It seems as though there is an endless supply of words in this world, and so many people can use them creatively. They capture my attention and my heart. Sometimes I feel a little envious when I experience the way some writers put their words together. At times they seem to roll around in my mouth, at others they slip or trip off the tongue. Sometimes they are clear and sharp, and at other times they are sweet and soft. And then there are times when they seem to bounce off the page, dance in front of my eyes, shout to the skies, or create a quiet place like a chapel hush. I just like words and what can be done with them. Here are a few such groupings of words.
“Remember, you can’t reach for what’s in front of you until you let go of what’s behind you.” Author unknown
“I always begin my prayer in silence, for it is in the silence of the heart that God speaks. God is the friend of silence – we need to listen to God
because it’s not what we say, but what God says to us and through us that matters.” Mother Teresa
“It is when God appears to have abandoned us that we must abandon ourselves most wholly to God.” Francois Fenelon
“Rhythm is our universal mother tongue. It’s the language of the soul.” Gabrielle Roth
“There is no love without hope, no hope without love, and neither hope nor love without faith.” St. Augustine
“God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with.” Billy Graham
“Be patient enough to live one day at a time as Jesus taught us, letting yesterday go and leaving tomorrow till it arrives.” John Newton
“Faith is like radar that sees through fog.” Corrie ten Boom
“We can make art, letting the voice of the goddess – the oracle – speak through us in words and images.” Dorothy Maclean
“The drum is sacred. Its round form represents the whole universe, and its steady beat is the pulse,
the heart, throbbing at the center of the universe.” Nick Black Elk
“Life is sacred. Life is art. Life is sacred art.” Gabrielle Roth
“Learning is movement from moment to moment.” Krishnamurti
“It doesn’t have to be a big fire, a small blaze, candlelight perhaps ……….” Ray Bradbury
“Since it is very rare in our society to be personally sung to, this experience usually awakens
the soul and speaks to the heart, helping that person to hear and sing their own song.” Caitlin Matthews
Perhaps you would like to go back to the beginning and allow these words to slip and trip and roll around in your mouth. Perhaps you can try reading them out loud, and as you do so, listen for the loud and the soft, the sharp and the sweet, and the possible chapel hush. Enjoy and receive blessings.
After our stay with friends Greg and Sherry in Minnesota, Rich and I headed west then south through the Dakotas down through Iowa and into Missouri. We had planned to stay in a small town just outside Kansas City. This was no random choice. We were going to spend a couple of days with some very dear friends from our time in Naples, Italy. I had been a team member on many CREDO Personal Growth Retreats with Rod, and Richard and I had both been involved with the CREDO Marriage Enrichment Retreats with both Rod and his wife Trish.
Rod and Trish had made a flying visit with us about three years ago here in Jacksonville. They had been doing some east coast travelling and decided to dip down a little lower than originally planned to spend a day or so with us. That had been the first time we had seen each other since they had left Naples, Italy back in the mid-nineties. So we were very excited to be seeing them again. However, even though they were the primary reason for choosing to make Kansas City a stop on our 4,252 mile retirement ride, I had a secondary motive for wanting to stop there.
During the period 1989-91, Richard was transferred to a ship that was home-ported in Norfolk, VA. Although it wasn’t my first visit to the USA, it was the first time that I had lived here. It proved to be a very difficult time for me. The culture and way of life over here is drastically different from Europe. Everything over here involves distance and there is very little public transportation. And the distance factor enters into creating relationships with other people. In Europe everybody knows everybody. In Norfolk I found it very difficult to make friends; people seemed to live in their own boxes.
However, through a specific fellowship that I am involved with I did manage eventually to create some meaningful friendships. One lady in particular, Gert, became a very good and close friend. In the spring of 1991 Gert gifted me with a a subscription to Daily Word, a small daily reflection booklet that is published by UNITY. That booklet became my lifeline. It is the most positively uplifting daily meditational book that I have ever read. Wherever I went, Daily Word travelled with me, and I have continued to renew the subscription every year since then. I have used their twenty four hour prayer line many times over the years and it is such a comfort and a joy to make a call and get a real person on the other end who truly cares about whatever issue may be bothering me in the moment, and who is willing to pray with me and offer comfort.
Inside the front cover of the Daily Word each month there is a photo of the Silent Unity Chapel. There is always a light on in the top tower of this building and the photo intrigues me. Every time I see it I think, wow that’s where the prayer ministers are who receive all the phone calls and pray with all the callers – at any time of the day or the night every single day of every year. For the last fifteen years I have held a small dream to go there and visit. And here we were, planning to go to Kansas City and I knew that Unity Village was located somewhere close by. So when Rod asked if there was anything particular that we wanted to do/see in the area, I jumped right on it.
