So, if you know my feelings about sabbaticals, one of the strong ones is that it is not vacation, but instead a time to do some “work” you would never get the chance to do in the normal course of the routine of work. In that sense it is a great luxury, and yet, at the same time, my actual vacation time, when I usually go each year for that, falls during this sabbatical and so in these last few weeks it truly has been vacation. We go to Florida each year, where we have a little timeshare getaway. We have come here for almost 20 years now, every August. August made some sense when we lived in Austin, but a lot less sense now that we live in Seattle. In fact, so many locals here look at us with screwed up faces when we tell them where we are from, and then say something like, “I want to go there right now, and you come here???” True, but it is what it is. My son, who now only gets to come for a few of these days, since he is now working himself, and I, always get at least one scuba dive in, which we did this year, and all of us just get to chill. That has happened this year, and yet, even with that I tried to take a bit of a different angle, a different look this year, through the lens of pilgrimage, even during this vacation.

One such deviation, was one of our nights out in Key West. Like many of you that go back to the same places year in and year out, you get in routines, places you have to go, no matter what. We have those too, but this year I ditched one of them, to try something totally different. In doing some research and in an attempt to take a “pilgrimage” into the true local life of Key West, I found a pop up supper club, called the Lost Kitchen Supper Club. The chef, Martin Liz, who is classically French trained, but a local through and through, now caters mostly, but also has this place called the Lost Kitchen, an old warehouse on Stock Island, just north of Key West, which doubles as an Art Gallery and is about as difficult to find as it can be, truly “Lost!” Here is he showing me off some of the great fruit of the area that was going to be used in the dessert of the night. Mamey and some other exotic fruit.  Whatever it was, it was great!

It is also a local favorite, and yet when I researched this and found that one of the two times in August he would be holding this, was our first night in Key West, I jumped on the tickets, and we joined in. I am pretty sure we were the only tourists in the room. It was a pretty cool thing. Communal sitting, so we sat at a table with 6 other locals, some who knew each other, and though it was a bit awkward at first, as all such risky communal things are, it turned out so lovely. In conversation over the evening I found out the young woman next to me, of Filipino descent, was from Mindanao, where our companion diocese is. Actually, her mother grew up there, then came to the states, but my new friend got to go back, some years ago. And we figured out she was there about a month after me, when I visited the Diocese of the Southern Philippines. it is a place few white people from the West ever visit, and so it was a truly “small world” moment.

This night was special because the musical guest was a 91 year old local favorite, named, Coffee Butler.

His band is called the Bubba System. He started late, because that same night the local amphitheater was being renamed, the Coffee Butler Amphitheater! Here is an article in the Miami Herald about the possibility, and it did come true! So, we saw him after. Here is a video of one of his offerings that night! What a fun evening!

This is old Key West. Local stuff, with local people. It was wonderful, and though only miles from what we used to do, a whole new experience, a pilgrimage. You can travel across the world for pilgrimage of course, but some of the most interesting are right around the corner. We just have to pay attention, and take some risks.

We leave here soon to go directly to Poland, which will not be a vacation, but will be an awesome experience. More on that in the next postcard. Blessings to all of you,

+Greg