Little Things in Dubrovnik

“I suspect many of us walk past true gems every day without considering where they came from and what journeys they have endured.”

Richard LaMotte, Pure Sea Glass: Discovering Nature’s Vanishing Gems

After our morning swim in the Adriatic Sea, Leah set about collecting sea glass. She gathered quite a few pieces in her hand and then left them in a little pile on the beach. The fun for her was in the finding.

Sea glass from the Adriatic

I imagined some child coming to the beach after we left and being delighted by the little collection of green, white, and amber bits. The pieces had lost the smooth shimmer of new glass,  but they had a better beauty given to them by the Adriatic Sea.

For me the lesson was in leaving it behind. I am a saver from a long line of savers. We save everything. In fact, I took a few pebbles from the beach home that day. They were so pretty and I wanted to remember that morning.

They’re still in my bag, though.

And the snapshot of the sea glass is enough to help me remember.

I need to learn to let go — of stuff.

On the sea glass morning, when we got back to our apartment, a small turtle poked his head out in the garden.

A little turtle in the garden at our Airbnb

One of the biggest lessons from my European travels is that Americans need to slow down. We’re always in a hurry, always watching the clock. So much of the world takes life at a more leisurely pace — and it’s wonderful.

It’s good for the body.

It’s good for the soul.

Take a walk with a turtle and behold the world in pause.

Bruce Feiler


My friend, Renee, tagged me in a photography challenge that involves posting nature photos (taken by me) for seven days. She did it on Facebook, but I’m going to do mine here, starting with far away places and moving closer to home every day.

Today, Day #1, is from Dubrovnik, where I was 4500 miles from home!

I’m going to tag some of my favorite bloggers to take up the challenge too. If you’re tagged and don’t want to do it, that 110% fine with me. I totally understand.

Anna Brown — I’m tagging you first for three reasons.

One — because when I first discovered you, you were in MONGOLIA. Talk about the farthest reaches of the world. Plus, I think you’re still pretty far away — somewhere in the wilds of Canada.

Two — you’re somewhere in the wilds of Canada (did I already say that?) and I think Canada is absolutely beautiful.

Three — I love when you write, and you haven’t written much lately, my friend. (nudge, nudge)

 

Dr. Purple

Last week Mary and I went to a “talk” at the library.

I had seen the sign posted at the grocery store and taken a picture of it so I would remember to mention it to Mary.

But on Tuesday, March 14, everything was shut down in honor of Snowstorm Stella. I didn’t leave the house except to shovel for two days. By Thursday, the travel restrictions had been lifted and I made a trip to the grocery to pick up essentials. Someone had crossed out the date and handwritten Thursday, March 16, above it.

It turns out that someone was the local librarian. He went to every poster and changed the date.

And I was fortunate enough to see it in time.

Mary and I drove in to town and parked in front of the library that night. The snow was piled high and very few people were out and about — still. Stella was a doozy.

It turns out that Mary and I were two of six people, one of them the speaker, who ventured out that night.

We met at a rectangular table. One of the men quipped, “We need to change our name.”

The rest of the attendees were men. All over the age of 50.

Mary felt a little awkward, I could tell. They all knew each other. They talked about this and that, things familiar to them. Mary and I spoke in low voices to each other.

“You okay?” I asked her.

“Yep,” she said.

We’re both the kind of people who like to sit in the back unnoticed, but that was not going to happen at the Nights at the Round Rectangular Table.

The speaker spoke about different types of local histories, using books pulled from the library shelves for examples. A memoir. A book of old photographs. His own scholarly work about the history of a local township.

At the very end, he asked the librarian about checking out his book.

“You’re checking out your own book?” I asked.

He reddened slightly. “I’m in the middle of a move and all my books are boxed up.”

Before that, when he had finished his prepared words and taken a few questions, he asked, “Now I’d like to know why you came to this.” He turned to the man at his left who gave some answer that indicated that he was a regular at these affairs.

Mary was next. She looked like she was feeling more than a little awkward. She had already been put on the spot a few times during the discussion because she was so obviously the youngest person in the room. I tried to help her out.

“She loves history,” I said. “I saw the sign at the store and asked her if she was interested.”

They wanted to know what kind of history, what era, what she wanted to study. I think the whole reason the question had been asked in the first place was to find out what would bring a 17-year-old girl out on a snowy winter night to a talk about history.

“She brought me,” Mary said, pointing at me.

