Snapshots & Whatnot: Flowery Fall Colors

“When I get sick of what men do, I have only to walk a few steps in another direction to see what spiders do. Or what the weather does. This sustains me very well indeed.” ~ E. B. White

On this windy fall day here (with rain whirling and hurling outside) Virginia thought it might be calming, spiders notwithstanding, to share a few fall roses from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Hopefully they will brighten The Gloom away…

“Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.” ~ E. B. White

“When my wife’s Aunt Caroline was in her nineties, she lived with us, and she once remarked: ‘Remembrance is sufficient of the beauty we have seen.’ I cherish the remembrance of the beauty I have seen.” ~ E. B. White

“Most people think of peace as a state of Nothing Bad Happening, or Nothing Much Happening. Yet if peace is to overtake us and make us the gift of serenity and well-being, it will have to be the state of Something Good Happening.” ~ E. B. White

“I am still encouraged to go on. I wouldn’t know where else to go.” ~ E. B. White

When it’s dark and gloomy outside, here’s to continuing on and opening our hearts to the possibility of Something Good Happening.

grace, peace & flowery fall colors

Virginia : )

E.B. White (1899-1985) was the American author of the famous children’s book, “Charlotte’s Web” among a pile of others.

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25 October: PAPA! PAPA! PAPA!

Today is my papa’s birthday. This would have been a big one to celebrate: 90 years. How I miss him, especially today.

The fact that he was 83 when he passed is no small miracle. As a quadriplegic for over 25 years (12 as a bedfast quad), Papa’s doctors couldn’t believe it when he turned 70! Then 75! Then 80!

Celebrating Papa’s birthday was always a Big Deal because each day of his life truly was a gift. The festivities usually lasted the whole month of October with celebratory meals, special visits from friends and family, myriad cards and calls from afar.

Those October celebrations are now treasured memories, but I never will forget the way Papa approached life each day. He always said, “My blessings outweigh my challenges.”

Although he was in intense pain 24/7 and couldn’t move anything (even to wipe his nose) Papa had such gratitude. Not a day went by he didn’t thank us, profusely, and tell us how much he loved us.

You should have heard what he said to Mama. The Mush Police ran out of ticket paper! (Mama, we miss you, too!)

This morning in church thinking about Papa (!paying attention to the sermon!) it clicked: his life demonstrated GRACE. Yes, he was also filled to overflowing with the love of Jesus, but day in and day out he dealt with pain, loss of mobility, and complete dependence on God and others with abounding grace.

To honor his 90th birthday, here’s something Papa taught me and many others about grace.

“God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound unto every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Papa broke down this verse this way:

“God is able to make all grace (not just a little bit of grace), abound (not just trickle), toward you (not just your pastor and missionaries, but toward you), that you (Paul repeats you for emphasis), always (not just sometimes), having all sufficiency (not just some sufficiency), in all things (not just some things), may abound (not just limp along), unto every good work (not just some good works.)”

HaPpY BIRTHDAY IN HEAVEN, PAPA!

grace, peace & celestial cake

Virginia : )

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Quickie Quote: Eternity’s Sunrise (& butterflies!)

“He who binds himself to a joy, does the winged life destroy; but he who kisses the joy as it flies lives in eternity’s sunrise.” William Blake

Reading this quote this morning made me pause and reflect. Occasionally glimpses of joy catch us by surprise like the quick fluttering of a butterfly, here one second and gone the next. But isn’t that the best kind of joy? The surprised-by-joy kind? Joy doesn’t often respond well to command performances; ethereal free form seems more in line with living in “eternity’s sunrise.”

I guess that’s the point. Freedom. To receive joy with an open hand of gratitude and pass it on freely with a goodbye kiss, the better for having touched it.

Besides, who knows who (or what) is out there waiting to buzz our joy? (We can only hope Mr. Bee just wants to give a friendly kiss to Ms. Butterfly, eternal sunrises notwithstanding!)

grace, peace & joyful butterflies

Virginia : )

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An October Day @ Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” Lucy Maud Montgomery

During our September staycation my brother Dwight and I plotted a visit to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to see the Wind, Waves and Light exhibit (as blogged here Sunday) but we held off. We thought if we waited a few weeks, we might see a few fall colors.

