Category Archives: Aware and Peaceful

Spring at Davidson Lake!

Spring at Davidson Lake

Today, the woods are
full of chattering
avian architects and Romeos,
building nests,
broadcasting songs
to seduce mates, and
exchanging threats
from the tree tops
as they work
warning other
avian flyers away.
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Mossy carpets bask in
bright sunshine
soon to dim
when Summer’s
leaf canopy blooms.
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Canoes rest upended
awaiting passengers
to fill their empty shells,
paddling to hidden beaches
for romance and play.
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At the edge of the woods,
grass blooms in
darker green hues
long absent in Winter.
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Hardy dandelions surge
to gain ground
while they can
and try to stake
their claim.
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A volunteer pine
tree begins its
long climb to the sky.
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An exercise station
on the fitness trail
awaits the arrival
of local denizens
with healthy-me resolutions.
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A sunny day,
a gentle breeze,
a calm lake,
and a lone traveler
just sitting and dreaming
of yester-Springs.

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Sue Marquis Bishop 2014

“Homeless Jesus”: Is it Art and What does it Mean?

THE CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING THE INSTALLATION OF A NEW ART PIECE in the lakeside town of Davidson, is creating quite a stir that has grabbed attention in the national and international news. I’m reminded of the saying, “Art is in the eye of the beholder.” I don’t know who said this first, but it has the ring of an eternal truth.

DAVIDSON IS A COLLEGE TOWN, home of Davidson College, and situated on Lake Norman, 20 minutes North of Charlotte, North Carolina. Davidson has been described as reminiscent of the small town America of Rockwell paintings, with tree lined streets and well kept homes with sidewalks, bike paths and green spaces, and a main street with places to park in front of stores and restaurants… Toast, the Soda Shop, antique shops, and more.

WE MOVED TO a rented townhome in Davidson a few weeks ago, after we sold our home in Charlotte, while we look for our new home as “empty nesters”. I was interested in seeing the Homeless Jesus sculpture for myself that was causing such different reactions.

The Homeless Jesus Sculpture was the creation of Timothy P. Schmalz, a Canadian sculpter. His larger-than-life sculptures are displayed in various places in the world. He has created bronze sculptures honoring military families, firefighters and a memorial to the 911 tragedy. One statue stands in front of the Santo Spirito Hospital in Rome. He is working on a 100 foot sculpture of St. Patrick to be given as a gift to Ireland from North America. The details and stories depicted in his sculptures are riveting, and it’s hard to look away.

I HAD NO TROUBLE finding St. Albans Episcopal Church, where the sculpture was on display, as it was only a few blocks away. The stately church is located in a quiet area of town tucked into landscape in the midst of tree-lined streets and well-kept townhomes and single family homes with sidewalks.

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AS I APPROACHED, I saw several park benches at the edge of the church’s property beside the sidewalk, beckoning walkers to sit and rest.

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ALTHOUGH THE AFTERNOON SUN had moved to shade the benches, it appeared one bench was occupied. (The media reported one passerby called the police, thinking it was a homeless person on the bench.)

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I PARKED THE CAR AT THE CURB and walked to the park bench with the now visible reclining sculpture.

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I noticed the space at the end of the bench, room for one person to sit down beside the sculpture.

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I recalled the picture of Pope Francis with his hand on the sculpture. (View on Schmalz ‘ web site: sculpturebytps.com)

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The feet clearly showed the nail holes, signaling that this creation of bronze was meant to be a depiction of a sleeping Jesus.

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THE CONTROVERSY.
Some of the naysayers disliking the sculpture said it should be in a private garden, or at least placed away from the front of the church. One neighbor interviewed on TV commented that “Jesus was not homeless,”, and said it was not appropriate to represent him that way. Some neighbors consider the sculpture to be sacrilegious.

Some appreciate the beauty and skill of the bronze sculpture of the Homeless Jesus, focusing on the workmanship. Others are forcefully reminded of the story and societal mandate to give back to others in need. Still others sit at the end of the bench and pray, laying their right hand gently on the bronze leg of the sleeping Jesus statue.

