It was an interesting and revelatory trip. I'd thought I'd spend tons of time reflecting away in my cute little heron-bedecked notebook and I did spend a lot of time writing, but not as much as I'd hoped about "who I am at my core, without the trappings and stereotypes of a vocation".
Along about the second day, after recording my daily happenings, I did manage to write this:
Who am I?:
--female, early elderhood, healthy, few aches and pains, self-sufficient at present.
--pleasant looking, a few scars and warts, well-cared-for, good smile (good teeth), kempt
--smart, curious, many interests but few hobbies, lots of general knowledge but not well-informed enough to argue with anyone who knows more.
--religious AND spiritual, a pray-er, grateful, loving, cheerful, helpful, gracious
--competent: ministry, counseling, teaching, singing, modest, shy about too much fanfare
--musician: read music, love harmony, sing loudly on key, alto
Dislikes (in self as well as in others): whining or being whined at, complainers (self included), arrogance, know-it-alls, illogical or unkind conservatism, bossiness, short-sightedness, unfounded anger, monologuists, nonsense in the service of politics
Likes: openness, clarity, good grammar and spelling, stories, laughing, funny (but kind) people, kindness, thoughtfulness, beauty, friendship, good conversation, eccentricity--to a point.
Is that helpful? I haven't decided. At least these will be the qualities I retain once I shed the robe and stole. Also, I'm not sure the list is finished.
I did do some exploring down the Oregon coast and have pretty well settled on Astoria as my next home, whenever I am ready. It's a lovely little town, right at the confluence of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean.
I spent two nights at Ft. Stevens State Park, which is immense, and my favorite spot was the South Jetty observation tower, from which the Columbia River bar is visible. This crossing is dubbed "the graveyard of the Pacific" because it has drowned so many people and ships. It's such a challenge that large cargo ships are required to have a specially-trained Astoria bar pilot guide them across the bar; you can see the helicopters shuttling pilots back and forth between ship and harbor.
I stood on the tower deck and the words of an old song came to me, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:
CROSSING THE BAR
Sunset and evening star
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.I remembered a little bit of the tune, so I sang as much of the words as I could remember, tears in my eyes, thinking of Malcolm who is dying, Gil and Janis who have died recently, and my mother and father who liked this old hymn. And I sang on pitch. Alto.