Out here at Ghost Ranch, everyone knows Georgia O'Keeffe's famous quip about Pedernal, the mountain whose portrait she so often painted. When asked if she thought she owned it or something, she replied: "It's my private mountain. God told me if I painted it enough, I could have it."
Pedernal rises in misty gray majesty to the south here. While the mesas scream for our attention with their craggy textures and simmering colors, Pedernal just keeps its noble cool. As the mountain's name reminds us, the ancient inhabitants of the region used to climb to its flat top to gather chert, a type of flint. So Pedernal doesn't need to prove its grandeur with showy blasts of fiery color. It knows that it is fire's very substance.
Every year around April or so, I begin to hear the call of Pedernal and the mesas. Like O'Keeffe, D.H. Lawrence, and so many others, I fell under the spell of this savage New Mexican landscape and am drawn irresistibly back again and again. I always take a seminar of some sort while here, a writing course or something scripture-focused. But what I like to do best is just sit somewhere and gaze up at Pedernal, distant and aloof, or one of the more extraverted mesas that encircle the ranch... and whose contours make me think of the muscular arms of Michelangelo's Cumaean sybil. For innumerable eons they have stood observing tiny humans scurrying about at their feet, attending to important business before eventually fading from the landscape. Pedernal and the mesas remain. And as my eyes are magnetically drawn to them, I try to absorb a bit of their imperturbability to take back with me to the frenetic existence I will resume all too soon.
Well, I was really prepared, and the classroom at De Sales was a modern technological wonder. I was able to hook up my laptop to project my PowerPoint presentation and even toggle back to the resident PC on the instructor station to project from the Internet. I was really excited that I would be able to use my PowerPoint presentation as a focus point and also that I'd be able to show the clip from "24" showing Jack Bauer's delicate interrogation technique, part of Jane Mayer's report on the show.
However --as you know if you paid attention to the title of this blog entry-- no one chose to attend. Just too much good stuff going on at Annual Sessions, too many workshops to choose from. So...got all my handouts and my PowerPoint all ready for the next opportunity.
Have to admit, I felt a bit resentful at first. I had put a good bit of time into updating my presentation and doing the photocopying, and I even used a vacation day. However, my brothers and sisters at our meeting this morning were really sympathetic and made me feel a whole lot better. I was sort of berating myself for not doing enough to publicize the event, but then I remembered that I had been expressly asked to facilitate the workshop and had been told that there was a lot of interest.
Well, going to take a break from torture this week. Looking back on this past year since attending the QUIT conference, I have to say that I've really given myself a crash course in US-sponsored torture. I think I know more about it than I ever wanted to know and I also know all the best ways to keep up-to-date. I subscribe to all the key blogs and have read at least parts of all the important books...can't wait for the major motion picture (...OK, bad joke).
I sure wish I could give the Guantánamo prisoners a break too...but I can only send love and prayers...and also pray for our elected representatives and soon-to-be-elected President. As Bill Samuel (who keeps quakerinfo.com running) reminded someone recently: "Do remember it is not your job to change hearts. It is God's. It is your job to be an example of a changed heart." So this week I'm going to recuperate a bit and try to think of how else I can model a changed heart. (Thanks, Bill!)
Got a wonderful letter from Julius and also from a Marie-France who translates letters to and from him from French penpals. I love making new friends!
By the way, PYM's standing committee on Peace & Concerns recently started publishing a great newsletter: Hope Bulletin. I wrote an article for the August issue. Time to write another letter to the local paper too, maybe. Think I'll entitle it "Where in the world is Diego Garcia?"