Finding Common Ground

August, 2019 – Tampa

“First, we have an incredibly weighty existence which requires that we respect God and our neighbor whether the latter is a Christian or not. It means that we should expect to find common ground with non-Christians as a natural part of human existence.” – Michael Horton

I find myself thinking about my neighbors a lot lately, mainly because I’m still new in the neighborhood. When I meet someone, I try to remember to write down the person’s name when I get home and something to remember them by, like a house number or a dog’s name. I’ve met 14 neighbors on my street so far. I’ve found a little common ground, such as other dog owners, someone who recently lost a family member, and one who likes strawberries. There are differences, too, such as a practicing Buddhist, the young couples, the single mom. But we can all talk about yard work, termites, and good restaurants. I just want the conversations to one day go beyond watering the yard to something more substantial. All in good time; all in God’s time.

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  -  Matthew 22:37-39

Tampa

The PAD prompt for April 16th was to write a city poem.

a city on a bay
it’s a lightning city
with thunderstorms
and hurricanes
it’s a cigar city
with hand-rolled goodness
it’s a walking city
with people on the streets
day and night
it’s azalea and hibiscus
it’s  bougainvillea and palm trees
it’s Spanish music pouring from open windows 
with  ethnic markets and breweries
a river runs through it 
with alligators and a riverwalk
it’s neighbors and cracks in the sidewalk
it’s my city now

It’s April and you know what that means….

Ruby

PAD. Poem a Day. Poetry month.

I’ve been writing everyday, some good, some not so good. Most of my poems tend to center around Chuck, but yesterday I took a lighthearted turn. The prompt was to write a persona poem.

Ruby 

who do you think you are, 

walking down the sidewalk there

or in the street 

I’m sounding the alert

you must mean us harm

this is my house 

my yard

how dare you knock

or ring the bell

oh, hello

yes, come on in

let me sniff you

of course you may pet me

hey, don’t stop now

I’m going to follow you around

I think I’ll lick your hand

and sit at your feet

come back soon, okay?

Moving Forward

I’m not one for looking for signs and wonders, but sometimes it’s just interesting how God can use seemingly insignificant things to direct our thoughts. I follow a blog called DC Widow that has been very helpful to me. Her post from March 11 was good, but it was a comment from a reader that got me started on the idea of moving forward. The reader, Steph, said, “Nora McInerny’s TED talk about not moving on but moving forward is spot on…” so, I looked it up and she was right.

At breakfast I picked up the AARP bulletin to scan it while I ate and the cover jumped out at me: “The Path Forward”.

AARP Bulletin

Then, at lunch I did the same with the latest copy of Southern News, from Florida Southern College. Inside was was an article heading “…move forward without forgetting the past.” Wow. It all goes together.

Southern News, Winter, 2021

I am moving forward, well, literally I’m moving south. In two weeks. I closed on my home in Tampa on March 5, then stayed there a week on an air mattress, painting walls and planning. At the end of each day I just drove 1.6 miles to my son’s house where I was fed and loved on. Now I’m finishing up packing and preparing for my third move since last May. It’s been exhausting, not just physically but emotionally. I have to keep stopping myself from the thoughts of “this isn’t how it was supposed to be”. I remind myself, rather, “this isn’t how we planned it.”

Carole King’s song, Anyone At All, comes to mind. I have loved that song ever since I saw “You’ve Got Mail” years ago. It felt like Our Song. It feels like it even more now.

“You’ve become a memory I can’t erase…” “It wasn’t in the plan, not that I could see…” “…that’s what catches me when I fall
I’m so glad it was you”

Sojourning

Birmingham, AL , September, 2016

“Displaced souls roam every city in every country.” – Ilana Manaster, One of the Crowd, Real Simple – 2017

I know what it feels like to be a displaced soul. I felt pretty much like that the whole six years we lived in Birmingham. It was a beautiful place, but it was never home. I don’t mean to dishonor Chuck when I say that, because where he was, that was home for me. But, I think he felt the same way. We both felt uprooted.

Now I’m “home”, but he’s not here, and once again I don’t quite feel at home. But it’s different, because I do have family here, and numerous friends. I’m in the town where I grew up. It’s changed a lot, but still familiar. The Maxwell House Coffee drifting across the St. Johns River smells the same. The ocean, though constantly changing, is the same. I can still drive by my childhood home and my high school.

So now, as I prepare to move for the third time in less than a year, I think about how to put down roots in Tampa. God willing, I won’t move again. I long to live there and serve God to the end of my days. To make a home for my family, my friends, and other sojourners, for I have to remind myself that, ultimately, I’m just a sojourner on this earth.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. Hebrews 11:13-14

Ordeal or Adventure?

on an adventure…

Elderly Cindy takes it all in stride. “My daddy was a farmer. He used to say the only difference between an adventure and an ordeal is how you look at it.” – from Sean of the South‘s blog

Moving can be an ordeal or an adventure. Or both. For me, it’s both this time. The ordeal part is no more than anyone else experiences in moving. After what I’ve been through the past eight months it seems it’s actually going to be a piece of cake.

