Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thank You, Thank You Very Much

As Thanksgiving approaches, we are reminded how much we have to be thankful for. So many of our guests visit us while they are celebrating - birthdays, anniversaries, time together, raises, promotions, successful surgeries, retirement, end of treatments. We also have had several that have shared that the trip to Lancaster County might be their last trip together. Each year at this time, it's easy to remember to be grateful for the big things in life - the love of the people around us, our health, our communities, fulfilling work; but sometimes the little things go unnoticed.
We recently had two different guests, both from California, that reminded me of some of the things that we take for granted. While we may long for southern California weather at times, these guests came to Lancaster County to visit the beauty here. Mimi asked me for some wax paper so that she could collect the different kinds of brilliant colored leaves that were covering most of the grass in our yard. While I do love the fall for the show that the trees put on all around us, I haven't collected leaves since it was a gradeschool project.
Last week, Laura marveled at seeing her first snowflake - she always wondered if they were really different. Our rare first snowfall just before Thanksgiving provided her a close-up look at these little miracles. Such gifts of nature are all around us, we don't have to work for them, seek them out at some shopping mall or stand in line to purchase them.
On this Thanksgiving, as we are bombarded by the onslaught of the Christmas rush, I'm grateful to these guests for pointing out the little things....in the words of Elvis, "Thank you, Thank you very much".

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Wonderful Way To Start Each Day

My favorite way to begin each day in Lancaster County is with a 2-3 mile walk through the countryside, just after dawn. I can step outside of Terre Hill in any direction and find myself surrounded by farmland (and cows).

Having Old Amish and Mennonites as neighbors is truly a blessing. The quiet, uncluttered lifestyle their communities practice keeps them in constant touch with the natural world, in tune with the deeper, spiritual rhythms of life. You can't help but be transformed by their example, because they're daily reminders of what's most important in life: God first, community second, self third.

You even see this in action on the school playground. We have five one-room schoolhouses in our neighborhood. Whenever I see the children at recess (and they seem to be always at recess), the older kids are usually looking after the younger ones. The teaching of compassion and caring starts young.

Cows have lessons to teach us as well. As I approach them along the roadside during my walks, they lock their gaze on me, full of curiosity, and continue to stare as I walk past. But once I've moved beyond them, they immediately go about their grazing and grooming--as if I'd never been there.

Cows keep me humble.

Posted by Bruce