Sometimes everything has to be enscribed across the heavens so you can find the one line already written inside you. Sometimes it takes a great sky to find that small, bright, and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart. David Whyte

Journey to Israel: New Sights and a Back Story

After our morning at Masada we climbed back on the bus and headed to the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is 1,295 ft. below sea level, the lowest point on earth. And you can not sink in its salty water. I put on my bathing suit and waded in until the water was neck-deep hoping to wash the dust of Masada off. I let my feet rise and floated effortlessly. It was lovely. I came out of the water minus some of the dust but with my body covered in salt. After a quick shower I was ready to move on.

Our next stop was Jericho, located in the Judean wilderness. Some say it is 10,000 years old, the oldest city on earth. The old city and its walls which “came tumbling down” have been excavated. A fact of archaeology is that ancient places have many layers of soil deposited above them and to see very old cities you have to look down. It was like looking down a deep well and imagining a once-inhabited ghost city at the bottom.

I am seeing my journey to Israel with new eyes. I’m looking backward and finding fresh perspectives on a trip I took forty-three years ago. I did not keep a daily journal and no longer have the photo slides my husband took of our trip. After I returned from Israel I put together a slide show for my church. On two-and-a-half pages of narrow-ruled yellow legal pad paper I wrote (in long-hand) a commentary for the slide show. I have these pages before me now. The words are my guide for the stories I’m writing for my blog. The more I write the more I remember. I can visualize sights I haven’t thought about in years. I’ve forgotten some dates and facts about Israel but that is what Google is for. So much has changed for me and for Israel but words retain their power to stir my imagination and communicate.


Journey to Israel 1974: The Beginning

In the spring of 1974 my husband and I decided to travel to Israel. We booked a two-week trip with the Golden Circle Tours. In our reservation packages we received necessary practical information concerning travel within Israel, our itinerary and an orange and white yamaka to wear so our tour guide could keep track of us. From years of Sunday School I felt I had some idea of the places we would visit. To learn more I read James Mitchner’s The Source. In order to learn something about contemporary Jewish people I read Chaim Potok’s excellent novels. My readings left lots of space to experience the Israeli people, their culture and their history that I would encounter on my journey.

We flew to Israel on El Al with a stop-over at London’s Heathrow Airport. Flying El Al was our first taste of Israel. The crew members were Israeli, they spoke Hebrew and our meals were Kosher. In the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War in October of 1973 security was tight. When we landed at Heathrow we were surrounded on the tarmac by security vehicles and armed guards and not allowed to leave the plane. We flew on from London to Tel Aviv, our final destination. As the sun was setting and we began our long descent over the water toward Lod Airport, people on the plane began singing the Hatikvah, the National Anthem of Israel. Forty years later I still get goosebumps remembering.


Sisters Saga

I’m closing up shop for a couple of weeks. Tomorrow my sister and I are heading to Mexico to the place where I’ve been vacationing for the past twenty years. This is a first for us. We no longer have husbands and are having an extended girl’s getaway. It will be a fun adventure. I expect to return with some good stories.


Everyday Inspiration Day Eight: Sisters’ Trip to Cancun

Dear Brooke,

It was great talking to you Saturday. I’m really excited about our trip to the Riviera Maya next month! I think it was a small miracle that we decided to go online and check our plane reservations. It was scary to discover that my flight to Atlanta to connect with you for our flight to Cancun had been discontinued. I can’t believe that the airlines didn’t notify me! Ugh! Thanks for being calm while I was falling apart.

I called the airlines after we talked and told them I had to be on the same flight with you, as you suggested. The customer service person, a delightful young man named Alex, asked me what flight I wanted to be on since my original one was canceled. I didn’t expect such a simple question. I shuffled through the many pages of flight information I had and came up with your flight number. No problem. He asked if I was OK departing at 9 AM. I told him of course, he had just made my day. He even got me a seat two rows behind you. It’s a relief to have that settled.

Things got better. I was on a roll and called the car service that usually gives me a ride to the air port. I had heard that Richard was moving to California but hoped he hadn’t left yet. He is still here and I got my rides scheduled. Got that settled. Now on to thinking about what to pack and the fun stuff of traveling.




Everyday Inspiration Day Four: Portal

Grand Central Station of legend and stories
High arched ceiling, light’s golden glow
Promise of infinite charmed possibilities
Sky’s the limit. Where will I go?

I remember Thanksgivings when bound for New York
College girls promised to “meet under the clock”.
I never did. My single journey was Thanksgiving ’64
With husband and baby son Bobby in tow.

Before  sun was up we arrived bleary-eyed
No sleeping with baby in misnamed sleeping car
Hurried through Grand Central then realized
Bobby’s winter hat was not on his head.

Scurried back to train tracks and lo and behold
Perching there on a pole where a kind stranger had put it
Was the little blue hat. That was for me a beginning
To journey afar and trust the wide world.


It’s Not About the Weather

I imagine it is pretty universal to talk about the weather when you don’t have anything else to say. I’ve been writing haiku about nature which in blog language might be comparable. A sea change has been upon me. I can feel it but haven’t verbalized it to myself. So here goes.

