High humidity and stifling heat on this July afternoon begins to urge me to dream of the month ahead. I admit it! I love late August days even more because they signify the approaching end of summer.
When nights become cooler I’ll begin to forget the predictable, unrelenting steamy days and nights of July. Temperature readings by mid-August will drop down into the 50s. I’ll open the windows; feel the cool breeze move through the familiar old house. July’s humidity and stuffiness will be swept away from the house and my thoughts when I begin to sense the shift of a quickly approaching change of seasons. My senses begin to stir my imagination today. There is something brewing in the atmosphere as I stand in the mid-day sunshine and look at the landscape all around me. I see every imaginable hue of green. Is it a sort of nervousness and anticipation for…what? I cannot readily say. But I get excited and anxious for the coming of August every year.
Last night I lay in my bed, listening to the soothing insect sounds drifting upwards to my open window. Unseen creatures sounded like the tuxedo-clad musicians I have listened to as they tuned their instruments before the concert began to play. Right now, it is night songs that I hear coming from below the window. The sounds blend into a nocturnal symphony, a cacophony of a summer serenade. In my meandering thoughts, I wonder if perhaps it was on a night like this one that Mozart had the first inklings of a tune that would become “Eine Kleine Nauchtmusik.” I paused for a moment and shifted my thoughts to the sounds of that familiar music.
Our century-old home is located on a ridge overlooking an ancient, winding creek that meanders for fifty miles through western Pennsylvania. People from this area call it “The Connie.” Its actual name is the Connoquenessing creek. The arrival of people, who settled eventually in the Village of Wurtemburg, began arriving in America in the early 1700s. That is the time period when settlers from this area traveled to Germanic lands to recruit artisans to come to America and settle here. They needed skilled workers for the settlements and for over one-hundred years Germans were recruited to come to Pennsylvania. Skilled crafts and tradesmen were necessary for the survival of the settlements. My own ancestors were recruited during that one-hundred year period and arrived on ships that landed in Philadelphia. When descendants of the first Germanic people begin to do research they are often quite surprised to discover some of their ancestors married Indians who were already living in this area during the 18th Century. The Connie has been an axis of our own community history for generations. As is true for all people, we are forever tinged with history and that history is a part of our present day lives. The Connie is part of our shared communal memoir.
In the summer time, the Connie comes alive with the voices and sounds of the local “Crick Culture.” That’s what Western Pennsylvania people call it. We find that different activities take place during each season along The Connie. And here is where my own life story converges with the flowing waters of The Connie.
Kayaking begins in earnest in late winter as soon as the ice begins to dissipate. Hearty enthusiasts will continue to ride the rapids through the summer days in into the fall season. The Connie’s whitewater rapids provide the perfect setting for a swift course for kayakers to perfect their skills. Often, a slollum line will be threaded back and forth across the creek and the brave kayakers will spend the weekend honing skills when the water is high and fast. Here is where they can learn how to avoid rocks and dangerous areas to complete the course. Later, they will move on to the most dangerous waters of West Virginia.
On summer nights I can hear people laughing from down below the ridge. People arrive at the “crick” in the late evening, in the twilight, just before it gets dark. They park their cars or trucks under the old trees. Generations of local people come to spend the night fishing. I often watch as they pull out their gear. They bring coolers and jugs, flashlights, buckets of worms, fishing poles, nets, and blankets. Most of them wear baseball caps. One by one, they quietly scramble down the steep, rocky path that leads to the deep water below. This is the place where another creek, the Slippery Rock Creek, converges with The Connie. We local folks refer to this part of the creek as, “the point.” Many myths are perpetuated about the depth of the waters at the Point, and the terrible whirlpools that lie hidden beneath the placid surface. It is here at the Point, where the night time fishermen like to come to spend the night in hopes of taking home fresh fish for breakfast. On a still night, I hear them talking softly off in the distance. Their voices merge with the insect concert.
In childhood memories my father and I are in the back yard behind our home in the foothills. I still live in the valley between the steep hills. Like most of the steelworkers in our village, my father loved to go fishing in the Connie. In the darkness of a sweltering summer night, I helped him find earth worms. His steelworker’s helmet had a strange yellow light on the front of it. I smelled the acrid smoke, heard it sizzle and sputter as we bent over the dark ground. We poured mustard water down into the little tunnels where the earthworms lived. In just a few seconds, a worm came to the surface seeking fresh air and we grabbed that earthworm, dipped it into a bucket of clean, warm water to rinse the mustard off of it. Finally, we put our captured worms into Dad’s metal pail with the holes in the sides. He had put dirt into the pail before we went searching for the worms. We turned over rocks and found creepy creatures hiding under them. Dad called them helgramites and they made me shiver when I looked at them.
