yellow and light green and various hews of light blue creating renewal of life spring scenes. Bright gold, vivid red and brilliant greens and blues form the summer, and then there are the gorgeous burnt tones of autumn – orange, ochre yellows, rich rusty browns and deep reds and purples.
As I thought more about this particular view of life I had a sudden memory of “photo tapestries”. This type of art form came onto the scene maybe ten or fifteen years ago. The artist would take thousands of photos of human faces. Then he or she would render them as miniature pictures and lay them out to create one large unique image of a specific face, usually someone famous such as the Mona Lisa.
And so I thought of God as the artist creating each of us and then allowing us to co-create our life tapestry/photo through our behavior choices and responses to life events. He would then take each completed photo and lay it out with all the others to form a complete photo-tapestry of the whole world from start to finish.
Just imagine, we are each a tiny, unique, infinitesimal yet very important part of the whole. We are each a wonderful creation of God with possibilities and opportunities to create a grand self portrait. Then he, the Grand Master Artist, gets to take our individual portraits – our works of art – to blend them together to create his work of art – the human history of the world.
As I thought this all through it made me want to make the rest of my life as beautiful and as interesting as possible. I want my life to represent joy and love and laughter. I know I have created many winter scenes, but I have also managed to weave in to my own personal tapestry/life portrait much of spring and summer and the glorious tones of autumn.
Then, when it is time, I will lay my gift at the feet of the Master. Only he knows where my creative work shall be placed in the bigger scheme of things. Only he knows the unique offering that I have made to the whole. Only he knows and can appreciate the bigger picture. And when the time is right I am sure he will allow me to share that too.
San Antonio, Texas was a complete surprise for me. I expected a typical busy city atmosphere, and instead found myself in an unusual and interesting environment. Yes, there were elements of the big city but they were tempered by other features which made San Antonio a really pleasant place to be.
Imagine a big city which is hosting 70,000 extra people for about 5-7 days. Chaos right? Wrong. This city had prepared for our event and everything was geared up to handle the inundation of humanity. Restaurants were well stocked and had plenty of staff on hand to deal with hungry mouths looking for some good Tex-Mex food and some of that great Texan barbecue.
The police were really well organized and extremely gracious to the thousands of visitors. Everything that I heard from my fellow convention attendees was positive. Accommodations were good and everyone said they were treated well. The hundreds of local volunteers who greeted people at the airport, outside hotels, and on streets corners were full of smiles, joy, laughter and lots of helpful information.
We were in the heart of the city with just a seven to eight minute walk separating our condo from the Henry B. Gonzalez convention center and the fifty thousand capacity Alamodome. But what a walk! This area of San Antonio is known as RiverWalk and is absolutely beautiful. A whole system of canals intertwine through the neighborhood. Small river boats seating about 25 people are piloted through these waterways as informative guides point out places of interest and speak about the history of San Antonio.
Along each side of the canals were cobblestone walkways and shade trees. These walkways were flanked by restaurants and shops and were criss-crossed by pretty arching bridges. It really made me think of a smaller scale Venice. And because the architecture of this area is so varied and interesting I almost felt as though I was in Europe:-).
San Antonio is the site of the Alamo. This is a famous historical monument which stands as a testament to the bravery and courage of the people who fought for Texas liberty. In 1836 the Texian and Tejano volunteers, alongside famous characters such as Jim Bowie, the well-known knife fighter, and Davie Crockett, famed frontiersman and former Congressman from Tennessee, fought against General Santa Anna’s Mexican army. They withstood the onslaught for just over thirteen days before they were overpowered.
On Sunday, before leaving San Antonio, we attended Mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. This church was built by German immigrants and is very representative of a miniature European cathedral. It is very beautiful both inside and outside and a wonderful place to come and worship God. I think that about seventy five percent of the congregation was made up of our convention attendees, and the priest made a point of making us feel very welcome.
Because we were involved in a four-day convention, we did not have enough time to do this city justice. I know that San Antonio boasts the 750-foot tall Tower of the Americas, is also home to a SeaWorld, the Six Flags Fiesta, a fine zoo, and the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. I certainly would be happy to make a second visit to San Antonio and would highly recommend it as a vacation destination.