Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter 2011


Family is so much more than those who share parents, grandparents, siblings and cousins.  Family reaches beyond blood lines and genetics and reaches into the hearts and souls of all who are connected in love and compassion.

Forrest and Oakley
We shared Easter this year with our “family” and I have to say, despite coming down with a fever midway through dinner, it was one of the more splendid Easters I have ever had.   I had to go hide and take a lie down for a short while and as I was resting and listening to the sounds in and out of the house, the thought floated in that if anyone had been passing by our home, they could easily assume that the day was being shared with cousins, aunts, uncles, brother and sisters.   Then I thought, brothers and sisters?  Is that not what we chose to call each other as fellow Saints?  

Terrell and Myra
The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that all of us are children of our great and glorious Father in Heaven.  We are all brothers and sisters.  I have so casually flung those titles out over the years, but it was today, of all days, with my home filled with loved ones, that I realized we are all truly brothers and sisters.  

Jeremiah, Kaiser and Hayden

Kin.  I feel very blessed.  I feel very surrounded. 
I do not feel so alone. 

Issaka and Amanda
Thank you all for sharing the day of our Saviors resurrection and sharing your Christ-like love with us all throughout the year.    

Friday, April 15, 2011

England 2011

69 The Grove
Tom and I were able to spend 12 days in England this April.  It was my first time out of the US and have to say it was a wonderful experience.   Instead of giving a play by play of the events, I just wanted to comment on the most amazing people that we met along the way.   We were able to stay in some lovely B&B's.  In London, we stayed at 69The Grove.  It is in the Vauxhall neighborhood, just south and over the Thames from Central London.  Our hosts, Kanley (originally from Kingston Jamaica) and David (originally from Madrid Spain) were an absolute delight.  Kanley is a Methodist minister and our mornings around the breakfast table were a wonderful celebration of thanks!  In addition, we were able to meet people from all over the world (Finland, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, France and Vermont), all visiting for a variety of reasons.  We met and had lunch with a lovely couple from Brazil, talked with young people from France and chatted with a few smattering of native Londoners, as we safaried through the streets and neighborhoods of London.

Tilbury Lodge
Oxford UK
From London, we traveled to Oxford, where our hosts Stephan (a native South African) and Melanie (a native of Oxford) welcomed us to their home with comfort, humor and great recommendations.  Oxford, for me, was a place that grabbed at my heart.  Its like Madison on history steroids and a tad less reactionary.   I was in awe of everything around me and marveled at how 1000 year old relics stand side by side with modernity.   There was a church choir rehearsing for its Easter services and even though I could not find the entrance into the cathedral, I could stand outside and listen to this incredible music wafting through the evening air.  It seemed so right, and also very surreal.   We just happened to stumble on Oxford at the start of its annual Literary Festival (talk about lucky!) so it was alive with such a mix of people from all around England and other parts of the globe.   It was rainy so my dreams of a boat ride were dashed, but not to complain, since everything else we did was enchanting.

Grayingham Lodge
Northorpe Lincolnshire UK
After reluctantly leaving Oxford, we headed north to Lincolnshire and a small B&B in Northorpe called Grayingham Lodge.  It is a 200 year old working sheep farm, that has been in the same family all those years.  They were in the middle of lambing season, which made for quite the table talk.  Our hosts, Jane and Peter became fast friends and we delighted in hearing the history of Grayingham Farm.  Since the purpose for our visit to this less frequented by tourist part of England was a bit of a pilgrimage back to my roots, we had wonderful discussions about life in Lincolnshire at the time my relatives were still present.  Turns out the line I was researching just had a family reunion of some 250 decedents of the Ward line in Lincolnshire.   We were able to walk the streets of my ancestors, visit the church where many generations were married, christened and buried and experience modern life in the small market town of Louth.  Their homes still stand, most of which the exterior is unchanged and talked with locals whose families had been there as long, if not longer than my family.   Their gggrandfathers were peers and possibly friends of mine.  That sense of belonging and connection to history is a feeling that many of us here in the US have a difficult time connecting with.   I was sad to leave this town of rolling hills and rivers and forests and truly lovely people.

Britten House
Lowestoft Suffolk UK
We then traveled to the cost of Suffolk, Lowestoft and spent our final days in England at the seaside.  This B&B was the childhood home and place of birth for the composer Benjamin Britten.    The weather was wonderful, the sun shone all but one day and the temperature was perfect.

No matter where we traveled, whether it was to walk the ruins of castles of our ancestors, or to put our feet in the sand of a sunny beach area, the people we met along the way added to the beauty of England. I must admit that I long for the day when I can see again, wild daffodils blooming on the side of an English country roadside.

We feel very blessed that we were able to have such enriching experiences both history and with the people of England.