Throughout my childhood, The Connie was the place where we went swimming as soon as spring arrived. But, The Connie can be treacherous after a day of rainfall. On such a spring day in early May, I ventured into the raging water in a swimming place called, “Mitchell’s.” I only had to take a couple of strokes to reach the big rock and that was my intention when I plunged into the water. Instantly, I was swept away from the big rock. An older boy was at the creek swimming that day and he was a lifeguard. Somehow, he grabbed my hair and pulled me to the rocky shore. There is no doubt in my mind that my life would have ended in The Connie that day if the other swimmer had not been there. I, too, would have been one of the unfortunate victims of The Connie. While The Connie is beautiful and refreshing, she is also vicious and raging at times.
Nearly every summer there have been accidents on the banks of the Connie near my home. We know when we hear the ambulance arriving in this area, they are most likely going to find that someone has drowned in The Connie, or at least been injured. I often wonder how many people have lost their lives in The Connie and I say a prayer of “thanks” for my own rescue when I was fifteen years old.
Our children grew up beside The Connie, too. In their adult years they often relate stories of their own experiences and mishaps and they usually have many tales to reminisce about their childhood swimming and floating excursions in inner tubes down the creek on hot days.
Not only was The Connie my favorite place to explore in warm weather, it was also my first encounter with ice skating. We carried a broom to the creek and swept off a large area to remove the snow from the icy surface. Even with such careful preparations, it was a rough and uneven place to skate. That never mattered though, and there were many winter days when we walked on the ice for miles. The Connie snapped and crackled as we walked on her surface but we never even considered that we might fall into the water or even something worse.
By the end of June, the banks along The Connie are changing rapidly in their appearance. Early July is when the foliage looks soft and fragile looking with the first blooms of the Queen Anne’s lace and some varieties of sweetly scented bushes with tender little white flowers.
I stop to take a deep breath, smell those flowers, and watch the tiny bees gathering all around them. It’s like looking at a whole world of mysteries, to look into those delicate flowers. The most elegant flower gardens in this world are the ones planted by the birds and bees, and growing wild and free along the roadsides and meadows. Here is where we find the glory of nature. This, surely, is what the first inhabitants in the Garden of Eden must have experienced. Breathtaking beauty!
M y favorite sight in August is the Queen Ann Lace mingled with the periwinkle blue flowers of Chicory. The two wild flowers grow together along all the roads in early August. I take my camera outside so I can capture the beauty of these disorderly flowers. I remember the fields of these uncultivated flowers long after they disappear for the winter.
Oh, I should let you know, Queen Ann Lace is my favorite flower because of the delicate tiny flowers clustered on thin, celadon green stems. The flowers seem to float in space and ride the soft wafts of the August breeze. Fragile lace blossoms dance in the fragrant afternoon air. The white blossoms of the Queen Ann Lace contrast with the sturdier chicory flowers. Chicory resembles a daisy with petals branching outward from around, dark, center. Each Chicory bloom has little oval petals that come to a tip that looks like someone snipped it off, flat, with zig-zag pinking shears. The brilliant blue color of the Chicory seems to pop out from among the white Queen Ann Lace in full bloom side by side with Chicory. When I see the Chicory begin to bloom, I know that the season will soon be changing to autumn.
And, it always seems that it won’t be long before I’ll be shuffling my feet through the colored leaves on my daily walks through the woods, along the Connie. My thoughts drift to the stories my father told me about his Indian grandmother. I stop and look around through the woods, and down to the white-water creek. Some days my spirit calls out to her as I look around in this same rural world that she lived in, too. Often, I have a keen insight while walking along The Connie. I step slowly over layers and generations of my family members. I ask myself, “Am I an overlay from past generations of people who lived in this place?” I realize their presence because they surround me. I can feel them. Today, I asked my grandmother, “Did your feet walk on this path, too?”
Copyright, July 9, 2016. Lynda McKinney Lambert. All rights reserved.
Lynda McKinney Lambert is a Christian author, blogger, visual artist. She is the author of the book of essays and poetry, “Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage” by Kota Press. She is a retired Professor of Fine Arts and Humanities from Geneva College, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.
Lynda earned BFA and MFA degrees in Fine Arts; MA in English Literature. She has traveled and taught courses in writing and art, internationally.
Lynda specializes in writing poetry and creative non-fiction. Currently she has three books in development for publication in late-2016 and 2017. Her stories, essays and poems appear in many anthologies and literary magazines.
Pennsylvania Spring The final week of May in Pennsylvania Photos from my early morning walk. Rhododendrum is a STAR at this time of year. Look for it in shady places, forests and woodlands. Delicate PHLOX is now SHOWING in the woods and fields all around Western Pennsylvania. Don’t miss […]
I am listening to Christmas music as I write. I love to listen to the great songs that are a celebration of a miraculous event – the birth of Jesus.
Christmas celebrations of past years linger in little snippets, layered and overlapped like Christmas melodies playing one by one. Each Christmas carol I listen to brings forth more memories and more pictures of a family member, friends, and neighbors. It also brings forth memories and pictures of our walk with the Lord over the years. The miracle of his coming into our own hearts as we turned around one day, and answered his call to “come.” I answered that call to come, forty-two years ago. My life turned around, never to be the same again. How about you?
