Indian Summer

Today I drove to Mt. Irenaeus for Mass as I usually do on Sunday mornings. The day was especially bright and really invited me to think about other possibilities after Mass and Brunch. Attendance at today’s Eucharist was less than I expected. There were again three students from Houghton College and a couple of St. Bonaventure University young men who were part of a vocations retreat held at the Mountain on Saturday. There were four Secular Franciscans at Mass today and one of them is an old friend who was influential in my decision to join the Secular Franciscan Order when I first came to Mt. Irenaeus nearly ten years ago. It was great to see Rich again. He owns a local hostelry and frequently bring his guests to Mass. Fr. Lou McCormick, OFM was the celebrant.

Following Mass and Brunch I drove north and east to Letchworth Park. I entered at the Parade Ground entrance and found a place to park for a short nap and then I left my car, brought a book I was reading and sat under a tree in the bright afternoon sun and soaked up its rays as I read my book. What a great opportunity to enjoy the October weather this afternoon. After finishing my required reading, I drove to the Portageville entrance to the park and made my way to the Upper Falls of the Genesee River. The park was full of like minded folks out to enjoy what we could of this fine day. I took some pictures and wandered the river trail all the way to the Glen Iris Inn. It was a beautiful day and made me glad to be alive. Letchworth Park is one of my favorite haunts and I’ve been there a lot this year.

Without words

My heart has been without words lately. I’ve not felt up to writing about anything and I think there’s a good reason for all of that. Silence is more and more apart of my days and night even though I live in a world that will never be completely silent. The more silent I am the more I can appreciate the voices of others.  Friday was May Day, a special day of memory. In 1982, when we were early in our relationship as a couple my wife made me a May basket and gave it to me. I remember how deeply moved I was by her gesture. It was apparent to me then that this lady really loved me and it came at a time when I didn’t really love myself. I’ve reflected lately about what a pivotal moment that was in my relationship with not only Diane, but with God and life in general. Metanoias come about in life not from bolts of lightning that would scare us,  but more from changes in degrees of intensity of the light in our lives. The May basket in 1982 was one of those changes of intensity when I realized that not only did Diane love me but that I was loveable and that I needed to love myself too.

One of the scribes, when he came forward and heard them disputing and saw how well he had answered them, asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”–Mark 12:28-31

One of the paradoxes of life is that we can’t really love others until we love ourselves. I missed that for much of my life up until then. I miss it from time to time even now. When my relationships are suffering its often because I’m judging myself too harshly and when I’m tough on myself, I’m tough on those around me.  Diane taught me the lesson of my life on the first day of May in 1982. We celebrated that event Friday night with dinner at the lovely Glen Iris Inn overlooking the Middle Falls at nearby Letchworth State Park.


I took a drive this afternoon over to lovely Letchworth State Park. This photo of the Letchworth gorge at Inspiration Point attempted to capture the grandeur of the Genesee River gorge there. Standing there in the sun this afternoon I was filled with a profound sense of gratitude at having made it to another spring. Like my grandmother before me, spring is my favorite season of the year. It is a resurrection of all that is beautiful. Today I watched hawks gliding gracefully through the crisp spring air and there was a hint of new growth on the forest floor at the edge of the gorge.

As I stood there I thought of the thousands of years it took to form this lovely canyon called by many the “Grand Canyon of the East.” I thought too of the Native Americans who first enjoyed this vista, the early American settlers to the region and the thousands of us who come each year to witness once again the grandeur of this place.

Letchworth Gorge

Vistas like this is why I continue to be fascinated by powered flight. Just 25 nautical miles north of my home field at Olean Airport is the Genesee River gorge that makes up New York State’s Letchworth Park. Today after I got the plane started I taxied to Runway 4 and began my takeoff roll. I had my ailerons deflected slightly into the direct cross-wind that was indicated by the windsock. The Skyhawk sprang into the crisp fall air and I quickly climbed to 3500 feet. I had planned a higher cruising altitude, but  a broken layer of clouds at 4000 feet changed those plans. I leveled off and began my north eastward flight toward the Genesee River Valley. As my little craft moved along at 105 knots the terrain moved fairly quickly by. I brought my GPS along to help me find my way home, but familiarity with the route helped me to find my way quickly toward the river valley.  First the Rawson Road, then Rushford, Rushford Lake, Hume, Fillmore and follow the river to Portageville, New York. The gorge begins at Portageville and snakes its way north for eighteen miles.  My aircraft would cover the distance in much less than ten minutes, but an automobile usually takes almost five times that long.  As I turned toward home I spied another pilot, perhaps 300 feet above me moving from right to left. Although I keep my head on a swivel in scenic vistas like this there are usually others trying to enjoy the view too. Usually at Letchworth I encounter hot air balloons, but today it was a fixed wing sightseer like me. The trip back was a bit smoother, and a little slower as I was facing a ten knot headwind and I got to see Houghton College from the back side. I flew nearly over the top of their equestrian center.  When I returned the airport was busier as there was a Piper Cub ready to takeoff and a Cessna 150 taxing toward the runway. In all I’d been aloft a little less than an hour. I’m grateful for the gift of flying.