On this blog page, author Mary C. Woolling posts an ongoing series of her essays showcasing the positives of life.

New essays are added often. You are cordially invited to become a regular reader. Also, please feel free to share this site with your family and friends via the “Tell a Friend” link, located in the right-hand column below.

Comments on Mary's essays are most welcome. Simply click on the “Post Comments” link appearing at the end of each essay, and share your thoughts.

If you'd like to contact Mary, you may do so at mary@herestolife.us

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Vision of Heaven

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. — John 14:3 NIV

Through His death and resurrection, Jesus showed all who believe in Him that when we leave this earth, we will not die. We will go right on living – in complete fullness – with Him for eternity. What a comfort to know that death is not a closed-door ending of existence but rather a wide-open entry into glorious new life. Equally comforting is the assurance that all those we love will join us in that perfect place.

Our finite, mortal minds could never comprehend what immortal life will really be like, but, still, it’s fun to imagine the possibilities. Whenever I think of Heaven, I envision a memorable Sunday afternoon church picnic of many years ago, which a good friend of mine and I had organized. The event was held at a nearby park.

I can still see it all so clearly in my mind’s eye. A beautiful day with azure-blue skies, cotton-ball clouds, golden-glow sunshine, and soothing-soft breezes. Everyone had arrived and was having a marvelous time. A whistling calliope concert, its tooting tunes in showboat fashion, could be heard all across the park. The irresistible aroma of freshly-popped popcorn, courtesy of a vintage Popper Machine, was wafting over the air. The children were busy enjoying a Bounce House, face painting, and pony rides. In an adjacent field, teenagers were merrily competing in three-legged and relay races, frisbee toss, and tug-of-war.

A local catering service had provided us with mouth-watering fried chicken and all the tasty trimmings, including baked beans, corn on the cob, cabbage slaw, and hot country biscuits. People were queuing up to the tables to partake of that fabulous fare, while a little band of talented, octogenarian musicians and soloists regaled us with joyful, toe-tapping instrumental strains and songs. Some of the church members were dancing to the Big Band sounds.

Everyone was so happy, delighted to be with each other, and grateful for the blessings of that perfect day. A sea of smiles in a land of light and laughter.

It was at that moment that our newly-installed pastor arrived and, looking out at that heartwarming scene, he remarked, “You know, Mary, I bet this is what Heaven’s going to be like.” I couldn’t have agreed more.

My haunting, vivid memory of that day so long ago — a preview of coming attractions?

Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Monday, March 29, 2021

Sense of Beauty

Some of the most delightful things in life are as close to us as a heartbeat, and they’re ours for the taking. All that’s required to experience them is the use of our five senses.

Examples are endless: the sight of the graceful branches of a beech tree swaying gently in the breeze; shimmering moonlight on a lake’s clear surface; a row of flowering pear trees in glorious blooms of white; the distinctive features of a loved one’s face.

The heartening sound of children’s laughter is a joy beyond measure. The unmistakable voices of those we hold dear have the unfailing power to comfort. Haunting musical melodies that echo in our minds evoke sweet memories of days gone by. The clear ringing of church bell chimes far off in the distance symbolizes hope and the promise of life eternal. The soft, gentle patter of a summer shower reminds us of home–cozy and snug.

The world is abundant with deliciousness: the tangy-sweet taste of a crisp, ripe apple; the smooth, creamy flavor of piping hot chocolate with soft, gooey marshmallows melting on top; the mouth-watering zest of fresh-buttered popcorn sprinkled with salt.

Intoxicating scents surround us: the flower garden, fragrant with the distinctive, sweet perfume of lemon lilies in full bloom; the smoky, rustic essence of burning leaves wafting over the autumn air; the newly-cut trace of a Christmas tree; and the delightful, all-time classic aroma of bacon frying crisp in the pan and fresh coffee brewing.

My senses are also gratified by the comforting feel of a loved one’s hand clasped in mine; the soft fur of a baby kitten; the warmth of a downy blanket on a cold winter’s night; the smoothness of ivory on piano keys.