Matthew 11:28-29New American Standard Bible (NASB)
28 “Come to Me, all [a]who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
“I Believe in Angels”
Folks often say Christmas is for children,
skating on ice, building castles of snow.
Oh, I believe Christmas is a holy birthday!
a time to sit by a warm fire, sing holiday songs.
I believe in shepherds! and angels!
and Three Kings who delivered priceless gifts.
It’s a joy to be with friends, to give gifts.
Adults once again become like children,
who look out the window to see the first snow.
The Ancients anticipated this birthday
the celebration that began with heavenly songs
when the birth of Messiah was announced by angels.
The holy birth was shared with shepherds and angels,
long before mass marketing, tinsel, and glitzy gifts,
The promised Child would heal earth’s children.
Perhaps the plains were deep with snow
on the night of His miraculous birth.
Yes, I believe in angel songs!
In the darkest winter night, listen for the songs
sung by a choir of angels.
The greatest heavenly gift
came to walk with earth’s children.
As I light the Advent wreath I look out at falling snow-
and remember the reason behind this ancient birthday.
On bleak December days, consider His birthday.
Listen in the quiet night for angel songs.
The birth of Messiah, announced by the angels,
is the reason for exchanging gifts.
I believe Christ’s birthday is truly for children
like me and you who walk in a world of wintry snow.
Every child knows the delight of playing in snow
the joy of receiving gifts in celebration of a birthday-
I believe in birthday songs!
I’m a child once again as I listen for angels
songs and remember the wise men who brought gifts.
the Anointed Gift from God – I believe in children!
*** by Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright 1991, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
I wrote the poem, “I Believe in Angels” during a difficult time in my life. I wrote it as a Christmas message and sent it out to friends and family. Even in the darkest moments of our life, when we seem to be alone, lost, or confused, Jesus is with us. I can tell you that for sure because I made a decision to follow Jesus in October 1973. I’ve had a lifetime of encounters with the Divine since that day.
May you find the truth of the Angels announcement in your own life.
Luke 2:10-11King James Version (KJV)
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Lynda McKinney Lambert is the author of “Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage” published by Kota Press. She authors two blogs on writing, the humanities, arts, and faith. She is a freelance writer and her poetry and essays appear in numerous books and literary journals. She is a retired professor of fine arts and humanities and she exhibits her fiber arts in exhibitions worldwide.
Currently, she has two books in development for publication in 2016.
You can read my three previous articles on the Symbols of Advent by clicking on the links below;
*** Link to Week 1 – The Candle of Hope at this link:
Lynda McKinney Lambert is the author of “Concerti: Psalms for the Pilgrimage” published by Kota Press. She authors two blogs on writing, the humanities, arts, and faith. She is a freelance writer and her poetry and essays appear in numerous books and literary journals. She is a retired professor of fine arts and humanities and she exhibits her fiber arts in exhibitions worldwide.
Currently, she has two books in development for publication in 2016.
Skip to Walking by Inner Vision Journal:
In 2015, Lynda wrote 30 Writing Assignments and Lessons to help you begin to write your own life sotry.
This photo of Donna W. Hill with her guide dog, Hunter in ” Glowing Mist in the Redwoods” is by Rich Hill
It was 1954. A four-year-old girl with blond banana curls was in the living room. The house was quiet. Her parents were at work; her brother and grandmother in the backyard. She felt relieved to be alone. She didn’t know, nor would she for 14 years, that she was already legally blind.
The voice startled her. She stopped breathing, her ears scanning the house. But, it wasn’t necessary. She had felt the message settle into her spirit.
“You are here to do something important involving music.”
What did it mean? She instinctively took it as an anointing from God, though one with a disquieting lack of detail.
That four-year-old was yours truly, and at sixty-five, that message still puzzles, intrigues and guides me. Initially, I assumed it meant that I was to become famous for my music. I didn’t share the experience, but I begged my parents to get me an accordion.
“You’re too small.”
Always a literalist, I was amused in second grade when — instead of the “massively-huge” accordion” — they bought me a piano . I progressed quickly, my nose on the brightly lit book, developing my memorization skills.
A Rude Awakening
Later that fall, I was selected for the Christmas concert. I was sure my ship had arrived. I was, however, wildly mistaken. I soon realized that there would be major obstacles.
“Go up to the top row of the risers.”
I was in the auditorium for our first rehearsal. I didn’t know what risers were, but I was soon on a contraption that shook and rattled with no way to steady myself. I didn’t understand how tunnel vision impacted my balance, and neither did anyone else.
Almost instantly, the director ordered me down, dismissing me from the group. She wouldn’t give me a few minutes to work it out or let me stand on the floor. The lesson wasn’t lost on me; although my voice was good enough, something more important about me wasn’t.
That spring, my teacher took my workbook away, despite my above average grades. She wasn’t comfortable watching me struggle to read. The other shoe dropped the following fall. I was placed in “Special Class,” where only first-grade large-print books awaited me. The thrust of my education was to fulfill the tiniest assignments, after which I was encouraged to play with pre-school toys.
