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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hawks & Haystacks

The sun is shining! For the first time since I came to AUC! It looks absolutely beautiful when the sun shines, except then it's hotter and more humid too. I haven't decided yet which is worse: sun and humidity, or rain.

I am now officiallly certified to be a Prepare.Enrich facilitator. We had a one-day training seminar today and I am now trained to administer online inventories to couples considering marriage and married couples and can provide specific feedback about couple strengths and issues. It's kind of neat and super scary. You can read more about the program online at

Today I went exploring and came across an incredible find: Dexter Drumlin Reservation. I headed out at a quarter to five, eager to work out some of the wriggles from sitting in class for 8 hours straight with a 1 hour break for lunch and a couple of brief breaks that I took advantage of to take a quick stroll along the neatly laid out sidewalks. They say that Weimartians will always find a Loop no matter where they find themselves. Well I've found two so far. One is a 5 minute rectangle right in front of my classroom, the other I discovered today is a real loop :) By the way, my classroom is in the Founders Hall, which is the oldest Adventist educational building that is still in use as such. There are two pulpits in there, one used by Ellen G. White and the other by William Miller. Pretty neat!

So, as I was saying, this afternoon I slipped my phone into one pocket, clipped my cayenne pepper spray on, and turned on my Ipod to shuffle so I could enjoy some invigorating music while I walked. It's really quite funny, for those of you who know me well, because I really am not the exerciser at home, as a matter of fact I'm always looking for ways to get out of walking, but the instant I leave and find myself in strange surroundings, I suddenly have an irresistible urge to go walking, wAlKiNg, WALKING! This afternoon I turned right and started doing a loop around the main campus. My first goal was to see if there were any sidewalks I could follow (it isn't a neighbourhood that is very conducive to walking) and perhaps to head up the hill I had seen off in the distance behind the library. But I soon ran out of sidewalk, so I turned around and cut across behind main campus, strolling past plant services, the back of the library, and then turned left past the Browning Elementary School and Lancaster SDA Academy. I noticed a really neat hill across the road and when I popped over to take a look at the green meadow topped by a gentle hillside covered in tall grasses waving in the breeze, I found I was entering Dexter Drumlin Reservation, a 38 acre wildlife reserve. I thought I'd just head up to the top of the hillside and see what was on the other side, but found myself pushing on, Ipod now turned off, the explorer instinct in me eager to see how long of a path it was and where it really led. It was absolutely amazing. You know all those quotes about being in nature and how we can learn about God and feel closer to Him there? Even though I live in nature and can practically fall out of bed into the woods, I am still not as connected to it as I could be. Not in a pantheistic manner, mind you, but just being more aware of the beauty and purposely setting aside time to spend observing it. I think past experiences and how I was raised, though, haven't really helped much in my desire to be out there, exploring and reveling in the fullness of nature's expression through so many creative pictures.

I stayed on the narrow path as it took me over the top of the hill, through tall reed-like grasses, past clumps of small brown mushrooms, alongside a rushing stream, through marshy areas and freshly cut grass, past tiny buttercups, and finally back in a loop to my original starting place. It only took me 15 minutes of brisk walking on a 1-mile loop, but it was exactly what my soul needed, to breathe deeply of nature's beauty.

But I haven't told you about the hawk I saw today! On my way back to the women's dorm, after my 45 minute hike (yes, Dr. J, I'm getting my exercise in every way I can!), I noticed a huge bird gliding to a tree about 20 steps away. It settled on a broken-off branch and proceeded to preen itself and settle on to its perch. I think it was a hawk, but then again I think every large bird I see is a hawk and, living in California, most large birds are usually vultures, but it was huge and brown with white spots and colouring. About 2 seconds after it landed, a tiny bird about 1/10th its size began to chatter rather loudly as if berating this intruder. I found a park bench and settled down to watch as the audacious bird began to dive-bomb the hawk, repeatedly coming at it from different angles, sometimes swerving at the last minute so as not to end up plastered against the huge bird, but never giving up. The hawk, unperturbed, continued to fluff its feathers or survey its surroundings, looking rather bored with it all, all the while not even acknowledging its rival. Soon the tiny pipsqueak was joined by a partner, and now there were two taking turns, swooping and swirling, but the hawk would not be budged. I finally left after 10 minutes of inaction from the hawk. As far as I know, he's still sitting there, content to perch high above it all. It was a lesson for me, though. I wish I could be more like the hawk, solid and consistent, not paying attention to the distractions that seemed to be ever-present.

Haystacks? We had them for lunch and they were yummy, but it's been forever since I've had haystacks with the real corn chips, you know, the kind that are curled up, not tortilla chips but real corn chips, so it was quite tasty. Even though I'm fast tiring of the fruit juice and bread that is always the same every single time, I still relish being able to eat a hot meal that I haven't had to prepare!!! Sabbath is a buffet line (I pre-bought my meal ticket yesterday) and while it's a little pricier, at least I can go back if I want.

I guess this has been rather a long post today, but I don't get to talk a lot to people who want to listen to me, hence I find my outlet online! Hope it hasn't been too boring, cuz I sure enjoy it!!! Till tomorrow :)

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