My May Goal Update

Any good goal system has to be periodically updated, which is why I revisit my goals at the end of each month. Sometimes I feel myself slipping, and sometimes I reach goals and then move away from them and have to re-establish them and strive to reach them again. Keeping them in my sight throughout the year is a dance – – whether two steps forward and one step back or one step forward and two steps back, I keep the momentum when I devote some time each month to thinking about making things happen. Because a goal without a plan, as they say, is just a dream.

Here’s what is happening this month:

CategoryGoalsMy Progress
LiteratureShift from Read Around the USA to reading with Sarah Donovan’s Ethicalela book group, which begins in August – My goal is to co-host April with Fran Haley and host next July alone, unless someone wants to join in and be a partner.

Continue to Blog Daily – I’m considering moving to a weekly blog, but I’m undecided as yet.
Signed up to host the book groups – Ada Limon’s The Hurting Kind poetry for April 2024and The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart for July 2024.

Ordered the first two books in the yearly reading series.

I have blogged daily this month.
CreativityImprove blog photos

Indulge in photo excursions
I’ve been reading tips on improving photography from websites like Audubon, and using the tips to apply to my photos.

I’ve been taking my camera on my outings, and I always keep it handy on the way up or down the driveway, since so much wildlife lives right there.
SpiritualityTune in to church
Keep OLW priority
We have tuned in to the First Baptist Church of YouTube through the month and listened to Dad as he has preached in different locations as pulpit supply.

I’ve prayed my way to work most days, and I’m keeping prayer as my priority – we have so many blessings that can never be thanked for enough.
ReflectionWrite family stories
Spend time tracking goals each month
I haven’t been writing as many family stories as I should be writing.
I have been tracking my goals, though.
Self-ImprovementReach top of weight range

Maintain Weight
I reached the top of my goal weight range and tried maintaining, but I failed to maintain. Now I’m back to needing to lose 10 pounds, and I’m going to try it with Weight Watchers instead of Optavia this time, since I find it more sustainable. Plus, I need a banana every day of my life for potassium – – not allowed on Optavia. Thankfully, a lot of weight has not been gained. I just need to reel it in.
Maintenance is the harder goal of losing and keeping it off.
GratitudeDevote blog days to counting blessingsI still devote blog days to counting my blessings. It helps to look ahead on the calendar and anticipate days like birthdays and other celebrations, like Marshall and Selena’s anniversary at the end of May and Beckham’s birthday at the beginning.
ExperienceEmbrace Slow Travel

Focus on the Outdoors

Add birding in at least three new counties for June – I currently have official counts for four Georgia counties.
We are indeed embracing slow travel as we take more camper trips. Instead of planning a cruise or a trip overseas this summer, we are opting to drive Route 66 (half of it) at an enjoyable pace, stopping to see the sights. We leave at the end of June for this with Briar’s brother and his wife, so we can share the driving and go at our own pace.

We’ve been spending more time outdoors at home and away – spiffing up the yard, savoring campsites. Spring is the ultimate time to get outdoors! I’m even trying a few new plants to see if I can keep them alive.

I have officially posted birding counts for Pike, Harris, Washington, and Cherokee counties in Georgia. My goal is to stop along the way home when we are at campsites and get at least three new counties by the end of June.

Slice of Life Challenge – March 28 – My Top Ten Favorite Books from Birth to Ten

I’ve been thinking a lot about my reading choices these past few weeks. I started the year with the goal of reading around the USA with The Book Girls, and I made it three and a half months before rethinking my commitment to reading books that I thought might be more about particular places. I’ve never had trouble abandoning a book, and I’ve never had trouble rereading one again and again and again.

Reading Around the USA seemed fun – like it was going to be an adventure – but in many cases, I found that the recommended books hardly mentioned place, and when I read to learn about a place, I thrive on rich descriptions that take me to settings that appeal to all five senses like I felt when I was walking the streets of Mitford Village with Jan Karon. What others find to be amazing bestsellers not to be missed, I often find blah at best, reading the obscure books on the shelf and finding that they outshine the popular books where my taste is concerned.

I’m looking forward to a book club coming this summer through, which will feature a variety of professional books, poetry, and fiction. My reading goal will shift toward reading books with the people I connect with and write with each month. We’ll gather by Zoom and discuss our reading. The hosts and monthly books will be announced in June.

