It is what holds the pieces of your life together.
Tag Archives: generosity
This carwash is located next to the Pennypack Trail’s parking lot at Welsh and Terwood Roads. It’s closed today since they work on the weekends. The business does hand washing and detailing for cars. On a normal day you would see cars in various stages of being cleaned and lots of employees at work.
Usually the sign out by the road says something like “A clean car is a happy car”. Right now, though, this is what it says.
I could go on, but I don’t need to. The sign tells us the narrative the people at this business want us to know and to follow.
When we were in Reading, PA, a few weeks ago to visit the Goggleworks Center for the Arts, I noticed a small green building set in a tiny cemetery, right up beside the highway, as we were speeding along toward home. We’d never noticed it before, and we said – we have to try to take a look at that next time we’re here.
So, that next time was yesterday – we were visiting Goggleworks again, for their annual art festival. On the way home, we zipped off the highway exit and found the spot very easily – just a few yards down the road. We parked the car along the street and walked over – along a portion of the Schuylkill Trail that happens to pass by it.
Sure enough, there sat the brick building inside a stone wall along with an assortment of gravestones. Before we worked our way down the white-painted timbers that served as steps down the slight slope, we looked at the marker. Hmmm. Already we could tell this place had a story.
The gist of it was this: the Fix-Gerber-Bittner families established this cemetery in the early 1800’s. It was much larger than the present plot when it started out. But as time passed, it almost seemed as if this little bit of ground had a bull’s eye on it. Industrial developments all took pieces away from it. Graves were moved, somewhat carelessly, too, it seems. This small place is all that’s left. It’s essentially ownerless, now that the families are defunct.
So we went in for a closer look, down the steep steps.
We examined the building first. It had nothing to do with the cemetery – according to what I read later, it was built in the 1870’s or so by a friend of one of the families, to store dynamite (because it was outside city limits, where there was apparently a restriction on such a thing).
I examined the walls of the building – the layers of peeling paint speak to a long time it has been sitting out in all weathers.
It seems incongruous, at the least, for such a destructive agent as dynamite to take up residence in a place full of the hopes for eternal rest. I reflected on this idea a bit as we walked around the cemetery.
Another factor mitigating against eternal rest is the highway’s neighborly presence. Neighborly in the sense of – a loud intruding kind of neighbor.
We walked around. The cemetery has friends – it is being cared for by the Oddfellows in Shillington, PA.
The grass is mowed and everything is neat. But the ravages of time are apparent. There are pieces of headstones separated from their graves, and my later reading told me that it’s suspected there are unmarked graves as a result of the carelessness of those who moved graves to accommodate the various canal and highway projects. Weather has also done damage – I have noticed that marble headstones do not stand up to the years as well as granite. Inscriptions fade and melt away.
This monument commemorates several people who served in the War of 1812 and the Civil War. I know this because I checked the dates on the flags – these flag markers specify the conflict served in by each veteran as they are being honored.
This marker is the footstone to the grave of a very young person.
We left the cemetery and climbed the small hill, back up to the road. This little place gave me a lot to think about. For one thing, how unimaginable this world of today would have been to the founders of this cemetery, and what sadness they might have felt at seeing their family resting spot, thought to be forever, so vulnerable.
But I hope that they might have also seen that there are still people who care. This cemetery has friends – the Oddfellows, and the Berks County Association for Graveyard Preservation. The grounds are neat and veterans are honored. There is talk of highway construction that could affect the cemetery, but people are sticking up for it, according to a recent article in the Reading Eagle. That made me feel good. So much has changed in 200 years for this cemetery, but people still think it’s important not to forget those who were here before us.
You say, what is this photo all about? I’ll tell you. It’s a nice story.
Last week, the day before my cataract surgery, I was driving along. Feeling a bit on edge, but otherwise everything was as usual. Then, the warning light for low tire pressure came on. And, in my car, there is even a little schematic showing which tire – the passenger front.
Well, in some consternation, I turned around to go home. I had about 5 miles to drive and I had no idea why the tire was signaling for help. The car is just about 6 months old. Surely it should be fine?
I thought of the garage where we have taken our cars for years. Close to home and I knew they would help me out. I managed to get there fine. The tire looked low, and so I was glad to be there. I parked the car at the edge of the lot and went in. Sure, the guys said. Pull the car around and we’ll look.
I brought the car around the corner and to the front of the garage. I got out and went back into the office. We looked out the window at the car. At that moment, the tire finished going totally flat. I saw the rim sink to the ground.
After an examination, the pictured stone was found, driven all the way into a groove in the tire. The guys pulled it out and patched the tire. Some air and it was all fixed. Just like that!
