When I passed her, she smiled

Yesterday was one of those open days where I had planned on just getting my bangs trimmed and having lunch with a friend, but it turned into so much more.

You see, when I passed this beautiful older woman on Main Street in Charlottesville, we exchanged smiles.  We were going in opposite directions, but there was a connection.

When I came out of the hair salon twenty minutes later and saw her coming out of the Blue Moon Diner, we both stopped and I said, “Every day I pray for a special stranger, and today you are it.”  She smiled as if she knew.  I continued, “Is there anything in particular you would like for me to pray for you about before I go to sleep tonight?”

She had just put her mother in a hospice on Park Street, having moved herself just a week earlier to a small apartment nearby from a farm outside town.  “I sleep in my lounge chair, ” she said pointing to the cast on her arm.  “I haven’t been able to unpack, but that’s alright. I will get around to it when this heals,” she added.

“Would you pray for my mother, Lena?”

We exchanged numbers and thoughts about mothers, and found out she had been married to someone who worked with me years ago, and I had had a wonderful time at her farm near Gordonsville years ago at a Sheepdog Trial.

Leaving the farm on a September morn, never knowing what lies beyond the mist

We truly all are connected, if we take the time to find out.

I am glad she smiled.



Even on a Planned Trip – you can end up God tripping

I’ve been on alot of trips that were planned by others this past few months.
In May and early June it was a week in Somerset, England with the Friendship Force  (www.FriendshipForce.org)  where our accomodating hosts treated us to breakfast, lunch and dinner with trips from Bath to Stonehenge and many in between. We didn’t have to do anything but unpack our suitcases, eat, dress, bathe and sleep. Everything was planned.

Except for my unreasonable request to my dear hostess, Pat Hollocombe, if we might visit a town called Todmorden.

Of course, I had no idea where Todmorden was, except I knew England was a smallish country. Todmorden is home to the Incredible Edible Project started by Mary Clear and four friends at the Bear Cafe overlooking the Victorian library with the clear mission to feed everyone in town eventually.

It was 7 1/2 hours by three trains to Todmorden, but my indominable hostess took me anyway, all the way to Yorkshire! It was a true God Trip. She had not even heard of it, nor the project, but she was a true trooper in the “Life is a God Trip” mold.

We arrived on the train platform and there were three barrels filled with forget me nots, an apple tree and broccoli. Not your normal train platform. Down in the carpark there was a huge raised bed with a sign that said, “Donkey manure working.” There was a sign with all the vegetables that would be planted there in a few weeks and how to cook them. For you see, in Todmorden, these vegetables and fruits are for the taking. It’s all a radical plan to save the world, one person at a time, planting on public land, cared for by volunteers, creating fellowship and becoming sustainable.  Sometimes, all you need in life is someone who says “Yes,” to your unreasonable request.

Sometimes you just need a friend!

God Trip in New England

My daughter, Christine and I chose a blue highway out of Boston headed to Northampton, Massachusetts today and that made all the difference. We found out that her book, “The Power of Slow” is on the shelves of not one but two local libraries when we needed to stop in Greenfield. What I miss in Virginia is the God-made ponds that dot the landscape here, with red buds of maples mingled with white birches. We found Louisa Mae Olcott’s home where she wrote “Little Women” and had the most wonderful guide, Sigrid who told us this was her second home. Louisa’s sister, May, her model for Amy, was a wonderful artist and their Mom and Dad unlike mine, let her write on the windowsills. That was in Concord, where the colonists turned back the 700 redcoats and our Revolution began. We also found on Route 5. the Yankee Candle Company, which sells alot more than candles — and Christine found Andreas a great pizza cutter. It’s fun to take the back roads on God Trips. Especially when you find a frisbee catching cow.

Just Let Go

Destination: 301 Keswick Glen -- a gorgeous place to land

Today I wasn’t feeling exactly up to par. Had something to do with dancing at a family wedding on 11/11/11. My seventy something ankles weren’t used to dancing with an Arthur Murray instructor but it sure was alot of fun. Twelve piece orchestra to boot!