This is my third move in less than a year. The first two were far from being an adventure. They were an apartment and a house chosen for convenience. This next one has been chosen for a home. The adventure will be in turning it into a home. The adventure will be being with my grandkids. I’m ready.


Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever. – Psalm 23:6

Boxes

thanks, Chloe & Nextdoor

“Everything we use comes in boxes, cartons, bins, the so-called packaging we love so much. The mountain of things we throw away are much greater than the things we use…I do wonder whether there will come a time when we can no longer afford our wastefulness – chemical wastes in the rivers, metal wastes everywhere, and atomic wastes buried deep in the earth or sunk in the sea.” – from Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck

Well, I’m glad for boxes. And for people willing to recycle them by passing them on. To me. Especially since I don’t have my friend Rodney here. He was my go-to box guy in Bham.

It seems crazy that I’m packing for my third move in less than a year. I should be a pro at this, but I don’t feel at all like one. I have a lot less possessions now so you’d think it would be easier. I just hope this is the last move, at least for a very long time.

Where is home?

5/22/18 – Our backyard, Bham

“So my question was: What, dear Lord, is your purpose for my life? Where during the rest of my mortal years, is home? Ultimately, it is with you, Lord, but meanwhile I believe I am to make a home in the strange island of Manhattan for my granddaughters, who have been so good for me as they have been in college in New York, teaching me, pushing me, not allowing me to get into any kind of a rut. I believe, too, that our home is to be an open one, so that friends that are called to be briefly in the city have a welcoming place to stay.” – from The Rock That is Higher by Madeleine L’Engle

Madeleine L’Engle was thinking back to the time after her husband, Hugh, died. I love the fact that she lived with her granddaughters while they were going to college. I’m not going to be living WITH my grandchildren, but near them, Lord willing, very soon. I am under contract for a house and am waiting for inspections and all that entails. I am so excited I found a house just 1.6 miles from theirs. I want my home to be a haven for all who enter, whether family, friends or strangers.

Texts from the past #1: thinking of you

 

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The end of June I went through Chuck’s phone and wrote down some of the texts. I haven’t been able to go back again yet, but I hope to soon. Even though the phone is turned off, I think the texts will still be there.

Just about every one triggers a memory.

 

December 22, 2017

From Chuck to me: “Packing to the sounds of the Avett Brothers and thinking of you.”

 

He was always thinking of me. This was when I went to Jacksonville before Christmas and he followed a few days later. It was the last Christmas we had with Mom.

117948468_851617048899791_3623615452668130153_nHe thought of me in the special surprise gifts he got me throughout the years. Like the sandals he bought me one spring just because he thought I’d like them. I did and I still have them, 9-10 years later.

 

 

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He thought of me when he got the tickets last fall for the Avett Brothers concert  in April, which ended up being canceled. And even if it hadn’t he was so ill by then we could not have gone.

 

 

He was always thinking of me.

He knew how much I missed the family and he let me go and stayed behind with first Loretta and then Ruby.

He got left behind so often during our Birmingham years as I flew back and forth to Tampa to see the grandkids or drove to Jacksonville to see mom. Juliette so often asked, “Where’s Grandpa?” My response was, “He’s working.” He was so looking forward to retirement just to spend more time with the kids. Last summer’s Bell Camp  was such an absolute blessing and fun time. This year it will just be Grammy Camp and I don’t know if I’ll do it justice without him.

 

A Perfect Summer Day

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Yesterday afternoon my daughter-in-law Claire remarked that it had been a perfect summer day. This is how it went…

About 10:00 my granddaughter Juliette and I walked a few blocks over to buy some produce from a neighbor who has a produce stand in operation on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Some is local, but much is purchased from Sanwa Farmer’s Market. Hey, love the convenience!

It was hot at 11:00, but watching the kids at their “Virtual Swim Meet” under an umbrella was just fine. The way the meet works is the kids swim with their team at their respective locations, the times are recorded, then compared to the others swimmers across the city to determine the rankings.

After the meet we had delicious fried chicken that was ordered and picked up to eat at home.

After playing Garbage and Uno, Juliette and I went with Claire on a little girls outing. First stop was Gulf Coast Sourdough   where I got three loaves to take home since I don’t know any place like this in Jacksonville. I chose Roasted Red Pepper, Turmeric & and Black Pepper and Rosemary Garlic.

Then we went to Lufka  where I filled a Mason jar full of handcrafted liquid hand soap and also purchased two bars of delightful  smelling soap. I love the idea that you can bring your own container to fill up and not waste a bunch of plastic.

By the time we got to Cleanse Apothecary, Juliette had had enough. We coaxed her in and she got a bath bomb while Claire and I treated ourselves to a few items.

Juliette’s endurance was rewarded at our last stop, Revolution Ice Cream. We got treats (mine was Coffee Oreo) for everyone and took them home to enjoy with the boys.

As I headed home to Jax, it was still 97º at 6:30. Ruby settled down in the back seat as I drove through the lush green of Ocala’s horse and cattle farms. I smiled passing through Lochloosa and thought about how right Claire was – it had been a perfect summer day.

After arriving home and unpacking most of the car, I had a grilled cheese with my Turmeric and Black Pepper Bread. Yes, it was 10:00 PM. But a fitting ending to a perfect summer day.