My ophthalmologist was outraged. I was removed from “Special Class” and placed into a normal third grade class. The teacher, displeased with the placement, delighted in allowing open bullying of me and punished the girl who read me the questions from the board.
A Mission Slipping Away
By sixth grade, my vision was worsening, and piano music was far more complicated. My ability to memorize it was at a breaking point. I did what I thought any self-respecting twelve-year-old would do. I quit.
How was I supposed to interpret what I had heard in the living room? For the first (and far from the last) time, I considered the possibility that it could have merely been the ravings of a deranged mind.
In Search of a Miracle
Had God changed His mind? Or, perhaps, I needed to do something else first. If so, I knew what that was — get normal sight. It was obviously impossible to be successful without it.
Years before hearing televangelists discuss healing, I somehow knew I had to believe it would happen. Every morning for months, before I opened my eyes, I thanked God for restoring my sight, imagining the bright and detailed world that awaited me. My eyes, however, opened to dimness and confusion.
Progress and Compromise
At fourteen, I was devastated without music in my life. I asked for and received a guitar. Though I was too shy to share them, I started writing songs, beginning the inexorable link in my life between music and language.
In Junior High and High School, the bullying became more physical. The increase in work coupled with declining central vision necessitated a prioritizing of my work — literature and science were in; history and math out. Braille and recorded books were never discussed. I was legally blind in a world where it was more important to read and navigate with your eyes, regardless of how many mistakes you made, how much time it took, how sick you got or how many other things fell by the wayside, than to learn nonvisual skills.
The overt bullying stopped when I entered college. Nevertheless, I had lost the reading vision in my better eye that summer and was ill-equipped to take full advantage of the college experience. For the first time, however, I used recorded books and readers.
Reawakening the Dream
After graduation, I tried to make up the deficit. I trained with my first guide dog and learned Braille. I would pursue my dream of being a self-supporting musician — initially, as a street performer in Philadelphia’s Suburban Station.
I had my own apartment, kept an organic garden complete with a compost pile, baked whole grain bread and made everything from soup and tomato sauce to pesto and spanakopita. I started performing at schools, churches and other venues. I wanted my audiences to have a comfortable experience with a blind person and learn a bit about how we do things. I released two albums — “Rainbow Colors” and “Harvest.”
“If I had healed you back then,” said the same voice, “You would have never known that blindness didn’t have to limit you.”
While recording my third album, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After treatment, Rich and I married, and I finished the project. Just as “The Last Straw” was coming out, I found another cancerous lump. The drain on our energy and finances prompted a change in plans.
What about my mission? Had I done what I was supposed to do? Perhaps it had something to do with the many small contacts I’d had over the years. Maybe it was the man who wore out his copy of “Rainbow Colors” while recovering from an auto accident. Maybe it was one of the thousands of kids who had seen my school programs. I was well aware by then that we are all here to do something important. putting forth our best efforts and walking in love is the greatest, most difficult and most rewarding mission.
I didn’t give up. Blind people still aren’t being welcomed with open arms. Education, digital accessibility and unemployment remain major problems. I learned to use a computer with text-to-speech software to pursue another dream. In an effort to promote acceptance among the general public, my novel The Heart of Applebutter Hill was designed to allow the reader an intimate look into the mind of a blind teenager, embroiled in an exciting adventure. And, the music angle? Abigail’s a shy songwriter.
Donna’s novel The Heart of Applebutter Hill, an educator-recommended diversity and anti-bullying classroom resource for middle school and older readers, is available in print, eBook versions and accessible formats for readers with print disabilities. For more information and to follow Donna’s blog, visit:
“For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
Song of Solomon 2:11-12 ~
Patti and I walked down the old, narrow stone path on an April afternoon in the 1950s. Our pastel plaid dresses fluttered slightly in the soft afternoon breeze. We removed our cotton sweaters, draped them carelessly over our arm for the journey back home. Like most days in April in western Pennsylvania it had been raining in the morning that day. A few hours later, the day took a turn and now it had warmed up significantly since our early morning walk to school. We felt happy because there was not a rain cloud in sight as we took our time walking along our familiar path. Now we meandered at an easy pace in the opposite direction. School was over for the day and there was no reason to walk faster. We walked a short distance and then we were standing beside a large field. The aroma coming from the thick blanket of woods violets slowed us down even more as we scanned the field. In a moment, without speaking to each other, we stepped lightly between the moistened deep green leaves that flourished in thick patches of weeds and flowers. We were absorbed at the moment, bent over the deep blue-violet blossoms and reached out to gather some dainty flowers. One by one, we snapped the fragile, slender stems of the violets. While we picked our violets with our right hand, we placed each one in the grasp of our left hand. Our bear arms were hot as the late afternoon sunshine turned our pale skin bright pink. When our left had could hold no more violets, we stepped away from the field and continued our walk home where our Mother was waiting for us to return we came into the 1920s frame house through the back door with our fists full of violets, she was delighted with our small gifts. She went to her cupboard, got out two small glass jelly jars and put the bouquets in water to keep them fresh. Our floral gifts remained on the windowsill in our kitchen.