After I was physically over-challenged by my trip to Costa Rica in March I made a decision to accept that my body is aging. My strong spirit is leading me in different directions. I’m cloudy about where I’ll end up. I’ve searched for trips to take in 2016 that are less vigorous physically. There is one to Yosemite, a place I have wanted to explore, where I could see the wonders from the window of a van and learn things seated in a room somewhere. That would be a travesty to my wanderlust. No going there. I found a writing class where we will write using our five senses “like Mary Oliver” – and do little walking. This is more like it. I signed on for next May. Air travel is an adventure but not of the fun kind. I’m willing to take that challenge to get myself to the writing class. The trick I’m learning is wanting to do something bad enough to figure out how to manage my physical limitations.

For the past twenty years I’ve been traveling to Mexico to spend a week at a timeshare my former husband and I bought. In a couple of weeks I’ll go there with my sons and their families – thirteen of us – to celebrate Thanksgiving. This will be a blow-out week. We will also celebrate my youngest son’s twentieth wedding anniversary, my middle son’s fiftieth birthday and my seventy-ninth. We have much to be thankful for. After going to Mexico with so many people I think going alone, as I have done the past few years, seems sad. I had asked my newly widowed sister to join us this year but she declined because she wanted to be with her son and his bride-to-be for Thanksgiving. She called me last week and said she wanted to go with me some time besides Thanksgiving. I jumped at a chance for her company so I booked us for early November next year.

My world is slipping back into focus. For years I have put trips on my calendar and airplane tickets in a drawer reserved for them. It’s like I was casting a line forward that colored the intervening days with expectation. Until this past week the only thing in my “travel drawer” was a confirmation for Thanksgiving from the timeshare resort and my plane tickets. I tried to adjust to a life lived in the present in my home town without much success. I’m not ready to “pack it in” just yet. My drawer now holds the necessities for my 2016 travels and my spirit is at peace. I’m not sure what condition my arthritic knee will be in. I do know that it will not hold me back .


Writing 101 – Haiku – Flight

Wild geese need no map
Nature’s compass deep within
Deftly guides their flight.


Writing 101 – Accra By Night

Coming in for landing in a strange city after dark adds intrigue I think. From above we saw the lights of Accra spread like a fabulous spider web. I knew that Ghana was bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and dreamily imagined a beach and moonlight reflected on the water. We touched down on the runway and taxied to the terminal where we went through customs. There we were met by representatives of our conference and given lodging assignments. So far I felt in familiar territory. No intrigue here. The adventurous part began when we were put in various taxis and shuttles that fanned out over the huge area of Accra to deposit us at the door of several small inns that were to be our housing for the week.

My friend and I were the only passengers in one taxi. This seemed odd – but the unusual was beginning to feel like the norm. We drove for a while on a paved road. The farther we got from the airport the fewer street lights there were. It was hard to tell whether we were in commercial or residential sections – or who knows what. It was inky dark. Finally we turned off onto a bumpy,dusty dirt road and drove some more. I was beginning to dread having come to Africa. Our taxi kept on toward our destination until at last in the distance we saw a rainbow sparkle of bright lights – to us like palm trees in an oasis. We had arrived. The name of our inn was Kumbaya.


Writing 101 – Life Lessons

A list of things I’ve learned is quite long. Here are the ones that bubbled to the top when I gave thought to my life lessons.

!. No is as satisfactory an answer as yes. I grew up in the South where the culture, at least for girls, was to say yes (mam) no matter what I thought or wanted. I decided when I was fifty to have my yes’s mean yes and my no’s mean no. A more satisfactory arrangement.

2. Freedom is a gift I can give myself. Giving myself permission to grow into myself was exhilarating. It’s not always pretty but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Accepting myself as I am is the key.

3. Taking risks is the machinery of change. I have learned to trust myself to the future of my sometime scary actions and am surprised where I land. Risking stretches me and grows my wings.

4. Love does not define marriage. Marriage defines love. After being twice married and divorced I have shed my romantic ideals. Instead I see the beauty of partner’s shaping a lifetime of history together out of what was given them. Solitude is a gift of being single that suits me now.

5. A sense of humor and the ability to laugh at myself is a gift of aging. Old age is funny and a special time to be embraced. I have gained wisdom and am also free to be childlike. It is delightful to be audacious. People don’t mess with white-haired old women when their minds are made up.

6. Children and grandchildren are the center of my life. Watching my six grandchildren grow into their unique selves fills my heart to overflowing. I wasn’t sure how to be a grandmother because I had no role model. Both of mine died before I was three years old. I’ve learned this is not a one-size-fits-all thing. All I need do is love them and show up. They take it from there.

7. I’ve learned that when I walk out my door there is a universe waiting to engage me with surprises and people there to catch me when I fall down.


Journey Into Africa 1994: Circle of Night and Day

I looked up at rain-freshened evening sky
Heavens so high you can see past forever.
Watched a full moon rise beaming soft light
Saw millions of stars sprinkled like sequins
Flung across inky black background of night.

Before daybreak next morning, all wrapped in silence
Waking-up world enfolds me in enchantment
Alone with my coffee before morning game drive
I sit with animals invisible in darkness.
I saw them yesterday, know they are there.

Stars still in their heaven the birds start to call
Life all around stirring, a new day beginning.
Small creatures chirp, buzz, rustle the grasses
Staking own territory, searching for food. As the day lightens
Large animals appear sounding no noises.

Life in its abundance bursting its seams.
Creation amazing pulsing around me
My soul and my senses filed near overflowing
I’m only a visitor with the good fortune
To show up in time for my front row chair.