Community of Blessings

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Community is a sign that love is possible in a materialistic world… It is a sign that we don’t need a lot of money to be happy–in fact, the opposite.”
Jean Vanier, Community And Growth

Last summer I mentioned to my mother and sister the fact that the harvest season does not seem to be as decorated in the West as in the East. “Perhaps that’s because Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, the place of the landing of the Pilgrims, is geographically closer, so the season of fall is more celebrated. But, I really don’t know what it is,” I admitted.

On Sunday I arrived at the doors of my church and found it beautifully decorated for the fall season. The blessings of community and sermons of life lessons, relevant to today’s world, are always inside these church doors.

IMG_20151011_084245_836 Reflections last week from the Rev. Tim Selby included the question “And How Are the Children?”  Unfortunately in this day and age with all of the incidents in schools we can’t confidently answer “All are safely gathered in.”IMG_20151011_084455_846

By the end of the sermon each and everyone of us hoped our prayers would be heard as we sang the closing hymn “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

If you wish to hear the words of the message, keep your eye on the church website where recordings of each Sunday’s lessons are always posted.

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and Lessons of Heart and Soul.

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Insights Into the Soul

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Love unlocks doors and opens windows that were not there before. ~ Mignon McLaughlin

“There’s so much to see,” I said to my husband as we took a pace that was much too quick for both of us through the Denver Botanic Gardens. We wanted to see it all. “As much as I am enjoying the Chuhily exhibit, the structural elements and hardscapes that are incorporated into this garden are amazing. You can really see it this time of the year, without all the flowers. There is a real art to having something of interest in the garden year round  when flowers are practically non-existent or ‘bare bones.’ They’ve done an amazing job.”

“I agree,” said Terry. His father was a landscaper, and both of us have an interest and eye for design in the garden. My dad was a custom home builder so I’ve always loved architecture. I find doors and windows incorporated into any kind of structures interesting.

Today on All Things Fulfilling, travel with me through some of my favorite doors and windows that I came across in the Denver Botanic Gardens. I captured these visual images over a very fulfilling trip during the Thanksgiving weekend.

A small key opens big doors – Turkish Proverb

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Commitment opens the doors of imagination, allows vision, and gives us the right stuff to turn our dreams into reality. ~ James Womack

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Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.~ Joseph Campbell

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There are things known and things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception – Aldous Huxley

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 All the windows of my heart I open to this day ~ John Greenleaf Whittier

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 Let there be many windows to your soul, that all the glory of the world may beautify it ~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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Happiness sneaks in through a door we didn’t know we left open.” ~ Unknown

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 When one door is closed, don’t you know another is open. ~ Bob Marley

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How can I know anything about the past or the future, when the light of the Beloved shines now. ~ Rumi

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Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.  ~Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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The heart of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. ~ Audrey Hepburn

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For more insight into the soul of what makes this woman’s heart tick, check out Sue Batton Leonard’s award-winning memoir “Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.” http://amzn.to/1vDFUMt

See you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling.

Place of Beauty and Reflection

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The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” ― Henry Ward Beecher

Today, we will switch gears. It’s been snowing here in Steamboat Springs, Colorado and the temperatures have become winter like. They’ve dipped below zero already. Before I let go of autumn I want to share one more group of fall photos.

On the last day of my book tour on the East Coast, my sister-in-law Grace said “I want to take you over to the Cylburn Arboretum.”

“Sounds good,” I said. If you know me, you know any place that has to do with trees and flowers piques my interest!” The Cylburn Arboretum didn’t ring a bell from my days of growing up in Baltimore but I was up for one more adventure before I headed back to Northwestern Colorado.

As we drove along, we came to some very familiar turf! “Oh, my gosh, Grace!Look at that. There’s Sinai Hospital!” ,” I said. “Wow – do I ever have memories of that place!”  http://www.lifebridgehealth.org/Sinai/Sinai1.aspx. This is where I came for my pediatric check-ups after my “pioneering” heart surgery at Johns Hopkins.

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“The Cylburn is right across the street!” Grace said.

Now the largest public garden in Baltimore,  The Cylburn Mansion with it’s beautiful grounds were once owned by a Quaker businessman, Jesse Tyson, who was President of Baltimore Chrome Works (later Allied Chemical). He came from a family who made their fortune mining iron, chromium and copper. Jesse’s brother, James ran mining operations in the states of Pennyslvania, Georgia, California and Vermont. For more information, please visit this link. http://cylburn.org/about-us/history/.

