Before returning to Texas from our trip up north, Steven and I spent the day with our very dear friends in Baldwin, Wisconsin and had an unforgettable time.
God, others, me
“Good morning!” I said quietly as I placed my tote on the seat before setting off to take photos of the altar before Mass.
The couple acknowledged me with a smile without missing a single syllable of their rosary prayers.
During the entrance hymn, I was immediately taken with the sound of Loren’s strong but gentle, melodic voice. What a loving spirit! I’d never heard a man sing so beautifully. Then, during the sign of peace, he clasped my hand warmly, firmly. A farmer? A rancher? Salt of the earth came to mind, and his wife was just as sweet. Truly genuine folks unlike anyone I’d ever met.
Before concluding, Father Xaviour called Loren up to make a presentation.
Pinned with a smile on his face and a large, white button on his shirt, Loren introduced himself. “I’m number three. God is first. Family and friends are second. And I’m number three.” Then he told us about his CD: an abridged version of Christ’s story sung in under eight minutes. (Refer to SJC blog page, “Messages,” below.)
“I’ll be out in the lobby after Mass, if anyone’s interested. I also have cards and buttons to give away.”
As I took photos, I observed that Loren smilingly interacted with others as Dotty stood beside him patiently until the foyer emptied. Of course, that meant that I could finally approach to talk a bit.
“If you’ve been to Port Aransas all these years, then why didn’t we meet before?” I asked somewhat rhetorically, somewhat surprised that I couldn’t remember them.
Loren explained that February of the previous year snow storms had been so severe that he’d chosen to remain home rather than leave his foreman alone to care for the herd. Then he told us about the Silver Bison Ranch.
“If you’re ever in the area, just drop by. We’d love to show you around the place!”
The following Sunday after Mass, we talked with Loren and Dotty again. They were returning to Wisconsin the following day.
“They’re such lovely people. Wouldn’t it be something if we could visit their ranch?” I asked Steven wishfully on our way home from church. But what was the likelihood of that happening?
Then Steven learned about an upcoming conference in Marinette, Wisconsin.
“How about visiting the Solanus Center in Detroit, the Dominican St. Jude Shrine in Chicago, and St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota?”
“We’ll fly in and out of Minneapolis, so we’ll rent a car there. Then we can stop in Baldwin on our way to Marinette. Give Loren and Dotty a call to schedule a tour at the ranch and find out when the gift shop is open.”
We arrived early enough Sunday afternoon that the Silver Bison Ranch gift shop was still open, but Loren and Dotty weren’t there. That’s fine, I thought. I hadn’t called ahead, so how could they have known we might drop by that day?
The manager was very friendly. The more we talked, the more she insisted on calling Loren and Dotty for us.
Boy, oh, boy! Were they ever surprised to hear that we’d arrived from Texas just a few hours before and had driven straight to the gift shop from the airport.
“The timing couldn’t be more perfect. Today’s our fifty-ninth wedding anniversary,” Loren announced.
“That’s great! Congratulations!”
“If we were home, we’d invite you over right now,” Loren said. “But we’re playing bridge with our oldest and dearest friends in a town about thirty miles away.”
We didn’t want to intrude on their ice cream cake celebration, so Steven wished them a delightful time, adding that we might stop by on our way to the airport in ten days or so.
The day was pretty out, so we enjoyed the scenery on our way to the AmericInn and then to the eatery recommended earlier.
This barn was built in 1890. On July 28, 2009, we kicked the cows and the chickens out and opened The Orchard Restaurant (Sign on the wall, n. d.).
In the middle of dinner Steven’s cell phone rang.
“Loren and Dotty are home, and they want us to go by.”
What a wonderful time we had touring the ranch and getting to know each other through shared devotions, swapped stories, and lively dominoes.
We also got an unexpected morsel: Loren and Dotty’s families knew Father Casey’s family in Oak Grove. Wow! Did that ever personalize our anticipated Solanus Casey Center experience in Detroit the following week.
Back to start
Although we’d talked with Loren and Dotty only two Sundays after Mass, they invited us into their home with open arms. We had so much fun that we wanted to spend time with them again, so Steven called ahead from South Dakota before making our way back to Minneapolis via Baldwin.
“We’d like to treat y’all to dinner before we fly back to Texas,” but Loren wouldn’t hear of it. Dotty would prepare a bison steak dinner and rhubarb pie for dessert.
