Notes from Mom in the Innisfree Log

Innisfree, 1950s

One of the treasures of the Colorado cabin is a log that was started by our parents to record the activities of each visit to Innisfree.

Mom wrote the first entry in August, 1957.

Charlie had told us all about Innisfree, but we had to see it to really take it all in. Charlie, Sandy, and I arrived in the Volkswagen, having left the folks in Colorado Springs with fuel pump trouble. They arrived about dark after having some trouble finding the place. We will be forever indebted to the Blanton’s for hamburgers that evening, for we had no supplies.

Our first tour of the Maine building left us wondering where to start. The first night, it was no small job finding places to sleep. There were lots of beds and plenty of cover, but the place had not been occupied by anything larger than a rat for two or three years.

The next morning, we tore into it. I forgot to miss Beth, who was just a few months old and was staying with Aunt Eileen. Mother began to go through the kitchen. She pulled out more jars and coffee cans than could be imagined.

The cabin contained numerous personal items, and we began to realize how dear this place had been to the Smiths, and to other friends who shared memories of times spent here in the mountains. At times, we felt as though we were intruding and trespassing.

Charlie hauled truckloads of bedsteads and other useless utensils to the Exchange – from whence they came, probably, originally.

Charlie and I stayed here a few days [after the folks left] and then returned to Mooreland, then picked up Beth at Norman. 

Marty Richardson, August, 1957
Mom’s 1957 Log Entry

Over the years, Mom, Dad, Grandparents, friends, each of us kids, wrote about our visits in this sacred place.

In these days when everything is so deeply digital, I’m struck by the unique handwriting of each of these individuals. And I find it so comforting to hear that person’s voice as I read the words. While I have been here at the cabin this summer, I digitized the logs from 1957-1983.

The summer of 1983 was the last visit here that Mom made before her death in November from an inoperable brain tumor. I looked specifically for the record of activities from that summer. Mom, Dad, and I were here in July. I recognize the words I wrote in the log that summer. They became a part of my first published article (in Alive Now magazine, 1986).

Images of ritual tying us together with each other and with our past and the past of Innisfree — Trail Ridge Drive, mornings in the kitchen with “Hot Blast,” reading “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” throwing a rock in the river, feeding the hummingbirds, reading the log, being together and telling and retelling stories.

Beth A. Richardson, July, 1983

And Mom’s last entry in the log …. I wonder if she knew on some level that it would be her last trip to the cabin, her handwriting was so spidery …

I’m still recovering from my second craniotomy (Dec. 10); still suffer absence of strength and equilibrium, but everybody helps. Next year I’ll make up for it. Eleven days is about enough just now. Beth will bus to Nashville on Saturday. The Thomas family is at Martha Ellen’s and a couple from [?], Bill and Maggie at Goodwin’s Riverview. To bed. Charles Crutchfield and in-laws at Echota.

Marty Richardson, July, 1983
Mom’s 1983 Log Entry

This year is the 65th since my folks bought this place — five cabins purchased by five Methodist clergy families. I’m deeply grateful for the gift of this place and for 65 years of relationship with the Goodwins, the Smiths, the Blantons, and the Crutchfields. 65 years of relationship to this land which had a very, very long history before anyone thought to “own” it. 65 years of history in one place is long and rich. I continue to savor each moment in this place where my roots have grown deep.

I leave on Monday to go back to Tennessee and I’ll be back next summer. Until the next time, dear Innisfree. Thank you.

Love Affair with a Shooting Star

I don’t remember when I first fell in love with the wildflower called Shooting Star (Primula sect. Dodecatheon). 

Back in the late 70s, my dad took me to the camera store near Oklahoma City University and bought me my first Nikon. The next time we were at the cabin together, the two of us took our cameras on hikes and recorded images of wildflowers. I remember him searching for the Spotted Coral Root Orchid that bloomed in the summer, usually near the base of a rotting tree. I don’t remember seeing any Shooting Star.

One summer in the 90s I took my first photograph of a Colorado Shooting Star. The patch of flowers was up the canyon a ways, right on the bank of the river. I climbed over a fence so I could get close enough to take a photograph. Each summer I went back to that spot to see if the shooting stars were still blooming there. (No, I did not scale the fence again. Most of the time, the gate was open!) And then I found a little patch of them at the river’s edge right below our cabin. Their eco system, nestled in the base of an old pine tree.

