Snow Silence in Summer Places

This weekend held so many different sorts of silence for me - it was almost overwhelming. I find myself sort of frenzied and confused when I find myself with big chunks of time to myself - what should I do first? Should I catch up on some magazine reading? exercise, meditation, nap, great movie, solitary walk....? All appealing options, and I'm happy to report I indulged in most of them for the two days my husband and I dashed away to Newport RI before the blizzard. I was nervous to leave, but fortunately, my husband did not lose sight of the feasibility of the trip, and the little inn was equipped with a fireplace.

When the kids are well looked after by loving family, and I'm in a familiar place of my past (Newport) the silence I'm afforded is immense. This time, we were joined by great old friends to celebrate a big birthday and tromp around in the snow together. What I learned again, is that the silence of being in a familiar place, but in unique and unfamiliar circumstances, has an amazing effect on the entire experience. Newport is usually a place we visit in the summer, and most of the time with kids. To view the seaside wharfs wrapped in wind and snow added so much to my love of the place. There is always a remarkable and lasting silence when snow has settled in inches on the ground, but the ocean adds an entirely different, almost timeless mystique. The change asks me to be more aware, and to pay more attention to my surroundings. I think this must be why I crave travel and new adventure. It's not the new place or experience that is providing me something, but the fact that I am paying attention is providing me an awareness - a foothold in the present moment. And this is what brings me a simple peace. Being in the moment.

And then of course, there is a certain silence that is so welcome for parents, when they step away from the energy of their children - briefly. Our conversations were uninterrupted, our rhythms our own. The "mom" and "dad" peel away and the selves that met so long ago, get some much needed time to catch up. When I return home, I will remember to visit some favorite places with the kids, off-season. There is an arboretum that we frequent often, during all seasons, but only once in the winter. I'll include pictures in the next post....

“Well, I know now. I know a little more how much a simple thing like a snowfall can mean to a person”
Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Summer Slipping

Summer Silence

As I feel the summer beginning to slip away, I'm gathering little memories and appreciating the precious and rare moments of silence that springs up so naturally between siblings when they are engaged in nature. Between seasons I always feel unsettled, uneven, and in need of inspiration. Here is where I'm starting to look...

Reading this for myself - first time ever.

Found just in time on my bookshelves for lunchbox inspiration  

Big upcoming project? Revamping every wall display in my home, hoping Artifact Uprising can help

The Strong Need the Weak

Jean Vanier is Awarded the Templeton Prize

When I get in the car with my twin two-year-old boys, I am never sure if they will allow for NPR. I crave little morsels of adult conversation but they are always quite sure about what kind of noise they want to listen to  - or create themselves. I won the little battle this morning - they were quiet and patient and I was rewarded with Jean Vanier.

It was an honest pleasure to hear that this man has just been awarded The Templeton Prize - though I hadn't heard of this award before. Here's what I found from the website: 

"The Templeton Prize honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. Established in 1972 by the late Sir John Templeton, the Prize aims, in his words, to identify "entrepreneurs of the spirit"—outstanding individuals who have devoted their talents to expanding our vision of human purpose and ultimate reality."

Jean Vanier began L'Arche in France in 1964 when he and some friends offered assistance and care to disabled men. He created a little community where people could live together and help one another. His mission is to take those with intellectual disabilities out of the shadows in society and have them live with the value they deserve.

His mission has grown so that today there are 147 different residential communities operating in 35 countries, where those with intellectual disabilities live with those without disabilities. He believes quite passionately that the strong need the weak, more than the weak need the strong.  

I am left in awe….inspired and humbled. His work and vision seem not of this time. I was not even aware of him until some unknown day last year. When I saw that his book was called, Becoming Human, I just had to have it and Amazon Prime obliged. I put it neatly on top of  my "to read" pile in the foyer but never got to it.

Reading the title often though, gave me a peaceful pause - with a sense of hope for this senseless world with all it's ills. What did this man have for us? 

I am grateful that in this chaotic world full of stories of hate, there are men like Jean Vanier who have given us a different type of story altogether. He paved his days with utter love and acceptance. He made peace. 

The book is now off the table and will be read: 

"So human beings are in continual evolution. Every generation wants to achieve more than the proceeding one. We are in a culture of competition. The strong, the beautiful, the intelligent, and the capable are magnified and extolled. The weak and the vulnerable are often put aside. Our world is characterized by the huge gap between the rich and the poor, the oppressors and the oppressed, and by continual horrible conflict between national, ethnic, and religious groups. This struggle, which has existed in various forms throughout history, is in me and in each one of us. But history has also seen women and men rise up, seeing new ways of creating peace an unity amongst people and helping the oppressed to find new life through wisdom and love and a consciousness of their value."  (Vanier, Jean. Becoming Human)