This summer has been marked by rhythms which are a bit off beat. Perhaps they are syncopated, mostly beautiful, but different. As women we establish routines and traditions, often following the seasons and the calendar as we make our life within our family and home.

Our old normal, the paradigm we grew accustomed to when our children were young was one of embracing summer, racing headlong into the three month stretch, living breathlessly. We planned family trips and took off a week or two plus some weekends to go and play. We lived summer with exuberance knowing that school would start again soon and and our summer living would end sometime around Labor day.

But this summer has a different feel. It has rained more than any summer in recent memory, leaving the earth soggy. I have not entertained friends and family as much as my heart longs to. Back to school pictures started showing up in my social media feed around, well the middle of summer. We are counting the days to a once in a lifetime solar eclipse which has put my little village on the map. Life and traffic will come to a halt on August 21 as our world goes black for two minutes. Summertime is usually a time of inviting folks around my table but my table is cluttered with mail and work. Our rhythms are off.

Beyond the safety and familiarity of home, the news feels heavy and heartbreaking. The Psalms bring relief and comfort because the words of the psalmists feel like my own. I want the world to be at peace and for this summer to end with good news. I long for the ebb and flow of life giving healing in a world on the brink of war and hate.

Watermelon Salad

There is joy in remaining at home and peace in staying put. Remaining here provides time for prayer and for quiet reflection and to let “Lord have mercy” linger on my lips.

Sometimes there are cracks and breaks that occur in the patterns of life. New routines, shifts and changes form a new normal. And home and life and place feel reborn, remade in a temporary way. There is light that shines through the cracks, as there always is. And beauty appears in the changes. His mercy and grace are here in this place of abiding.

I am remaining more. And I am watching as a bystander — watching the wanderlust of friends and family. I’ve watched in awe through the photographs and storytelling of friends this summer. And so through their stories I have had my passport stamped in Moscow, Spain, Ireland, and Croatia. I have travelled to the Cotswolds and to Lake Michigan. And next week I will go to The Dominican Republic.

This is our season of staying right here a little more. This is our summer of being anchored and tethered to our life and what it is calling us to do and be. We have been working more and writing more, squeezing in respite and fun in the cracks. Like the drag you felt as a kid when you slowed your bike with one tennis shoe bent for a brake, we are slowing. We have not come to a full stop but neither are we soaring around with a passport in hand.

Sharing and receiving each other’s stories can take us beyond the threshold of our own door. It can compound our living by extending the hand, inviting, saying come go with me. When we crack the door open to others through storytelling we travel metaphorically while we remain at home. You invite me to go with you on the wings of your story. And I am grateful, as I find peace at home. Hospitality has wings for those who may need to stay behind. And the world expands, the table enlarges.

I am learning to savor the peace of being here, at home. I am finding that our now is a beautiful now, filled with work and just the right amount of breathless summer. And I am soaking up the days of summer in all that they have for us in shades of tomato red, hydranga blue and melon coral. Savoring the shades of elsewhere, through brightly colored wanderlust that is shared with me; while I remain.

And when our work is done, we may pack our bags and go. And I will tell my story.

 

In our staying at home this summer we have enjoyed lots of watermelon. Here is a recipe for one of our favorite summer dishes.

 

Savory Watermelon Salad
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. Watermelon
  2. Baby arugula
  3. Sea salt
  4. Fresh ground pepper
  5. Fresh basil
  6. Fresh goat cheese crumbles
  7. *Additional toppings include - candied pecans, red onion slices, pitted fresh cherries
Instructions
  1. Scoop out watermelon with an ice cream scooper for large pieces or melon scooper for smaller
  2. Drain watermelon briefly on paper towel (or use it in all its juicy-ness)
  3. Place watermelon in large salad bowl
  4. Mix in plenty of baby arugula
  5. Add Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, generously
  6. Cut fresh basil into desirable size pieces, sprinkle on top
  7. Add fresh goat cheese crumbles
  8. Toss with red wine vinegar and favorite extra virgin olive oil
  9. Serve with chicken or shrimp or favorite main dish. Enjoy
Grace Table http://gracetable.org/
Elizabeth Marshall / Posts / Blog

Elizabeth Wynne Marshall is a writer, poet, blogger. A lover of grace & the sea she spends her days living and writing out the beautiful ordinary in a life lived by the sea. Her words may be found at her writing home, elizabeth w. marshall, poetry & prose through a lens of grace.
On twitter & instagram, she is @graceappears.