Each time I get here to the canyon, I take a pilgrimage down to the river and visit the shooting stars. 

I admire the flowers for their resilience. They are so beautiful, tender, delicate, tenacious, putting down roots next to a frigid, rushing river. The summer after the flash flood of 2013, I wondered if the flowers would still be there. I found that their tree had fallen, but that enough pine roots were still there to hold together their home. Shooting Star, grass, moss, and ferns. Now they bloom, courageously hanging out over the water.

I love you, my beautiful little Shooting Stars. You give me stability, courage, joy, and hope. May I — may we — be as resilient as you.

Advent

Picture of an Advent wreath

It’s about time to order your Advent candles and choose your Advent spiritual practices.

I offer several suggestions for your consideration.

So … blessings upon you in this season of light!

Old Friends and New

a quote from Sarah Parsons about Lent beginning in the wilderness

Years ago when I was editor of The Upper Room’s website, I began collecting my favorite quotes from Upper Room Books and sharing them in the “Seasonal Reflections” emails. These quotes and their authors became friends I relied on when I hit difficult stretches of life.

It was so satisfying to pick out a selection of these “friends” to include in the pages of Walking in the Wilderness. And I was able to add some new favorite quotes and authors from more recent Upper Room publications.

I hope that you also learn to feel that these faithful friends are waiting to share their wisdom with you when you hit life’s difficult seasons.

Here are just a few …

We are invited simply to be with God. … Crawling up in the lap of Love, resting our head against Love’s breast, and taking comfort in that slow, steady heartbeat of grace that says, This is where you belong.
-Roger Owens, What We Need Is Here

God, collect our tears … And pour them back on us as life-giving water!
-Safiyah Fosua, The Africana Worship Book: Year B

Dear God, help us to see that we are more more than our scars.
-Michael W. Waters, Freestyle

Faithfulness is consecration in overalls.
-Evelyn Underhill, Writings of Evelyn Underhill

All things come and all things go over and over again.
-John S. Mogabgab, Weavings

Grief is such a messy thing.
-Roberta C. Bondi, Wild Things

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Lenten Practice

“I never aspired to write a book for the Lenten season. I have always been so much more attracted to the softness of the season of Advent. In fact, I may have been heard to say, ‘I will never write a book about Lent.’ But here I am, writing a book for Lent, this season of wandering in the wilderness.”
-Introduction to Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God During Lent

As I was considering my Lenten discipline this year, I decided to read my book in a different way. I’m finding that way to be creating a collage each day. This practice is keeping me grounded, letting me hear these words as if they were spoken to me.

Each day’s entry in Walking in the Wilderness includes a quote from an Upper Room author, a scripture reading, a reflection and prayer from me, and a word to carry in one’s heart through the day. As I tear apart the pages of the book, different elements speak to me and arrange themselves on a page.

I offer to you some of these pages. May the Holy One guide you through these days.

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Walking in the Wilderness

More and more in these days of social, political, religious, and spiritual upheaval, I find myself feeling that I have entered an era of exile, wilderness. … I’m not sure exactly when we arrived here. It might have been around the time that the 24/7 news cycle really got going. … Or when our earth began to groan and we could no longer ignore the effects of climate change. … Or when the global crises of rampant xenophobia and overt racism made us cry out. Or when the pandemic arrived.
-From the introduction to Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God During Lent. Print book or eCourse.

It was over a year ago that I turned in the manuscript for Walking in the Wilderness. I had no idea that by the time Lent 2021 arrived, we would be walking through such a perilous desert.

The path we are traveling is lonely, difficult, heartbreaking. We do not know from day to day what new challenges or disasters that we will hear on the news or confront in our lives. So many of us are stretched to the limit, barely able to keep up with life. And, yet, like the Hebrew people wandering in the wilderness, when we look up, we see that we are not alone. We are a community stuck in the desert together. And the Holy One is traveling with us. Watch for the signs of God’s guidance — the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. Listen for God’s presence in a the quiet of the evening, in a scripture verse or song that brings you to tears, in the voice of a stranger or the laugh of a child. Remember and remind yourself each day that you are God’s beloved. And you are not alone.

I invite you to travel with me through the days of Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday. Gather a group of soul friends and study the book together. Or join us in an online course.

