Reflecting on Toy Trains….

It’s a quiet Saturday morning, with a hint of snow in the air. The slate grey sky is banded by icy clouds, reflecting the winter sun. So I was drawn to this amazing picture of a toy train by my friend Jeanne. I love the vibrant colors and the size of the train next to the trees. When I was a small child, we had a beautiful toy train set. In those days, we asked for trains the way children these days ask for an iPod or laptop. We weren’t done decorating for Christmas until the train set was up and running. The adults may have focused on the tree, but all we saw was the train. Jeanne has drawn a child’s perspective – every else pales by comparison, no matter how colorful, no matter how bright. Perhaps the magic of the train set was offering a new perspective. We lived near train tracks and often would wave to the locomotive engineer, or train driver, as the train slowly crept through our neighborhood. Even at a snail’s pace, the train seemed huge, too big to take in all at one time. The toy train gave us a chance to see the big picture, from above, all at once. Take time today to step back and look at an overwhelming concern from all sides. Pray to see through God’s eyes and hear through God’s ears, to forge a solution that is good for all concerned, for the long haul, rather than settling for a quick fix at the expense of others. And remember, it may take more than one trip around to find the right answer. Art entitled ‘Toy Train’ by Jeanne Mischo

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Reflecting on Military Service….

Four years ago my daughter’s middle school class offered a touching and memorable ceremony to honor our veterans. We live near Washington, DC, so many active duty military were present. A letter was sent home asking if family members would like to be included in the ceremony. That day I did not ask to be remembered, although I served 11 years on active duty and another 6 in the reserves. Instead, I asked my father to be remembered for his time in the Navy during World War II. My father’s health was declining and he had limited energy on the best of days. Yet he chose to stand through most of the ceremony, to honor the children who chose to honor him. The band played patriotic songs and a medley of service marches spurred a friendly rivalry. Then a number of students took the stage one by one. Each student briefly offered their particular hope or dream, to become a doctor, or a fire fighter, or ballet dancer. Then they thanked the veterans for giving them the chance to live out their dreams. My father had admired a number of quilts that lined the walls, each block made by the students to reflect an American value. Much to his surprise, he went home with one of those quilts, deeply touched by the personal nature of this tribute. We did not know it at the time, but that was Dad’s last Veteran’s Day. Take time today to thank a veteran for serving our country, for wounds seen and unseen. Consider the impact of their service and sacrifices on your life, each and every day. And remember to pass on the stories of those who have gone before us, for we stand on the shoulder of giants. Photo by David Buckwalter © 2011

Reflecting on Forgiveness….

There is a cool breeze this morning and a few leaves have already changed colors. As I walked the dog this morning, I could smell autumn arriving. So I was drawn to this photo taken by my cousin Diane. She is busy canning pickles, proudly displayed on tea towels in her country kitchen. As children, we would help with the canning. Our mothers would can all sorts of produce, tomatoes, green beans, apples, pears and of course, pickles. The kitchen would look like something out of a dream, with our mothers lost in the steam. Both have passed on, so perhaps it is that image that remains, a misty memory of days gone by. To preserve food, we must boil it or soak it in salt water. We subject the fragile vegetables to intense heat or overly salty water to prevent rot and prolong the fruits of our harvest. It seems that strong relationships are a lot like these pickles and canned vegetables. We must pluck out the offenses to preserve the relationship. We must trust that relationship to bear the burden of truth, to speak to one another in love. It takes time and patience to learn how to get along. We may not be aware of how our behavior affects those we love. Yet we may hurt one another just the same. To cling to resentment is to build a wall between us and those we love. Better to explain what is wrong and draw closer together. Take time today to understand how you affect those closest to you. If someone you love reveals an uncomfortable truth, thank them for trusting in your relationship, then seek to understand how to get along. Admit you are wrong and ask for forgiveness for your offense, and forgive when others offend you. Perhaps there will be a few boiling points, or things will get saltier than you like, but you will enjoy the fruits of your harvest all winter long. Photo by Diane Brooks Myers

Reflecting on Memory….

 Those fireflies have led me down memory lane.  What began as a single memory of fireflies led me to make beef vegetable soup this weekend, complete with broth made from soup bones.  So I was drawn to this photo of my Aunt Audrey, holding her great grandson Andrew as a baby.  I’m not sure, but I believe she is sitting in my cousin Diane’s kitchen.  It seems we have a lot of photos of Aunt Audrey in the kitchen. My Aunt Audrey was a wonderful and creative cook, and she shared this gift with us all. We often gathered in the kitchen, helping her to cook and learning to cook at the same time.  She loved cookbooks but rarely used the recipes exactly as provided.  Fortunately for us all, she frequently wrote in her cookbooks, recording these changes and variations. So her cooking, and her memory, is preserved and handed down to the next generation, and the next. At first, I didn’t connect making this soup with those fireflies. Then on Sunday, I saw so many butterflies in our backyard. The day my aunt died, the backyard was full of butterflies, as if tiny angels had arrived to call her home.  Another wonder of nature tied these memories together, and led me again to consciously remember my dear aunt.  Take time today to make a memory come alive, to honor pastimes or skills lovingly taught to you as a child. You’ll preserve the memories of those that have gone before us, and make memories for those who will remain when we are called home.

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