Marilyn and Martha
Last night we feasted on grilled lamb chops, a marvelous ratatouille called Samfina, baked potatoes, salad, bread and rhubarb crisp. It was cooked for us by our Wyoming hostess, Marilyn Engstrom. Marilyn was the Dean of St. Matthew’s Cathedral here in Laramie until she retired in 2012.
Mare, as most people call her, is a native of Wyoming and it was always clear from the beginning of her time in seminary that she would come back home to serve. Creative in everything she does whether it is liturgy, cooking, writing or preaching; Mare is a treasure to know. It has been my joy to visit with her again and introduce my travelling companions to her. The picture above was taken at St. Matthew’s Cathedral where we visited yesterday. It is a beautiful church with many memories including Mare’s ordination to the Diaconate and her installation as Dean. Below is one of the beautiful stained glass windows at the Cathedral, called the “Pearl of Great Price”. Designed by Rowan LeCompte, who designed the windows at the National Cathedral, it is a beautiful illustration of the parable.
Driving across Wyoming, yesterday was like watching creation change clothes every 30 or so miles. Grasslands to a kind of high desert with sagebrush and sandy soil; and the hills and mountains which are always changing colors. Cattle grazing alongside of antelope herds and an occasional flock of sheep made landscape watching fun. There have been so many opportunities to experience Wyoming. Mare, another friend and I climbed Laramie Peak and shared communion at the top; together we took a group of 12 year old girls into the Wind River Mountains complete with Llamas carrying our gear. Always it has been these wonderful outdoor adventures that gave me such an appreciation of this complex land of beauty. Since I don’t ride horses, I guess I can’t be a “cowgirl” but I love feeling at home here.
These pictures are of a wonderful sculpture on the University of Wyoming campus. The title is “Breaking Through”. A cowgirl rides through a brick wall to symbolize the breakthrough of women. It’s easy to identify with this beautiful sculpture!
Marilyn has given me a book called, The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom. Written by Christine Valters Paintner, the book is a twelve week journey into exploring our “Creative Source.” It uses monastic practices to nurture spirituality as well as creative exercises to stimulate our “inner artist”. Reading through the introduction and part of the first week’s writing, I find that I am desirous of a discipline that will increase my inner awareness of the Creative Source. Disciplines are tricky things. It’s easy to start but sometimes difficult to stay the course.
Henri J. Nouwen is quoted in Paintner’s book: “A new beginning! We must learn to live each day, each hour, yes, each minute as a new beginning, as a unique opportunity to make everything new.”