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A Letter From Ethel
My brother invited me to come visit him during the Christmas/New Years holiday season this past year. They recently moved to the west coast. Normally I only see them briefly a couple times a year at family gatherings and havenít had the time to develop the kind of relationship with my niece and nephew as I would like.
Given that I had no plans and my brother and his wife wanted to take some time off, I cheerfully volunteered to take care of the kids while they traveled. My 14-year old niece is lovely, smart, athletic and insecure. She is into appearances, clothes and fitting in. I am her wild ďout-thereĒ strange aunt who doesnít put much effort into what I look like. Allie treats me like a disease she is afraid of catching. I had spent three weeks with the family and got along well with my nephew, but Allie, though polite, kept her distance.
It was the first day back to school after the holidays and I was making Allieís lunch. I made a sandwich of tuna with olive oil and lettuce on whole wheat bread. I squeezed grapefruit juice and put it in a thermos. I cut up carrot and celery sticks, and included small baggies of nuts and raisins. I was deeply moved by this experience of putting together a school lunch, for I was struck by what an act of love it is. Love radiated through me while I assembled it.
That afternoon Allie and I went for a long walk and we had our first deep connection. We spoke of many things. She let me in.
I am homeless. I travel around and live out of my car. I donít have a cell phone though I do maintain a voice mail and an email address. It is a wonderful life style and I enjoy it immensely. I like to spend time out in the wilderness by myself. My parentsí great fear, however, is that I wonít be reachable if there is a family crises.
Dad is 87 and Mom is 85. They have taken good care of themselves, but their age is showing. I like to go back east a few times a year and spend time with them. A difficult thing about being on the road is planning in advance. For example, if I am to buy a plane ticket, and want to purchase it in advance to get a good price, what city should I purchase it from? And when will I be there? I was hanging out in Baja, Mexico and before leaving the States bought a ticket from San Diego to Philadelphia.
I got back into the States the day before my flight to Philadelphia. That day my father got sick, fell many times, cracked his head and bled all over the house. He was rushed to the hospital. And as perfect timing would have it, I flew in the next day. My sister and brother didnít show up for another few days.
Dad is doing better, but his driverís license has been taken away from him. That has been very hard for him. Please hold him in your prayers. Thank you.
Yesterday I was attending a blessing given by Karunamayi. The room was packed. Many of us came early. There was a long wait before Karunamayi showed up. Though I spoke briefly to the person on either side of me, I mostly sat in meditation.
Today I was hiking on one of the 130 trails listed in the book, Hiking Sedona. I was coming down a trail (one of 130 trails) and a woman coming up the trail asked, ďAre you Ethel?Ē I donít believe I ever saw this woman before and I didnít know anyone in Sedona, so I was rather surprised. She told me she was sitting behind me the day before and heard me introduce myself to my neighbor. She said like my energy (I think she used the word countenance) that she wanted to meet me, but she was leading a group of 15 people from Washington, DC on a vision quest and the group was getting antsy from the waiting and decided to leave before Karunamayi arrived.
As the rest of her group made their way up the canyon and settled into their spots for their vision quest, she and I had a lovely heartfelt sharing. We both felt blessed by our brief connection.
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