Well, the last two two days of August started the Parish Weekend at Kanuga. The 1st and 2nd of September were our last two days. So, it was hard to know if Kanuga was part of August or September. Like any Kanuga, our Eucharist was at the Lakeside Chapel- it is always a treat to have Eucharist outside. During our free time, I hiked-which I love doing, and I had to go. I was actually one of the hike leaders (as well as my dad). That night, our church participated in a cabin crawl, which was an adult social- we had to stay in one of the guest houses for some time socializing before being told it was time to go to another- we had to leave the food and drinks we bought to the first cabin there. The cabins we went to were already assigned. The final day, the day we left-we had a short morning prayer at St. Francis Chapel, which is outside. Kanuga, every year, is over Labor Day Weekend.
The biggest highlight of September was seeing Aladdin. I saw it at Belk Theater with Club Blume on September 11th. Charlotte got to see a new Aladdin and Genie. This was my first time seeing Aladdin in person. As a result, I was excited to listen to the new songs and old songs. I looked forward to see how different scenes would be performed on stage. It was truly a spectacle to watch-from costumes to dance to special effects to lighting to the magic carpet ride was truly a delight to watch. Loved the cast, and I did get a little emotional during “Proud of Your Boy”. I now want the Original Broadway Soundtrack: I loved “Proud of Your Boy”, “These Palace Walls”, “Omar, Babkak, Aladdin, Kassim”, “A Million Miles Away”, and “High Adventure”- new songs added to the songs I already loved once before. Below is a link to my review of Aladdin. I truly went on a magic carpet ride during my experience at Aladdin.
I decided to do a fresh list of some of my favorite trips in my life. This can be anything from a pilgrimage or a day trip or a long weekend vacation or a week long vacation. Some of the ones, I believe, some are going to be expected. These happened at different parts of my life- some happened with ONLY my family or to a further extent extended family or could be with my church family.
Of all the extended family vacations, this one was the most memorable. From multiple hiking to rafting to geocaching to a glacier cruise to hanging out- it surely made Alaska memorable. We traveled throughout Alaska: starting at Anchorage . We went with Tauck Bridges- we went from place to place by bus. This all happened over the summer of 2011.
This did not happen with my entire family. This only happened between my mom and I- that is what it made so special. From Times Square to American Girl to Central Park to Wicked on Broadway made that trip special. The fact that it was only my mom and I was special. I was only 12, and this was August 2006. It is crazy to think about how young I was when I first saw Wicked.
Describing this trip is not easy. It was spiritual and transforming in so many ways. In Summer of 2015, the adult choir at my family church was in residence at Bristol Cathedral- as in singing all week, but first the pilgrims would enjoy a little time in London. My family took the early route and arrived two days early- the pilgrimage began July 31st- my family was in London beginning on July 29th. We went up early to start to get used to the time change, and just to get a little bit more of London. After all, the pilgrims during the pilgrimage would only get 2 and 1/2 days.
So- Platform 9 and 3/4, Les Mis (dream come true-July 30th with understudy as Valjean), three castles (Windsor, Berkeley, and Chepstow), Bath, Tintern Abbey, Stonehenge (mountain-top moment), Old Sarum, 10 church services (one Evensong at Westminster, one Eucharist at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, one Evensong at Salisbury Cathedral, one Eucharist and six evensongs at Bristol Cathedral). The services that mattered the most were the ones at Bristol Cathedral- after all they are the adult choir at my family church. It was truly at the FINAL evensong where I knew just how transforming the pilgrimage was- it was during the anthem, and I started crying: that reaction was how I knew how transforming the pilgrimage was.
I don’t know why it is so hard to think of others. I know about vacations I do love such as Lake Tahoe or Chicago or the long weekends up in the mountains. I wish I could have listed more than the three I mentioned- just the first ones that came to mind first.
There seems to be two main types of people- a beach person or a mountain. That means where you prefer being at. It means where you would want to rather go to vacation at. It, in my opinion, is also where your connection to God is the strongest. I will tell you what kind of person I am in this person.
Well- I am a mountain person. I would rather hike than walk on the beach. I would rather see the view and be fully around nature. I was raised around both beaches and mountains. I said that for two reasons: a couple times a year, I went to Florida for vacation, and than there was Kanuga, which is up in the mountains. Both are up in the mountains. I also do live in North Carolina- so of course, I would be seeing mountains: I never saw NC beaches: only NC mountains.