I thought back this week over the books I enjoyed as a young child, and these were the top ten as I remember them, in no particular order beyond 1-4, but 1-4 are solidly in order of preference. These are the books that shaped me as I became a reader, the ones that had me wanting to write so much that I began writing the names of the color crayons in the covers of my books by looking at the letters on the crayon wrapper. Perhaps you also loved some of these.

10. Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell

9. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

8. A Taste of Blackberries by Doris Buchanan Smith

7. Queenie Peavy by Robert Burch

6. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

5. Happiness Is by Charles M. Schultz

4. Childcraft Volume 2: Stories and Fables

3. Tibor Gergely’s Great Big Book of Bedtime Stories

2. A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

  1. Childcraft Volume 1: Poems and Rhymes

Please share your favorite childhood books and a book you’d recommend that you’ve read recently in the comments. Currently, I’m reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig and The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart.

Happy Reading!

May 29 – Thankful for These Moments

Two of my goals this year are spending more time in nature and taking my camera along more to be intentional about observations as I work to improve my photography. Sunday at Hamburg State Park turned out to be a gorgeous day, and I wanted to take my camera back to the mill we’d toured the previous day to look around the dam outside and see what all was in the area of the bridge and the creek. We drove the short distance from our campsite to go exploring, but we decided to leave the dogs in their soft-sided kennel in the car with the windows cracked since the temperatures were cool. In areas like these, you never know what might be lurking under a log or near the water, so we left them in the truck to nap as we kept an eye on them from the bottom of the ramp near the water.

There are birdhouses all around Hamburg State Park, and as I checked information on my eBird account and Merlin app, I discovered that this was a birding hotspot. Just a few seconds of sound recording proved that there were many different species singing from the tops of the trees. Swallows, bluebirds, a variety of warblers, blue-gray gnatcatchers, and cardinals topped the lists in a few spots, along with vireos and wrens. I saw an Eastern Kingbird, too.

But swooping down first on one side of the dam and then the other was a Great Egret with a wide wingspan, its legs looking as skinny as those wire marshmallow roasters we hold over the fire, trailing in flight behind him.

I dashed across the road to get a glimpse from the bridge, clicking away all the while, as he led me straight to his friend – – a Great Blue Heron. They waded in the water on their thin backward-scissoring legs, scanning for birds, their necks craning up, down, and sideways with an odd humor, much like a dog that cocks his head back and forth when he strains to understand. Watching these birds was a highlight of my entire weekend!

I heard my husband calling my name, trying to get my attention from afar and be quiet all at the same time. He was standing frozen still, telling me to have my camera ready. I headed in his direction as he urged me to come quickly but approach slowly.

There. Do you see on that tree stump?

He pointed at the base of the stump just across the water, a few feet away.

I was looking for a bird.

I wasn’t expecting a snake.

But there it was, a venomous Cottonmouth, as big around as a giant summer sausage with its Zorro mask and owl eye patterns down its sides, looking a lot like an ellipsis inside parentheses to an English teacher. It had been approaching the top of the tree stump and turned around to seek shelter in the hole at the base when it saw my husband. It stopped briefly to flick its forked tongue at us for interrupting its plans, took us in for just a moment eye to eye, then continued on its way to shelter beneath the ground.

I felt blessed to have seen this snake in the wild (happy, of course, that it was on the other side of the water), and even more glad we’d left the dogs in the car. I was also counting my blessings that I could positively identify the snake. You see, a year ago, I joined two Georgia snake groups that are monitored by expert herpetologists who identify any snake posted on the page with a quick turnaround time. I’ve learned how to tell commonly mistaken species apart and gained an appreciation for the extensive role of snakes in our ecosystem. The groups are What Kind of Snake is This? Georgia and Georgia Snake Identification and Education, both on Facebook. As soon as I posted the photo and location, the response from the expert confirmed what I had learned from repeated similar sightings posted by others.

Venomous Cottonmouth, Agkistrodon piscivorus. Keep a safe distance to watch this one!

I’m grateful today for fascinating moments like these. I’m abundantly grateful for the men and women who fought bravely defending this nation and its places that I love and who ultimately gave their lives for the peace I enjoy today in these state parks full of quirky, underappreciated, and often misunderstood wildlife. I’m praying for the families whose hearts are heavy with remembering the joy their fallen loved ones brought, missing all the memories they sacrificed so that I could enjoy making these memories today. For us, this day is not about a day off from work grilling hot dogs in merriment, but one of taking time to realize that the rights and freedoms we have today have come only because those before us fought for them – and died for them.