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My own thinking is that we need art to expand our humanity, as much as we need science to expand our knowledge. Art can tell us a story, stir our emotions and challenge our thoughts. If art can do this, maybe it will make us think about what we really do feel and believe…(no matter our differences in ethnicity, geography or spiritual beliefs), as well as what contributions we can make to each other…and to the world. MAYBE.

Sue Marquis Bishop 2014

Winter Beauty: Sculptures All Around

WINTER SENTINELS

Black trees on the hill
like sentinels anchored to the land
stretch on tip-toes,
reaching Hedra-like arms and
slender fingers stripped bare
toward winter skies,
their strong trunks
holding the line – unmoving.
Do they dance out of formation
when no one is looking?

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Black trees on the hill,
hidden from view
in fog swirling
’round their feet.
Rooted in earth,
they bring me comfort,
standing bare
against storm  and stress –
sometimes for lifetimes.

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Black trees on the hill,
dressed in winter white
sprinkled with sparkling crystals,
divert my attention
from winter grays.
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Black trees on the hill
take my breath away
in winter,
seeing their naked sculptural forms
spread without embarrassment
against the Carolina blue sky.

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Black trees on the hill
stand tall in formation,
while the last ray of sun
fades from view,
never waving rudely for
the sun to hurry away.

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MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME to appreciate the beauty of trees at each season of the year. On my daily walks, I notice the trees and their relationship to the sky and land – and I always think of Mom.

THIS WIRE SCULPTURE of a winter tree is a favorite of mine that graced the hall table of my dear mother-in-law Nora’s home – and now resides in mine, sharing its beauty and memories.

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Sue Marquis Bishop 2013

Writing Holiday Poems by the Fire- 1, 2,3: Just for Fun

I have been playing around today writing short 1-2-3 poems about the holidays – just for fun. Please join me by adding yours to be enjoyed by others during this holiday season. Anyone can do it… It’s only three lines – one word, two words and then three, to express a thought about the holiday season.

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The
blessings of
Thanksgiving are now.

Hugs
mend hearts
and enrich lives.

Family
reminds us
we aren’t alone.

Shopping
makes me
a hungry debtor.

Gratitude
for life
warms my heart.

How
many friends
are you bringing!

Just
one roaring
fire fuels romance.

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So
many Santas
in this town!

We
always receive
a new nightgown!

My
Christmas wish
has come true.

I
wanted laughter
spilling from you.

Christmas
is coming
ready or not.

Reward
is in
the gifts given.

Wanting
peace on
earth is universal.

Is
creating peace
on earth impossible?

Sun
on snow
makes crystalline stars.

Pumpkin
pie tastes
like grandma’s house.

Family
life can
sometimes be chaotic.

Belonging
is the
best Christmas gift.

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Faith
brings something
bigger than me.

A
family that
sings together rocks.

Christmas
trees carry
glitter and memories.

A
child’s giggle
peals joy and mirth.

Thank
you for
my life’s blessings.

Silent
Night, Holy
Night…quiet night.

Sue Marquis Bishop 2013

PLEASE ADD YOUR OWN 1-2-3 POEMS FOR OTHERS TO ENJOY.

A Message for Christmas: The Gift of Happiness

ARE YOU A CLIPPER TOO? I occasionally clip an article or note, from a news source or research article, that I want to read again, or share with someone else. Three years ago, I clipped an article from the “Charlotte Observer” (Dec 18, 2010), that delivered a positive and powerful message – especially for the Christmas season. I shared it with a friend that I thought might find it particularly meaningful. This holiday season, the message merits repeating, as we engage in a whirlwind of activities in the build-up to Christmas. The author is Lynne Hinton, minister and author. She has graciously given permission to re-print her message as a post on the blog, Womenlivinglifeafter50.com. Thank you Lynne.

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THERE IS A LINE FROM A MOVIE that I can’t get out of my head. One character, a light-hearted woman, is trying to encourage her friend, a more melancholy character. They are on vacation together. After a few days, she tells her solemn friend to be joyful, because good things are coming her way. Her friend replies, “That’s easy for you to say; you have the gift of happiness.”

