|One of Pasadena’s main drags is called Orange Grove Blvd.
The groves are gone but all up and down the surrounding residential streets,
front and backyard trees glow with citrus.
Often in L.A., I’ll have a coffee date, or an appointment, before which I’ll decide to do three or four errands. Sometimes the errands take longer than I anticipated and I can’t complete all of them (“Lord, save me from being angry.”). Other times the tracks are oiled and I sail through with time to spare.
What follows is twenty or thirty or forty minutes–a gap if you like, between the errands and the appointment. I’ve learned to love these ad hoc interludes. I can sit in my car listening to classical music and watching the leaves of sycamores or the faces of the people walking by or the sky. I can make a long-deferred phone call to a family member or friend. I can get out walk myself, probably my most frequently-exercised option. In this way I have communed with many unfamiliar tucked-away streets, neighborhoods, blocks of stores in my beloved adopted city.
These are little secret times that no-one knows or needs to know about when, in the midst of a city of ten million, I can be “alone with God.”
In a way, all of life is a gap–between our births and our deaths–during which we experience all manner of other gaps. I, for one, seem always to be dying to some old identity–as the person who MUST be the favorite, as someone who “doesn’t know how to garden” (more on this later!)–and hanging out, rather uneasily, in the gap before the birth of the new.
Not long ago, Fr. Michael Fish of the upper central California coast gave a Lenten mission at St. Monica’s down here in Santa Monica, called “Stalking the Gap.”
“Fr. Michael Fish, OSB, Cam, a monk of the New Camaldoli Hermitage, is a native of South Africa. At the age of 23 he joined the Redemptorist order and spent many of his 26 years with them. In 1997, responding to a persistent desire for a more contemplative way of life, he left the Redemptorists and South Africa and became a Camaldolese Benedictine at New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, Calif. Fr. Fish is now engaged in spiritual direction to guests and retreatants at the Hermitage as well as directing retreats.”
A description: “In this talk, Fr. Fish shall delve into the aches, pain and sadness that are part of the human condition, the gaps. Participants will be led to see how ‘stalking these gaps’ relates to spirituality and can lead to a Divine encounter.”
You can learn more about Fr. Michael, his Camino, prayer life, wisdom and insights HERE.
| A BIG SHOUT-OUT TO FR. PATRICK DOOLING OF THE MONTEREY CATHEDRAL FOR
INTRODUCING ME TO FR MICHAEL, HIS DEAR FRIEND!