“Sit and Rest Awhile”

imageI may be getting old,
 My story is untold.
 The spider webs and velvet moss
 Cover me and conceal my loss.
 I seem unstable and overgrown
 With all the hurt I have sadly known.
 The poison ivy and weeds
 Arise in spring and spread choking seeds.
 My slats and frame are getting weak
 But will I ever hear You speak?

Many came and unkindly sat on me
 Squashed my spirit, kept it from flying free.
 But look, I am still sitting here, 
 Waiting for peace to draw me near.
 Others opened wide their arms of love
 And my joyful spirit soared above.
 In the Light of dawn I quietly glow
 And my true nature with mercy You know.
 My intricate design appears unstained
 And Your eternal Love is pre-ordained.

While the busy world goes clamoring by
 I wait with patience for the strength to try.
 I pray for wisdom to know Your will
 And when my time has come to be still,
 Only then will I be truly changed
 And my purpose in life be rearranged.
 But for You alone do I wait with hope
 And in darkness I've learned to pray and cope.
 Your Light will shine on me tomorrow
 And You will heal my every sorrow.

Come, sit and rest with me awhile,
 Find endless peace for every mile.
 To You, O Lord, I give all the glory
 As I listen and tell our love story.
 Some will wipe the dust from worn feet,
 While others rest and Your Spirit greet.
 It's not for me to judge another,
 But with Love, to hold as a mother
 Who sees in all their divine design,
 Whose beauty in the new Light will shine.

I can no longer let fear or blame,
 Hold back Love that heals sorrows and shame.
 For as my weary, lost soul can tell
 It is by His grace we are made well.
 I may be just a broken, old bench
 Who's ignored at the edge of a trench,
 But I am happy and able to say,
 "God created me in a unique way."
 Before you dismiss my existence,
 Know God loves me with fierce persistence.

Empty Chairs

It has been several months since I sat in these chairs in our backyard on Turkey Creek. These wooden, adirondack chairs have long been our vantage point to the natural world and a reflection place for the soul, comparable to the healing sought on the proverbial therapist’s couch. On the edge of this serene marsh growth and renewal take place. As the tides ebb and flow daily so have emotions, depending on the daily struggle to ponder or the joyful event to celebrate. As a result, many words have flowed from my pen to the pages of my journals through the nearly two decades of life here. I watched our children grow up, prayed for their well being and gave thanks for countless blessings, including welcoming grandchildren into the world. I grieved the deaths of my parents and worked on many issues, seeking solace and shelter from life’s storms. Likewise, laughter from joyful hearts soared with the hawks and eagles above the fray. Thirty years of marriage recently celebrated have also been the focus in these chairs which have served as a crucible for the last eighteen years where loving and suffering stirred in a bittersweet mixture of joy and pain. Thankfully, our love rises to the surface and keeps heart connections growing stronger and deeper, no matter the grief or turmoil that has befallen souls in a sometimes dark world.

The beauty of this place is cherished and respected but it has its problems due to tidal changes and floods. This reality hit home last fall when South Carolina experienced the worst flooding in centuries, donned the 1000 Year Flood. Water filled these empty chairs for five days, as well as the property and street. I was grateful that our home stayed dry even though the studio garage and crawl space under the house did not. Around the state we were at the mercy of mother nature and it brought back memories of surviving Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Flood water was not the issue for us then nor did we have to leave our home permanently. However, the anxiety and fear was high as I was nine months pregnant and we considered my water breaking in the path of a hurricane as a good  reason to evacuate. Living in the aftermath of childbirth or a natural disaster leaves indelible marks in the memory no matter the time that has passed. Great nuisances of daily life in the aftermath of either event are seen through the lens of gratitude for life sustained and protected from utter destruction, teaching lessons in not sweating the small stuff. Nevertheless, in the physical world of our current home, the tides get higher and chronic moisture issues affect the long-term health and safety of living here. The future is yet unknown but the possibility of letting go of the home we love and moving to a new home is a bittersweet change to consider.

Over the last few months the thought of sitting in the once reassuring laps of the chairs increased anxiety not lessened it, making them truly empty. I avoided them because the memories of the flood were too recent and time needed to pass for their healing effects to override the fear. Also, I’ve been very busy otherwise making it easy to do so. Recently, I sat in them for the first time since they were drenched in water and I was “flooded” with good memories from better days, the days when children’s laughter filled the air. In spite of becoming wobbly and more fragile from fluctuating tides and temperatures, the chairs still hold these happy memories. They may be too weak to survive a move, bringing their function and purpose into question. Either they will need to be fixed or new chairs may have to replace them from a different vantage point where concepts like “place,” “home,” and “purpose,” can be contemplated and redefined anew. Given what I have lived through so far, God has always provided and He will now. Change is a fact of life and the more it can be embraced with open arms, the better it will be. God’s grace and mercy will keep us in the shelter of His love.