I was so grateful I might have said, “Thank you!” about twenty times. I know the whole staff was laughing (in a nice way) by the time I finished. I am thankful for the help they gave me and so quickly, too. I am also marveling that the car waited until I got to a safe place before the tire went totally flat, and I’m grateful for that, too. As I said, I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to cope with a flat tire that day.
See, I told you it was a nice story, so that’s why I’m writing it down here. And, I am still wondering how this little rock, not that sharp, found just the right spot in the tire to do this kind of work? It is surprising, isn’t it?
Do you remember the Sunshine Project, Day 56? Of course not, and I’m not surprising you with a quiz. The reason I bring it up is that my husband and I visited the same site yesterday for a different purpose.
First of all, the location is that of a local florist. I’ve gotten flowers from here as gifts and I have bought them for others, too. Our family also has purchased flowers to plant in our yard from this shop for many years. It’s a local landmark and I love to see what displays they have set up for the current season.
But the reason I came here was to visit the Little Free Library located on the side of the building. I left a sunshine here on Day 56 – it’s gone now, as I expected. That’s great.
This time I brought some books to add to the library. I’ve been doing some cleaning out. Many things in my life have changed and I have realized that my home and mental spaces both needed some clutter reduction. It’s been a good experience for me. And I hope that these books will go on to find new readers.
I have put a bag of books in my car. I plan to leave them at this location and at another one in Mondauk Park over the next couple of weeks, as I pass by.
And doing so will give me a reason to take the time to enjoy the flowers and the colorful, cheerful atmosphere of this place.
It’s a small thing, but then, maybe not. It seems important to me that I mention this incident.
I was running along the new section of the Pennypack rail trail this morning. There are parts of it still awaiting their final covering of gravel. So I had some very muddy parts to navigate, with this one in particular looking just impossible to cross. Not only was the trail one big deep mud bog, and for a good distance, but the area extended into the brush and the footing was not good enough to skirt the mess. I thought I’d have to just go through it and my poor sneakers, well, they would take a trip through the wash when I got home.
But an unknown person did me and all the rest of us trail-users a favor. It was a simple thing – lay a couple of boards along the side of the mud hole. But it took some doing. They looked like clapboards and they weren’t local – meaning just lying around within a few feet of the trail. Somebody went to trouble to help us all out.
I’m certainly thankful for what they did. It made me feel cared for. Sometimes it’s easy to think the world is a harsh place and everyone is looking out for himself or herself and no one else. This little gesture reminds me that often things are otherwise, in all kinds of small ways that add up.
Made me smile!
The Sunshine Project is over. Spring is here. Winter has passed. I am very grateful to have arrived at this point. I want to thank everyone who has followed along on this journey. It has made a difference to me to do this project and to know that others have supported me.
I will not go on at great length about what I gained from doing this activity. But I want to say that having a framework such as this project provided had benefits beyond what I had expected. Not only did I have to get out and participate in the world each day, something that has been hard for me since my illness, but I had to write about it, and reflect on my experiences. In this way each day had a shape and a meaning. I learned something every day; I went places I had never been before; I got a lot of ideas about things I want to do after the project – plein air painting, visits to local historic sites, writing poetry in libraries instead of holed up at home. I feel I’ve been on a pilgrimage and returned renewed and with greater knowledge. Thank you, Sunshine Project.
Here are all the sunshines from the project in one array.
Today is the last day of the Sunshine Project. Spring is here. I survived the winter. I have been reflecting on what the Project has meant to me, but today, well, I’ve still got a sunshine to set in place.
What did I do this last day? I participated in a craft show – held at Archbishop Wood High School to benefit the marching band. This show was aimed at people who want to spend a modest amount of money in most cases and who were looking for all kinds of items. It’s not an art show and so I brought my clay tiles and small figurines.
I’ve done this show before and it’s such a nice situation. Each vendor gets a table (provided and set up) and we are inside a comfortable building, safe from the weather. Most of my shows are outside and so not worrying about setup or weather problems is just great.
The day went very quickly. The show turned out well. I walked around a little to see what else was on sale and bought a couple of gifts.
The high school the event was held in is a large structure with two large wings. Originally this school was divided into two schools occupying identical buildings side by side, a girls’ school and a boys’ school. Each operated separately for decades until they merged to form one, and now the buildings are connected by a gallery. I found it interesting that the tiled hallways were pink in the girls’ side and pale green on the boys’.
The day ended early, at 3 PM. I am always interested to see the site of a show returning to its everyday self, as all of us vendors pack up and leave.