Yum! We could hardly wait. “Just say what time, and we’ll be there,” Steven replied, agreeing to spend Wednesday together.
In ten days’ time so much had happened with them on the ranch and us on the road that we had lots to talk about.
Bison up close
Looking through the telescope set up near the big kitchen window, we spotted a couple of calves in the pasture behind the barn. Seventy-five had been born since our first visit to the Silver Bison Ranch, a couple of them just that day. So, motion sickness or not, I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity of a lifetime to take photos among the bison.
Still, the experience was both amazing and scary. The cows were very protective, and a few young bulls tried to gore Loren’s old Ford pickup. Every time bison neared the passenger window, my Chicken Little heart flew into my throat. And the more I covered my eyes, the more Loren laughed.
Loren’s singing was a welcome distraction, though. He has an absolutely gorgeous voice, but whomever wrote that “music has charms to soothe the savage [beast]” (Congreave, 1697) was clueless about bison. They’re totally unfazed by anything and everything.
I, on the other hand, came pretty close to losing my lunch in the truck with all the circular, stop-and-go lurching. What a relief to get back to the house to stand out in the cool, fresh air for a while.
Time well spent
Next, we drove to Hammond, a small community less than thirty minutes away where Dotty and Loren are parishioners at Immaculate Conception Church and Adoration is an afternoon devotion.
What a blessing to have spent a day in a world so far and so different from ours in Texas. How special, too, that, when we next see each other in February, we’ll have such a lovely recollection of our time well spent that we’ll simply pick up where we left off. Including dominoes. Maybe even with Loren and Dotty’s longtime friend, Jerry.
Adoration… I adore you, Jesus, true God and true man, here present in the holy Eucharist. Humbly I kneel before you, united in spirit with all the faithful on earth and all the blessed in heaven. In deepest gratitude for so great a blessing, I love you, my Jesus, with my whole heart, for you are all perfect and all worthy of love…. Amen.
I adore you, Lord and Creator, hidden in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I adore you for all the works of your hands, that reveal to me so much wisdom, goodness and mercy, O Lord. You have spread so much beauty over the earth and it tells me about your beauty, even though these beautiful things are but a faint reflection of you, incomprehensible Beauty. And although you have hidden yourself and concealed your beauty, my eye, enlightened by faith, reaches you and my soul recognizes its Creator, its Highest Good, and my heart is completely immersed in prayer of adoration.
My Lord and Creator, your goodness encourages me to converse with you. Your mercy abolishes the chasm which separates the Creator from the creature. To converse with you, O Lord, is the delight of my heart. In you I find everything that my heart could desire. Here, your light illumines my mind, enabling it to know you more and more deeply. Here streams of graces flow down upon my heart. Here my soul draws eternal life. O my Lord and Creator, you alone, beyond all these gifts, give your own self to me and unite yourself intimately with your miserable creature.
O Christ, let my greatest delight be to see you loved and your praise and glory proclaimed, especially the honor of Your mercy. O Christ, let me glorify your goodness and mercy to the last moment of my life, with every drop of my blood and every beat of my heart. Would that I be transformed into a hymn of adoration of you. When I find myself on my deathbed, may the last beat of my heart be a loving hymn glorifying your unfathomable mercy. Amen.
Healing… Mary Immaculate, you have given yourself to us as our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. You have asked us to pray with confidence, and we will receive great graces. We know your compassion because you saw your Son suffer and die for us. In your union with his suffering you became the mother of us all. Mary, my mother, teach me to understand my suffering as you do and to endure it in union with the suffering of Jesus. In your motherly love, calm my fears and increase my trust in God’s loving care. According to God’s plan, obtain for me the healing I need. Intercede with your Son that I may have the strength I need to work for God’s glory and the salvation of the world. Amen.
Immaculate Heart of Mary… Father, you prepared the heart of the Virgin Mary to be a fitting home for your Holy Spirit. By her prayers may we become… worthy temples of your glory. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
Memorare… Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
November 29, 2012
I emailed Loren and Dotty to let them know I’d finally blogged about our time together in Baldwin.
Subject: Hello from Texas…
Howdy, howdy, you lovebirds, you!
We’ve been thinking of y’all a whole lot, as in really, really often a whole lot.
We hope you’ve been well. And you most likely have been chasing your shadow busy, busy, busy.
I finally finished the last post about our trip (Apr 22-May 3), and the most recent post has us remembering our fantabulous times with you two beautiful people. (Click to view what I wrote.)
