I’m here at my favorite Santa Cruz coffee shop, at the end of five days of work and play. I’ve been traveling by Amtrak (bus, train, bus) to my varied destinations, writing as I go.
My first stop was Berkeley, where I spent most of the day in the Graduate Theological Union Library, perusing dozens of books related to my work. I’ve kept my library card since seminary, so I checked out several books that most attracted my interest. From Berkeley I headed by train to Merced, where I led a workshop for forty United Methodist Women on “Climate Justice and System Change.” It gave me the opportunity to share some cutting edge ideas with concerned people of faith. I had considered presenting a slide show, but decided an interactive workshop would be livelier. It was!
After the workshop I traveled five hours from Merced to Santa Cruz. I don’t mind the time it takes to travel by train and bus. It cuts down on my carbon footprint and instead of driving I have time to read, write, rest, and pray.
Arriving in Santa Cruz on Saturday night was a kick—so much wild energy, so much going on. And I have such a peaceful, beautiful place to stay—my friend’s guest room, just a 10-minute walk from downtown. She and I got together for a walk and dinner Sunday evening, and she joined me for Salsa dancing on the beach, but most of the time when I’m in Santa Cruz I just come and go on my own, wandering and doing my own thing. I visited places I used to enjoy when I lived here: West Cliff Drive, favorite beaches, the Santa Cruz Public Library (yes, I still have my library card and yes, I checked out a book). Oh, and Lulu Carpenters coffee shop, where I spent many hours writing among the UCSC students and their laptops. Writing retreat headquarters.
It seems that I need plenty of free time in order for the creative process to kick in. Here in Santa Cruz I take that time, watching the dolphins at play, watching the waves come and go, following my thoughts and watching them dissipate as the waves disperse on the shore.
Now I’m ready to go home.
I’m grateful that the God I know is not the kind to order me around, because I’m really not the obedient type. I don’t like hierarchy and I don’t like following orders. I like the “mother hen” metaphor for God that Jesus used when he said, “How often I have longed to gather you as a mother hen gathers her flock, but you were not willing.” I’m often like a baby chick running around after whatever attracts my fancy. Even so, God can work with me. I experience God as inviting me, drawing me, attracting me, even wooing me (as process theologians say) through concrete situations in my wanderings through life.