Tag Archives: peace

And like a mist …

spring came to Southwest Virginia.

More specifically, to Clinch Mountain and even more specifically, to Big Moccasin.

The temperatures and weather over the past couple of weeks has been like riding the world’s most vertigo-inducing roller-coaster immediately after eating corn dogs, grilled sausages with onions and funnel cakes.

Better than Ipecac syrup, that.

But this past Sunday … wow.  Just wow.

A perfect day filled with fog, clouds, blue sky, sunshine, a spring breeze, and a trip into my mountain.

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Like my orchard, the mountain isn’t really mine.

It isn’t really anyone’s.

Even though someone may hold the deed to a particular part of the earth, that part thrives and takes what it wants and has little regard for that little piece of paper that claims ownership.

The trees grow, the flowers bloom, the grass thrives, the leaves bud, the creek flows and human existence is of little relevance.

I found this to be true when I went into “my” mountain on Sunday.

If it was glad to see me, it didn’t say so, not with words, but I think, at least I like to think, that it missed me a little bit, anyway.

I went to the Orchard first.  It was just beginning to bud.  I kissed the tender buds, the gnarled branches and the crooked trunks.

Was I worshiping the trees or the orchard or the sun or the sky?

Of course not.

I was worshiping the Creator of those lovely things.

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I laid on the newly-greening grass beneath the apple trees and thought deep thoughts about everything and nothing.  I thought forbidden thoughts, dreamed lovely dreams, and reveled in the sense of contented aloneness that I feel while immersed in nature.

I can be myself beneath the trees that I love, without pretending or hoping or wishing.  They have an understanding of who I am and what I aspire to be.  That is the nature of trees.  They are unassuming and accept me, along with my dreams and fantasies, without condemnation.

Just me.

Just as I am, without filters or regrets.

Thank you, Jesus, for the Orchard.

I find peace in no place like I find it behind the lens of a camera watching the world that God created play before my very eyes.  I feel, sometimes, like an intruder into the perfect world of nature but I cannot look away from the magnificence.

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Of course, as on any successful excursion, hike or trail shoot, I became unbelievably filthy and muddy by crawling beneath branches and vines on the edge of the creek in order to preserve, through images, the delicacy of fragile blooms that help to define spring.

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I didn’t, on this journey, find any fiddle-heads, but it is a bit early yet.  I am already looking forward to my next trek into the spring mountain, for with every trip, every journey, there will be more to see, to experience.  More to overload my already overloaded senses and send me to a place that one can only get to by being in the mountains in springtime.

I am, without doubt, blessed beyond measure and I am thankful.

Isaiah 55:12 ~ For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

 

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Learning from Gracie as she contines to grow …

is an experience in humility.

She has Down’s Syndrome, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to or watching her.

She runs, plays, swing, argues, wrestles, loves, hugs, manipulates and somehow ends up being the center of attention wherever she goes simply because she has a larger than life personality.

She knows what she wants and how to get it.

Usually by putting her innocent-looking, pixie-faced, tinkerbell eyes on her Papaw.

He can deny her nothing.  He says he can, but he can’t.

Or maybe won’t is the better way to say it.

She has him wrapped as tight as Dick’s hatband around her little finger, her forefinger, her middle finger, her thumb.

He is wrapped.

Period.

Ice cream, Papaw.

Okay.

Pretzels, Papaw.

Okay.

Murder the neighbor and bury them in Louisa’s spring, Papaw.

Okay.

It is a joy to watch her as she learns to manipulate the ones she knows are easy marks.

I, on occasion, an am easy mark, but for the most part, she knows that Nini means business and expects her to act like a human child; but even I have my limitations when she flashes that smile and says “I love you, Nini”.

I am, after all,  human.

She is growing up so fast.

It seems like only moments ago that she was in the NICU with lines and tubes and a tiny body that looked as though it would break with a look and shatter with a touch.

But she passed the shatter stage a while back.

She is a pistol, is our Gracie, and as tough as nails.

She doesn’t take no for an answer, asks a million questions one after the other and could give Flash Gordon a run for his money when she feels like it.

I think we have all chased her (and lost) at some point, while she laughs and skips and eludes our efforts to catch her.

She is a bit like the gingerbread man.  Catch me if you can, she says, knowing we are too slow to be any real threat.

She went back to school this week and loved on all her classmates as though they had been cruelly separated for years.

I don’t know much about anything but I know this … a hug from Gracie can make the worst day, the most difficult moment, the hardest trial seem as nothing.

She has way about her.  A being, an aura, a spirit … call it what you will, but it is irresistible and it is life-altering.

She has a way of making you feel, at the moment, as though you are the most important thing in the world; and the ability to make you believe it unequivocally.

I cannot imagine, and will not imagine a world without Gracie for it would, without doubt, irrevocably break my spirit.

She is the epitome of sunshine.  I’m pretty sure when Jimmy Davis and Charles Mitchell wrote “you are my sunshine”, they did so because they had a premonition about Gracie.  God is cool that way.

She is a bright spot in the lives of everyone she come across.

It would be my great pleasure for all of my friends to meet her, to know her and to benefit greatly from one of her “I love you even if you are an idiot” hugs.

She doesn’t take into account how smart, how talented, how boring, how nerdy, how geeky, how crazy, how messed up, how depressed, how out of touch or how indifferent you are.

She changes lives, just by being, by smiling, by living.

