Monday, March 30, 2015

Still Waters

Yesterday was a pretty typical day. It began early, with class planning, grading, and research. That's one of the lovely things about worshiping on a Saturday night- the Sunday morning quiet in the house and the determined application of mind to task. There was much to be done- I needed to plan activities for my British Lit class on connotations and imagery. The math class I was facilitating was starting a new book, and I needed to prepare for that. And later that evening I was giving an evaluation in reading to a sweet little girl. Oh, and of course my own kids' work needed grading!

When my husband asked if I'd like to get outside for a walk, though, I didn't hesitate! It was gorgeous, take-your-breath-away weather, with sunny, clear skies, cool temperatures, and green buds everywhere. We gathered up our kids (at least the ones who like to walk) and headed out the door and around the corner to Gourd Island Conservation Area, one of our favorite hiking spots. It felt so good to stretch my legs! The grasses were blowing, the insects were buzzing, and all the pressures of life slipped from my shoulders.
Irises along the banks of a stream
We deviated a little on the hike, and took a path we'd never taken before and came upon this scene. The waters were still. The flowers were brilliant. All was calm. It was such a delicious delight, such a supreme surprise to find this piece of prettiness.

It was like what the psalmist sang when he wrote of being led beside the still waters. It restored my soul. It gave me energy, joy, and peace that carried me through the rest of my busy day, and it is staying with me even today.

I am reminded of Walden.
“We need the tonic of wildness...At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” 
― Henry David ThoreauWalden: Or, Life in the Woods

The tonic of wilderness. Yes, I needed that yesterday, and it will carry me through today! I hope it won't be too long before I can return, refill, and refresh.
Be blessed.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Musings and Meanderings

It's been a long time, I know. As time goes on, it approaches a sense of awkwardness when I update my blog. It's as if I have dropped a thread of a relationship that must be re-knit before I can claim that close friendship again. And so I begin the dance of approach avoidance. This can drag on for quite awhile until the better part of me ultimately slays the reluctance beast and writing resolutely resumes.

So, what have I been up to that's taken me away from this blog? Ultimately it's come down to travel, school, and illness, not all occurring at the same time. Towards the beginning of February, I flew out to Kansas to meet Dad and begin the annual trek with him down south in whatever iteration of camper he has for that year. I've gone down now four different years in a row, and I've stayed in three different campers! This year I had the pleasure of riding down in his truck rather than in a motor home, and we hauled a camper behind us.

For me, it was an especially memorable time when, on the very day I arrived, we drove out to Langley, KS. Langley is essentially a ghost town now, but back in the day it was a vibrant community situated in Kansas along the railroad tracks. Dad lived, worshipped, and went to school in this tiny place. My mother, along with my grandparents and some cousins, is buried out there, in an intimate and peaceful cemetery. I feel very connected when I am there.

Our visit to Langley Church was especially poignant for me. It was a typical rural church in the '40s, served by a traveling preacher. My dad's family was part of the congregation. On cold, snowy, blustery days, the first congregant to arrive was set the task to start the fire and clear a path for those who would follow.
How Langley Church looked back in the day.
As time went on, Langley Church eventually closed down. The farmers who had worshipped in its sanctuary drove into town, and the small building sat alone and untended on top of the hill. Time took its toll on the little white building, but when it came time to tear it down, no one had the heart to do it. My aunt and uncle eventually had the building hauled from its original site to their rural farm property less than a mile away. That's where Dad and I drove as the sun sank into the still earth.

Where Dad stands is where the original entryway was located. Sadly, that is no more.

Coyotes called as we crawled out of the warm cab into the quiet, peaceful, and chilly air. I smiled at the familiar sound. It reminded me of my childhood sleepovers spent at Grandma's house.

We didn't stay long. It was getting late and the sun was nearly gone. I managed to capture a few snaps of the property, and then it was time to crawl back into the warmth of Dad's truck. It took me, and I think it also took Dad, a few moments to compose ourselves. That ground is sacred to us, and we each of us felt it.
Up the hill is where the church was located.
It was nearly dark when we got back to town. We were both quiet. I marveled at how the workings of just a few decades can change so much, and I wondered what would be gone by the time I reached my father's age. And what would still stand.
Sunset at Langley Cemetery