  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    This is so lovely, Elizabeth, and you are wise to appreciate each season and each new rhythm of life (certainly rather than fighting it). There really is a gift in summer slowness, in staying home and savoring the expansiveness of time and quality that ensues when we don’t have jam-packed schedules. And your armchair traveling via the words and images of your friends is such a joy. . . . taking you to places you couldn’t see at this juncture of life otherwise. I made another connection. Especially with our world in the chaos and vitriolic state it is, there is another reason to listen to people’s stories . . . not necessarily only travel stories in the way you’ve described here, but maybe stories of their geography . . . from where they’ve come, their history, what they’ve experienced, their internal landscape. It’s only when we hear others’ inner stories (what they love, what they fear, what they value, what they question), that we have any hope of quelling the fear of differences which are miring us in tragedy and terror. Oh that we all may slow down, savor the remains of summer, and savor the remains of any dignity we all may still possess. Bless you for this truly beautiful post. Oh, and about that watermelon salad (which looks scrumptious), it reminded me of one of my favorite poems. I mention it here in case you or your readers are unfamiliar w/ it: “Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle Received from a Friend Called Felicity” by John Tobias. You can Google it. Plus, there is a wonderful book of children’s poetry by the same title, and the poem is contained in it.
    Blessings,
    Lynn Morrissey

    August 14th, 2017 10:34
    Reply
    01
    • Elizabeth Marshall
      http://www.elizabethwmarshall.com

      Oh Lynn, I am so grateful for your mention of this poem. It is one that I am not familiar with. I will read it and savor it today!! (My grandfather made watermelon pickles every year. That is a beautiful childhood memory of mine. Thank you for refreshing it in my weary soul today) And thank you also for making the connections in my post to the value and benefit of hearing all parts of the stories of others. It is healing and important to listen in love. Perhaps there is much more to be written here about that. Another GraceTable post perhaps!? But I am very thankful that you have connected those dots. And my hope is that the Spirit will whisper and speak into the hearts of all of us the importance of telling, listening, hearing and honoring the stories and lives of others. We honor Him when we cup our hands and receive. Listening well is a big part of healing well. I am richer in love when I hold your stories, all of the stories of my Sisters. Lynn, I so appreciate you, your insights and your kind words of encouragement. Always in Him, Elizabeth

      August 14th, 2017 11:16
      Reply
      02
  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    Thank you for your kind response, Elizabeth, and oh my you will love this poem . . . but not as much as the memory that you just shared. 🙂 I have a conch shell here at home; its simple, open beauty reminds me to listen. And yes, we’ll look for another post! Thank you for all you share.
    L.

    August 14th, 2017 15:30
    Reply
    03
  • Jody Collins
    Jody Collins
    http://jodyleecollins.com

    Elizabeth, I especially like these lines,
    “Sharing and receiving each other’s stories can take us beyond the threshold of our own door. It can compound our living by extending the hand, inviting, saying come go with me. When we crack the door open to others through storytelling we travel metaphorically while we remain at home. You invite me to go with you on the wings of your story.”
    (printed the recipe–can’t wait to try it!)

    August 21st, 2017 11:42
    Reply
    04
    • Elizabeth W. Marshall
      http://www.elizabethwmarshall.com

      Jody, thank you for reading along and for sitting here next to me at the table. I hope you love the salad. It is a favorite of ours. Get creative. Try to add or delete some goodies. If you don’t care for arugula which can be a bit bitter and peppery for some, you can just serve up the goodness without a bed of greens. I like just basil or mint sometimes as a little change up. Thanks, as always, for telling me which lines you especially like. That means the world to me.

      August 23rd, 2017 8:48
      Reply
      05

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