And that is how we are keeping Memorial Day a sacred time of remembering and appreciating.

Hamburg Mill Dam
Barn Swallow
Day Lilies
Eastern Bluebird
Great Egret
Great Blue Heron and Great Egret
Great Blue Heron and Great Egret
My husband, standing across the creek from the Cottonmouth
Venomous Cottonmouth
Venomous Cottonmouth showing its forked tongue
A lovely sunset

May 27 – On Woodpeckers and Wieners

We arrived on site 29 at Hamburg State Park in Mitchell, Georgia in time for an all-beef hotdog on the electric grill last night, both looking forward to a long weekend of camping and spending time reflecting on those who made our freedom possible at the ultimate cost. As we drove here to this beautiful place to enjoy the peace, I couldn’t help wondering if those we are pausing to remember would be pleased if they were granted a visitor’s pass to come back and see how we’ve managed what they gave their own lives protecting.

I write this on the heels of a letter our district received from a concerned citizen about having school-related events in religious buildings. Because our auditorium is under construction, our small rural school district has had to reach out to churches for space this year; otherwise, students would not have had opportunities to celebrate their accomplishments with families there to share meals with them. The parent was upset because a Christian prayer was offered by a parent before a meal in a fellowship hall for a banquet that was not mandatory for students to attend.

Earlier this year, we had a county commissioner who wanted to go through every book on our library shelves because a child had checked out a book that had a character with two mothers – – our PUBLIC library shelves – – to remove a book not in keeping with his own opinions and values, for a book that was not mandatory for any child to read.

As I thought about choice and freedom as I grilled these wieners, I heard the familiar sound that told me my mother was nearby – – and sending a message, as she still does in relation to my thoughts.

A woodpecker.

Beating its head against a tree.

I looked up to see a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, thinking almost aloud, Thanks, Mom. Are you sure you didn’t mean to send a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker instead?

And then these wieners began sizzling on the grill.

And somewhere in all of this head-banging and sizzling, it caused me to stop and wonder whether we can even handle the precious freedoms we have been given when we can’t all respect the freedoms of others. Some folks think that their freedoms include limiting the choices and freedoms that we all should have, and yet even hundreds of thousands of graves with American flags whipping in the breeze can’t even get our attention long enough to stop and consider the state of our nation.

So the woodpecker will forever chip away, and the wieners will continue sizzling, as Mom still prompts thinking from the other side, where all things in her world are now perfect.

May 17 – Farm Meditation

Pop-Up Rainstorm, May 16, 2023, 6:45 p.m., Johnson Funny Farm Eastside

In reflecting on Janisse Ray’s Ecology of a Cracker Childhood after rereading the chapter on Bachman’s Sparrow this week on the heels of hearing one of these rare birds on Global Big Day, I find that I’m perpetually drawn to her words, her style, her sentiments. In Wild Card Quilt, Ray writes

     A farm's is a meditative kind of existence.  One could live many places happily, but some situate you closer to nature and the intricacies of survival; closer to the seasons and the cycles of moon and sun and stars; closer to the ground, which chambers water and is host to essential ingredients of life. 
     To pay attention to the world, where forests bend according to the wind's direction, rivers bring baskets of granite down from the mountains, and cranes perform their long, evolutionary dances, is a kind of religious practice. To acknowledge the workings of the world is to fasten ourselves in it.  To attend to creation - our wild and dear universe - is to gain admission into life. One can live at the bone.  This I wished to do.
     Details define the farm: the arrival and departure of birds, wildflower blooms, habits of animals, ripening of fruit, passing of cold fronts.  The more attention we pay to a certain place, the more details we see, and the more attached we become to it.  ("A Natural Almanac," Wild Card Quilt)

I’ve often thought we might retire on the island where I grew up. Until I was 40 years old, I lived life at the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina. When I married my husband, I moved to middle Georgia and fell in love with the rural setting so charming it’ll give you the tickle-shivers. He considers going to the beach a vacation. I consider the beach home. We’ve had to focus our lens and have some deep discussions about what constitutes a vacation, and all the differences between vacations and traveling and trips.

