This morning I was up before dawn (which isn’t so early these days) driving up to Big Lake to make a dog food pick up. People always ask about feeding the dogs, how much you buy, how much does it cost…… I quit keeping track of how much my sled dog activities cost after the first year. I started to add up the numbers and decided I didn’t want to know. It isn’t outrageous, we could afford it and it was a distraction to the recreation and enjoyment to keep looking at the numbers. It was an expense that had many benefits to physical and spiritual health. So without dwelling on the cost, here is the supply I picked up this morning. It is about 500 pounds and will last a few months, maybe longer now that summer is here and the dogs eat less in the off season.
You will also notice I took the dog box off the back of the truck officially ending the race season. It’s with mixed emotions that I end the season, but a beautiful spring day in the 40′s is cause for happily moving on to spring and summer activities.
The drive up and back, about an hour each way, also gave me some “quiet time” to think and reflect. I’ve been retired and working on the ministry project for over a year now and things don’t seem any slower. However I had lunch with a couple of my former peers yesterday and one said I seemed much more relaxed, so I guess I’m settling in a little.
As I drove, I first listened to the news on the radio, then moved to music from my ipod (not with headphones, but plugged into the truck stereo, a fancy new option) which keeps my mind from racing. When I got home I did a little reading and reflecting. I pulled out a book given to me by a friend several years ago. Let Your Life Speak is a great little book by Parker J Palmer.
Here is a passage that I had underlined several years ago that really fit with this morning’s quiet time (from page 7-8):
The soul is like a wild animal-tough, resilient, savvy, self-sufficient and yet exceedingly shy. If we want to see a wild animal, the last thing we should do is go crashing through the woods, shouting for the creature to come out. But if we are willing to walk quietly into the woods and sit silently for an hour or two at the base of a tree, the creature we are waiting for may well emerge, and out of the corner of an eye we will catch a glimpse of the precious wildness we seek.
Quiet time…good for the soul.
For those of you who have interest in my mushing (sled dog racing) career, I raced in the Ham Lake Snow Bowl on Saturday. Here is a shot (click here) of me coming out of the starting chute. Here is another shot (click here) on the course. I can’t post the pictures here because of copyright issues, but visit the website for lots of great sled-dog photos. I placed second running two dogs, Cobi my leader and his brother Owens a horse that moves most of my “bulk”. I’ve grown accustomed to running three (click here for a shot of the Frazee race from last week), less work for me and less for the dogs too, but the course was a bit tight through the woods and tangles can be a problem in tight areas. The woods run was fun and beautiful, but when we hit the lake portion of the race it was a blizzard.
It was a great experience, and although I wouldn’t call it a spiritual mountaintop experience, it certainly raised my spirits. Thanks so much to the Ham Lake Chamber of Commerce for sponsoring the Snow Bowl and Midwest Skijorers for all of their work putting on the race.
Sometimes people get so busy they can’t keep up with themselves. Kind of like the time my brother was playing softball, rounding third , when his feet didn’t keep up with his body……..and well……you know……crash!
Well I haven’t crashed but my postings kind of did for the past couple of weeks. There has been a lot going on, my life has been cruising ahead, but my writing hasn’t quite kept up. The last time I wrote I was headed off to the races. It was a great time. Hanging out with the old sled dog gang, spending the day outside, I even got to race! Third place! Not bad for being significantly out of shape but the dogs did well. You can check out the race details and stories HERE.
Since the race, I also hit the one year anniversary of my retirement and I spent the last week at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS) as part of my seminary studies. It was 40 degrees and lots of cold rain. I know, warmer than the 30 below it was here back home but it wasn’t 70 and a sunny day at the beach either. I had two great classes: Preaching I and a workshop on Evangelism. I was amazed at the limited perspective I had on the two topics. I had a lot of biases and preconceptions about what the words meant. The classes, like much of what I learn in my studies, gave me a lot to think about and some great tools to use as this ministry evolves.
Then there was today. Today I started a new job. I put on a good shirt, nice pants, my better shoes (but not my best) and headed off to Faith Lutheran Church in Waconia. I will be working there as a Pastoral Assistant, part time, 10 hours a week. This learning experience, working in a congregational setting, is part of the process of getting ordained, which will hopefully happen in the next couple of years if all goes well. My thanks go out to the staff at Faith: Dale, Jason, Mike, Jean, Kallie, Mary and Dennis for making me feel so welcome today!
Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted any photos (other than links off the net) lately. Well that was the result of user issues, aka I reverted to old software and forgot how to use it. Well I refreshed my brain and figured it out. Below are some photos I should have put in previous posts. See if you can figure out which ones go where. (and they all don’t go in the same post)
With the recent weather it is clear that Minnesota mushing is over for the season. That is always a nice transition because when the weather deteriorates for the sled dogs, it is replaced with the blessing of the coming spring. The coming of spring is a signal for the Carlson family to start planning our annual pilgrimage to Florida for spring break and a visit to Grandma’s house.
Two other events occur in this season, the NCAA basketball tournament and the Iditarod sled dog race. I’m not a avid sports fan nor spectator, but I do enjoy the tradition of paying attention to these two events each year (as well as a few others). With luck I’ll still be involved in the NCAA tourney pool at work and I’ll follow the results during our pilgrimage.
For those of you with some interest in the Iditarod, here is the latest info on the race that is nearing the end (for the front runners anyway) from my personal perspective. Iâ€™m following two racers, Jeff King and Jeff Wells. Jeff Wells is the guy from Fergus Falls who I’ve raced with in the past and Jeff King is an elite racer that Jeff Wells works with and is running one of King’s teams. As I write this post, King is in 5th place getting close to the end of the race. Wells is in 52nd, has passed the halfway mark and doing an outstanding job for his first Iditarod. Click here for the official site and race details.
Traditions in life, events and occasions that we can count on year after year are very positive spiritual fitness exercises. I love adventure, but I also love the comfort of tradition. I feel an increase in my spiritual fitness and personal happiness just writing about the my up coming traditions of spring: basketball, sled dogs and a family road trip.
What are the traditions in your life that build your spiritual fitness?