This year I set my intentions on observing small details in nature. The landscape is changing continuously.
I see crystal drops of dew on tender new leaves in the meadow. They are sprinkled with transparent silvery diamonds. Another turn, and I am walking beside a field of dewy dark green leaves with little periwinkle flowers peeking through the moisture.
I felt the velvet softness of Sumac branches. I looked at layers of last autumn’s leaves intermingled with shoots of new grass, and budding Hyacinths Along the stone walk, I observed the red stalks of Peony bushes forging upwards through the moist earth. Oh, Yes! It’s Spring!
All these thoughts bring me to think about the beauty I have seen in a kaleidoscope. The word “kaleidoscope” has Greek roots. It means “a form beautiful to see.” I am compelled to ask you…
“When is the last time you have had a kaleidoscope in your hands with one eye focused through the small round window?”
“Do you recall the vivid colors, ever-changing shapes, as you slightly moved your hand around the barrel of the kaleidoscope?”
You give it a small twist and all the shapes fall into new pictures. Hidden fragments inside the instrument create numerous symmetrical, abstract pictures. Envision the world such as you have seen in a kaleidoscope!
Could you describe what you feel as the colors dance and flow over the mirror images inside? And did you know that inside the kaleidoscope are tiny, ordinary objects such as buttons, stones, chips and fragments – every illusion you enjoyed viewing is merely a collection of ordinary little things someone gathered and put inside with mirrors set at 60 degree angles
It has been over six decades since I picked wild violets with my sister in a rural farmer’s field. I realize my faith in God still works in the same way it did when I was a child gathering God’s little presents. Just a small twist takes us to a new landscape.
Big things make headline news, are celebrated and sought after. There is no mention of the ache we have in our inner being and the feeling that something is just not right. Oh, I know that yearning that whispers from deep inside my body. Could it be that once again I have walked on that familiar pathway that led me to places where I was not called by God to be? There is always a sense of discomfort and painful stumbling blocks to be experienced when we are outside of his will or his calling, for our life. Fortunately, we can turn around, retrace our steps back to where we need to be and get our direction going once again. That is the good news – we can change direction!
Sitting in silence, being calm, listening for God’s still, small voice takes us to his glory. Small treasures surround us When I sit down and spend time alone with him, in silence, I experience transformation. I turn another bend, there is a shift in perspective, and those little gifts are reflected by the mirrored light of his countenance. I am transformed yet again, by small gifts.
God works just like that!
The longer we look at him, the more our faith grows. Each turn we take towards him opens up a new landscape that shows us insight into his character. I approach quietly. Slowly, I realized the rain has stopped. I tilted my head towards the sky, listened for the songs of the circling birds as they hover above the tall trees; it is happening again. Something new. My feet are damp from the spring shower. Just another small turn of the kaleidoscope – yes! I can see it now.
Copyright, 2015. Lynda McKinney Lambert. May 9, 2015. All rights reserved.
Written for publication by Amy Bovaird. April 24, 2015. With much gratitude for the kind invitation to write for Amy’s Adventures Blog. Thank you!
Bright spring flowers flourish all around us by mid April. I bought a little pot of yellow tulips recently when I was shopping. They brightened up our dining room table and made me feel happy every time I glanced at them. I am not a gardener so I enjoy buying potted plants and floral bouquets throughout the year with the changing seasons. Each season brings a new array of colors. April’s flowers sparkle with brilliance in dazzling yellow daffodils, tulips in a range from vivid red and coral, to soft pink and white. By the end of April, Pennsylvania’s grassy meadows will be covered with blankets of brilliant purple-blue violets.
Our walk home from grade school took a bit longer when I was a little girl. Our rural home was nearly a mile from the school and unless the snow was too deep, or a storm was brewing, we walked along a meandering path morning and afternoon. By mid-April we found the delightful blooming violets in the fields. The small, fragrant blooms beckoned my sister and me to come closer!
We forgot that we were supposed to walk directly home after school on those long-ago spring days as we stooped down low, extended our eager hands, and began picking violets to take back home with us. The hot afternoon sun beat down on us as we gathered a fist full of the fragile delights. Once home with our treasured flowers, we put them in our mother’s little jelly jars. Our bouquets remained in a special space on our kitchen windowsill. To this day, many decades later, I still remember the joy of small wildflowers in the house. From now through the fall season, my home will have wildflowers and weeds from the woods in little vases and jars as the months move towards winter.
April signals that it is now the beginnings of new life surging in Nature. On mornings like this one, I take leisurely walks with the dogs. I became conscious of the subtle changes today, wanted to focus on them. After a long lasting winter this year, each new spring day seems especially precious as it brings warmth, sunshine, budding bushes and trees, and colorful flowers to my little part of the world.
I considered my different senses and how I experienced them as I walked my usual path around the neighborhood today.
“Sometimes, we get too caught up with the visuals all around us,” I reflected.