“And I came because of her,” I said, pointing back at Mary.

We both laughed. The men around the table chuckled. “I guess they each blame the other,” one of them said.

“Tell them about Dr. Purple,” Mary said.

Few topics are as interesting to me as Dr. Purple, a physician in Greene, NY, in the 1800s. When I first learned that Greene had a physician named Dr. Purple, I thought it would make a great children’s book. I started researching him.

One of the men at the table said, “Dr. Purple from Greene? That sounds like a children’s book.”

“That’s what I thought,” I told him, and I launched into telling them some of the interesting things I had learned about the man.

His life was messy, imperfect, but ultimately good. He was much loved by the townspeople.

Telling the men that night about Dr. Purple — and seeing their interest in his story — fanned the little flame of interest I keep burning for him.

The speaker gave me some suggestions on how to write such a book.

Maybe I’ll pull out my notes again and start organizing them.

 

Tremble: a Lenten reflection (part 2 of 2)

I saw a question the other day — I don’t remember exactly where — “What is your favorite blog post?”

What an impossible question, I thought, but my mind immediately went to a post by a friend.

Of all the gazillion blog posts in the world, this one is my favorite.

Cords of Light

I love aspen trees. When I was a child, my dad often traveled on business and came home with gifts for us. I have abalone jewelry from New Zealand, traditional clothing from India, and coins and pottery from Guatemala. But one of my favorite keepsakes came from a place much less exotic.

When I was eight or nine, my dad came home from Colorado with an aspen leaf pendant for me and each of my sisters. Nothing flashy, just little rust-colored leaves preserved inside a clear coating and dangling from golden chains.

Aspen leaf pendant The necklace my dad gave me

I had never seen an aspen tree, so the gift didn’t initially hold any particular significance for me. It was pretty, and it was from my father. I liked it.

But it came to mean something altogether different to me when I was 11, and my father took us to the aspens.

I…

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Civil War

“Is there going to be a civil war?” one of my children asked yesterday.

“Gosh, I hope not,” I replied.

The tension in our country is alarming. I’ve never lived in a place where is an active war is being fought, and I don’t think I want to. As Rodney King once said, “Can’t we all just get along?”

To me, the question raised an interesting perspective. From a young person’s point of view, does it look like we’re headed for war?

And what would we hope to gain?

Aren’t there always peaceful solutions?

The Women’s March drew huge numbers. Friends and relatives of mine participated. I did not. Some of the signs I saw posted on social media were positive action signs, but others were angry and negative.

Last week we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr Day.  He said,

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Yet, there they were — hating the haters, as if two wrongs make a right.

Hate is a double-edged sword that we wield by the blade. Everyone is hurt by it.

There has to be a better way.

Here are some positive steps we all can take (loosely based on Emanuella Grinberg’s CNN article: You Participated in the Women’s March. Now What?

  1. Volunteer for a group you care about — Absolutely get involved in constructive ways. Women’s shelters. Homeless shelters. Counseling centers. Food banks. Look around you. Be hands on. Do good.
  2. Be involved in the political process —  Learn what candidates really believe. Use your head. Their actions and their words matter. If you’re a  person of faith, pray about it. Be open-minded. Think. Don’t be a blind follower. Make your own decision. Do your research. Forget labels. Look at character.
  3. Be your own Congressional Oversight Committee — The real Congressional Oversight Committee monitors the executive branch. Hurrah!  May they do their job well!  But you can oversee your elected representatives. Pay attention to what is going on in government and don’t be afraid to let your elected officials know what you think. Know the names of the people who represent you and let them know, in positive ways, what your thoughts are.  Visit “How to Contact Your Elected Officials” to learn how to get in touch with them.

I love the fact that we can have peaceful protests in this country.

Let’s just keep it constructive, encouraging, and productive.

 

X

X is for , the Roman numeral ten.

Ten sentences from my scribbly notes from Dr. Wood at Laity Lodge.

— The highest work of art will form an echo of the gospel.

— God alone creates. We sub-create — taking what God has created and using it to re-create.

— We are all artists putting together a great work of art called OUR LIVES.

— What is the lie that Satan is telling me that keeps me from fulfilling God’s plan for me as a sub-creator?

— Friendship unites and sustains.

— Alone-ness is both a necessity and a great danger.

— If you adopt the strategies of the enemy, you become the enemy.

— The deepest injuries come out of broken friendships.

— Even the most corrupted heart still longs for God.

— In defeat lies hope.

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