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Christmas Break is Broke

  01/12/07 15:37, by jsignal, Categories: random ramble

I'm settling back into my desk chair at the seminary. It's good to have my own computer back and to not be living out of a suitcase. After all, it has been a month. As you can read in my previous entries, I drove home to North Dakota for the first couple of weeks of the break. I returned to St. Louis briefly last weekend to regroup and leave for a week-long silent retreat near Washington, MO.

As always, I've taken a lot of snapshots and thought of all kinds of things to post here. I still hope to do another "year in review" collage like I did last year, for 2005. Perhaps I will find the time this weekend. But for now, I wanted to quickly post a few pictures from my Christmas break.

This is a snapshot of Lake Audubon in North Dakota. My buddy Jesse and I did some geocaching out there along some crazy dirt "roads." It was a good time, even if we didn't find an intact cache. One cache, if it was there, was too buried in snow for us to locate and the other was destroyed -- we only found the lid. Maybe in the spring we'll go back for another try.

At home in Bottineau I enjoyed a lot of free time. I went for walks on the frozen lake and along the country roads. Here my parents' dog Sadie, chasing me across icy Lake Couthard.

This is the traditional opening of presents on Christmas Eve. In the background, on the couch, are my grandparents. That's my stepsister sitting on the floor and opening a difficult package for her son, Wyatt. Ernie, Shannon's husband, is behind Shannon. The big dog on the floor is Ajax, my brother's big goofy horse.

Grandma and Grandpa file into the church for Christmas Mass. It was a beautiful service with excellent music.

On my way through the Minot, ND, area I stopped and visited the McCormacks and the Schapers. We all had a good time.

For Christmas I was given an empty ammo can. Doesn't sound exciting? It is if you're a geocacher. Jesse and I went out and hid it in this area, near Des Lacs. You could call this picture a "spoiler."

I ended my month-long break from academics with a week long retreat. That means I "retreated" from the world for some solitary time with God, a few hours west of St. Louis. While many of my fellow Kenrick students were there, we were not allowed to speak outside of worship or spiritual direction. While there I was free much of the time. So I took long walks on the paths through the trees, thought about where I'm at in life, and did a lot of reading.

On my reading list for the retreat were The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle, also by C.S. Lewis, and the January issue of National Geographic. I also read The Silver Chair and The Great Divorce, both by C.S. Lewis, earlier in my break. As you can see, I'm in a C.S. Lewis phase. The man was a genius, able to express the subtleties of spirituality and behavior in an entertaining, accessible way.

I may write some more about the experience of a silent retreat. For now, if you want a detailed description of the experience, check out Steve's blog entries for Jan 7th-11th.

The picture above is one of the pictures I took on a walk along the "Deer Run Trail" near the conference center. I didn't take many pictures, and that's probably the most interesting one.


Comment from: Dawn [Visitor]  

Welcome back to communication. I hope you do tell us about your silent retreat.

Great pictures, thanks! I really like the “crown of thorns” photo.

01/12/07 @ 21:39
Comment from: Melanie [Visitor]  

Let’s see that year-in-review!!

01/14/07 @ 16:16
Comment from: Anthony Gerber [Visitor]  

… what is “geocaching"?

01/14/07 @ 22:14
Comment from: jsignal [Member]  

Geocaching is a worldwide “treasure hunt” of sorts. A cache is something, usually an old ammo can but often something like a 35mm film canister, hidden somewhere that is publicly accessible. Geocaching is the challenge of finding these hidden caches. The person who hides a cache publishes the latitude and longitude of the cache on the Internet (at http://www.geocaching.com). Then people use their GPS receivers to find the hidden caches.

The contents of the cache are usually useless trinkets. The rule is that if you take something from the cache, you leave something in the cache so there is always something in it (you never move a cache, you just find it and leave it there). And you sign the “log book” both on paper within the cache and on the Internet.

The fun is in finding the caches, which are often placed in unique locations you’d never find otherwise. I’ve found a cache that required me to climb the vertical rock wall of a butte and discover a small cave that is prominent in local (ND) Native American legend.

I’ve been out hunting for a cache on some muddy roads along the Missouri that required a 4-wheel-drive vehicle and some courage. I’ve found some amazing, secluded spots out in the grasslands and badlands of North Dakota. Oh, and I have been to four (I think) different parks in Shrewsbury. Who knew there were so many?

Geocaching is just a reason to get out there and find interesting places.

01/15/07 @ 09:05
Comment from: Cat [Member]  

Ahh, it looks like a beautiful Christmas. I love the picture of your grandparents entering the church. It says “North Dakota Christmas” to me.

Geochaching… it’s been so long for me! There is one cache in Lviv, too bad I didn’t bring my GPS. :-(

01/17/07 @ 02:56
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