Earlier, during my survey of the show, I noticed a fountain outside the north wing. The day had turned out sunny and warm; the snow that fell yesterday was melting quickly. After the show was over, my husband and I walked outside to see the fountain.
I decided it was a great place to set the sunshine. Water is a sign of renewal and it’s life-giving – the fountain seemed to be a symbol of spring to me. Endings and beginning, that is what today is for me.
If you want to know more about the Sunshine Project, look here, or search under the category “Sunshine Project.”
This afternoon I took the sunshine to the theater. Or at least to the threshold of the theater.
Here is the story. My husband and I sometimes go to plays put on by local theaters or colleges and we enjoy the experience. At Christmas 2013, my son and his girlfriend (now fiancée!) gave us a gift certificate for the Act II Playhouse in Ambler, about 15 minutes from home. I was not able to go because of my health during their last season; but this year, things are different. So we attended this play, Unnecessary Farce, courtesy of that gift certificate, and had a great time.
The theater is the small and comfortable, located on the main street in Ambler. We went to a matinee performance. I prefer them because honestly, I get tired and lose attention at night. I know this about myself and so, an afternoon performance is made for me.
Before we went in, I set the sunshine on the sidewalk next to the building. I felt it would greet every person who came in the theater.
Our seats were up high and at the back. I prefer to sit in the back because I can find the actors almost overwhelming if I am closer. And I like the vantage point of being up above the action.
We watched the crowd file in. I would have to say we were among the youngest people there. I also have to say that thirty years ago I still would have preferred to be going to a show in the afternoon. It’s not just for retirees. That’s what I say! No matter, the theater was full.
I was also interested in the array of lighting above our heads. You don’t notice it unless you look for it, but you do notice the effect it has on the performance.
The play was really funny. You can tell by the title what to expect, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It was fast-paced and full of people running in and out of doors. Plenty of laughing going on in that audience. The time flew by.
When we left, we went out the side entrance and so got a chance to see the stage closer up. It’s in disarray, a change from the neatly set-up rooms depicted at the beginning of the play. I reflected on how the physical surroundings reflected the unraveling of the characters’ situations – some for the better and some for the worse, all funny.
I was really happy to be able to attend this play. It’s one more step away from my illness and toward enjoying everyday things. And I am so glad I got to use my son and (future) daughter-in-law’s gift – I appreciate their thoughtfulness in choosing something that we would really enjoy.
Take a look here if you want to know more about the Sunshine Project, or search the category “Sunshine Project”.
I’ve been wanting to visit this site for some time, but the weather has not permitted it. Now that the snow covering the ground has melted, I was able to take a sunshine to the labyrinth on the campus of Chestnut Hill College, about fifteen minutes from my house.
Chestnut Hill College is a small Catholic college founded by the Sisters of Saint Joseph. Originally it admitted only women; now it’s coed. Many nuns who taught in the Philadelphia Catholic schools were educated there and today it’s a popular place for teachers in public and private school systems to get their education degrees, BA or MA.
I was interested in this labyrinth because I’ve walked several of them in different places, and I find the experience to be calming and meditative. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has a clear path to the center. The repetitive movement and the slower pace help turn the walker’s mind toward reflection. Some sources I’ve read have compared it to a symbolic pilgrimage.
I wanted to leave a sunshine there and to take the path. So I went over to the school and parked. A very nice security guard assured me that I had found the visitors’ lot and would not get towed – the first step toward a leisurely visit! I walked across campus. to the labyrinth, which is located at the edge of the campus behind the sisters’ motherhouse building.
Holding the sunshine in my hand, I walked the path to the center and set the sunshine in the middle area.
After I finished, I looked around the area a bit. I noticed a small tree with a dedication at its base and a whole crowd of buds in the branches just waiting for the right moment to leaf out.
And I looked up at this ornate clock tower above the labyrinth – what a beauty.
I decided to take a stroll through the campus on the way back to the car. I had not been inside the buildings at this school, so I thought I’d see about going inside. I was able to walk all through the main buildings on campus. They are somewhat severe on the outside but the insides were dignified, comfortable, spacious, and full of detail.
My last stop was the cemetery where many of the sisters are buried. It’s at the edge of campus behind the area of the library, very quiet and peaceful. Each sister’s headstone contains only her religious name and date of death, and the phrase “Rest in Peace”. Very different from public cemeteries with their elaborate monuments.
As I walked into the parking lot I noticed the girls’ softball team was getting ready for practice. As I watched they started off on some laps around the field. Once again, a sign of spring.
More about the Sunshine Project here, or look in the category “Sunshine Project”.