We forget we have other important senses giving us information if we dwell primarily on the visual stimulation and distractions. I am legally blind and the entire world is a diffusion of shadowy forms and distorted, foggy impressions. The positive aspect of sight loss is that I am more aware now about the things I missed out on when I was fully sighted. I was too focused on looking and learning only through my eyes. Really, my excellent vision in my earlier, sighted, years, prevented me from discovering many aspects of the world that I appreciate now.
I listened carefully, became aware of the low sounds of an owl singing its final notes this morning as the sunshine brought strong light to this new day. I thought about the owl and imagined it must be celebrating the end of a fruitful night of hunting for food to eat, and flights in the comfort of the darkness where it can be free. For the owl, I thought about how the rising morning sun marked the end of its cycle of hunting and searching for food as it flies over the treetops and settles onto high, dense pine branches.
While the owl can settle down and relax in the dense tree branches to have a nice sleep for the day, I am just beginning my day. I breathe deeply and feel the coldness on my face and hands. My nose is moist and I take out a tissue to wipe the droplets of moisture that come from breathing in the wetness of the early morning atmosphere. My face tingles with the cold breeze and my hands remind me they are exposed and I have not brought along a pair of gloves to warm them up on this hour-long walk.
But, I am not so concerned with the coolness of the morning today. Instead, my thoughts move on to the meaning of spring and how each day is bringing changes to the world around me. It feels good, the cold air, and my lighter jacket is just right for this new day. I reach down occasionally to tell my dog, “Good Girl! Heel. Good Heel. Good Girl! She glances up at me, and quickly looks back at the path before her and sniffs the air. When we come to a wooded place, near an abandoned mill, I relax her leash and allow her to enjoy tramping in the winter packed leaves that lay all around the trees. She digs down into them in places, and pushes the leaves aside, seeking a direct passage to the scent that caught her attention. Eventually, I pull her back to heel position and we continue on for the second half of our morning travels, and we had back towards home together.
I know that we often think of January as a time of new beginnings. After all, it marks the New Year. Perhaps we might rethink this idea when we find ourselves walking in the early morning in April, with the warming of spring sunshine on our bodies. April truly is the time of new beginnings.
While it is true, January urged us to begin anew, set our intentions for the New Year. Like most of you, I did carefully think about my intentions and weighed them out while considering my own talents, skills, and passions. Now, April urges us to move on. I recognize I need to look back to DISCOVER anything that will keep me from reaching the heights I’d like to find this year.
My definition of a successful person is an individual who knows the will of God for her life, recognizes it, and chooses to do God’s will as she walks her unique God-given path in life.~ Lynda McKinney Lambert
I don’t want “just enough” or “good enough.” I want a life of personal integrity and excellence. That does not mean I want perfection – no, just the opposite of that! Perfection is unrealistic; we could chase after perfection forever and we would never reach it for it is an illusion. But, integrity and excellence are attainable because we have the promise of new life, renewal, and rejuvenation each spring. Life is bursting out all around us in every direction. We can fully participate in it. We are creatures who have the gift of choice. We can CHOOSE to have integrity and to be excellent in everything we do. I have witnessed so many people running after the myth of perfectionism. I see it in just about every magazine I pick up – perfect homes, perfect neighborhoods, perfect careers, perfect lawns, perfect cars, and perfect lies.
April asks this question:
Is there anything that will hold us back and take away our joy of life?
April affirms life and growth, just like all of nature, we can DISCOVER, RECOVER, and REVISE our life.
Here in Pennsylvania, we have “stink bugs” that slip unseen into our homes in the late fall, just before winter sets in. They are hiding in drawers, closets, attics, and basements where they will sleep, hidden away, through the winter months. When the April sunshine comes into our homes, it wakes up the stink bugs who begin to come alive. We will find them to be annoying as they zip through the house, wake us up in the morning light, or buzz around light sources at night and disturb our sleep.
One important FIRST STEP is to DISCOVER hidden, sleeping, secret forces inside of us that may be holding us back. Just sit quietly for awhile and think about your past and the hurts that may still be haunting you. We all have them. We have all experienced rejection, suffering, failures, disappointments, and personal disasters.
In April, begin to DISCOVER the past hurts that will prevent us from living a life of peace, joy, creativity, excellence and purpose. We cannot hold on to those feelings for unforgiveness will always hold us back. We will actually find that we are stuck in the past – our minds will go back again and again and relive the hurt. From this day forward, vow to never again speak of this hurt but to give it over to God today. Refuse to relive it or speak of the hurt or demean the person who has hurt you. This will set you free from the hurtful past so you can come alive again and experience the eternal forces of spring inside your own spirit. Be assured, the words we speak are living forces. If we continually drag up the ugliness of a situation or personal hurt, we are creating our present and our future unhappiness. Our words are LIFE. Speak what is good, nourishing, and excellent.
You can move on, and April is the perfect time to do it. Join me on this FIRST LITTLE STEP of our life’s purpose and journey to wholeness.