God makes a way for us through the desert. We are beloved. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God during Lent: Print book or eCourse.

Facing the Holidays This Year

candlesThis year, our holidays — All Saints, Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas — will be different and challenging. I’m grateful to be a part of several events from The Upper Room to comfort you during this difficult season.

  • All Saints Service on November 4, 11:00 a.m. (Central Time). Streaming on Facebook and YouTube.
  • Blue Christmas Advent e-Course. Begins November 29. Learn more.
  • Blue Christmas Service from The Upper Room Chapel on December 21, 11:00 a.m. (Central Time). Streaming on Facebook and YouTube.

All Saints Service
I recently wrote about my saints in an article published on The Upper Room’s website. If you don’t have a church family with whom to celebrate All Saints Day, please consider joining us on Facebook or YouTube for an All Saints service from The Upper Room Chapel on Wednesday, November 4, 11:00 a.m. (Central Time). We will gather together, light candles, and name our saints.

Advent e-Course – Blue Christmas
This Advent will undoubtedly prove to be an unusual one. In the midst of a global pandemic, following a contentious presidential election in the U.S., and in the swirl of racial unrest, we long for a vision of the Holy One.

The Upper Room invites you to join us this Advent as we seek the Light in a season of darkness. Together, we will spend daily time reflecting on the light of the season, gather weekly for online worship, and engage in times of prayer and reflection on scripture. Learn more.

Blue Christmas Service
Join us on December 21, 11:00 a.m. (Central Time) for a Blue Christmas Service in The Upper Room Chapel. Streaming on Facebook and YouTube.

My New Book – Walking in the Wilderness

We may be traveling in the wilderness, but we are not alone. We travel together, holding this sacred space for one another. And the Spirit travels with us into our wilderness journey. “Introduction,” Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God During Lent

I’m excited to announce that my new book has arrived. Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God During Lent is published by Upper Room Books and available now from your favorite bookseller.

We may be traveling in the wilderness, but we are not alone. We travel together, holding this sacred space for one another. And the Spirit travels with us into our wilderness journey. “Introduction,” Walking in the Wilderness: Seeking God During Lent

Many voices join mine in guiding us through this perilous season. You will find familiar friends and new ones. Prophets, teachers, and wise ones from whom we hear just right the words. Roger Owens, Juanita Campbell Rasmus, Stephen D. Bryant, Roberta Bondi, Safiyah Fosua, Michael Waters, and many others lend their wisdom.

On the six Sundays of Lent, I offer spiritual practices that I hope will help guide us through these difficult days. These practices are Being Present, Lament, Lectio Divina, Trust, Compassion, and Hospitality.

Blessings to you during this time of chaos and turmoil. Never forget … You are not alone. You are beloved. Thanks be to God.

Praying on Behalf the World

Nine of us gathered this morning in The Upper Room Chapel to pray with and on behalf of the world. Two guests from Colorado joined us. We sang, prayed, and lit the first candle of Advent, the candle of peace.

Our candle lighting prayer by Steve Garnaas-Holmes:

Loving God, you are our peace;
prepare our hearts for your coming.
Forge the swords of bitterness into plows of blessing;
till the soil of our souls for your springing forth in us.
Remove our heart’s defensive armor,
clothe us in light alone,
and pierce our wide-open hearts with your love.
By your Spirit in us, may we be at peace:
awake, and ready to welcome your presence.
Amen.

Join me in an online course this Advent. Child of the Light: Walking Through Advent and Christmas.

Getting Ready for Advent

burning candles

Advent’s arriving on Sunday! It’s time to dig out the Advent wreath. (Now, where did I pack that? I’m hoping that I’ve still got a box of unlit candles.)

This year, I’m looking forward to an online course using my first Advent book, Child of the Light: Walking through Christmas and Advent.

“We all need this time of Advent to slow us down, to open our ears to God’s quiet voice, to guide us through the chaos of the consumerist culture that Christmas has become.” Child of the Light provides tools to help you find your quiet center. Our eCourse invites you to find that quiet center with friends old and new. Enter with Beth into readings and reflections inspired by the season’s carols and hymns. Your spirit will be lifted and your mind quieted. The experience extends past Christmas to Epiphany, encouraging you to live into the joy of Christmas beyond seasonal celebrations.

I hope you’ll consider joining us in Child of the Light.