“All that I Seek is Already Within Me”

Dear Reader:

Stop and pause a moment…try to remember how many books and movies of every genre you read and saw growing up…science fiction, fantasy, and even classics-that contained  a powerful recurring theme…the answer to the quest for our identity in the world is in us.

Each has a similar beginning…A young man, boy, girl,  child…goes on an adventure to “find themselves”…to discover what life is all about and their place in it…only to meet a Darth Vader, a Wizard of Oz, or a lion named Aslan (in Narnia) or even “Daddy” Warbucks in Annie.

No matter the name of the character…there is always the “Counselor, the Wise One” who reveals the secret to each individual’s quest for courage and understanding…that these treasures we so seek have been with us, in us, the whole time we traveled our adventure…erroneously looking outside ourselves for the answer.

 

Didn’t Jesus tell us this a long, long time ago when he said “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).

Could there be anything more powerful than the Kingdom of God? And if God placed it within each of us…we know there was a purpose for it. Yet don’t we always go looking for answers to our problems from others whom we think are smarter or wiser than us…just to end up disappointed by the lack of results in our own lives?

Others can certainly help guide us….still no one but God can reveal the true image of ourselves within. The Kingdom of God knows what our destiny and purpose in life should be. And once we realize that we don’t have to travel around the world in search of knowledge or go on some kind of odyssey… we can save time and miles simply turning inward.

Yesterday was Boo Boo’s turn to visit Eva Cate and Jake…we watched Disney’s Maleficient- somehow I had missed that movie (watching with the grandchildren)…and once again…what you see on the outside isn’t necessarily what is found on the inside. The good queen, in white, turns out to be evil while Maleficent, in black,  turns out to be the great heroine of the story. 

Isn’t life filled with riddles and oxymorons? Even the coronavirus has two sides…one that fills us with fear of this potentially deadly virus and puts restrictions on our life styles that we have never encountered before. Yet…for the first time families really have time to be together and learn more about each other than ever deemed possible in the fast-paced society we lived in prior to the ‘stay-at-home’ policy .

 

Families are enjoying cooking and sitting down together for the first time for many. Home-schooling means a lot more than reading, writing, and arithmetic….Eva Cate is now folding all the family’s clothes and doing a terrific job!

The pandemic is full of oxymorons, paradoxes and ironies. Some are ridiculous, others outrageous and a few are sublime. Even the language is peppered with oxymorons, we are “social distancing” and “alone together.”

We stay at home because we might infect other people and we stay at home to avoid contracting the virus. We wear masks that don’t protect us to protect the people around us, which protects us. Confused…we all are! 🙂

Somehow, however, human beings who care for each other…find a way to connect and creativity soars where once it floundered. Love and understanding increases among all fellow man because we are all going through the same thing…no matter where one lives in the world. We are all connected in our survival tactics and also humor.

Jokes comes in daily from countries all around the world…it appears that man can always find a way to laugh at himself through any crisis…what an universal gift that is!

So until tomorrow…“Those who travel outward seek completeness in things; those who gaze inward find sufficiency in themselves.”

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Fun in the Sun…a hot day yesterday…still with a pretty blustery wind

 

 

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“Usually” is the Antithesis to Adventure

Dear Reader:

Have you ever considered how and when the word “usually” becomes the enemy of adventure? It does’t happen overnight but slowly… until one day we realize we are truly “stuck in a rut.” 

Unfortunately if we aren’t careful it sneaks up on us as we age…particularly when retirement sets in. Once all the work-related stress ‘dead-lines’ have disappeared and we are free at last…humans can still manage to do the strangest things…like make up new check-off-lists to do on certain days…thus creating weekly “fillers.”

When we realize we are in deep water of becoming self-imposed (boring) prisoners in our own homes… is if we hear words coming out of our mouths (in response to exciting invitations like going to a concert with our favorite singers, a play, dance, or other social events.)

We respond with…”Oh…I don’t think so…that would be fun but I or we usually clean or order out pizza or watch a particular television program on that night each week…if the concert had just been on another day of the week…maybe next time.” 

I have noticed that the people who are adjusting the best during our stay-at-home pandemic are ones whose life style hasn’t actually altered much from what it already was. Some of my neighbors have made the same comment about themselves…that they are more careful now…follow the guidelines…but they stayed mostly to themselves habitually.

In many ways…depending on personalities…there is absolutely nothing wrong with this choice of life….even though it might seem overly sedentary to outsiders..these same people are up at the crack of dawn working in the yard and will continue doing physical work throughout the day. Sedentary yes…sloth no!