Yes, forgiveness is a choice, and it has nothing to do with the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is the choice to hand your hurts over to God and let Him make up the difference. When we choose to extend forgiveness, that’s when we choose to receive His forgiveness! ~Joel Osteen
I am DISCOVERING the prickly thorns in my own past that have prevented my growth to excellence. One by one, I am giving them up, allowing God to take them away, as I RECOVER from the hurts. I won’t be talking about them any longer. I won’t be going back to feel the pain again.
The good news today, in mid-April, is that after we DISCOVER and RECOVER from past hurts, we can REVISE our own future. As I take the higher path of forgiveness, I find the days are growing brighter and brighter still, with each new day!
Listen to Lynda McKinney Lambert, interview on April 17, 2015_ Purpose Talk Radio.
Discover your CALLING in LIFE by examining your own Life’s Timeline.
Opal, our cat, watched me from her perch in the book shelf.
I AM determined to write a Christmas Greeting this year!
It was December 22 and I was racing against a deadline, well aware that last year I did not get this accomplished. But I had good reasons, because I encountered some unexpected circumstances that exploded our world just one year ago. No one could have anticipated what would enter our life as we walked unaware, into 2014. That was one year ago, today! This article is a look back through 2014, from the rear view mirror.
January, was an exciting month for me as an artist. My mixed media fiber piece, The Dragon’s Healing Breast Plate, was on display at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, in the New Collective exhibition. Bob and I attended the opening night. So exciting!
A couple weeks later, back at the PCA I participated on a four person panel at a conference on sight loss and the arts. After that program, I was photographed in the gallery with my art work. This photo appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. I think it is a great photo because my mobility cane is clearly visible – my long white cane – my badge of courage – my guide through life – my visible life as a blind artist and writer. This photo shows what is “normal” for me these days, yet, I seldom even think about it. I just keep on going. After all, we are all the person we THINK about being, and I think about being productive and happy as much as possible. Most of all, I think about sharing the gifts I have with everyone – gifts of Humanities and Faith.
Well, yes, you can already imagine that January was a crazy busy month – I presented a workshop at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. It would be at a conference on Disabilities and Inclusion, sponsored annually by the university president. Bob and I arrived very early in the morning to set up my display of pottery and fiber arts. I addressed the audience about how a blind person functions in everyday life, and how I adapted as a visual artist who had lost most of my sight just 7 years earlier. It was so nice to be back on campus and see all the fantastic changes that have made the university I earned 2 of my 3 degrees at SRU. (Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1998; MA in English Literature in 1994.) The audience at SRU was engaging. Bob and I had such a pleasant day meeting people and looking over the new buildings on campus. The official photographer took many photos and a video was made during my presentation. It was such a good day for Bob and I to be there together. SRU became a central part of my academic life from 1985 through 1994. How great it is to occasionally have a look back.
Oh, but amid all that good stuff I just related, something else was going on, too. In January, Bob had symptoms of “something wrong.” Those fluttering, persistent, and silent symptoms escalated quickly; Bob collapsed and was unconscious in a local restaurant. The rescue squad arrived within two minutes and after a long time of working on him in the back of an ambulance, he was “brought back” by the rescue team, then taken by ambulance to the local hospital. For the next three months, Bob was tested, prodded, stuck with needles, thumped, scoped, observed, catheterized, and mis-diagnosed by numerous local doctors and specialists.
At last, the two-person exhibition, Vision and Revision, opened. I had conceived, organized, and promoted this show for over a year. Opening night was on March 7th at Merrick Art Gallery, New Brighton, PA. When I stood in the gallery and surveyed the work of my hands. I was so joyful as I greeted my friends, family, and gallery visitors who flooded into the show for several hours. Prior to this night, I had worked in my solitary studio for over a year to make my art of Ceramic sculpture and Mixed-Media Fiber for this special show. Bob had worked diligently with me to set up my work so it was cohesive and on opening night some of our family members came early to greet visitors and handle the many sales of my work. The night was a success and sales exceeded my dreams. In such moments I can feel the love that peple have for me and my work because they love it and want to live with it in their own homes. That is the highest compliment I can ever have. I get so excited when I get the “red dots” put up on the walls beside my work – the red dot means the work is sold. I posed for photographs with the visitors and the collectors. We artists gave a special “artist talk” during an intermission and the audience kept asking me so many questions about my work and how I do it without sight. Bob and I had a stunning night and we felt so happy. It was a “night to remember” for a life-time in the arts for me. In 2015 I will celebrate 39 years of exhibiting my art work world-wide.
As our year progressed, it was finally on April 17th that Bob received a correct diagnoses. We both stood at the phone when Dr. Islam called and said, “Bob, this is a very aggressive disease. It is blood cancer. It’s called Acute Myeloid Leukemia, AML, and you have to get to the hospital in Pittsburgh immediately. We have to begin treatment…you will be there for a month…it has to begin today!”
At that moment, a shift took place in the lives of our entire family. At 9 pm, Bob entered his new home-away-from-home for this year. This floor is called, T-7 at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. Our daughter, Salome’ drove to our house, gathered us up and deliver us to the hospital. We were all in shock, numb. What do you take on a moments notice when you are told you will be there for a month? There was no way anyone could prepare for this night in any way. We were drifting along in a dream that had turned into our worst nightmare. We felt lost at sea.
