Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Collegium: Sunday June 10, 2007


Columbia River Gorge

Collegium: Sunday June 10

I get up early and talk with Cathi. Our dog, Chloe is arthritic and her pain seems to be increasing. I may have to put her to sleep in the coming weeks. This is sad, she is my all time favorite companion animal. However, I thought I was going to have to do that last October and so everyday we have with her in which she wags her tail, barks in happiness and licks our face is extra. We were all clear in our family though that we would not keep her alive for us if the quality of her life deteriorated, if she was in pain more than she was happy. That day may be nearing.

I walk around campus. The bluff is breathtaking, the redwoods majestic. The buildings are huge, as it is the art.

The campus is a sensual assault not to be missed. If you were blind you would still appreciate the beauty of this campus. You would hear all the different birds, you would hear the boat horns, the shipyard crane bells, the rustle of small critters and the laughter of collegium members.

You would smell all the different shades of greenness. Each building, each bend in the road results in flowered trees and bushes, gardens and of course roses.

We have a wonderful breakfast and then it is off to chapel for Eucharist. This is The Chapel of Christ the Teacher. It is a beautiful wood chapel directly opposite of Franz Hall. Beside it is the commons and behind it is St. Mary’s Student Center. Directly behind it is the bluff overlooking the river. The entire area is a dance of open space and trees reaching for the heavens.

In 1953 Father James Fogarty, C.S.C., started the chapel trust fund. The chapel was dedicated on October 5, 1985. This is a new chapel but it looks like it has always been a part of the campus.

The exterior consists of red cedar, oversized brick and a concrete tile roof. It looks simple and breathtaking at the same time. The chapel has a lantern-style steeple. This reminds me of a Norwegian Stave church and in fact that was the intention of the architect.

Next to the chapel is a Marian Garden. It is simple and reminds me of Our Lady going to Stonehenge!

The doors are massive, wooden and intricately carved. They are heavy and opening the door takes a little effort. You have to want to enter, and it is worth it.

If the outside of the chapel looks Scandinavian the inside looks Japanese. The balcony, which surrounds all four sides of the chapel, consists of wooden screen-laced windows. The dome is held up by four massive Douglas fir columns. To the side are two chapels and in the balcony are the Stations of the Cross. This is where we gather multiple times a day. We meet for spiritual direction and education, for worship and for Eucharist.

The baptismal font is a stone cross with descending steps into it. On the outside it says, “One faith, one font, one spirit make one people; no barrier can divide where life unites.”

After Mass we get on our buses and head for the Columbia River Gorge. We drive for 45 minutes. The country is beautiful. This is the land of mountains, rivers and rainforest. It is also the land of volcanoes. Within driving distance are Mt. Hood, Mount Jefferson, Mount St. Helen and Mount Rainer.

We arrive at the Sternwheeler Riverboat Cruise dock. We get a group picture standing in front of the boat. Then we board for our Babette’s Feast. I finally get my salmon along with a variety of shell fish, eggs, meats, vegetables, deserts and champagne.

We cruise down the gorge, I have no idea why I did not realize a gorge was a fjord! I feel like I am back in the Holy Land, Norway. The mountains rise up, Washington State is one side of the river, Oregon the other. The Columbia River Gorge is a river canyon cutting the only sea-level route through the Cascade Mountain Range. It's 80 miles long and up to 4,000 feet deep.

There are platforms sticking out of the water. These are for Native Americans. By treaty four different tribes have the right to fish these waters in the traditional manner, standing on platforms with hand nets.

We go under the Bridge of the Gods. Charles Lindbergh flew the Spirit of St. Louis under this bridge. We see waterfalls, both on our drive up to the dock and along the cruise. Multnomah Falls take our breath away. It is the second highest year-round waterfall in the United States. Though Multnomah Falls is wonderful all of the falls in the Gorge are breathtaking.

The best part of the cruise was the camaraderie. We laugh, we are silly and irreverent. Coming back there are three teenagers on a cliff, as we wave to them they turn their backs on us and moon us! Nobody is offended, though one person does mention that one of the mooners is carrying a little too much body fat. I reply that I think they were being cheeky.

When we get back to campus we gather in our Small Groups. We watch the film “Finding God in All things: A Sacramental World” by Michael Hines. He use to teach at Notre Dame, you can always trust a Hoosier!

The video was great. It blended Babette’s Feast with our cruise. He was not speaking about just the Seven Sacraments, but of all the concrete sacraments of life. He stated that sacraments were needed to make what is always present in every situation visible. He was talking of Grace which he described as God’s love outside of the Trinity. That love is everywhere all the time. However, whenever something is always there we habituate and do not recognize it. So sacraments are needed to state the obvious.

Our lunch was a sacrament, the cruise, our fellowship, all sacraments. It was a great film that was very consistent with my Franciscan worldview.

Best of all, we are getting to know our Mentor, Theresa. This is her first time mentoring and she is a natural, authentic, caring, and able to set limits and boundaries. I think she will be a staff member of Collegium for a long tome.

Small Group meets twice, we have a break and then we go to chapel for our Prayer/Spirituality session. Afterwards dinner and social hour.

I talk with my youngest daughter Kerri, she tells me Chloe had a difficult night, I am becoming increasingly concerned.

A group of us then get together to go into Portland. We decide to visit Powell's Bookstore tonight. It is the largest bookstore west of the Mississippi. this way we get to spend time in the store and free up our night in Portland later in the week seeing other sites.

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