The problem with “usually” is… if we decide we don’t want to make the effort, any more,  to live life as an adventure. I keep discovering more adventures the longer I live…nothing expensive or overly taxing…simply discovering new places, ideas, and people make adventures for me.

Yesterday Mollie and the children came for a Boo Boo visit. I was so glad…hadn’t seen them since Eva Cate’s birthday. We picked up Groucho’s and had a picnic lunch on the deck using my new table and chairs.

It had been so long since the kids at been at my house that they were running in every direction on both sides…trying out new toys and news ways of doing things on old toys. Kids can always make an adventure out of anything.

Eloise loved everything but particularly the garden fairies. She is into them now…she would pick one or two up and run to the fountain to clean them and then run back to the Fairy land in the garden. She wanted to get on the “tractor”….Jackson’s tractor from her childhood…1950’s style…and played the toy piano which put the biggest smile on her face.

I hid an Easter egg for each child since they didn’t get to come to Boo’s for Easter this year…and Eloise discovered, with the help of Lachlan, that “Jack pops up out of the box”…and gets a squeal from her each time.

One little boy who is never “stuck in a rut” is Rut (Rutledge)…he is always searching for new discoveries when he comes to the house…mostly memorabilia from his dad’s football days.

But he also discovered that the rope swing, which is always the Dingle boys’ favorite entertainment, could also work while standing up and then later climbing up on it while the rope was still swinging…he and Lachlan tried to outdo each other ….looking like little monkeys climbing the rope swing higher and higher…until Boo couldn’t look any more! 🙂

Lachlan, never to be out-done by his big bro…went all out!

So until tomorrow….Age is no barrier when it comes to adventure…one can venture mentally, spiritually, and physically…just pick one and stay young!

If someone tells you…”You are acting like a child”...give them two thumbs up and thank them “That’s the highest compliment you could have given me…do so appreciate it…I worked hard for that!  🙂 🙂 🙂

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

 

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Always Finding Our Way…

Dear Reader:

At some point in  our lives…don’t we suddenly realize, one day, that with enough living behind our belt…what was meant to be…was?

Remember how I have mentioned on numerous occasions how homesick I was as a child…not wanting to be far from mother…always afraid something would happen to her and I would be an orphan…like the stories I read as a child. So I stayed scared a large part of my early childhood.

As an adult I understand what I was feeling back then and it wasn’t just being homesick for mother…because I would feel homesick sometimes when I was home with my family surrounding me.

It has taken me a good portion of my life to realize that from the time we are born we have a homesickness to return from whence we came.

We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes… (The Rock That is Higher: Story as Truth- Madeleine L’Engle)

Haven’t we all experienced a ‘deja vu’ moment (like what Madeleine described) a split-second moment that catches a familiar scent or glimpse of someone who has gone ahead…and for just a moment we realize we got a peep hole glimpse into another parallel life?

The only time I wasn’t homesick or scared (as a child) was when I was playing…because I was in another creative zone…outside of mundane reality. These days…when I write this daily blog…I get to zone out again… I love the feeling today as much as I did as a child. In fact… I still need that feeling today as much as I did as a child.

I love observing my grandchildren playing in their “zone”… completely unconscious of being observed as they mumble parts of conversations between Barbie dolls, or Superhero figurines…they have joined the play toys in their world and left reality behind. It is exhilarating to the participant and observer alike.

Madeleine L’ Engle explains it this way….

The concentration of a  child at play is analogous to the concentration of the artist of any discipline. In real play, which is real concentration, the child is not only outside time, he is outside of himself. 

He/she has thrown himself/herself completely into whatever it is he/she is doing. A child playing a game, building a sand castle, painting a picture, playing with a doll house is completely in what he/she is doing. His/her self-consciousness is gone; his/her consciousness is wholly focused outside himself/herself.

We each need to feed our own individual creativity inside us every single day. Jean Rhys expressed it brilliantly:

Jean Rhys said to an interviewer in the Paris Review, ‘Listen to me. All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. And there are mere trickles, like myself. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don’t matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake’.”

Today I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing this blog or “feeding the lake.” This July will be the tenth anniversary of Chapel of Hope Stories. 

Two stars collided to provide the impetus for me to take a huge risk and start a daily blog post based on (as Jerry Seinfeld and George would say “Nothing”) my daily observations of life from my chair in a made-over bedroom office…with a huge window next to me, a red bird named Sammy who calls to me, and breezes that softly blow in the room… clearing the air for new thoughts.