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Today, The Cylburn Arboretum is also home to The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.http://bit.ly/112G6Zj. The greenhouses this time of year were filled with poinsettias along with other aquaponic plants.

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Oh, what a lovely place the Cylburn Arboretum is. Thank you, Grace. It was a delightful morning spent in such a quiet, peaceful, reflective place. It seems we are always surrounded by our big family when you and I are together! It was delightful being just with you! Even in October, the plantings and flowers at the Cylburn Arboretum were gorgeous.

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The Cylburn Arboretum was the last stop I made along the path of my East Coast book tour. How blessed I am to be alive to share my story. For more information on the award-winning memoir  “Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected,” please visit this link.http://amzn.to/141aW6S. The publication is available in audio, paperback and e-book.

 

The Gift of Time

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Thank God for his priceless gifts and miracles around the world. ~ Unknown

“Good morning, Sunshine!” I said to myself as we began down a long cornfield-lined road, with sun rays gleaming on the dried golden stalks. It was a gorgeous morning on the Chesapeake. My parents and I were headed to a landmark that harkened to us from Route 213 in Kent County, Maryland.

As we drove up to the Shrewsbury Parish Church I said, “I feel as if I could be in England. This place looks like something from a British show on PBS.” All the while, I was thinking of the Vicar of Dibley, a program that I loved that is now longer broadcast.

We walked the grounds, peaked in the windows, read ages old headstones and just enjoyed being together as parents and adult child taking in the wonders of the season and the beautiful surroundings. Before we left the grounds, the Rector Rev. Henry M. Sabetti stopped and we chatted. We talked about my new memoir and I gave him a bookmark of  Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. http://amzn.to/1vDFUMt.

Today, I’d like to share images with our readers. If you are interested in reading more about this historic church on the Eastern shores of Chesapeake Bay country, please visit this website.http://www.shrewsburyparish.org/Shrewsbury_Parish/About_Us.html.

It’s been wonderful spending time with my family while being on my East Coast book tour. That morning was just one of many treasured early lights of day that I have spent with my parents. Now I head back to the wild, wild west!

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IMG_20141028_114420_973The two gravestones above must be for all the mothers and fathers who are in this final resting place in the churchyard of Shrewsbury Parish.

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Acorns in Rock Hall

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“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.” ― Joe L. Wheeler

It’s crazy! Yesterday morning I was awake at 4am thinking of my travels of the day before. I had visited with my parents a church of historical importance in Rock Hall, Maryland. St Paul’s Kent http://www.stpaulkent.org was established in 1692 and probably the earliest surviving Anglican Church on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

The church is set among 19 acres of huge trees which dwarf the edifice itself. There, among the rotted leaves of fall, I came across something that set off a whole plethora of unrelated nostalgic images. I began to think of things I hadn’t thought about for decades.

IMG_20141028_150153_927Thousands and thousands of acorns lay on the ground among crisp, rustling brown oak leaves that had fallen from the trees. The smell of autumn was so earthy and pungent that it was like sensory overload from my past. As children, my sister and my two brothers and I spent hours every fall cavorting and frolicing in piles of leaves in pure unadulterated bliss!

“Look, Mom,” I shouted out, with the delight of a 10 year old little girl. Remember how we used to collect acorns and pretend they were Brownies (aka young Girl Scouts)?

“I sure do!” my mom said. Even at 85 her memory is rather good. Besides she was an assistant trooper leader, so I had little doubt she would have forgotten.

“Remember how sometimes we used acorns for craft projects? We painted girl’s faces on the nut  and the top of the acorn,  looks like a Brownie’s cap.” I said to my mother.

“Yep! You girls sure had fun doing that,” said my mom, bending down to pick up a handful of acorns laying at her feet.

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Now, here comes the big question – How did I get from the image of an acorn looking like a “Brownie” with a round face and cap to the memory of making fried marble jewelry this morning?  That is where my mind  traveled next. Egads – my brain must be all scrambled up! I hope I don’t make fried marble jewelry for breakfast. Funny how our mind goes with no logical reason.

Today I’ll share images of the lovely churchyard at St Paul’s Parish, Kent in Rock Hall, Maryland.

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Note:  Many gravestones date back to the late 1600s. Sea captains and other well-known people including Tallulah Bankhead are buried in this 19 acre churchyard.

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Do return tomorrow I will be sharing images of the structures that were built some 300 years ago with Flemish bond brickwork.

This blog brought to you by the award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard. For information on her EVVY award winning memoir “Gift of a Lifetime:Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected” please visit this link.http://amzn.to/1vDFUMt.

