Thursday, June 21, 2007

Collegium: Wed. and Portland

Portland Classical Chinese Garden

Rose Garden, Portland

Collegium: Wednesday

I get up, shower, walk, and call Cathi. We are all sad and tired. Cathi then tells me a relative was just diagnosed with cancer. This is getting to be a long and difficult week. I wish I was home and I am glad I am here. But mainly for my family I wish I was home.

I still have things to do and learn so I walk some more. Spirituality of place is something I get, and something I need.

I then go to breakfast. I just enjoy being with my fellow pilgrims so much. After breakfast it is off to chapel for Morning Prayers. Our spiritual lesson/exercise today is on Discernment. I am familiar with this because I am at that stage currently with the Secular Franciscan Order.

Afterwards we meet in the Terrace Room for a Major Presentation. Christine Firer-Hinze from Fordham University speaks on Catholic Social thought. This is stuff I need to know, much of it I do know but I am new and there is so much more to learn. However, I have been exhausted and it is difficult for me to pay attention consistently. However, everyone tells me she was great. Everyone in our Small Group plans on buying a DVD of her talk. I will as well since I missed something special.

We then have lunch in this elegant room followed by more questions for our speaker. Clearly she was special, people did not want to stop asking her questions, I have got to get that DVD!

After a break we meet with our Small Group, ahhhhh, home! We talk about our readings. Mainly, Gaudium et Spes, Ex Corde Ecclesiae and the Mendota. This is a group that started out with not everyone knowing what occurred during Vatican II and now we talk about these documents with a degree of assurance. Of course it helps to have a Jesuit in our company. We are all aware that what it means to be a Catholic University is different in each situation, each campus. Still, we are here to make sure we struggle with how we can maintain that identity without stifling secular research and being true to our values. Our protestant members actively participate and I cannot imagine the Academy without them, we would lose too much that is of value.

Finally, we are off for our evening in Portland. I am clear that I am going to the Classical Chinese Garden in Chinatown and then will go to the Rose Garden. We end up with a neat party of explorers. Chris, Cathy, John and Jean join us. However, so does Judy (Judith) Maxwell Greig. She is the Provost at Notre Dame de Namur University only I did not know it. So I was funny, flip and more relaxed than I would have been. She was great fun.

We are let off at Powell’s City of Books and we then walk through Chinatown. The city fluctuates between very nice and hurting. We get to the garden and we are not disappointed. The Classical Chinese Garden is an authentically built Ming Dynasty style garden. Material and craftsmen were shipped over from China. The garden has covered walkways, bridges, open colonnades, pavilions and beautiful landscaping. There are multiple rooms and environments, all one the edges of Zither Lake. The lake, really a pond has fish and lilies. We then go the garden’s tea house.

We all choose to have our tea outside. It is wonderful. We each have a different tea. That means different type cups, leaves, and aroma. Two of our members have a ceremony which consists of three teas. They learn how to use hot water to warm the cup before using it and to toss out the first bit of tea because it is aged and dusty. John orders an exotic sounding tea. When I comment about his perfect diction he states he lived in Bhutan for ten years. He travels to Africa and Asia fighting slavery and torture, he ran a school in the Himalayas. Dull, I am feeling really dull right now!

This place was great. In the middle of the city we were carried off to another world. Now our group splits up. Chris, Cathy, Judy and I take the trolley and tunnel up to the Rose Garden. The Garden is on the side of a hill looking down at downtown. Oregon is the center of Rose growth. Roses are used for foliage on the sides of the expressway. This garden is an experimental garden. Deep purple roses and bright yellow roses grab our attention. Every color is here. People from all over the world are here taking pictures. It smells wonderful.

This is the oldest official continuously operated public rose test gardens in the United States. Each year hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world enjoy the sights and scents of the gardens. There are over 8,000 roses and more than 500 species of roses here. We take pictures, we inhale. And then we walk down the hill and go to town for dinner.

We all go to Jake’s for dinner. This is a famous seafood restaurant. Sophie Tucker, Jack Benny and Humphrey Bogart and us, have all eaten at Jake's! It is not cheap, salmon is $34.00. I order fish and chips! Judith orders this elaborate appetizer for all of us. It is a chilled seafood platter that has lox, crayfish, crab, shrimp and mussels. It is wonderful. We are joined by Graduate student Florian Ploeckl from Yale (and German) and Father Dan Sweeney, a Jesuit and friend of Chris. After a great meal and great company Judy, Cathy and I head for our bus to go back to campus. Chris and the guys stay out talking philosophy over brews. It was a fun night. We saw a lot of Portland. It was artsy, modern, old, beautiful, dirty. I like it and it served as a distraction. I would love to come back to Portland with Cathi (my wife, not my collegium friend!).

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