The “two stars” were my breast cancer diagnosis/discovery of St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope and the birth of my first grandchild…these two events collided and produced Chapel of Hope Stories.  

More times than not…I start the blog with one thought and end up typing something completely different. The following quote sums it up.

“When the work takes over, then the writer is enabled to get out of the way, not to interfere. When the work takes over, then the writer listens.”
Walking on Water: Reflections of faith and Art 

From my viewpoint now, at the stage of life I am in, everything that was meant to be has come to be. I pinch myself daily that I am in my happiest place ever…and even a coronavirus “contained” life is still wide open to creativity.

So until tomorrow…I agree with Madeleine when she defines God and Jesus as:

“Jesus was not a theologian. He was God who told stories.” 

P.S.  And God tells the best ones! 🙂

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

Reading to Eva Cate and Jake…my favorite thing to do with grandchildren…

 

 

 

 

Watching my grandchildren grow….STOP! PLEASE! 🙂

 

 

 

 

And the garden, like my grandchildren, continues to grow too…my newly discovered Oak leaf hydrangea has two blooms almost fully revealed.

 

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“He Ain’t Heavy…He’s My Brother”

Dear Reader:

The name of  this unique sculpture in the Irish town of Midletown is named Kindred Spirits. It commemorates the never-forgotten hand of friendship donation sent to the Irish by the Choctaw people in 1847.

I accidentally fell across this fascinating story, made more so by what the Irish are now doing (in return) to help their Native-American “Brothers” across the sea during the coronavirus outbreak…which has proven so deadly to the Navajo Nation and Hopi reservation in Arizona.

***(The Navajo Nation has seen more than 2,400 confirmed Covid-19 cases and more than 70 deaths.  The Hopi reservation, which is surrounded entirely by the Navajo Nation, has reported 52 positive cases.)

But before I get to the ‘rest of the story’  I happened to look up the story behind the familiar phrase (today’s post title) “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” and found another interesting historical tidbit. It goes all the way back to the 1800’s and early 1900’s…to Scotland.

James Wells, Moderator of the United Freed Church of Scotland, tells the story of a little girl carrying a big baby boy in his 1884 book The Parables of Jesus. Seeing her struggling, someone asked if she wasn’t tired. With surprise she replied: “No, he’s not heavy; he’s my brother.”

Later in a 1918 publication by Ralph Waldo Trine titled The Higher Powers of Mind and Spirit… he relates the following anecdote: “Do you know that incident in connection with the little Scottish girl? She was trudging along, carrying as best she could a boy younger, but it seemed almost as big as she herself, when one remarked to her how heavy he must be for her to carry, when instantly came the reply: ‘He’s na heavy. He’s mi brither.”

Many artists later drew their own interpretation of this famous response and used it to promote patriotism by WWI and even later during WWII.

Those two memorable anecdotes bring us to the connection of the Irish and the Choctaw Native-Americans as a beautiful hand of friendship formed between the two that still exists today. It starts with the Irish Famine of the mid-1800’s.

(An Irish priest visits an impoverished Irish family during the terrible Irish Famine)

As most of us remember from our history lessons…it was this terrible famine that sent millions of Irish immigrating to America in the mid-1800’s out of desperation. By 1845 several charities from America were sending help but it was not enough to stop the waves of starvation.

It wouldn’t be until 1847 that the Choctaws heard of this terrible disaster. The Choctaw leaders in the crowd had already experienced their own tribulations.

In the 1830s, between 12,5000 and 15,000  Choctaw were forcibly relocated from their ancestral home in Mississippi to Oklahoma, walking thousands of miles on the Trail of Tears.

As much as a quarter of the tribe’s population was lost on the journey, and the effects of the relocation were felt long after…according to Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton.

***Monument Valley-home to the Navajo Nation today.

Yet when the Choctaw heard about the plight of the Irish, they dug into their own pockets, Batton said. “Much of the $170 — the equivalent of more than $5,000 today — raised at the meeting in Oklahoma that day came from the tribal nation.” 

When the Irish heard, how hard hit the Choctaws were with the pandemic, they decided it was their turn to return the favor.

The donations from Ireland started after an Irish newspaper shared the Navajo and Hopi plight and fundraiser on Twitter, garnering thousands of likes and retweets.

“Native Americans raised a huge amount in famine relief for Ireland at a time when they had very little,” O’Leary (journalist) wrote on Saturday. “It’s time for is us to come through for them now.”

