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jer newport cliff walk

A week ago, the hubs and I hopped in the car and drove about an hour southward to Rhode Island. We’ve taken some glorious day trips this summer, but we needed a proper getaway – a brief chance to detach from work and everyday stresses, and clear our heads.

After much searching, J found us an Airbnb room in Jamestown, just across the bridge from Newport, and we spent a highly enjoyable 48 hours just being together.

We arrived at lunchtime, so headed to Mission for delicious burgers and fries. The order numbers are written on toy dinosaurs. (The hubs approves.)

jer pterodactyl

We spent Friday afternoon strolling around Newport, popping in and out of shops – which, of course, included Island Books. A small, cozy shop with a great selection. I ended up with a novel and a fun notepad.

island books newport ri

Before dinner that night, we walked down to Jamestown Harbor. I couldn’t get enough of the boats and the light.

jamestown harbor rhode island

We ate a delicious dinner at Simpatico, which has a spacious patio hung with twinkle lights and Japanese lanterns.

jer simpatico menu twinkle lights

The next morning, we walked down to the beach after breakfast.

sandals rocks beach

Where there are rocks, we both love to climb on them.

jer beach rocks jamestown

We ate lunch in Newport and then walked about half of the cliff walk, which stretches three and a half miles along the ocean, past some of Newport’s famous mansions. (This photo was taken at the top of the Forty Steps, which lead down to a few rocky outcroppings. We saw a couple of brave swimmers nearby.)

katie jer cliff walk

More shopping, more wandering, a break for some much-needed iced chai, and an early dinner at Lucia – then we drove back to Jamestown across the Pell Bridge. (There’s a $4 toll, but I love this view.)

pell bridge sunset

On Sunday morning, we said good-bye to our hostess, Allie (and her friendly beagle, Skippy), and hit the road, stopping in Providence for brunch at The Grange. (Absolutely scrumptious.)

grange providence ri

All in all, a delightful getaway. Just what we needed.

Have you been to Newport? Any favorite places we should hit next time?

katie bethany coffee shop

Here is one thing I love about deep friendships: you develop a kind of shorthand after a while.

Some of this shorthand is topical: my friend Abi and I love so many of the same books and TV shows, and we can discuss/quote them for hours. Some of it’s geographical: my friend Kristin, a fellow West Texas transplant to Boston, knows exactly what I mean when I talk about missing home and loving the life I have here. (Even better: she knows the particulars of certain Texas cities, and how tough it is to find great Tex-Mex food in Boston.)

I’ve been thinking about another kind of shorthand, though: the kind that comes from knowing each other’s casts of characters.

Pretty much everyone I meet knows I’m married: if my wedding ring doesn’t give it away, a comment about my husband is bound to come up before long.

katie jer beach san diego

I also talk frequently about my parents, sister and two adorable nephews – and I’ll show pictures of those sweet boys to anyone who’s willing to look at them. (Here are Harrison and my sister. Adorable, no?)

betsy harrison

But my good friends (and family) also know about the other important people in my life – even if they don’t know one another personally. I tell stories about Sunday nights spent at Ryan and Amy’s, long talks with Abi (and snuggles with her baby girl), college and post-college adventures with my roommate Bethany. (That’s her at the top of this post.)

I talk about my writer pal Hannah (who runs our occasional book club), my snail-mail pen pal Jaclyn, my work buddies Adam and Anissa, my long-distance lifesaver Laura. And in turn, I get to hear about the supporting casts of my friends’ lives: their parents, spouses, siblings, best friends, the people who help anchor them.

It’s a gift to reach the place in a friendship where you don’t have to explain all of that, where the person who’s listening to you has heard, and remembered, the stories about the people who matter. I love hearing stories about my friends’ loved ones – and it’s even more fun if I get to meet them in person. I feel like I know my friends better after getting to know the people they love, because our people are so much a part of who we are.

Do you have this kind of shorthand with your friends? Who’s in your supporting cast of characters?

blue purple hydrangeas

Today’s prompt: green (and blue and purple). I have fallen head over heels for hydrangeas this summer.

sunset clouds tree view

The view from my front patio: moody skies, sunset afterglow, neighborhood lights.

sunflowers

Here we are in the middle of ordinary time, that long stretch of the church year between Pentecost and Advent.

Although the high liturgical seasons – especially Christmas and Easter – tend to steal all the attention, the truth is that ordinary time takes up nearly half of the church calendar. The long sequence of Sundays after Pentecost includes the whole summer and most of the fall. During these Sundays, the weekly lectionary texts prod us to think about how to live.

I go to a tiny, semi-liturgical church that has adopted the lectionary and the church year as a way of ordering our communal life. We are part of a denomination that traditionally resisted such things, but we have come to love the quiet rhythms (weekly and annual) that help give shape and focus to our time together.

Many of us are refugees from big evangelical churches that emphasized emotion over thoughtfulness; others came from church communities that prized rationalism over mystery. The liturgy – the Lord’s Prayer, the communion table, the cycle of the church year – helps us make space for all these things.

Although summer is a set-apart time for many people (especially in a city like Boston, which takes its cues from the academic calendar), it always coincides with deep ordinary time. In the midst of school vacations, travel plans, warm weather and looser schedules, we turn back to the Epistles and the Gospels, asking every Sunday: what kind of people are we going to be?

I like ordinary time as a metaphor for our lives. I have a friend who used to slip up and call it “mundane time.” It can sometimes feel like that, but it’s also where most of us live, most of the time. All of our lives contain high moments of joy and low moments of grief and fear, but we mostly live in between. It’s the same at church: while many of us relish the excitement of various holidays, most of our sermons and services, and the issues we discuss, are linked to our everyday, walking-around lives.

Here, in the longest and quietest (in some ways) season, we are called to live faithfully, to consider our instructions (and the story we find ourselves in), and decide how we are going to live. The altar color of this season is green, for new life and growth. If we are faithful (and sometimes lucky), we can experience growth in ordinary time.

I will always love the anticipation of Advent, the starry-eyed wonder of Christmas, the drama of Holy Week and the bursting joy of Easter. But I am developing an appreciation for ordinary time. The beauty of the everyday is particularly present in these weeks, as spring slides into summer and then summer turns toward fall.

Here in ordinary time, it is our job to pay attention, to do our best to live thoughtfully and wisely, to walk through this world with wisdom and compassion. To make these things ordinary, even while they remain mysterious and full of grace.

May it ever be so.

jer newport cliff walk

Taken on the Cliff Walk in Newport, RI. A long, meandering afternoon with my love.

sandals rocks beach

Angles and curves. Rocks and water. Exploring a new beach on a weekend adventure in Rhode Island.

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