Hey summer, I know you have been around for a while now, but I want to sit with you a bit before you go. So don't rush out. Take your sweet time. Okay?
I love fall but I am not ready to let summer quietly leave. This past week I put an extra blanket, towels and chairs in the back of the Jeep for when the beach calls me.
And I know it will.
My garden thinks it is early July. I planted seeds late in the season and they are all blooming.
The zinnias, green beans, raspberries are so generous each day and the tomatoes are just starting to turn pink.
Each day starts at the raspberry bush. There are so many raspberries waiting for me even after I picked every red one the day before.
I wonder where each day will start in late fall when the raspberries are gone.
I like it when days start out slowly. There was a week in July where all the days started early and quietly.
This was year two in the Bahamas on a mission trip with my daughter and a group of teens from our church.
Each morning, I set my alarm early and headed to the beach with my journal and coffee.
I needed this morning space to process the day. To set a daily intention.
Each day was filled with joy that comes from doing really hard work and serving others.
We built roofs and foundations, put up walls for a bathroom where there wasn't one, and we moved stones and shoveled concrete to make pathways.
But some of our best work was simply being present and holding babies. Listening. Praying.
This is one of my favorite photos of the trip of my daughter.
One morning while waiting for supplies, we painted an abandoned car. We primed it with the leftover primer on the paint rollers. Reuse! Rethink!
We painted the engine, windows, lights and wires. We painted everything we could. We were so creatively busy and yet peaceful.
This was one of my favorite moments of the trip. All of our teens and the children who lived in the village painted this car side by side. They were all so focused. All of the paint stayed on our large paper palette. I rolled it up and brought it back home to put pieces of this energy into my other art.
Can you see how much fun we had? And there are abandoned cars everywhere in the village.
We started something this year for sure.
Each day prayed with and for each other. And with and for the people of the village.
Their faces are with us and in our hearts forever.
I talked for a long while one afternoon with Miss Velma below. We had painted her home a lovely deep green.
It struck me how alike we were. Our lives were different but the same things mattered to us...our families, our spirituality, our health...
We created a bottle tree in Miss Velma's backyard. We picked up bottles out of the trash and on the ground and poured some blue and green paint in them.
We wrapped wire creatively around them. And added in handwritten intentions and prayers.
The serene colors of the bottles made them seem as if they had grown from this tree.
My friends who organized this trip would ask me often, "Did you get permission?" when we were turning trash into treasure. "Yes. Of Course." I would assure them. I did always ask, but I thoroughly loved having moments where someone felt they had to ask me that. I felt like one of kids too when I was painting and making in this village.
Of all the things I learn on this trip, the biggest one is to trust.
When we arrive, we are not cohesive. The kids do not all know each other or they may think they know someone.
The we remove ourselves from social media and our busy lives. We embrace simplicity, hard work, serving others and prayer. And then it gets very real and so comfortable. We all are in this together. I love when we get to that place.
I know to trust that those first awkward moments turn to magical moments.
On my last morning in the Bahamas, there was a Barbie arm on the table next to me as I journaled. It looked as if it had been there for a long time. Like it had washed up from the sea.
I took so many photographs of this arm. I felt like it was a message. A symbol of so many things. Of leaving a piece of myself there in Freeport with the people I met, including all the ones I traveled there with.
I felt strongly that this arm was a piece of me. Both of my children are on and going on journeys that have them far from home. I am happy and grateful, but there are times I feel as if parts of me are missing. But we are all just becoming more whole. More our true selves.
I put this arm in my beach bag to remind me of that. Right now it is in a small drawer in my nightstand. Eventually it will become part of an altered book.
It reminds me of those mornings in the Bahamas. To start each day quietly and whenever possible, near water.
Embrace simplicity and prayer. Go out of my way to serve others. Do good work.
Pick red raspberries.
Lean back and trust that an awkward moment can turn into an magical moment.
And most of all, trust. Trust that all the pieces come together just as they should.
***Here is my post from last year's trip. I wrote in more detail on the ministry itself. xo.