Hanging onto Childhood Memories

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Nature is the art of God ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Jan, stop!” I yelled out to my twin sister as she pedaled ahead of me on her bike.

“What for?” she yelled back to me loudly.

“I just saw something in the woods, and I want to go back. I’m wondering what it is.”

The other day my sister and I were on the way back to my parent’s house from a bike ride. We had gone to collect some pears that we had spied the day before, from the car, on a tree in a vacant lot next door to the United Methodist Church on Taylors Island, Maryland.

“What was it you saw? An animal? ” Jan asked. The remote island of Taylors Island is well-known for it’s variety of shore birds, white-tailed and sika deer, wild turkeys and bald eagles. Dorchester County Maryland  is also notable for it’s abundance of fish, crabs and oysters.http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/waters/

“I don’t know but it  was a cluster of  something pure white on the ground. That’s why I want to go back.”

“Ok, you lead the way.” Jan said. We turned our bikes around and headed back to the spot where I had seen the curiosity.

“It’s there. Through the woods, “ I said pointing. “ we’ll have to cross the ditch and hike in to it.”

We parked our bikes, which had baskets attached to them, laden with the wild pears. We had picked only fruit that had fallen from the tree because the pears hanging from the branches were too green and too far from ripening.

When I initially saw the objects of interest, I had gone through a list of things in my mind of what  I thought they could be. “Perhaps some trash, the tails of a herd of deer , who knows what. ” I thought. As we neared the white patches I had seen through the trees on the ground in the distance, I saw that they were round and nearly a foot in diameter.

“Look at that! They are  huge mushrooms.” I said, completely surprised by my findings.

“Wow! I sure wish I could show them to Rob!” Jan said. “But I don’t have my camera.” I knew Jan’s husband who has been a chef in our nation’s capital’s finest restaurants would be interested.

“Let’s pick a couple and show him,” I said. After I extracted their roots from underneath the bed of pine needles, I felt a little guilty. “Is it a crime to pick mushrooms or pears from the wild?” I asked my sister.

“Too late to think of that now,” Jan said, beginning to place the mushrooms in the bike basket.”Let’s put my jacket between the pears and the mushrooms in the bike basket in case they are poisonous.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “We shouldn’t let the pears and mushrooms touch.”

When we got back to the house we showed our unexpected treasures to our family members, and my brother-in-law looked up the mushrooms on the internet. “They’re edible!” Rob exclaimed.

“Sorry, I am not eating them.” I said, “I value my life too much. We could be wrong. Eating mushrooms from the wild is not a good idea unless you know for sure they are not poisonous.”

“I’ll stick to the pears,” Jan said. “I am not taking any chances.”

That night as I fell off to sleep I thought about our events of the day and what Tom Stoppard once said ““If you carry your childhood with you, you never grow older.” Riding bikes and exploring nature took me back to the days of my youth when my sister and I used to play in the woods and throw stones in streams and find all kinds of fulfilling things in nature to keep us busy.

Images of a few unexpected finds on our bike ride. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wild pears. They are delicious!

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That’s all for today!

This blog brought to you by the award-winning author, Sue Batton Leonard. For information on her award-winning memoir, Gift of a Lifetime:Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected,  please visit this site. http://amzn.to/1vDFUMt.

Treasuring Art

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 “Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.”   ~ Chinese proverb 

At a thrift store recently I came across an art print of Thomas Moran – imagine my delight! It seemed like a God thing – the image was just sitting there waiting for someone who’d appreciate it to pick it up . I gave in to my desires and purchased it – a real deal. I am very grateful to have the Moran art print hanging on my wall. He was one of the greatest illustrator and colorists of all times.

Every evening the week before last, I had been watching Ken Burns’ documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.  http://bit.ly/182xh1NMoran’s name was mentioned as one of the top landscape painters of the 19th century who ventured west. I learned he traveled to YellowstoneNational Park from the Hudson RiverSchool in New York, in the summer of 1871, to document on canvas what others described as a place where “hell bubbled up.”

Many artists traveled westward in the early days of the founding of the U.S. National Parks and they continue to be favorite places for artists who are seeking inspiration. Artists still go to paint, photograph and write about the dramatic landscapes in these protected government lands which are far more unique than many other places across the United States. Ralph Waldo Emerson described the National Parks as places where “God is more easily found in nature than in the works of man.” 

Lots of people find personal fulfillment in poking around in thrift shops. You never know what treasures you might find. I scored!

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This blog is brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com.

Do return to All Things Fulfilling tomorrow!