BEFORE SEEING THE FILM, I never really thought of some people having a gift of happiness, while others do not. I see now the truth of it. There are some folks who just seem to have the gift of joy and lightness of being, while it appears that the rest of us have to work to be happy. I know this, because I am more of a “glass half-empty” kind of person. I don’t come by my joy easily. It takes work – spiritual and emotional discipline – for me to be happy.

AS THE HOLIDAYS APPROACH, I have been thinking about the gifts I will give and receive that I hope will bring pleasure to my friends and family. We always want our presents to be enjoyed by our loved ones. Aren’t we looking for that present of happiness so we can buy it, wrap it up, tie a big red ribbon around it, and hide it under the tree?

PERHAPS THERE IS ANOTHER WAY TO LOOK AT GIFT-GIVING this year. Perhaps the best gift we can give to those we love, is to do the work, so we can become people of joy. If you think about it, happy people are much more fun to be around then miserable people.

I’M NOT SUGGESTING selfishness. I’m not promoting spending the money we were going to spend on others on ourselves. I am suggesting that we make the effort to be the people that others want to be around. I am suggesting that the best gift we might give away, is finding and fostering our own emotional health.

WHEN WE ARE HEALTHY AND WHOLE, hopeful and joyful, we give happiness away. And when that happens, others often make the same kind of decisions for themselves.

WHEN WE SEE HAPPY PEOPLE, we want to be happy people.

BE A PERSON OF JOY. Give yourself, and those who love you, the gift that will matter most. BE HAPPY.

Come Walk With Me in November

COME WITH ME on a two mile walk on the Greenway – and on a short cut back home.

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Entrance to Greenway
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WE GREET SEVERAL WALKERS, although it’s early for the late afternoon walkers. Everyone we pass waves and smiles, and some stop to chat briefly – such is the way in the South. We meet so many interesting folks this way.

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THE LEAVES RUSTLE like twisting saran wrap and we leave the path to walk among them. My husband says it reminds him of childhood memories of Rice Krispies – snap, crackle, pop.

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WE PASS SEVERAL PEOPLE on bicycles. We decide to bring our bicycles next time for a real workout.

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WE EXIT THE GREENWAY to our shortcut street back home (This leg of the greenway continues on for 15 miles.)

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WE MEET A COLLEGE STUDENT walking her new puppy. The dog’s name is Tansy and is a rescue dog from one of the Native American reservations out West. I remember reading about the great need to adopt dogs since the economy has been struggling. Many families in America and Europe have been forced to give up their pet animals (dogs, and even horses) because they could no longer afford to feed them.

WE NOTE THAT THE COLOR OF THE DOG’S FUR appears to match exactly the beautiful red hair of his mistress. We comment about it and she laughs – “I know,” she says. (Sorry, she didn’t want her picture taken.)

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AS WE APPROACH THESE TREES, they remind me of candles lit from within and burning bright – or multi-color pom poms at a football game. I don’t know what kind of trees they are, but I call them candle trees when we see them on our walk.

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A LONELY SCARECROW left over from Halloween keeps vigil over his family’s house.

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Almost back home.
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HOME AGAIN, I work on menus for Thanksgiving – as I enjoy a slice of pumpkin bread and hot tea.

Sue Marquis Bishop 2013

WHAT COULD BE A BETTER TIME-OUT THAN A WALK? DO YOU AGREE?

Finding Your Own Personal Retreat

EVERYONE NEEDS A PERSONAL RETREAT.  My experiences in living, and my work as a family therapist, tell me how important it is to maintain a healthy life. A retreat is just as important to us in our life after 50, as it was in our overloaded earlier years when we were competing our education, were young mothers or establishing a career. 

