Nature’s Balm

Sharing words of inspiration during our time at home in April, National Poetry Month.

Walden Pond, Concord, MA

The Peace of Wild Things
by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water,
and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

An Angel Named Ginny

You never know where an angel may appear. I didn’t know what kind of reception I’d get for my memoir, Jimmy and Me. After publication, I spent a year promoting the book at local events and libraries and attending book club meetings.

My friend Peggy graciously hosted me at her book club near the town in Pennsylvania where I grew up. The 20 members gave me a warm reception and asked insightful questions.

A couple of months later, one member named Ginny contacted me to say she was an avid Philadelphia Flyers fan just like my dear brother Jimmy who has special needs. She asked for his address and said she wanted to send him hockey swag.

Shortly thereafter, Jimmy opened a box filled with Flyers t-shirts, hats, a signed puck, a variety of other goodies, and a personal note from Ginny. He called me to share his excitement and expressed a sense of wonder that someone he’s never met sent gifts related to his beloved Flyers.

I’m still in awe of the kindness of someone who came to know Jimmy only by reading about him. Never did I imagine my words would impact a reader who’d feel an urge to do something to bring my brother joy in his mid-60s.

Ginny’s selfless act reminds me why writing the book was worthwhile and it far surpasses any public recognition I could receive.


College in One Day

Imagine going to college without worrying about term papers or exams. You can do it like I did recently at One Day University.

Colleges around the country host professors from premier universities to speak about science, literature, history, art, and many other subjects. These award-winning professors consistently garner the highest ratings by students.

I attended a 4-hour program at Tufts University titled “A Day of Genius.” Three dynamic and captivating professors spoke about:

  • The Scientific Genius of Marie Curie
  • The Restless Genius of Benjamin Franklin
  • The Literary Genius of Shakespeare

The lectures were informational and entertaining and left me feeling energized.

If you seek educational enrichment, consider going to college for a day in a nearby city.

Celebrating Best Buddies

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Best Buddies International, a remarkable organization that unites volunteers and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) for one-on-one friendships. Their mission is to promote inclusive living through advocacy, employment, and personal and social relationships.

My daughters became Best Buddies in high school because they were inspired by the unique abilities of their uncle. Now in their twenties, I admire the compassion and patience they have for people with different abilities, and especially for my brother who enriches our family every day. Whether we’re working on a jigsaw puzzle together or chatting about golf, Jimmy reminds me how lucky I am to be his sister.

There are plenty of ways to get involved with Best Buddies. Find a program near you.

Jimmy is a wizard with jigsaw puzzles, showing deep concentration and persistence. He taught me to solve problems by looking at them from different angles.

The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia

Reading literature is “an exercise in empathy,” says Sofia Segovia, author of The Murmur of Bees.

This rang true for me while reading the novel. The setting is early 20th century Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. A wealthy landowner and his family struggle with the Spanish flu pandemic and civil war while trying to protect their land. When they rescue a baby boy abandoned at birth, they see past his facial deformities to his unique abilities that inspire and help the family.

Beautifully written (although at times a bit slow) here are passages where I empathized the most.

“In her world, a woman took her parents’ home with her wherever she went: to school, on a foreign voyage, on honeymoon, to bed with her husband, to the birth of her child, to the table each day to teach her children good posture and good manners, and–she believed–she would even take them to her deathbed. In her world, a woman never left her parents behind, even when the parents left her.”

“ . . . you leave a place or say goodbye to someone, and thereafter, you feel the existence you have left behind is frozen by your absence.”

” . . . she would never lose the now-gentler grief that she felt at her father’s absence.”

“At my age, one realizes that time is a cruel and fickle master, for the more you want it, the faster it appears to vanish, and vice versa: the more you want to escape it, the more stagnant it becomes.”

“I didn’t see the defect or any reason to be shocked. I saw only my brother, and I loved him.”

“The empty hours of the night do not pass unnoticed, because in their unrelenting cruelty, they do not allow one to rest; they force one to think, and they demand a great deal. Because it is at night that fear is most frightening, yes, but it is also when sorrow becomes deeper and one regrets what one did or did not do more. It is in the deepest darkness that one sees things most clearly.”

“Contrary to what I had believed, what I came searching for isn’t here, strewn among these ashlar stones. It was never here, because it was always in me . . . “

” . . . he reminded me how important it was to listen. To listen to what life sometimes murmurs into your ear, heart, or gut.”

Thank you, Sofia Segovia.