Family Tree Revisited aka The Last Time I Saw my Mother


In the beauty of trees Mother Nature has always offered me a resting place I call home, one that feeds my soul and sustains me, that I can count on to always be there and whose changes I can observe through the  seasons of life.  Perhaps I read way too much into things but trees, especially the familiar ones I see frequently, are like friends that stand tall and bear the brunt of storms, surviving tempests and turmoil that can nearly level the most stout-hearted to the ground.  They look different in the changing light of day from early morning gray mists to the brutal yellow light of noon to the relief of the purple sky at dusk.  If I pay attention I can observe these changes and appreciate the unique beauty that each one offers at various moments in time.

The trees pictured here are two of my favorite resting places on Turkey Creek right in the serene backdrop of my own backyard, a marshy, swampy wilderness in South Carolina.  The cluster of two trees, twisting, touching in places with offshoots, is what I have titled “Family Tree” through all the nearly twenty years we’ve lived here.  I have watched the silent growth of these trees and compared it to the members of my immediate family, how we’ve slowly grown stronger, older and more stout-hearted through the years.  The long, hot summer has kept me from visiting in awhile and I notice the poison ivy creeping up the trunks like a choking toxin that needs to be eradicated before it takes over this precious tree.  I am reminded to tend to my own creeping poison ivy in my life, the areas of negativity and pain that only get worse if ignored and that certainly choke growth.

The other picture of the tree looking skyward is a giant pine growing in the middle of the wild part of the backyard.  I have often appreciated its towering strength rising above all the other trees surrounding it, including the “Family Tree.”  I never gave this tree a name but I feel like it now and will call it “Mama Tree” for the way its strong presence permeates all that exists nearby and provides shelter from the storms for wildlife.  I have seen many squirrels race up and down her massive trunk and chase in her sprawling branches.  In her lofty perch I’ve seen hawks and eagles rest and scout for prey.  I too have taken comfort from her and wandered about her trunk like a toddler playing in her mother’s skirt.  I have worried over this tree as well that her rooted base in the soft marsh earth moistened by the changing tides would one day cause her to topple over.  She has survived many a storm and a few hurricanes so far but for how long?

I can’t talk about the naming of “Mama Tree” without acknowledging that the inspiration to honor this tree is coming from the grief and sorrow I’ve been dealing with since my mother died over a year ago.  The picture here is the last time I saw her in Pennsylvania a week before her 85th birthday.  It was snowing in January that visit and I was like an excited little girl taking pictures of the snowy wonders I NEVER get to see in the south.  I got the nudge to go visit and flew there by myself to enjoy a long weekend with her and a few of my sisters, not knowing it would be my last visit.  I even got to stay with her and share the double bed in her assisted living apartment, something I’m sure hadn’t happened since I was a child.  It was a very special time to connect with my mom and feel her unconditional love that has blessed me my whole life.  On May 1st, 2014, she breathed her last breath and I wasn’t able to be at her bedside in the hospital with my siblings.  The long distance made that trip impossible to make in time.

My good-byes were by phone hours after the machines were unplugged and she lingered in a coma.  We were told there was no brain activity.  I don’t know if she could hear me but I appreciated my brother thinking of this and calling me.  I was with my son who was helping me drive around and take care of last minute work details so we could be at her funeral, when the time came.  I was an emotional mess and his presence calmed me as we sat in the parked car outside my job and I said goodbye to my sweet mom, telling her we loved her and Jesus was waiting for her.  She passed about five minutes later.  In the sacred mysteries that permeate life and death, I don’t know if on some level my mom was aware of the presence of my siblings at her death bed or my voice saying goodbye but I have some peace believing that she was also saying goodbye for now, letting go of this life to go to the glory of the next life where her husband, sons, parents, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends awaited her.

Studying this picture of “Mama Tree” I notice that  the top half of her seems cut off and since this picture was just taken earlier today, I wondered if a recent storm had indeed toppled part of her over.  I lathered myself in bug spray and trudged through the squishy mud from the recent tide to see for myself.  I walked around her massive trunk like that toddler in her mother’s skirts but covered in black mud on bare feet in flip flops and did not see any signs of fallen branches in a sea of elephant ear plants and a carpet of pine needles.  I did see a lot of poison ivy creeping up her trunk as it did the “Family Tree” and I know that I must come back and remove these toxic vines that threaten to choke these precious trees.  If I had thought to grab the garden gloves and clippers I would have done so right then.  I do know my visits to these special trees need to be more frequent, it does my soul good to rest awhile among their branches.

Black Cypress Swamp Song

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There is a silent beauty that isn’t really silent at all in the murky waters of a black cypress swamp.  Towering cypress trees shoot out of the water like elegant pillars marking time in an alternate world.  From their branches hanging like outstretched arms birds call out and all manner of insects swarm and sing a celebratory song to Life .  Walking here on a rainy, gray morning at the onset of spring I discovered the mint green blanket of foam covering the dark waters like snow and marveled at small miracles that bring this ancient place to life again.  A blue heron wades along a shallow, distant shore looking for breakfast.  She eludes the camera lens, dodging in and out of view among the trees with her graceful movements and sends ripples through the waters as well as my heart.  Gratitude bubbles in me that I can join in the song and feel the vibrations of a joyous heart also being renewed this spring day.  Deep in the woods of South Carolina at a place I love to visit once in awhile called Springbank Retreat, it does my soul good to come to this place of peace and rest.  I rarely ever want to leave and always want to go back.