Why do mountains appeal to be much more than the beach? I am a nature girl, and you do lose a lot of that on the beach. The only nature on the beach is the sand, the water, and the shells, sharks tooth, and everything on the sand and wildlife, but we do not really see all of them each time. I do not feel surrounded by all of them. The difference with the mountains is that in the mountains, you do feel surrounded by nature no matter what- it does not have to come from a hike: it comes from everywhere. In hiking, you hear creeks, feel surrounded by nature, and the best part is the view. You sometimes actually see the wildlife- every mountain is different. My connection is just different: it is stronger. The view feels like the mountains go even further.
The pictures below come from different hikes I have been on. That is a combo of Alaska, Lake Tahoe, Kanuga, and GWU hikes.
I had a couple of exciting things happen in August.
The Aladdin Informance was in August. The informances with Club Blume are not the shows themselves- they happen a few weeks before the shows come to Blumenthal. They give you a feel of the show- that was why the food they served at this one was Middle-Eastern, and why the talk was about Disney films. At the end, everyone was given a voucher to get a discounted ticket to the show on September 11th. Well- I am seeing Aladdin with Club Blume. Aladdin will be my 3rd musical of this year
The last day of August was the Parish Weekend at Kanuga. There is significance in the picture above. That is a picture of my dad and I during our first Parish Weekend- 1996. I was only 2 at the time, and that was my first hike. To think that I was that young in that picture, but living in Atlanta is hard to believe. I am 25 now and go to Parish Weekends with my current church, which is in Charlotte, my hometown and where I grew up. I went from that to actually walking on the trails to being one of the hiking leaders.
On August 31st, I was part of the adult program. Everyone did some art. Some of us played kickball. Sometimes all Kanuga is hanging out and connecting- just through the rocking chair porch and meals. I keep on forgetting at times that I am old enough to go to the adult social- which I went to, which is at the Fireplace Lounge. The rest of what happened at Kanuga will be brought up in September in Review (the rest of the weekend happened in September).
What I did over the weekend was go on a Parish Weekend to Kanuga. Part of the fun of Kanuga was the songs. What are some of those songs- these are part Parish Weekend and part Winterlight. Some are not sung anymore, but I still associate them with Kanuga.
Everyone has a different story on how they saw God.
Well, I feel like mine is special. I have to start by explaining what Kanuga is. Kanuga is an Episcopalian Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC. Kanuga does conferences, holiday visits, and Parish Weekends. I actually started going in 1996- I was only 2 when I started attending: it was not with my church I attended now: it was my Atlanta Church.
Fast forward to 2003: Holy Comforter. Holy Comforter is the my church I have going to since 2002: it is the church where a lot of my spiritual journey happened. From 2003-2008, my family went to Kanuga with Holy Comforter with Fran Mckendree leading the music. It was in that time frame where I first saw God: how I knew that He was real. It was a combo of the music and the hiking. It was felt the strongest at Kanuga- I could feel God’s presence the most at that Conference Center. So Kanuga was truly the beginning. Well, part of my love for contemporary christian music comes from Kanuga.
One time at Kanuga, my family went up there for Thanksgiving. That was when I made a hiking stick and two baskets. That Thanksgiving made me interested in signing up for Winterlight, a high school youth conference. What I love about Winterlight is that it gives high school students a break- it happens over Christmas Break- December 27th-January 1st. It is something fun to do before the next semester begins. Winterlight means a lot, and that was truly where I fell in Contemporary Christian music. I went to Winterlight for two years (11th and 12th grade).
Kanuga truly was the beginning of my spiritual journey.
This year- going to Kanuga once again for a Parish Weekend-over Labor Day. The Parish Weekends are filled with hiking, fellowship, and square dancing. It is one of my happy places: so theatre is not my only happy place.
Those who have walked in darkness have seen a great light
I don’t know what it is about this piece of scripture that speaks to me. I have loved for a couple of years. For some reason, I really love this quote. It does talk about the idea of light and dark. We do enter periods of darkness in our life, and what we have to remember it that there is still hope. I am optimistic- have been since I was a child. I know there is more good in the world, and that the world is not as broken as it seems: that is what I believe. There is ALWAYS hope even if it seems like it doesn’t exist. For whatever reason, I strongly love this particular piece of scripture.