Lent is a difficult time to find time to be away from the parish, but some disciplined calendaring preserved the week of the Feast of the Annunciation free of appointments. Rather than complete another section of the AT, my son Chet and his dog Charlie and I planned sixty mile hike on the Ozarks Highland Trail. Jim, Kelley, Heather, and Sylvia from Simple House in Kansas City joined us.
The Ozarks are amazingly beautiful this time of year, a transition from the open spaces and distant views made possible by “leaf-off” to the earliest bits of green on the tips of trees, trillium and wild iris combined with pinks of redbuds, whites of serviceberries and earliest dogwoods and reds of maples. Life seemed to be gasping for light like a swimmer gasping for air.
The folks from Simple House were great company and great hikers. It was good to get to know them better. They are tough graduates of great Catholic colleges – University of Dallas, Franciscan University, and Ave Maria, giving a year or more of time to building friendships and evangelization among the poor in Kansas City. We were able to celebrate Mass together – perched on a rock beside a stream the first night after a hard slog through a path obscured by limbs from winter ice storms, the second evening at sunset on a rock outcrop after the welcome sun had helped warm us after a thunderstorm. For the Feast of the Annuciation we said the Angelus at a double waterfall about noon and then celebrated Mass back the Lodge at White Rock Mountain. Our final Mass was under a tarp as we hiked down to meet Chet at his final campsite.
The Ozarks Highland Trail is even more challenging and in some ways more beautiful than the AT. Chet and I had surmised that because the Ozarks are not true mountains, it would be an easier hike. Not so. The ascents and descents are just as steep and are more numerous. The OHT does not have the benefit of so many trail volunteers, and some sections were not cleared of last winter’s debris from the ice storm. Stream crossings are more of a challenge, too. We had to wade through knee deep streams, and the trail crossed several that were impassible at the trail the crossing, requiring substantial detours. But the beauty of the trail more than made up for its challenges. I have never seen so many waterfalls. Jim was great at spotting wildlife – a bear, turkeys, and deer. I identified what I believe was an elk hoof print.
We didn’t make the miles we intended, but getting picked up early meant an unplanned stop at the General Store in Oark – an opportunity you should not miss if you ever pass through there deliberately or by chance. We had fresh baked pie with ice cream! The town pig wandering outside was no extra charge.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
After being tuned for the first time in decades our Kilgen is ready to go. A number of parishioners have never heard it played and will get a chance to hear it for the first time tomorrow. After the 9:15 Mass tomorrow our organist will play a couple of short pieces to demonstrate what it is capable of. At the 11:15 Anglican Use Mass we will get a chance to hear the organ during a Prelude and Postlude as well as the Mass. Laetare Sunday comes at a great time to let us get a taste before we revert to Lenten simplicity for the next few weeks. While not a concert instrument, our forebears got the best organ they could afford, and sixty years later it is ready to go back to work. St. Therese is blessed with great acoustics, and our organ is able to use them to its advantage. In addition to putting the organ back into full use, Laetare is an appropriate day to receive Professions of Faith and convalidate a Marriage.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I'm trading my spring hike on the AT for a hike on the Ozarks Highlands Trail with my son. The only other time we have hiked together was six or seven years ago when he went with me on my my first visit to the AT since I was a college student. We did the loop hike at Standing Indian, and since then I have been section hiking the AT once or twice a year. He has become a proficient hiker on his own, doing a major section of the Long Trail after he graduated from high school and tackling some sections of the AT with friends. We compare notes and equipment as we simplify and cut our pack weight. For Christmas his dog Charlie got his own pack from Santa Claus and this will be Charlie's first real hike. We're going to do the section between Ozone and White Rock Mountain. It takes a lot to make me give up hiking the AT, but this is an opportunity not to be missed. Who knows when or if it will ever happen again. It's one of the special privileges of being a father.
Monday, March 9, 2009
We are in the process of exploring the possibility of developing a Community Garden on the empty lot south of the Rectory. We have applied for a small grant that would allow us to develop it for the use of our neighbors. We think it would be another opportunity to get to know each other. In return for the use of the space and advice on gardening from a professional gardener, we would ask for a tithe of the produce for our food bank. Want to lend a hand?
A visitor on Sunday shared that he came to St. Therese because he had once had the opportunity to visit the relics of St. Therese in Vancouver. Perhaps she led him here. Few appear to know that we are the Shrine of St. Therese for Kansas City. Her relics may be venerated in her Shrine Monday - Friday until 4:00 p.m. Please use the Rectory entrance, 5814 Euclid Avenue. Her Shrine is also open any time the Church is open. During Lent a relic of the True Cross may be venerated at the St. Joseph altar.