On Pilgrimage

On Pilgrimage

One of the reasons for my silence in recent months…

St. Val the Urban Monastic


I promised myself for Lent I’d write.

But what to write?

The Urban Monastic is on pilgrimage.  Okay, yes, but technically????

I’m homeless.  And have been.  Since the beginning of February.

Roving from shelter site to shelter site (literally a different site every night of the week) while the shelters last (we have no year-round shelters, so only ’til the end of March) is a pilgrimage right enough.  Granted it seems a bit like the kind of pilgrimage Pooh and Piglet took around a tree — following their own tracks in the snow and looking for what made them — but time is moving in a forward and linear direction, whether I seem to be moving in anything but circles or not.

Circumstances are complicated, nuanced, and more than I really want to get into on so many levels.  2013 broke me, plain-and-simple.  It is what it is, but…

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I’m lying awake for snoring’s sake.

I had to go to the bathroom, and snuck off down the outside corridor to the communal restroom beyond.

Over-lit, for 12:30 AM.

I came back, stopping to love the night sky — stars, planets, a waning moon in the east.

A dear friend lived very near the spot where I sleep tonight.  She has been gone from this world longer than I knew (and loved) her in this life.

That haunts me.

She loved the stars — to watch them, to fall asleep under their watch.

These stars were her stars, but they don’t shine for her (I wish they did!).

She neither loved nor feared neither God nor Christ.

Eternity is a long time to love stars without my friend.

I will forever miss her…especially under the stars.

So long 2013, don’t let the door hit you on the way out

So long 2013, don’t let the door hit you on the way out


Photo credit: Tony Hutchings/Getty Images

I cannot wait to close the book on 2013.

Then I am going to pour gasoline on that book.

Then I am going to set that book on fire.

2013 can go to hell which — seemingly — is exactly where it came from.  I’d be happy to expedite the journey, thank you very much.

Here’s to a better 2014.

What’s that noise?

Extremely worthy of your time for a very good laugh from one of my favorite guinea pig blogs.

Cavy Adventures

At the end of this summer, I purchased the best product ever to store my summer clothes.  They were called “Space Bags”.  The bags were advertised as ‘space savers’.  You load you clothes or other items into it, seal it, and then vacuum out the air.  Easy.

The day I got the Space Bags, I packed up 99% of my summer clothes into them, sealed it, and vacuumed out the air.  I had these three flat bags that were about one-half of their original size.  I just needed a place to store them.  I decided the best place to put the Space Bags was under my bed in its ‘storage area’.  Summer clothing stored, space saved, and it was all easy.  Out of sight; out of mind.

*Fast Forward to December*

I was sleeping on Saturday morning when I heard a loud rustling coming from under my bed.  “Alfalfa,” I…

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For dear friends who are dear saints

On love and frirndship from the sister blog — VKS

St. Val the Urban Monastic

I posted this as my gratitude for yesterday on my Gratitude page.  I have a Gratitude page, did you notice this?  I update it daily, even when I’m not writing elsewhere.  I thought this thought deserved its own post.  Love you C & D!


Gratitude entry for 22 NOV 2013

I am grateful for dear friends who are dear saints

There is a great grace in the gentle and quiet love of abiding friendship, among the communion if saints, amid a rising storm (that exact sentiment being exactly why there is a communion of saints).  There is so much grace in: “We will not try to fix you, to force you, we very much wish to just love you, please just be.”

But that can be a very difficult grace to embrace at times.

I’m getting better at it.

It is those quiet moments of love that Christ’s love is…

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Forgetting my first love

From the sister blog, Thomas à Kempis on the love of God, found praying on a dark day.

St. Val the Urban Monastic

I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have perservered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. — Revelation 2:2-5b (NIV)

Friday was a rough day. A friend of mine has been very ill with something very serious. I helped her decide to skive off work Friday and go to the ER. She was waffling, and I told her not to waffle. She left Friday morning, and I didn’t have much information until after I got home Friday evening.

Thursday night I was waffling on whether or…

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Haters for Jesus

Haters for Jesus

I haven’t been writing much lately for a variety of reasons related to a very rough transition to my new life, such as it is.  I’m still reading though, and one of many blogs I really enjoy is A Life Overseas: The Missions Conversation.


Seriously, it’s a cool blog and worth your time — a variety of thoughtful voices on life and work as a missionary overseas.


This morning I found a post that gave me real pause — so much so that I considered breaking my “nothing but original content, no reblogs” rule over on St. Val the Urban Monastic. The post is Are you playing to win, or playing not to lose?, and is on a topic I speak about frequently in context of attempting to explain my position on various political views in conversations with various (generally annoying) individuals trying to recruit me for various causes. My comment when I posted this on Facebook (knowing it could set me up for a cat fight or two) was as follows:

The sad thing is, that there are so many people who have been indoctrinated to this who don’t even know they are — essentially — doing the devil’s bidding. I have a name for them: Haters for Jesus. I know what they are AGAINST, and they often use scripture as an excuse to justify their behavior. Trouble is, I never see or hear about what they are “for” in any way because they never seem to be “for” anything, just really, really, really, really angry…about basically everything.

My point being, don’t let this be you (though I seriously doubt this is applicable to my regular readers, you’re not prone to mindless indoctrination).

Sidebar note: Prayers appreciated for my [new] roommate (who is a long-time friend) — she is very sick, and Ideopathic Intracranial Hypertension, combined with a few other things, is making her life a living hell this week. There are too many doctor appointments and ER trips for this poor young woman.

*KNOCK! KNOCK!*…ooooh, nevermind

*KNOCK! KNOCK!*…ooooh, nevermind

There really are times in life when I wish I didn’t require grace. Discipleship #FAIL

St. Val the Urban Monastic

First of all, this is to say that I do clean up well, and generally offer a touch of class to my Halloween attire.  I don’t do scary, I do classy, historic, period, clever, or literary.  I used to ride horses, I keep the helmet around for just such occasions, and I was dressed and pressed in four layers of clothing to suggest fox hunting.

Because that’s how I roll.

And again, I clean up well…but I don’t roll out of bed in perfectly pressed clothing, shapewear, hair product, and make-up.

So…that said…

Laundry day.  Home with the Ridiculous Creature (new roommates’ not-that-bright Papillion), sorting laundry upstairs, he’s downstairs.

Door.  Bell.  Rings.

The Ridiculous Creature takes off barking, with all ferocity, up the stairs to me:


I mentioned laundry day, right?

So I go downstairs in what I have on: white flannel conversation heart print pajama bottoms…

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Gratitude and looking toward my lesson this Sunday

Gratitude and looking toward my lesson this Sunday


I was looking at the church newsletter Wednesday morning. I knew I was teaching this weekend, but had forgotten which story.

Hannah and Samuel.

I wrote this earlier this year. I won’t be teaching this lesson this way to the preschoolers and kindergarteners on Sunday, but Hannah’s is a story that gives me chills and pause:

Could you pray to God to give you the one thing you want most, and in the same breath offer it back to him?

Day 3 — Gratitude (Monday, 18 February – Monday, 4 March, 2013)

And sorry for the silence, but my move has been — in a lot of ways — a tough transition. Grace and peace to you. — VKS