The list could go on forever, and indeed it does. Today, take a few moments to consider all of the glorious sensory pleasures in your life. Enjoy, and be comforted.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Waiting Time

“Only with winter-patience can we bring
The deep desired, long-awaited spring.”

–Anne Morrow Lindbergh, The Unicorn and other Poems (1956)

It’s February, the waiting time of the year–the beginning of the transition from winter to spring. We may be longing for the first indications of Nature’s awakening beauty — pink crocuses, purple hyacinths and yellow daffodils — but instead, today, as we step out the door, we’re greeted by piercing blasts of bitter cold, frosty air and sub-freezing temperatures. Except for the green of the firs and the spruces, we find little sign of life anywhere. Graceful beeches hold on to a few withered leaves from last season, but most of the other trees are stark and bare—lonely black silhouettes against a gray winter sky.

There’s a stillness all around. No squirrels or chipmunks dashing about, as they are safely ensconced in their cozy nests hidden in trunks of trees. Backyard birdhouses stand empty and forlorn with no sign of the birds nor sound of their cheerful songs. No evidence of raccoons having raided our trash cans. They, too, have left the scene for snug, warm havens.

All of nature appears to be fast asleep, but legend tells us one slumbering animal will awaken from hibernation today, February 2, to observe the state of the weather. Based on this animal’s action and its implied prognostication, a prediction of the advent of spring is made. Every year, many individuals hope this will be the news they’ve been eagerly waiting for–that they can leave the tired, old winter behind and move on into spring. This furry little weather predictor is none other than the groundhog. February 2 is, of course, Groundhog Day, the annual holiday honoring him.

In ancient times, it was believed that, on February 2 (Candlemas Day), if the weather was sunny and bright, a cold harsh winter would continue for another six weeks. However, if it were cloudy and rainy, an early spring was on the way. Medieval folk thought that various hibernating animals, such as the badger, bear and hedgehog, would come out from their warm underground burrows at this time of year to assess the state of the weather and make predictions.

In Germany, a legend developed that if the hedgehog saw the sun, it became frightened by its own shadow and would crawl back to its hole to sleep for another six weeks. This indicated more bad weather to come and, as a result, poorer crops that year. If the skies were overcast, there would be no shadow to scare the animal, so it would remain above ground. This was interpreted as meaning cold weather was soon to end and warmer days to appear.

The legend of the hedgehog was brought to America by the German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania Dutch). Many of these early settlers became farmers who planted their crops according to this superstition. Since there were no hedgehogs in America, the farmers transferred the idea to the American groundhog, an animal similar to the German hedgehog. The groundhog is approximately 15-18 inches long, with bushy tail, short legs, and coarse fur, black and gray above and chestnut-red below.

Through the years, Groundhog Day has become a part of Americana. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, is home to the groundhog tradition and recognized as the “Groundhog Capitol of the World.” Since 1887, Punxsutawney has held annual observances of Groundhog Day. At sunrise, thousands of onlookers from all over the world gather at Gobbler’s Knob to watch “Punxsutawney Phil,” the nation’s official groundhog, emerge from his warm winter den. Phil gives his prediction for the length of the remaining part of winter supposedly in “Groundhogese” to his keeper, who then relays the forecast to the waiting crowd. In most cases, Phil does see his shadow and returns to his den to wait six more weeks for spring.

Truth be told, regardless of Punx’y Phil’s message of an early or late spring, or our own longing for a quick end to the winter, spring invariably and predictably arrives six weeks from now–around March 21. Nature moves inexorably, according to its own timetable.

Our lives also follow a timetable. As the Book of Ecclesiastes tells us, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

We may grow tired of the situations in which we find ourselves and wish we could move ahead to the next new period without delay. However, it’s good to keep in mind that we can’t rush the seasons of our lives anymore than we can rush the appearance of the flowers on the earth.

May we know the peace of mind that comes from remembering that when the time is right, the next season begins. Be patient and wait. Everything in its time.

Here’s to Life!
Mary

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