A smile from Gracie, unless you are the devil  himself, will melt you like warm chocolate.

She is, unto herself, an entity.

There really is no way to avoid the beauty that enters your person when she hugs you tightly and puts her little face into your neck.

She is a gift from God.  A simple truth.

She sees life and people  in one dimension and that is unbiased love.  She doesn’t understand anything else (except the occasional temper tantrum that makes the Kraken look like a goldfish).

But we’ll save that tidbit for another day.

For now, by proxy, be encouraged by Gracie. She is a power to be reckoned with and it is wonderful to be a part of this precious child’s life.

“It’s Nini” she says, as she runs with her arms outstretched to me.  Every other thought in my head dissolves for it has no power against such beauty.

I am thankful for her.  I am grateful for her.  I am indebted to her.

May God continue to bless our sweet Gracie.

She is beautiful and she makes everything and everyone around her beautiful as well.

like a mermaid, she take to the ocean ... free and beautiful

like a mermaid, she takes to the ocean … free and beautiful

no matter where she goes, she will always be her daddy’s girl

Sometimes, only a papaw will do …

As the last light of the day …

ebbs behind the mountains and the now, multicolored clouds, I find myself on the back porch.

Grilling.

Making my lunch for tomorrow.

With the job I have been training for, I find that I could have Subway every day. 

One of my cherished fantasies.

But I find that, sometime over the past few years, I have become cheap.

Too cheap to buy lunch every day.

And I like grilling.  I love the smell of the smoldering charcoal.  It is even more prevalent this night as I forgot to bring it in last time and it got rained on.

Love those waterproof bags, but if enough wet gets on them, well, I don’t have to elaborate on that.

The chicken and onions are sizzling and the smell makes my mouth water.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow mostly because of my lunch break.

I feel quiet in my mind and peaceful in my spirit.

Thankful.

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When you don’t get to say goodbye …

it leaves a void; a hole that can never be filled, a wound that never quite heals.  No one ever thinks that the last time you see someone will be the last time you see someone.

It doesn’t matter if it is a friend, husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother, child.  It just doesn’t matter.  We always expect to have the next time.

But sometimes there isn’t one.

Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn that leaves us bewildered and wondering what, if we had  been given the chance, we would have said.

I found this out myself, first-hand, a few years ago.  I said goodnight to my husband and the next morning, as I did every day, left him sleeping when I went to work.  .

I, as every day before, left him a note telling him good morning and that I loved him, but didn’t wake him because there would be plenty of time when I got home for idle chat.  While I was working and running petty, unneeded errands, he left this world and when I got home, ready to share my day with him, he was dead.

There was no next time.

No next moment.

No next day.

I was devastated.

How could something like this happen?  How could there be so many things left unsaid?  So many dreams left unfulfilled?  So many moments that never found their way into the reality of every day life?

It is disheartening to find oneself with so many unanswered questions and unsaid words of love and devotion.  It seems that as time passes, there are even more words that come to mind that, if there had been the chance, I would have said.

We, none of us, have a promise of a single minute other than the one we are currently living in.  I learned a valuable lesson that day.  I learned to say what I was thinking, speak my mind and share my heart with the ones that are important to me.

But as all things, as the world continues to turn and time continues to pass, old habits find a way of re-entering my life.  I find that there are things I want to say, but wait because I am certain that now is not the time.  Or maybe I can’t seem to find the courage to speak that which is in my heart.

Either way, it means that I really didn’t learn anything from my experience and that all the pain and sorrow I suffered was for nothing.

What is it about being human that makes us hold what we feel so close to our vest?  To keep the thoughts and wanderings in our minds, hearts and souls to ourselves because we either feel that we will be misunderstood, ridiculed or simply ignored?

What is it that makes us feel that we are less than we are simply because we doubt our own importance in an ever-changing world?

I don’t want to be that way.  I want the people I love and care about to know that I love and care about them.  I want them to know that I think about them often, sometimes daily and sometimes several times a day.  I want to have the courage to tell people when they have hurt me so that they will know what moves my heart.

Time is fleeting and life is too short, even when there aren’t extenuating circumstances.

I look at my own life and instead of embracing it for what I have learned, I compare it to the lives of those around me.  I belittle my own experiences because in my mind, they are mundane when placed side by side with others.  I make excuses to keep my thoughts to myself and find reasons not to say what I need to say.

But if I don’t say what is in my heart, then if, while I sleep, I die, those words and thoughts will die with me.  The same goes for everyone.  There isn’t always another chance, another day, another moment in time.

Sometimes the last time really is the last time.

I try, sometimes, to remember the last words I said to my husband and I can’t.  I know at some point, I told him I loved him, but did he know just how much?

Did he know how I respected him for his knowledge and contribution to my growth in life and spirit?

Did he know that I needed him?

I can only hope where he is concerned, but in the here and now, with family, friends and loved ones, I have the power to tell them what I need them to know.  The power is mine and mine alone and if I choose to keep the words to myself, then if some unknown event occurs, the power that was mine will become a weakness I will be given no choice but to live with.

Life is short.  Don’t waste a moment.  Don’t miss an opportunity to tell someone you love them, are proud of them, are happy for them, miss them, are praying for them.  Don’t let the sun set on words unsaid for there is no promise that the sun will rise on that life in the morning.

Be well, my dear ones, and give each other the words that only your heart can say.  For tomorrow may not come and then the words will have no place to go.

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