April News from the Ridge!
Yes, those of you who visit my online home for new conversations on Tuesdays (or any day of the week), are my family of readers as well as honored guests. I've missed chatting with you the last couple weeks. In coming weeks we’re going to tackle some tough topics such as ageism, childbirth losses, and betrayal.
But first, some lighter news!
As I write, I’ve positioned my laptop so I can watch our rural road for signs of a minivan motoring up the mountain filled with precious cargo. Our daughter’s family is driving down from the Northeast to spend spring break with us.
April is a prime month for hiking in the Smokies, and the kids – now 7, 4, and nearly two – have hiked since they were infants in frontpacks. I’ve just purchased a guide to wildflowers in the Carolinas, and we are eager to pull on our boots and hit the trails today to search for Eastern Beardtongue and Scarlet Bee Balm, Heartwing Sorrel and Solomon’s Seal. Maybe we’ll even spot my personal favorites: Jack-in-the-Pulpit (who was Jack anyway?), and the delicate pink Lady’s Slipper.
I didn’t post the past two weeks as we were in Massachusetts helping our oldest son’s family rehab the rental side of a duplex they just moved into. As always, it was a pleasure to fly Southwest and guess what? You can remove your mask when consuming your bevs and snacks! (I made mine last all the way to Boston).
The day before we left, the Commonwealth of MA lifted its quarantine requirement for visitors who are fully vaccinated. Just a year ago, no one knew for sure we’d even have a vaccine for this terrible virus that has claimed over half a million American lives. I have volunteered at a couple of all-day county vaccination clinics held at our local Fairgrounds. We were able to protect over a thousand residents each day! It was a thrill to meet so many grateful people.
As part of the registration team, my job was to take arrivals through a series of screening questions. When I asked one elderly gentleman whether he’d ever had Covid -19, his response was: “What’s that? Never heard of it.” He was completely serious. He had driven over simply because he knew some sort of shots were being given for free.
As we say here in the South, bless his heart.
Have you been lonely lately? This past year has been extremely difficult for loved ones in nursing or assisted care facilities who don't have access to a computer, smartphone or tablet.
For the rest of us, video chats have helped bridge the gap and connect us with friends and family we otherwise would not see.
On Monday nights, I catch up with seven friends from my former small group back in the Midwest. Tuesday afternoons are for Bible study with women from my local church, and our Life group meets via Zoom on Tuesday nights. Wednesday mornings I meet for an hour focused on scripture, prayer, and wellness with other writer friends across the country through First Place for Health, and every third Sunday afternoon I video-chat with three of my closest friends from college.
This year of enforced isolation has actually served to bring us all closer.
As much as many of us are a bit zoomed out after a year of virtual lockdown, I have been so grateful for opportunities to make new long-distance friends via video-chat.
Canadian author Karen Stiller and I recorded a series of Zoom chats about ministry life after our books released on the same day, and we still check in on each other nearly a year later. I began to follow the posts of Cheryl Bostrom, a brilliant nature photographer and writer in the Pacific Northwest, and she’s asked me to join her as a conversation partner when she does media interviews for her novel releasing this coming summer.
Perhaps most delightful of all, a lovely young woman named Amber reached out to me on Instagram to tell me that she was hosting a weekly Girlfriend Gathering on Friday nights with her mama, sisters, cousins, granny, and aunt to discuss This Life We Share!
I was so touched that I asked to meet them, and we spent a wonderful Friday evening together. I love these girls from Texas and Tennessee and hope to reconnect with them again soon.
As a born introvert, moving forward into others’ lives has not always been easy, but my life has been so enriched by you, my friends and family of readers.
If you find it awkward to reach out to establish new friendships, perhaps this prayer will help you:
“I know this about myself, O Lord:
You have created me
as one who best flourishes
with daily rhythms of solace
and long moments
for quiet reflection.
When I find myself instead
in noisy, crowded spaces
amidst constant social interactions,
my energies are soon depleted,
and I am left feeling inadequate
[But] you have not called me to insulate my heart from others,
or from the discomfort I might feel in the
presence of acquaintances and strangers.
You have called me instead to learn to love
by my small actions and choices,
those whose paths I cross,
moment to moment, in all settings…
Give me grace therefore, O God, to love others,
To move toward them when my instinct is to run…
You call me simply to love,
even in my own bumbling way.
Somehow use my very weakness, O God,
In the service of your kingdom.” – taken from Every Moment Holy, Douglas McKelvey
Holding each of you in my beloved online family in my thoughts today with so much love.
Until next week!
Copyright 2021, Maggie Wallem Rowe