I had three things in mind for my visit to Portland, Oregon, last weekend.  All came out well.

The first was a visit with my mother’s cousin Del, whom I had not seen in over ten years.  She is living with her grandsons Dan and David, who, like so many in their thirties and even their forties these days, could not afford to buy a house without her help.  We had great conversation and good food together.

The second thing and the main excuse for making the trip was a meeting of the American Society of Church History.  Years ago, as a graduate student, I was giving papers at meetings like this one.  Now I listened to current students as well as older scholars.  The varied topics included the warlike language of new churches during the second world war, and the changes in sacred spaces at various times in religious history.  Just what makes a space sacred is always a good topic for debate.

My third activity was sightseeing, which meant a visit to the one place I know is an important tourist destination in Portland: Powell’s Book Store.  It did not disappoint:  a huge establishment with a nice café, it was quite busy on Friday morning.  They have two long sets of shelves of poetry books, much more than any other bookstore I’ve been in, and were selling them at 15% off in honor of Poetry Month.  I came home with four more books to add to the pile of books I had ordered from them online back in January.  Having the books in one’s hand makes it harder to resist.  And, yes, I bought the tee-shirt.

Powells Logo

Powells Logo

Outside it was spring; the rain was washing down blossoms from the tree.  Coming from the desert I enjoyed the damp air and took several walks.  I’m not sure how long I would appreciate the gray skies, but for a weekend it was wonderful.