Making Friends with Fear

The New Year is starting off right with a lesson from my granddaughter. She came to visit with her parents for Christmas and was afraid of the black and white rocking horse who whinnied and wagged his tail with a squeeze of his ear. His strange noises sent her running to the safety of her mother’s arms. It took several days and many tries on her terms to get over her fear. On the last few days of her visit she was able to ride him and not run away at his horsey sounds. I am learning from her brave steps in regards to my writing and facing my fears. I keep taking baby steps when deep down I know it is time to ride.



Recently, I encountered an image on my co-worker’s computer screen that literally reached out and grabbed my soul.  It was an image of the one pictured here that was on display at the art gallery managed by the office where I work.  I asked her about the piece and was told that it was part of the exhibit coming down the next day.  Without consciously knowing why I was so drawn to this piece, I told her I really liked it and would go see it at lunch.  I did just that and looked at many paintings/drawings on display by a local artists guild.  I viewed the exhibit twice looking for this piece of art but couldn’t find it.  At the gallery desk, I picked up the exhibit postcard and there it was but it wasn’t on display.

I returned to the office feeling disappointed, thinking that it had been sold.  Upon further inquiry it hadn’t been sold but for some reason the artist decided not to display it in the exhibit. The artist was contacted and she agreed to bring “Reflections on the Afternoon” to the de-installation the next day.  I bought it without hesitation as I was even more moved by it in person and she offered a price just under the limit I told my husband I’d spend.  I wondered at my strangely driven behavior since I am not usually so obsessive about anything.  It didn’t hit me until after I returned to the office in the pouring rain and unwrapped the colored pencil drawing from the brown paper wrapping.  Suddenly I was struck, like a two by four between the eyes, with the Ah-Ha moment.  The reason occurred to me  and tears welled up in my eyes.  It reminded me of my mother who died three months ago.  Somehow this artist, Trish Emery, captured a moment in time in her living room that is simply beautiful.   On some level, the level of my soul, the image transcended reality and touched the part of me that has been grieving and aching, missing the mom I love so much.  Words can’t describe it but a picture can and that is the beauty of art.

The meaning I have derived from this visual encounter in the days since I hung it in my studio is multi-layered and I’m not sure I can sufficiently put it into words.  Anybody who knows me well, knows that I love blue and have collected many versions of pretty blue things, including vases.  I love to see light reflections in transparent blue objects and I am drawn to this color for unknown reasons.  Somehow the blue vase in the drawing, being a vessel, represents me (speaking metaphorically now).  The vase only shows the stems of the flowers resting in the water, not the actual blossoms.  To me water is the Source, symbolizing the Spirit, and inside the vessel of our bodies we can’t survive without it.

The pink hydrangea flower lying on the wooden cedar chest, not in the vase of water but outside of it, struck me as a vivid memory of mom’s funeral.  There were pink flowers all around her and she was wearing a pink flowered dress I remember well from her wearing it to my daughter’s wedding on Mother’s Day four years ago.  Mom loved pink flowers of any kind and this pink hydrangea reminded me of sitting on the hillside at her grave the day after she was buried, saying goodbye one last time before traveling south to go home.  Amidst the deer-eaten flower wreaths I picked a few pink flowers, a carnation and a rose, to take home as a memory of mom and our sad parting.  Somehow, the pink hydrangea in full bloom reflecting the ethereal Light is in an eternal state as I fully believe she is and she’s at peace.  Though she has left the vessel of her body she will forever be in full bloom in my heart and in the hearts of those who love her.

One early morning after writing about this in my journal I returned to my bed spent with emotions and fell asleep right away.  I dreamed about my mom and grandma who were walking towards me, smiling and talking to me.  I couldn’t make out their words and I strained to hear them.  I asked them “What are you up to?” but I must have said that aloud in my sleep because my husband woke me up and asked me if I was awake.  “I am now!” I said.  Hopefully, they will visit me again in a dream one day and I will hear the words they wanted to say.  I do know that since her death I have been unable to write and this beautiful work of art was a catalyst to help me express deep sorrow I’ve had to keep at bay in the midst of a busy summer and way too much going on that I have to keep myself together for day to day.  Sometimes grief just can’t be scheduled at my convenience and the unexpected triggers and memories serve the purpose of helping me heal.

Ode to Spring

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The next collage/mixed media piece that has been keeping me busy this spring.  There are levels of meaning here and many symbols but Ode to Spring sums it up the best.  I’m working on another piece now, very different from this, and it is about hope.  I thought working in a different medium might help my writing but these take so long to complete I haven’t had much time to write.  Such is life.

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