Spreading a little Earthy love (#LoveVA style) at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia (the state)

Last Thursday we took off for Richmond, scurrying an hour’s drive to see the exhibit before it finished October 18th and hopefully catch a few fall color vibes.

We were not disappointed! This tree greeted us in the parking lot when we arrived…

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.” William Cullen Bryant

We have never visited Lewis Ginter in the fall. As shared previously, it is beautiful in the spring (Flowers! Flowers! Flowers!) and spectacularly inspirational during December’s GardenFest (Garden of Lights), but an October day at Lewis Ginter is also something to remember.

A kaleidoscope of October “in-between” colors @ Lewis Ginter

Even on an “in-between” October day (fall colors aren’t quite fully switched on here yet) we saw plenty of gorgeous trees.

I love this blue spruce in the conifer section. Check out her tall neighbors (wow!)

We also caught an unexpected plethora of blooms in the Rose Garden.

An October rose soaring high @ Lewis Ginter!

As Dwight went off exploring, this avid rose groupie spent an hour reveling in beautiful blossoms, giving plenty of buds photo ops as their due. (More to come…)

Another advantage to a sunshiny October day in Virginia (the state) – before cold bits of fall swirl upon us, butterflies still flutter about outside…

…and turtles in Japanese Garden ponds bask in warm Light.

For local friends, Lewis Ginter has taken extra COVID-19 precautions to ensure the safety of visitors and staff. With tickets purchased online, there’s a one way flow through the main entrance. Even though the gardens are outside, visitors are asked to wear masks everywhere.

Seemed like everyone complied, even brothers hiding behind flower bushes!

Tasty prepackaged meals and snacks are available for purchase at the Tea House for consumption on outside tables. We enjoyed our lunch on a table in the rose garden.

A beautiful October day in the Rose Garden @ Lewis Ginter

Even though the Wind, Waves and Light exhibit has now finished, I hope local friends will consider making an October visit to Lewis Ginter in Richmond. As colors become more glorious in our area, there’s that – and roses are still blooming!

“To love beauty is to see light.”  Victor Hugo

For blogging friends and email buddies around the world, hope you enjoyed this two-part tour of the exhibit and an autumn October “in-between” day at one of my favorite Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia.

To finish the tour, this tree took my breath away (literally.)

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1

grace, peace & spectacular seasons

Virginia : )

“As long as autumn lasts, I shall not have hands, canvas and colors enough to paint the beautiful things I see.” Vincent van Gogh

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Wind, Waves and Light: Art in Motion

“May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks.” ~ J. R. R. Tolkien

On a sunny, windy day my brother Dwight and I zoomed up to visit the Wind, Waves and Light exhibition at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA. Come join me today for a look-see…

We thoroughly enjoyed the extraordinary exhibit designed by sculptor George Sherwood, who holds degrees in both engineering and art. Each stainless steel kinetic sculpture captures light and moves with the wind in ways reflective of the natural world around us.

This “Surf” sculpture captured the light and kept spinning around like a school of fish. (My brother, who maintains two fish tanks at home, really liked this one!)

Here’s another view of the same “Surf” sculpture. On a windy day we enjoyed watching it constantly change.

This “Colarium” sculpture looks like the moon, but getting closer all kinds of bright colors bounced through it from the sunlight.

On this “Six Gyres & Moon” sculpture, every component spun around its axis.

Walking around the Japanese Garden paths, we stumbled upon these kinetic birds twirling in the “Turns” sculpture.

More than doing hula hoops, these kinetic birds spun every which way, even upside down!

We also encountered this “Memory of Fibonacci” sculpture in the Japanese Garden. The design of the dots kept changing with the wind and sunlight. COOL!

Here’s a “reflective” sunny view…

This tall “Wind Orchid” moved and swayed in a flowery dance.

Hidden among flowers, the “Dichroic Sphere” sculpture reflected sunlight in turquoise hues on this side.

When viewed from the other side fiery colors popped out. Again, COOL!

