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We didn’t really plan it that way, but our trip to the West Coast in September beginning in Northwestern Washington and ending in San Diego, California, became a pilgrimage for my wife and me.  It started in the heart of the Olympic Mountains with a memorial service for our Uncle Wayne.  Our uncle, who died at the age of 95, was a person of great integrity and open hospitality, and a social activist.  He participated in peace demonstrations for decades, even up to a few weeks before he died.  In the early eighties he accompanied Father Jack Morris (R.I.P.) on part of his peace pilgrimage across the country.  We especially remember our hikes with Wayne on Hurricane Ridge in the Olympics and the challenging but supportive conversations we had on those walks.

After the memorial service, we began our trip to San Diego where I would attend an Ignatian Volunteer Corps Board meeting.  We had plenty of time, almost two weeks, to drive or take a train to get there.  We wanted to see the beauty of the redwood forests and the Pacific coastline.  We also wanted to visit several friends along the way.  We made frequent stops to take short treks into the redwoods, which we read have been on the earth for over 200 million years with individual trees having a life span of perhaps one or two thousand years.  Redwoods support in their canopies a whole ecosystem, an amazing community and web of life.  Light takes on a new dimension among redwoods.  The walks we took were really a journey into earth’s past, long before Homo Sapiens arrived.

Our visits with friends along the way were likewise memorable.  One night we stayed with a friend who has made a commitment to a Catholic Worker house.  This house welcomes homeless women and children.  We ate, prayed, and laughed together.

Traveling the coastline on challenging switchback roads, we stopped frequently to take pictures.  We weren’t alone.  It seemed that all of us travelers wanted to capture some kinship with the beauty of the ocean, the waves crashing on craggy outgrowths of rocks in some places and in other spots just lapping peacefully at our restless hearts.

In San Diego, board members of IVC visited various placement sites.  I visited “The Tomorrow Project” which offers a training program for homeless women.  IVC volunteers work along side these women, just as the Catholic Workers in San Jose share their home with women in similar situations.

We came home grateful – grateful to experience the web of life in many dimensions. We felt blessed, supported, and challenged.

Jim Haggerty and his wife live in Walton, a small N.Y. rural town in the foothills of the Catskills. They are both retired.Jim worked for the thirty years with Catholic Migration and Refugee Services, United States Catholic Conference and Catholic Legal Immigration Network, CLINIC.

5 Responses to “Gratitude”

  1. Si Smith, S.J.

    Thanks, Jim, for the lovely touch of nostalgia and also the mention of Blackie Morris. Envy you the trip! Si Smith sj

  2. marysue flanagan

    Thanks , Jim, I delighted in my vicarious walks through the Redwood
    Forest, and I also appreciated your environmental comments!
    Mary Sue Flanagan

  3. Sharon Mussomeli

    Thank you for this beautiful, evocative and inspiring reflection. I felt as if I were traveling with you across that familiar and beautiful land. And I thank God for your uncle’s rich and loving life.

  4. Karen Kudebeh


    Deep Gratitude to you and Jean for coming to Dad’s Life Celebration on the Olympic Peninsula. He treasured your friendship and appreciated your intellectual and spiritual depth. And of course he also loved Fr. Jack who stayed with us briefly in Denver (along with Fr. George Zabelka) on the Bethlehem Peace Pilgrimage you referenced.

  5. Susi Meyer

    Thank you Jim and Jean, for attending Dad’s life celebration – and for honoring him here in your gratitude blog. May we all spend more time in the ‘gratitude zone’.


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