I made my confession on Good Friday in order to have a clean spirit for the Easter Sunrise Service. It didn’t take long before the dreaded venial sins made their way back into my spirit. As much as I attempted to keep them at bay, I caved in. But something was different this time; I remembered the words the priest shared with me during confession. “Don’t beat yourself up about this because it will hinder your prayer life.” I quickly brushed off the negative thoughts to freed my mind of any guilt. This is what the Devil has mastered: He wants you to beat yourself up and fill you with guilt so that He can make sure that you fall into the abyss. In most situations I am seasoned in my walk with God because I recognize that these traps that the Enemy has set before me can easily be sidestepped. But when I’m under the weather or out of the spirit because of anger, I’m susceptible to the ploys of the Enemy.
I pay for not being organized. Both my husband and daughter are overly organized, but I never bother with checking calendars or writing down important dates. So when Sonja invited us on a camping trip in January, I said yes. As the dates grew closer I came to the realization that this trip was during Holy Week! First of all, I am not a fan of camping, and now I was giving up attending daily Mass to go camping? I was not a “happy camper,” but I knew that God would turn this trip into something spiritual.
This camping trip was surprisingly pleasant. The weather was ordered by God and could not have been more perfect. We stayed in cabins that resembled something from the television series Little House on the Prairie. They were quite charming. No T.V. and spotty internet service was something we got accustomed to on the first night. I brought my prayer books, kept up with the reading of the Mass, and prayed the Rosary before the night turned pitch black. The sounds of baritone frogs filled the night air, but morning brought red-headed woodpeckers that sounded like someone was knocking at the door. I thought about all these little critters that are part of the big picture in God’s creation. Back home I rarely pay attention to the sparrows, and the sounds that I’m accustomed to are fire engines blaring and the neighbors’ dogs’ occasional barking.
I suffer from environmental allergies; and all this crisp, fresh air was kicking up and making me suffer from itchy eyes, and my nose was tormented by all the unfamiliar weeds in full bloom. I had one allergy pill, but it was out of code. Needless to say, I did not get any sleep. Instead I prayed for my daughter-in-law Jenny’s brother, who is hospitalized with COVID-19. I offered up my suffering for his healing.
We got up early to hike to visit the llamas. Llamas live to be about 20 years old, but the El Capitan llamas are over 30 years old. They graze on grass while looking into the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Goats, sheep and one short donkey make their home here as well. Surprisingly, I made my way up with ease but was worried about the hike down. I started to look for a sturdy stick to use as an aid going back down the hill. My son-in-law Russ had the same idea and had already whittled one for me.
If you want to see the sunset a hike is required. I made a loud declaration that I was going to see the sun go down. Russ quickly said that he noticed a hiking path up the mountain that was perfect for the viewing. It took about five minutes to reach the start of this so-called path. Russ, Jacob and I followed the narrow path. They were way ahead of me as I carefully made my way up the path. It was filled with holes that I imagined were snake dwellings. Worst of all, I forgot to bring the walking stick. Looking down the entire way up, we finally made it to the top. This seemed to me to be as victorious as reaching the summit of Mt. Everest! My first thought was the feeling of oneness with God. Then I looked toward the sea and just a few hundred yards down the hill were campers! Russ insisted on staying until the sun fully set. Though I wanted to oblige, the snake holes were still a fresh thought. I accomplished this downhill hike by praying the Hail Mary all the way down.
We see our daughter Sonja and her family at least four times a week. Traveling shed new light on how this little family really operates. Sonja is patient and loving, but, most importantly, she and Russ discipline with a stern yet soft hand. The only thing Lucas and Jacob get away with is eating too many sweets and overly using their devices.
Every morning, just like the woodpeckers, Jacob would come into our cabin to see if we needed anything. Russ, Mike and Jacob would walk down to the country store to purchase breakfast and coffee. This camping trip was what can be referred to as semi-camping because we did drive back into civilization (Santa Barbara) for a few dinners.
He Is Risen
Serving communion during the Easter Sunrise Service was an honor. I got teary eyed at the Mass when a family of about seven came up for a blessing. They were followed by Lucas, Jacob, Sonja and Russ. Great joy filled my heart to participate in this glorious morning. We can now sing Alleluia! He is Risen!
Dear Lord, through Your Glorious Resurrection I thank You for the price You paid for our sins. I continue to pray for those who are suffering from COVID-19 and other life-threatening diseases. Lord, reveal Yourself to them and heal them. Lord, I pray for those who have lost loved ones. Bring them comfort and hold them through this pain. Amen.