Ethel Branch, the fundraiser’s organizer, estimated on Tuesday that Irish people had donated about two million dollars to the relief efforts so far, which goes toward food, water and other necessary supplies for Navajo and Hopi communities.

“From Ireland, 170 years later, the favour is returned!” a message from one donor reads. “To our Native American brothers and sisters in your moment of hardship.”

So until tomorrow….As God’s Children we should all be there for each other in times of trouble or more aptly put….“He’s not heavy…He’s my brother.”

Jesus Loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow
Black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little  children
Of the world

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

As evening fell last night…I was so tired- a definitely “over-done” day” :)…but I went out to my swing and rested watching the sun sink….as I came back on the deck the new table lantern came on and I smiled…All was right with the world! Good night!

 

 

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Saying “Yes” to New Ways of Life

Dear Reader:

For many of us the truth of the pandemic is becoming clearer as time goes on. There will come a point when there is no turning back to the “way we were.”

This doesn’t have to be anything ominous…in fact just the opposite… but it will require us recognizing that a global pandemic (in an increasingly smaller world) means that this is the time we need to reach out and  “hold hands…not point fingers” with the inhabitants of our beautiful blue planet. We truly are (as the posters tell us) all in this together…not just by countries and borders but by over 7.8 billion earthly inhabitants.

Just as our children are watching and observing the reactions of the adults in their lives to this crisis… we need to understand the importance of how we interpret, react and rebound from the crises of today and how it will define how we approach and survive the crises of tomorrow.

I heard someone on a talk show who said he had to remind himself, repeatedly,that usually a crisis is a messenger. I think many of us have come to suspect this too…perhaps a way for Mother Earth to say “Enough” ….”How many times have I told you to stop and you just haven’t?” (We can all fill in our personal “stops” that we have witnessed on the daily news and been dismayed…but not enough to take action.)

Now that the crisis is upon us…we need to all turn to love, courage, and kindness collectively to find our way out of this…not fall back on isolating hate, fear, and cruelty. We have that choice to make…and my prayer each night is that we make the right one.

 

As  seen in the Kelly Rae Roberts note card..we need to practice saying “Yes” to growing and reaching…to healing, soulfulness, vulnerability, joy, change, and new beginnings.

 

 

 

 

So until tomorrow…If we can’t snap our fingers and change the crisis…then we need to change our mindset…..

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

A “Shout-Out’ to all my children and their spouses…they all have anniversaries in May. Mandy and John are the first and their date was May 3 (12th anniversary)… followed by Tommy and Kaitlyn (calendar-wise) on May 6 (3rd anniversary) and today is Walsh and Mollie’s anniversary on May 13 (8th anniversary)

I can always remember Walsh and Mollie’s anniversary when I forget the others because the wedding took place on Mother’s Day-May 13 at Magnolia Gardens ….and it will always be special for that memory above all else! Congratulations You Two…Love you! Mom

I mentioned earlier that my lantana in the front yard and garden was just about to burst open…Over the past three days all the lantana “spreads” are off and running…they are the best fillers in a garden…for those bare spots where earlier plants bit the dust and they make a beautiful border in the front yard.

 

Kaitlyn strolling her “senior” dog babies! 🙂 Very creative!

 

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Beautiful and Blustery…but maybe Blustery Good?

Dear Reader:

In the midst of the cornavirus and our ‘upside down world’ my garden has anchored me in its most beautiful season to date. I have had plants bloom that were planted years ago and decided this year to finally make an appearance. Example:

I kept staring at this bushy plant that was starting to grow outward among the tall grasses and wondered what it could be? It wasn’t until Tommy, Kaitlyn, Susan and Butch came over last Saturday that the mystery was solved.

As Kaitlyn was walking through the garden…I asked her what she thought it was and she immediately replied…”I can smell the answer”…she picked one stem up and immediately confirmed “Lavender!”

The reason I was so shocked was that I have been given pots of lavender and gifts of lavender, in the past, and never had any luck growing it. They all just dried up and died …no matter how carefully I tended them. I figured the lowcountry just wasn’t their “niche” and decided never to mess with them again.

But obviously one of the earlier plants from years back decided this season to makes its grand appearance. The reason I couldn’t smell the evidence is chemo…have had so much over 12 years that my “sniffer” doesn’t work very well any more…occasionally minimum results at best. But I am now a proud lavender gardener!

In fact lots of plants are popping up where nothing was planted there this season…day lilies that didn’t come up last year, morning glories that are growing on the grass and starting to climb the fence on their own…life never gives up…I should know this by now.