Steven’s been working on his ACTS retreat materials… just finished printing them out, in fact… in preparation for the team’s retreat this upcoming Saturday and the full Thursday-Sunday men’s retreat at Our Lady of Corpus Christi Retreat Center in Corpus Christi. The ACTS retreat will be through St. Paul the Apostle in Flour Bluff. We were parishioners there for two-and-
a-half years before returning to St. Joseph’s here. So you could say that your “I’m #3” philosophy has reached another parish.
Know that we love you and that we think of you daily. God bless y’all mucho, mucho, mucho.
TX-sized bear hugsss…
Deli & Steve
St. Anthony Guide
November 30, 2012
Then Loren left a comment.
What a wonderful job you did, but I’m sure you overstated a few things, like my singing. Thank you for sharing this with us. I hope you know that we love you very much and think of you often.
I have some bad news to tell you. Please pray for Dotty. She has cancer of the pancreas and liver, and they don’t give her much hope. We found out about it two months ago. She just wants to sleep most of the time and can’t eat much. That’s why you haven’t heard from me.
I’m sure we’re not going to make down there this year. Too bad because we were really looking forward to seeing you wonderful people again. But God has his plan, and we have to accept it.
December 1, 2012
With a hopeful, prayerful heart I responded the following day.
Dear Loren, y’all are such an endearing duo! Vertitable gems in God’s treasure box. We do so regret that you’re going through this very difficult time.
Lord, look on Dotty with eyes of mercy. May your healing hand rest on her. May your lifegiving powers flow into every cell of her body and into the depths of her soul, cleansing, purifying, restoring her to wholeness and strength for service in your kingdom. Amen.
Please know that you and Dotty are in our forever thoughts and prayers, especially now.
We love you both and are sending lots of hugs your way!
February 3, 2013
On our way to bed I suddenly wanted to read more about Immaculate Conception Church in Hammond, so I stopped by my thoughtful spot to begin an online search.
“Oh, my gosh! How can this be?” I said loudly enough that Steven walked back to the office.
“Dotty’s obituary! Oh, my gosh! Something told me to come here to look for the church, and look what I found instead! How can this be? How can this be?”
I immediately began a long email to Loren as Steven typed a heartfelt message on the mortuary’s site and then emailed our parish priest with the news.
We were crushed!
O loving Father and Savior,
send your angels to carry the soul of your servant, Dotty, from this earth
to the heavenly place of eternal and everlasting life.
Let family and friends who have passed before in faith
be reunited in joy with the departed.
Forgive any wrongs that have been committed,
and welcome this beloved spirit
into the warm embrace of your unending peace.
Dear God, we give thanks and praise for Dotty’s wonderful life!
Links of interest… Adoration prayer… Blessed Virgin Mary (novena)… Blessed Sacrament prayers (card / chaplet / importance / litany)… Come pray the rosary (virtual)… Divine Mercy chaplet (YouTube)… Finding comfort (booklets as pdf files)… How to pray the rosary (ten tips)… Immaculate Conception Parish (Hammond, WI /
(St. Mary’s)… Mary: beloved of the Trinity / celebrating May / corner / devotion / gate of heaven / litany / meditations / mother (of the church) / page / prayers (miracles / more / novena / queen of angels) / untier of knots… Mothers’ prayers… Our Lady of Guadalupe: abbey / about / & Advent / arch of triumph / December 12th / mother of the Americas / patroness of the Americas / prayers / shrine / story / videos… Silver Bison Ranch… Visits to Jesus in the tabernacle: Hours and half-hours of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament: adoration (rosary/Divine Mercy chaplet) / e-book / hymns (YouTube)… the Word among us… Worship of the Eucharist outside of Mass…
WP posts… Angels keeping watch… Bearing one’s crosses… Christ’s sacred heart
… Concrete abstraction… Faces of Mary… Growing pains… Heart of hearts… Heart’s desire… Historic nuggets… Living one’s gifts… Lourdes novenas… Mary’s miraculous medal… Mary’s seven joys… May flowers… My Franciscan Crown… Noon visit… Our Lady… Lady of sorrows… Our Lady’s church… Powerful intercessor (St. Peregrine)… Prayerful ways… Repeated prayers… Revisiting St. Simon… Seven dwelling places… Si quaeris miracula (St. Anthony)… Solano, Solanus, Solani… St. Felix… St. Monica… Sweet Jesus