On Friday 26th August, we set off with Rod and Trish to go visit the Unity campus. I had no idea what a spiritual treat I was in for; God was in a most generous mood that day. Upon arrival we parked in the main parking lot right in front of the Book Store and Café. We decided to go in there because we figured that we could get information as to the layout of the campus and get directions to the Silent Unity building and chapel. The store was an absolute delight and we perused for a while. The staff was so helpful and we bought a couple of items and received a map of the campus. Imagine my joy when I found out that there was a large, handicap accessible labyrinth laid out on the ground immediately opposite the store. Rich, Rod, and Trish were quite happy to indulge my desire to walk the labyrinth and so with a happy heart I took my walk. Below is a video that Rich made and towards the end there are some still photos that he also took.
While I was walking the labyrinth, a large red-shouldered hawk came and rested at the very top of a tree on the edge of the labyrinth and watched me as I made the eleven circuits. His photo is here below.
When I had finished my walk we all went through a walkway and up some stairs to go visit the Silent Unity Chapel. Nothing quite prepared us for the beauty that lay before us at the top of the stairs. The campus buildings were laid out in a long oblong design and centered in the middle of them was a beautifully designed formal garden with fountains and pools. The whole thing made me think immediately of Europe and of St. Augustine, Florida because there was a Spanish flair in the design. I could have stayed there for hours. It truly filled my heart and soul with great happiness.
We wandered along and crossed the a small bridge over the central pool then headed toward the chapel. Trish and I went inside noting that there were two other people already there – a man and a woman. As we entered, the woman turned around toward us and said, “we are just about to do a guided meditation, would you like to join in?” We both assented, and spent the next fifteen minutes being guided through a beautiful reflection. This was another highlight of the trip for me. We spent a little more time walking around the campus and taking in the peacefulness and serenity of that place, before heading off to have a lovely lunch together.
Sometimes I have to give myself permission to play. I think it is important for the soul, for the heart, for the mind, and for the body to simply have fun. Especially once we have reached the lofty maturity of adulthood! We take on more and more responsibility. Our lives get busier with duties. We begin to wear ourselves down before our time.
So once in a while I decide to do something quite childlike that requires no special thought. Dare I say – I even allow myself to “get silly” and giggle and not act one iota like an adult. There’s no better time to do this than during the Holiday Season. There are so many fun kid-oriented activities to choose from starting with getting dressed up for Halloween and ending up with a visit to Santa.
And so it was, that about ten days ago I found myself in the company of two intrepid child-wannabee girlfriends heading down to St. Augustine. We picked up my daughter who had decided to brave the company of three mature ladies on their quest for childish fun. While trolling the internet, I had come across a link advertising a large 9-acre corn maze and the promise of a hayride included. I have always wanted to do a hayride and the idea of the corn maze made me think of the movie “Field Of Dreams” and had me shivering in anticipation.
The corn maze was located on the Sykes and Cooper Farm in Elkton, which is a few miles south west on CR 207 just outside St. Augustine. We parked the car and walked over to the ticket booth to pay our entry fees. It’s times like this that I really don’t mind being a senior because I got a two dollar discount. They had a few farm animals on display including a sweet donkey, a huge round-bellied fat pig that the toddlers found fascinating, and a small collection of hens. As we finished checking out the hens we realized the big tractor trailer for the hayride was right there and almost empty, so we decided to do that next.
Once we had all got ourselves settled on bales of hay, Farmer Cooper fired up the engine and off we chugged around a large field. There were myriads of gnats in the air but for the most part they didn’t bother us. As we swung around the other side of the field we began to see pumpkins growing on their mounds. I noticed that many of them had a layer of what looked like heavy duty foil laid on the ground around them. I learned that this was to prevent the pumpkins from going moldy on the ground. Some of the pumpkins were humongous!
We jumped off the hayride and made a beeline for the maze. It really was huge and quite intimidating as we entered. The corn (or sorghum) was way above our heads and the paths twisted and turned, ran into each other, went in circles, and did everything else to turn us in the wrong direction. We could hear children’s voices and their shrieks of laughter coming from various directions as they obviously found themselves back at the same spot again and again.
I guess we spent a good half an hour in the maze as we tried to find our way out. Even though we were “acting like children”, the adult in us was aware that we should keep the sounds of the highway to our left, so we didn’t have too much difficulty. I do remember thinking at one point “supposing a ghost just appeared through the corn”, or “what would I do if I stuck my hand into the corn and it (my hand) disappeared”!! Woo-woo! Coming out from the maze we wandered over to the pumpkin stand and bought some miniature pumpkins to use as fall decorations.
By this time we were hungry and decided to head back into St. Augustine to have dinner. On many of my visits to St. Augustine I have passed a small colorful restaurant called “La Cocina Mexican Restaurant” on US-1 and have wanted to try it. We all agreed, Mexican it would be. What a great dinner we had. The service was excellent and the food was “uber” excellent. What I didn’t expect was the superb presentation, almost like a top class eatery. The restaurant itself was delightfully decorated with beautiful murals. Definitely worth another visit and I highly recommend it!
What a fun evening we had. Can’t wait to be a child again!