As I was sitting in my new luxurious swing gazing out at the fountain something caught my eye. Remember how I was oohing and aahing over Anne’s Oakleaf hanging hydrangeas…well Anne reminded me that my neighbor Julie (who is also her accountant) gave both of us one of these plants. And there it is…finally about to bloom this year for me!

I ordered two new garden flags so I would always remember the garden of 2020…the pandemic coronvirus…garden and the most beautiful one to date that helped keep me home and content. One of the flags arrived yesterday. I love it! A good reminder to me!

Not only is my garden thriving more beautifully than ever but the residents of the lowcountry are all talking about this most unusually cool and magnificent spring…one for the memory books…even without coronavirus around.

The bluest blue skies, chilly nights, cool mornings, pleasant afternoons in the low seventies….usually by April summer has arrived here…so we are having an extended spring and loving it…because we all know when summer arrives it will stick around way into fall.

The only thing I have initially considered a little “troublesome” has been the blustery winds that seem to appear out of nowhere…usually in the afternoons.

The problem is…especially with the garden…these winds tend to dry up the morning waterings quickly and the flowers look droopier than usual by late afternoon.

However, yesterday, while sitting in my comfortable “queen for a day” swing…I closed my eyes and imagined that these strange winds that daily appear this spring might be sent from Someone bigger than us….

 

What if these blustery winds are keeping the virus swept away from us? We really are experiencing a ‘slice of heaven’ as Anne described it this spring.

So until tomorrow…Just the thought of healing winds delights me and from now on that will be my story…every time someone comments on the strange daily blustery winds that suddenly pick up and appear….I will tell them to say “Thank you”…the strong breezes are helping us stay safe through these ambiguous times.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh (because as we all know Winnie and Blustery Days go together- Pooh is loving our spring too! :))

As I was staring up at the old oak in the corner of the back yard from the new swing…I marveled once again at God’s creation.

How lucky we all are to be alive in this world of wonders created just for us!

 

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Don’t be a “Dweller”!

Dear Reader:

As a child I remember that the term ” dweller” referred back usually to the times of the cave man ….they “dwelled” rather than “lived” in caves. Life was a daily struggle for survival only. And there is a difference I have come to recognize between the two terms still today…we can’t live our fullest if we are simply dwelling in our past.

In the story I am reading now one of the main female characters finds herself brooding over some of the terrible conditions so many people dwell in that she has witnessed time and again…while dropping off and picking up books from the cabins and lean-to’s in rural, impoverished Kentucky Mountains…

Yet…every now and then she finds a family, that despite the hardships and lack of  conveniences most people take for granted…laugh and welcome her with open arms and sometimes music and shared food. In spite of the frugal conditions they find themselves in…they are actually living life…not just dwelling in it.

The rider remembers her favorite aunt once telling her “The best way to get through life is not to dwell on things…past or present.”

As I reflect back on my own life…I realize that one of myown worst faults (I continuously repeat  over and over) is dwelling and over-thinking an incident that continues bothering me…instead of letting it go. When we “dwell” on negative thoughts we unconsciously separate ourselves from the universe and all its beauty.

I love this quote by Marianne Williamson…

We are all in this thing called life together (“a vast sea of love”)…and all of us need “motherly” advice now and then from friends, colleagues and even strangers to remind us that we are all one….sunbeams and waves…we all come from one incredible universal ANCHOR..We are children of God.

So until tomorrow….I pray that everyone had a lovely Mother’s Day…I did…I had brunch with John and Mandy and children… got to see their new deck..we all took a long walk and then I came home and slept most of the afternoon away…waking refreshed and filled with gratitude for all my children. Love you!

Brunch out…a new swing for the children…another massive lego set completed by our lego girl, Tiggy likes to be carried to the end of the street now and then he will walk back…(he is 13 now)…I asked if someone wanted to carry me back too. 🙂

Love watching the grandchildren ride their bikes…

Look at that yummy brunch…and these are the flowers I received…so pretty!

Right before I got in the car to go over to Mt. P yesterday morning…the most adorable little rabbit hopped over…he was not the least bit skittish…he watched me put a few things in the car…I got in and he was still standing there watching me curiously…so I took his picture through the front windshield…it looked like he was posing for it…

I don’t know if it was a glare from the sun on the windshield that gave the photo a strange abstract  look…the grand kids thought I had painted the bunny…what a wonderful gift on Mother’s Day from Mother Nature. (Maybe he wanted the sunflower seeds that scattered on the driveway while I was filling up one bird feeder.)

 

 

 

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