I loved the colors on this hanging “Col Du Couleur” sculpture in the Conservatory.

This “Memory of Water” sculpture made a impression as light reflected on drops moving within the bubble.

Hope you enjoyed this tour of these amazing art-in-motion sculptures. Still photographs can’t quite capture how cool it was – especially on a windy day – to experience the constant movement and explosions of color. But, you can get a general idea!

grace, peace & Moving Art

Virginia : )

“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” ~ E. B. White

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15 October: Saint Teresa of Ávila!!

Once again it is the feast day of one of my favorite saints, Teresa of Ávila, affectionately known as Saint Teresa of Jesus. I am a huge groupie of this amazing woman who lived a long time ago (1515-1582), but who continues 500+ years later to impact people around the world through her writings, life of dynamic faith, dedicated courage, and passionate love of Jesus Christ.

Saint Teresa loved Jesus with her whole being, everything of hers was His.

She put her trust and her life in His keeping during tense times of the Inquisition. While writing she was under rigorous scrutiny (one investigator priest consulted a tall stack of theological books “to understand an hour with Teresa.”) She also pushed for reform of her contemplative order amidst massive challenges.

“The Lord does not look so much at the magnitude of anything we do as at the love with which we do it.” ~ Saint Teresa of Ávila

Reading Saint Teresa of Ávila’s books, “The Interior Castle” and “My Life” in my early 20s strengthened and deepened my faith in new ways. Saint Teresa’s images are still relevant today as she likens our faith journey to a castle we enter level by level, dealing with internal clutter and debris along the way. Her “Way of Perfection” is also excellent, and anything else of hers you can let your mind read and your heart contemplate. Her words have a way of opening our hearts for Christ and His love for us, and for all.

Saint Teresa’s strong sense of humor helped infuse joy in joyless times, like making a formal street procession with musical instruments after a lice infestation to mock the unwelcome critters out of her nun sisters’ hair.

“May God protect me from gloomy saints.” ~ St. Teresa of Ávila

Teresa of Ávila had a tough go of it as a woman in times when women did not have much recourse to realize their dreams and initiatives. She had plenty of gumption, though! Her father didn’t want her to be a nun, but she managed to become a nun anyway. She served as spiritual director to Saint John of the Cross (totally radical for that time.) Today, Teresa of Ávila is a Doctor of the Church – the first woman so named, and one of only four with St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and St. Hildegard of Bingen.

Here is one of my favorite quotes:

“Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ looks compassion into the world.
Yours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world.”

~ Saint Teresa of Ávila ~

grace, peace & inspirational saints

Virginia : )

The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too.~ Saint Teresa of Ávila

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Quickie Quote: Soulfully Motivated LOVE!

Today here’s a quote from noted author and activist, Nora Neale Hurston, that made me pause. It may be short, but it packs a powerful punch!

“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.” Zora Neale Hurston

Here’s to letting God’s Love motivate our souls to do a little more outside ourselves today, push us out of our comfort zones, and open our hearts like the gentle unfurling of a rose.

grace, peace & soulful motivation

Virginia : )

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A Canadian Thanksgiving Blessing (slightly humorous!)

To our northern neighbors who celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October – TODAY! – Virginia wishes you a day filled with gratitude and (lots of) yummy eats.

“May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey be plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
and your pies take the prize,
and may your Thanksgiving dinner
stay off your thighs!”*
– Author Unknown

*with a little after dinner exercise?*

HaPpY CANADIAN THANKSGIVING!

grace, peace & gracious exercise

Virginia : )

p.s. T-shirt pictured (that missed a t-shirt tour feature) is one of Virginia’s favorites, acquired a few years ago at the Vancouver Central Public Library shop.

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SPEAKING OUT: Voices of Love vs. Hate

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Too often fear makes us pause these days before we speak. It’s not a terror kind of fear, more like a “what will people think” fear. Will they retaliate with vitriol?

It should be a no-brainer: SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT, SPEAK, SPEAK, SPEAK!

This redhead has spoken out countless times in the face of rejection and adversity in places of conflict, dodging stinging slings on all sides of the spectrum.

