Friday, September 26, 2014

Before My Eyes

At church last Sunday, our education
minister, Allen, spoke of focus
as a preface to his explanation
of that service's scripture.

Most of the week, he explained,
our focus is inward, upon the
ME list that spins us through
our days, and all that we are
attempting to accomplish:

dealing with work
managing our home
taking care of others
handling our health
pursuing hobbies 
enjoying leisure activities....


But, for sixty calm minutes
on Sunday, those of us sitting
in the pews together experience
an outward focus on 
gratitude, blessings 
and love.

{Which probably explains
why I'm prone to tears when
when we lift our voices in song, 
the lyrics underscoring that
very precious focus.}

I always leave with a sense of
peace, a smile, and feeling
joyously optimistic about life.

Allen finished his portion of the
service by challenging us to carry
this outward focus into our week,
even though we'd be swept into
the current of busy reality as
soon as our feet crossed the
church's threshold.

His words have rested softly
upon my shoulders as I 
attend to the business of life, 
endeavoring to weave that Sunday 
focus into my Monday through 
Saturday lens.

Sometimes my church is four
walls and a roof.  Sometimes
it's the quiet of a garden.  Other
times it's the ribbon of trail spread
before me on a bicycle, or the
tranquility of our silent house 
in that hour right before dawn.

But attending a church service
gives me an entire hour to truly 
still my my heart and consider 
how very thankful I am just 
to be alive.

Time to be grateful for the
ones I love, and grateful, too, 
to be loved in return.

Time to be contented for my
little spot on this great big earth,
especially in light of the strife 
currently present in so many other 
nations across the globe.

Walks in the golden light of early
fall evenings are also a wonderful 
way to shift the focus from daily
life to daily blessings, entering into
my own sweet reverie, if only for
a short while.

Birdsong, leaves rustling in the
trees, the laughter of neighborhood
children--a different type of music 
from church, but a beautiful tune 
that buoys my spirits, nonetheless.

The do-more-not-less 
mentality that pervades our modern, 
technological society, and the noise
and constant activity that goes with 
it, leaves little space for expressing
gratitude, counting blessings or
treasuring our loved ones.

Let's shut out the noise
and make room.

Sometimes I live so much
in my mind that I forget
what is right before my eyes.

~ Anna Quindlan, Every Last One


all images Privet & Holly

Friday, September 12, 2014


I love living.  I love that I'm
alive to love my age.  There 
are many people who went
to bed just as I did yesterday
evening and didn't wake this
morning.  I love and feel very
blessed that I did.  I love, too,
that I know a little more today
than I did yesterday, or I simply
know it more profoundly.

~Maya Angelou, at age 85

I sat in my share of waiting
rooms the last few weeks, 
and with waiting rooms come

Sometimes I found only
worn and dog-eared issues
of Field and Stream, but in
other offices, a vast selection
of current publications was
at my fingertips.

Fall has traditionally been one
of my favorite times to flip
through magazines, with all
of the autumn fashions.  Even
the ads are sumptuous
and inspiring.

But this year, the ads that
seemed to catch my eye the
most weren't about wrap
dresses or tall boots, wool
capelets or plaid pants.

They were all about finding
ways (in their words) to:

beat the clock
be a more youthful you
age perfectly
erase lines and wrinkles
blur time

And this gem:

Lose Years IN MINUTES!

Which, when you consider
Maya Angelou's quote, is


She didn't focus on spots
or wrinkles, younger looking
skin or hair, but in living.

And even though Maya 
survived some tumultuous
personal years, I doubt she'd
have agreed to lose a single
one in return for a more
youthful look.

Because she knew that human
beings grow from years that
are extremely challenging. 
And, scattered amongst the
sad times, happy moments
still glitter like diamonds.

Erasing years erases both.

I thought more about this idea as I
skimmed the obituary section
of our newspaper last Sunday.

Many of the stories were
accompanied by current photos,
or photos of the departed in
his or her youth.

Several included both, 
side by side.

As I gazed at the faces before
me, some smiling, some more
sober, others in uniform, I
wondered if those particular
photos were chosen because 
the families thought they most 
accurately matched who their 
loved ones were, inside.

This is so him.
She always wore a smile.
I loved him in uniform.
The best day of her life. 

Longing to be younger is
a lot like wanting to be a
different height, have brown
eyes instead of blue, or to be
small-boned when you have
your grandmother's larger

It's not going to happen.

Instead of encouraging us to
obsess over lost youth, I'd
love a culture that says,

Be the healthiest that you 
can for your current age--
fit, happy and vibrant.

You-tiful, versus youthful.

If someone asked you to look
through a photo album of your
life, at what age would you
feel that you looked the


It's a bittersweet exercise.

When I posed this question to
my husband, he didn't hesitate.


I might choose the same age, 
although I'm really still a work in
progress.  A picture from ten years 
ago, while softer and less lined, 
also lacks the many small joys and
heart sounds I've collected since then, 
which are reflected in my face--
smile crinkles and all.

We should love to be alive
to love our age, whatever that
age might be.  The laugh lines,
the twinges of arthritis from a
broken arm, the sun spots mirroring
our time outdoors, the ropy veins
on hands that have soothed or
cheered on others, the inevitable
grey hairs or that persistent baby 
roll, all tell a beautiful and 
unique story.

Our own.

That's my idea of 
aging perfectly.

How about yours, 


All pictures P&H