THE WORD RETREAT has many meanings in everyday language.  Websters Dictionary defines “retreat” as a verb: to leave, quit, withdraw – words with negative connotations.  Other definitions of retreat as a noun include: asylum, den, haunt, haven, hideway, privacy, refuge, sanctuary, shelter – words of more appeal and comfort.  Developmental psychologists teach that our more senior years are a time of reflection and consolidation, a time of taking stock and giving back.  I view this time of life as a time to set new goals and to take pleasure in the blessings of my life as it unfolds.  Having a special retreat can facilitate the process of rest, reflection and well-being.

MY OWN DREAM FOR A RETREAT has always been a cabin in the mountains.  I was born in West Virginia, and my husband in Kentucky, two states with beautiful mountains, so  we both feel nostalgic about being in the mountains.  One Fall day, 10 years ago, we found our mountain cottage on a drive into the North Carolina mountains.  Our cabin is on the side of the mountain about 3400 feet elevation.  The expansive view of the Black mountain range and the valley far below is visible from the screen porch, kitchen, dining room and living room.  We spent limited time here until we retired from academic life to pursue new interests.  We are now able to stay on extended visits.
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IN THE SPRING AND SUMMER,  the woods come to life with rhododendron, dogwood and other mountain flowers, and new green on thousands of trees.
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  In Fall, the mountains are transformed as the trees slow production of their chlorophyll and the leaves wave their many colors.  We see mountain creatures and birds wander around in their natural habitat.  In October, sounds of chain saws are heard in the distance as wood is cut and stockpiled for burning in the fireplace in Winter- for folks who live there all year.
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In November, the scent of pine is in the air as Frazier fir, cedar and pine trees are harvested for Christmas trees and bundled in trucks for transport to the cities.The early fog shrouds the mountains as we sip coffee in the morning.  
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In this little house, we feel close to nature and to each other.  And, I might add,  more open and self-aware.  Here, in our retreat, we stop, rest, create, laugh, reflect, plan – and spend time together. 

PERHAPS EACH PERSON NEEDS A PERSONAL RETREAT, a place to go that is meaningful – a space of our own. 
MY PROFESSOR BROTHER’S retreat is his sail boat, where he enjoys alone time to read, write and sail.  He says he feels free and in touch with his surroundings and his creative self on the water. 
MY BROTHER-IN-LAW’s retreat is a motor home.  He and his wife take to the roasd finding a new location near a lake or the ocean to park for a spell to relax and make new friends.  
MY SISTER HAS CREATED a comfortable retreat in the corner of her bedroom to read and make her to-do lists.  Her chair has a soft afghan, and sets beside  a small table with room for a couple of books and her journal and a floral china cup with a dainty handle for her coffee. 

A COUPLE I KNOW HAVEFOUND WAYS to carve out a personal retreats for each of them – he heads to his woodworking shop and she to her sewing niche for some time alone to work and think.
A MOTHER OF THREE tells me she has an old rocking chair on the back porch she goes to when she needs to get away for a few minutes. She says even five minutes rocking with her head back and her eyes closed is a mini vacation for her.
A SENIOR CITIZEN who is a recent widow, takes a daily walk in the park. She greets other walkers, enjoys the fresh air and the changing seasons.
A BUSY ARCHITECT says he takes a drive alone in the car in the rural countryside for about 30 minutes to clear his head, after a busy day.
MY DEAR CHINESE FRIEND has created a meditation room in her house – the room is empty except for a yoga mat, candles, flowers, Buddha statue and music.
A RETIRED NEIGHBOR says that her time alone in her garden pulling weeds and touching plants helps her “sort things out.” 

I ASKED SEVERAL FOLKS, In an unscientific survey,  about their choices of a place to get away and what it did for them. The common thread in their experiences was that each individual had found a way to “lose themselves” for a time  – an intermission, so to speak, before re-joining their lives, refreshed.  Their retreats enabled them to recharge, find the resolve to manage a difficult situation, problem-solve, forgive, brainstorm, meditate, create, rest, develop and action plan, set goals, get in touch with their optimism, appreciate their life’s blessings – and find their joy for life deep inside.

WHAT IS YOUR RETREAT?  WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU? 

 

   

Sue Marquis Bishop 2013