So today as I was heading to an Open House, I thought I would try something new: just letting go. “Take me there,” I said to noone in particular, but hoping the Holy Spirit was paying attention. He always does. I had been there two times previously and it was a bit out of the way and both times I had come from entirely different directions.

Next thing I knew, I was turning a different way altogether at Boswell’s Tavern, right on 22, left on Columbia Road, right on Loving? Loving Road, yes….I did remember it intersected with Campbell somewhere, and before I knew it I was at Keswick Glen having come from an entirely different way from any I knew existed.

And I was ten minutes early!

So, another rule for God Trips, “just let go.”

And tonight the acupuncturist took care of the dancing feet. So it’s all good.

Celebrating a very special birthday!

Forty five years ago October 27th, I was waiting for my husband to come home from the University of Texas.   My best friend, Alice had just taken Suzy, age three and a half and her children whom I had been babysitting all morning home to her house.

“Those aren’t gas pains, honey,” she said. “You are in labor.”

I couldn’t figure out what was keeping him, as I paced up and down the driveway noticing there was a crack in the retaining wall of our University Hills property. Fnally he showed up with some story about running out of gas and the good Samaritan with the gas can who came along near the Austin airport.

No mind, I didn’t much like hospitals, and Celina was born about half an hour after we finally got there.  Her father doesn’t remember the story, but when we celebrated Celina’s birthday  Thursday, I brought her the proof: my l966 diary.

God trips can be into the past if you want them to be. But my favorite part of them is to enjoy the unpredictable unfolding NOW.

There was much to talk about: Celina and David’s recent trip to my birthplace, New York City, discovering the gardens built on the old El (see past posting on that one with Christine) and seeing “Momma Mia” on Broadway.

It was the last warm Indian Summer day of the year, and we found a wonderful outdoor restaurant in nearby Crozet where we could dine outside and the milar balloon Alan and I gave her bounced in the breeze dodging leaves falling from nearby trees. It was magical, and the waiter brought us three (yes, 3) delightful desserts: key lime pie, cheesecake and chocolate brownie cupcake with a candle in the middle.

The next step? How do we walk  off that unexpected yet totally welcomed indulgence? Why climbing Humpback Rocks on the glorious Blue Ridge Parkway, made even better by the amber sunglasses we both were wearing.

It doesn’t matter how you dress on a God trip. Just go with the spirit of adventure. I had on a skirt, but did that stop me? Nope. Didn’t have hiking shoes on either. We just took one step at a time, stopping at every bench (for me) and the view at the top was spectacular. Would love to meet the person who put in those benches and thank him or her personally.

Never be concerned on a God trip about calories.  There is always a way to burn them off!  Enjoy.  We did.

 And any problems that life was giving us got lost on that mountain top, a great place to gain perspective about everything.

Here is the candle going to Cairo

Carrying the flame of freedom to Cairo

In Search of a Flame

When your mission is “changing the way you see the world,” it’s good to have a candle.   

A big change –the Egyptian revolution didn’t stop l8 Ambassadors (i.e. guests) from the Cairo Friendship Force to spend their intended three weeks in the USA, their last week here with us.   The Friendship Force was started in Atlanta by Jimmy Carter on a suggestion by his minister in 1977 when he said the only way we can really understand each other is to put our legs under someone else’s table.  Our farewell dinner for our new friends from Cairo is Monday night. (www.ffc.avenue.org)


Alun Ward, talented potter at the Blue Ridge Pottery in Greene County suggested that he give 18 of his handmade candleholders to our Ambassadors.   “Why not fill them with American made candles and let them take home the flame of freedom from America,” he said.

Great idea, I thought, and went in search of handmade American candles. A God trip!  Our Ambassadors Aida, 84 and an artist (www.glassartmuseum.com) and Shadia, 65, her delightful friend, both widows of Egyptian generals, accompanied me and God led us to C’ville Arts Cooperative on the downtown mall.  There we found l8 beeswax candles made by Raven, called Flames by Raven.  They will carry home the flame of freedom and the world shall be just a bit brighter.  All from American bees, clay and ingenuity.  And one man’s great idea!