Sunday, January 18, 2015
Greetings from Florida where I thought it would be warm. Well, it's warmER, but my expectations were off again. So, what's new? I'm on a tiny (10 miles long and a few wide) island called Gasparilla.
It's part of a chain of small islands, including Captiva and the more famous Sanibel, and named after a pirate of old called Gaspar, who led raids and got his name into history. The town in which this small isle is located is called Boca Grande. Its means Big Mouth in Spanish, a designation that refers to the big mouth of the Gulf of Mexico and its inlets. Thanks to the weather, I now have a Boca Grande sweatshirt— advertising my own big mouth.
Thanks to the recommendations of Google-god who spit out my name, I came to lead a women's retreat at St. Andrew's parish. We took a few vacation days as well. On this isle people get around mostly by golf cart, so we have the parish rector's cart on loan. Guess who drives?
And guess who gasps and yells slow down, STOP sign, and other harassments from the front seat?
Someone didn't charge our cart long enough, and the other someone called, "We're out of gas!" as our cart began to buck and jerk. The mate screamed back, "There is no gas; it's a battery, and I charged it!" Not long enough apparently. Nevertheless, we are grateful to the rector, the Rev. Michelle Robertshaw, who came to rescue us in her CAR, which we then could use to continue our touristic adventures while she got help to charge up the little cart. Good to go!
Here is our regular morning visitor, a scavenger. Handsome feathered fellow, well fed. And the little feral cat who, with its many buddies, all trapped, spayed and readied for their cat job of keeping the island's rat population manageable. Makes good eco-sense. Islanders are grateful and feed the cats well. They hang around restaurants purring pleasantly, a feline strategy of begging. It works.
Fascinated with all the flora and fauna in this clime, but specially the wild and thick mangroves which keep the island safe and protected from the waters. Also the noble banyan tree, destroyed by hurricanes yet returning bigger and stronger than ever, some of the branches actually growing downward to plant roots below for another outcropping of the tree. Imagine!
Nothing is lacking, except gas stations. This the Johann Fust Memorial Library, restored, beautified by our friend, Alice Gorman, and a dedicated team and lots of generous people. It is a gift to minds, young and old. Cicero said: "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." True!
We fly home tomorrow to northern climes. All in all, it has been a grand visit to a very unique place, filled with retired seniors like us, but with a lot more wealth than we have—a LOT more.
Oh, the retreat.....Spirituality 101, held in a sumptuous home, quiet contrary to ascetical practice, but with a gracious hostess, lots of laughs, and poetry, and wisdom, and bright women who want to know their own soul-worth more deeply and enhance their connection to God through the work of Christ Sophia, the feminine face of the Holy Spirit. Here is St. Andrew's church—a blessing.
Nathanael asked about Jesus of Nazareth, aka the Christ: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said, "Come and see."
I ask: Can anything good come out of a small church on a little island? Come and see!