But now there’s a hesitation. Sometimes it’s just a split second. Sometimes it’s a pause to gather thoughts (not as easily done in middle age when informative tidbits go missing at the most awkward times, like when I am trying to make a point.)

Entering the fray of public opinion requires thicker skin these days. It’s hard when things that seem like no-brainers elicit backlash of the negative sort.

Perfect love drives out fear.” (I John 4:18)

Even when we try to speak out in love with the backbone of faith supporting us, it’s hard to find consensus on what (to me) should be universal truths:

We are all beloved of God. We are all equally beloved. Diversity is something to be celebrated not denigrated. We need each other. We are all part of the human family called humanity. Love is the language of peace, and peace is the language of love.

Yet, often voices of love among us are drowned out by voices of hate.

Doesn’t make sense unless we flip this a bit – who is listening to voices of Love? If more people listened to voices of Love, maybe voices of hate would not garner such large audiences. If more people started speaking with voices of Love, maybe a large and loud chorus of Love would drown out voices of hate.

It’s a challenge: do I listen to voices of Love or voices of hate? That qualifies externally and internally. Who and what we listen to forms opinions that eventually influence our actions. That also applies to internal voices. I don’t mean Joan of Arc voices, but the barometer inside our minds that bleeps out bad stuff and edits good stuff.

Do we give credence to negative voices that say, “You are no good. You are a failure. You are not this, not that, not, not, not…” Or, do we listen to God’s Voice calling us Beloved: “You are precious. You are valuable. You are loved. You are BELOVED. You are, are, are…”

If we hate ourselves, it’s easy to hate others. If we know that we are beloved of God – and believe it – it’s easier to love others. (Note I did not say it’s “easy” to love others, but easier from the perspective of knowing we are loved, of sharing from the well of love inside us.)

Basically it comes down to choice: what voices are we listening to? How are we filling the cups of our lives? With something bitter (HATE) or something sweet (LOVE) that melts away the bitterness of hate?

Bitter or sweet, it’s a choice of what to dwell on, how to listen and how to speak.

Voices of Love vs. Voices of Hate.

Choose wisely, there’s a lot at stake.

grace, peace & voices of LOVE

Virginia : )

“The final word is love…True love is delicate and kind, full of gentle perception and understanding, full of beauty and grace, full of joy unutterable. There should be some flavor of this in our love for others. We are all one. With love we see people as they really are, as God sees them.” Dorothy Day

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Birthday Blues: Surprised by Joy!

Last week Virginia celebrated her birthday. Another year. Whoopee.

Although there was plenty of celebratory chocolate…

Once you hit certain milestones, years tend to blur together. You reach a certain age and birthdays are reminders of AGE.

An occasion for Birthday Blues to play their grooves.

Faithful readers know Virginia often says, “Life is a gift.” Life is something to celebrate, maybe not so much life (so many years.) But, here’s the thing. This year’s Birthday Blues were preempted by joy – lots of joy!

An unexpected tea party!

Last Sunday a coffee shop meet-up turned into an unexpected celebratory birthday tea at a dear friend’s house. Surprised by joy! Gales of laughter, fellowship, fabulous tea and scones started my birthday week off with aplomb.

Even Dora the Explorer got in on the fun!

Staycationing (a vacation spent staying at home) for the week, my brother Dwight and I racked up lots of fun zooming out and about. (There was more chocolate. And cake. And apple pie. And my sister Shere’s Banana Creme pie – oh la la!)

special Celtic cup birthday giftie from brother Dwight

Surprised by joy! So many unexpected gifts, cards, calls, and greetings from family and friends near and far blew Virginia’s Birthday Blues away. Far, far away.

Then on the weekend my big sis Shere hosted a lovely birthday dinner soiree outside (and the weather cooperated.)

A magical evening under the lights @ Perrydise

Once again, Virginia was surprised by joy. Life IS a GIFT!

grace, peace & GRATITUDE GROOVES

Virginia : )

“On our birthdays we celebrate being alive. We should never forget our birthdays … They remind us that what is important is not what we do or accomplish, not what we have or who we know, but that we are, here and now. On birthdays let us be grateful for the gift of life.” Henri Nouwen

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