The vacation is getting better
Day three here in Cuba. Things have improved significantly now that we’ve moved into a different room. It’s sad that it took having two kids to get a decent room, but I’ll accept it. As one of our new friends said, at least we can go into our rooms without crying now. I don’t understand a lot of things. I don’t understand how a reputable tour company in Canada can advertise four stars and offer one or two. I don’t understand how the tour rep here is going to survive when every new group that arrives is ready to launch its own Cuban revolution. That job would get tiring fast. I don’t know why they offer two television stations in one part of the hotel and about a million in the other. But the vacation is much more enjoyable now, and I can go back to feeling guilty because our standard of living is higher than that of the locals. I’m only partially kidding here. We’ve met a lot of nice people. One couple we met lives in Australia. He’s Australian, she’s Canadian. They decided to live in both places for two years each before deciding where to settle. The second winter in Canada, he turned to her and asked, “Is there really a question?” They now live in Wellington, which, he explains, is not the good weather center of Australia, but they still only endure about a week’s worth of bad weather a year. Makes you wonder about those eight month Canadian winters. I’m lying on the beach reading The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris. It’s not a book, it’s soul food. I’m loving every page. I hope to review it here next week when I get back, but if you haven’t read it yet, it’s one of those books you should just get out there and buy. Don’t even think about it. She reminds me of Anne Lamott. It has a depth that many of us (I include myself) with evangelical backgrounds long for but have not always experienced. This isn’t the most profound passage in the book, but I could relate:
Taking Jeremiah to heart, day in day out, I got much more than I bargained for. I found it brave of these Benedictines, in late twentieth-century America, in a culture of denial, to try to listen to a prophet at all. The response of these monks was illuminating, and sometimes comical. “Know what you have done,” Jeremiah shouted at us one morning (2:23), but before we could get over the ferocity of that command – it’s much easier to live not knowing what we’ve done – the prophet had gone on to a vivid depiction of Israel as a frenzied camel in heat, loudly sniffing the wind, making directionless tracks in the sand. This was imagery we could smell; the poetry of scripture at its earthy best. Monks are not used to being compared to camels in heat, but they took it pretty well. I noticed eyebrows going up around the choir, and then a kind of quiet assent: well, there are days. Monks know very well how easy it is to lose track of one’s purpose in life, how hard to maintain the discipline that keeps (in St. Benedictine’s words) “our minds in harmony with our voices” in prayer, the ease with which aimless desire can disturb our hearts…
As I said, soul food. I’m loving it. That’s it for now. Peace to you no matter whether you live in 51 weeks of good weather or 8 months of winter. See you soon.