Spring and summer passed and the warm weather and pleasant days are a blur in my mind. This year is remembered by admission and discharge dates at the hospital. We packed bags to leave home; we unpacked bags when he came back home. Departures and arrivals are the keys to our our normal mind-set most of the time We circled around in the troubled waters of a disease which tried to swallow our entire family. Bob had more hospitalizations – more chemo treatments- more rough seasons – more medications – more – more – and more.
I did my best to keep things as normal as I could at home with the four cats and two dogs to care for, interspersed with little periods of creativity and trying to manage our home and our business affairs. I had water problems that a friend came and fixed. Then, I had electrical issues, and another friend showed up to fix them. Lawnwork needed to be done by family and friends who showed up and helped out. I cannot drive, so needed transportation – and sometimes it was hard to find and frustrating. At those times it was very lonely and unsteady.
Art making took a shift to the back of my thoughts and somehow I managed to get 2 pieces of fiber art work done for the entire year – and another piece in progress laying on my table at the end of the year. That will turn into my first piece of the New Year, I suspect. Writing continued to be a passion as it has been my entire life. Words have always been important for me in dealing with everything from the highest highs, to the lowest depths of my life-journey.
And, so, it was, that I started a Facebook page for Bob’s journey. I called it “Bob Lambert Diary” for I expected it would be a photo diary of his journey from the beginning of his life with AML. This was a way that I could disperse information on the disease to help others, and a way to let the public know what was happening with bo. And, most of all, it was a way to let people know what his prayer needs are because I know for certain that prayers will be what brings us all through this shift in our lives. This diary would give us wonderful photos to look back over so we could see how far we have traveled as we look back in the rear view mirror of the journey to wholeness for Bob. Today, on the first day of 2015, I am looking BACK and smiling in the rear view mirror of the last year.
I had another exhibition of “Vision and Revision: Two Artists with Sight Loss, Not Loss of Vision.” It was at Jameson Hospital in New Castle, PA and ran from April 7th through July 7th. I was unable to attend the opening but got to enjoy the show later in it’s run with Bob when he returned home from his first stay in the hospital on June 2nd. What a joy to walk through this beautiful show with him and know he could enjoy it with me. Later, I visited the show with our daughters, Ilsa and Heidi. We had fun taking photos of my work on display in such a lovely gallery setting.
Two additional juried exhibitions finished out the year and moved into the New year. Somehow, I managed to write, make art, serve on two panel discussions and conferences, and do my exhibitions and publications between all the hard times and hospitalizations. That is how creativity is – nothing can take it away. When God pours out such gifts to people, the gifts are forever available in all the challenges of life. That is why I sing about the glories of the Humanities and Faith in all I do.
On September 25th, Bob was hospitalized for the fourth time. Now, he would get a fourth round for a week. The long awaited day came on October 2, when he had a stem cell transplant. His donor lives in a different country and the stem cells were flown to Pittsburgh and transplanted into Bob. It is a miraculous process and at age 73 Bob was given the immune system of a 48 year old man. This hospitalization would be a month-long one, too. It was followed up by several weeks in “short stay” and two or three trips to Pittsburgh every week for the remainder of the year and into the New Year! Our daughter Salome’ took off work each week to transport us back and forth – a gift beyond price. It is also a gift of her presence for us, as before this time we were not able to see her so often due to her work schedule. It was also another blessing for us to have another pair of eyes and ears taking in all the complex medical changes and scheduling the many hour-long trips to Pittsburgh.
Each day brings new challenges. Thankfully, we are blessed with a wonderful family, good neighbors, and dear friends who have helped us in many ways. The challenges are beyond anything we could ever imagine in our worst nightmares. In the middle of it all, our God is with us and we have had miraculous guidance and the best oncology team possible. Keep Bob in your prayers please, for the upcoming year!
Photo: bob with daughter Salome, Christmas Day, 2014
Currently, Bob is working on our income tax materials! He works during the times when his energy level is up and rests in-between as needed. He does what he can and he is a determined warrior – armed for the battle against AML. I stay busy helping him out and most of all keeping his spirits up. We find many things to enjoy and laugh about every day no matter what is going on. We do our best to keep our speech positive and uplifting and to encourage others. I think Bob is a great candidate for a POSTER CHILD for AML, if there was such a thing! Bob has more courage than any person I have ever known – he is brave beyond boundaries.
As we walked down the street together last week. I was laughing. He asked me why. I said, “Look at the two of us. We are still standing. We are together. and we are at the end of a year of more trials than anyone would ever want or choose to go through. Yet, we are here and I am walking beside you. You are a miracle!” He laughed with me in the cold winter sunshine.
Bob and I saying “good bye” to T-7 at West Penn Hospital last November.
At the beginning of 2015 – here is what I know for sure:
God is good. I can say from my heart, He can bring you through any trials you may encounter at any time in your life. Oh, but wait just a minute! This is not the end!