Beaches these days are too people-y. When you have to plan your grocery shopping at 10 p.m. to get a parking place and be able to move through the aisles and not wait in line six carts deep, it gets old fast. When you work all the time and are too tired to go to the beach and have your first basal cell removed from your nose and are warned to stay slathered with sunscreen just to go check the mailbox, being outdoors below the gnat line means you alternate between insect repellent and sunscreen. And when you have to wait in line to eat in a restaurant for over an hour because there is no “resident pass” to the front of the line, the charm fades because unlike everyone waiting, you’ve worked all day and have to get out of bed early and go do it all again the next day.

Plus, no one knows how to drive. There’s a perpetual crowdedness like being on a packed out elevator, just waiting for it to stop on your floor so you can squeeze between everyone to get out the door before it closes and breathe.

That’s why I think the beach will remain a place for us to visit, but not to live. I’ve gotten too attached to the wildlife here on the farm – the birds, the cows in nearby pastures, the goats and occasional donkeys, the roosters crowing at all hours, and the hens that give us fresh farm eggs – the kind that many people would find surprising to see and smell and taste for the first time after eating those that come in cartons.

I’m not sure how I would feel about moving to a place where I didn’t get the occasional opportunity to see my husband, tractor running, standing off to the side in his wide-brimmed hat and t-shirt, with his jeans unzipped, peeing on a tree as he has done all his life here, as all little boys in the country grow up doing, never outgrow, and find that even into their later years there is no sheer pleasure like drawing a urine face on Loblolly Pine tree bark. Country boys pee like our ancestors did, au naturel and wholly Biblical, before all of this indoor plumbing.

I would miss driving down the long driveway, my camera always on and ready because I never know what will pop out of the next shrub around the corner before I get to the road. Could be a cute bunny, as it was yesterday with its paper-thin membraned ears up – or a mob of deer with their little ones, or a coyote, or a fox, or a fox squirrel, or a raccoon or possum or our resident hawk. You just never know what you’ll see next out here, because every trip to the road holds a story or two, a real adventure, some actually wrinkled with risk.

And the fig tree, the little clearance turkey fig I bought for $3.00 from the scratch-and-dent rack at Home Depot that now towers above the roof line and yields more fresh figs than I could ever use, so I end up calling my fig friends to bring their containers and use the garage ladder to pick all they can take.

Then there’s the bird and butterfly garden that we planted when we first moved in, where our beloved dachchund Roxie is buried and where the Black Swallowtails hang heavy on the fennel each summer before spinning themselves into chrysalises, emerging, and flying off to lay eggs and keep the cycle going. I don’t want any neighbors messing with my baby birds or my caterpillars; they’ve come to enjoy a quiet life of solitude with plenty of wayward fennel to transform them into creatures of flight.

And right now, it’s raining. I knew it before it started because we aren’t covered up in asphalt roads and concrete sidewalks. The earthy scent rises like coffee steam from the ground right before a good rain, announcing that showers or storms are imminent. You don’t even have to be outside; it’ll barge in right through your car vents if you’re on the road. The thunder is absolutely magnificent, too – – it sounds like the end of the world, it’s so loud sometimes. And just as suddenly as it pops up, the trees will stop dancing in the wind and it’ll go away and the sun’ll come out, making you wonder if you actually dreamed up a storm.

I could close my eyes in the summertime and tell you exactly where I am on the driveway – from the wild roses at the entrance to the wild honeysuckle along the edge along the middle, to the jasmine at the garage, and the gardenia at the porch. There are certain smells in the country that naturally take to the breeze and GPS-footprint us exactly where we are standing.

And the Saturday Market. I don’t know where I would get my fresh vegetables if not for the farms here and Gregg’s Peach Orchard, where we not only buy our peaches and watermelons, but where we also go to sit under the silo in the rocking chairs and eat their fresh peach and strawberry swirl ice cream. Sometimes we pick blueberries while we’re there, and we rarely come home without a loaf of peach bread to butter and toast for weekend breakfast in the summertime.

I’m not sure where we’ll retire, but the beach and all the people packed onto islands like sardines in a little peelback-lidded tin can can’t hold a candle to the space and solitude of a farm. Indeed, this is a meditative kind of existence. Once it begins to grow on you, it takes off like Kudzu vines, hugging you tight in a forever kind of way, never turning you loose to think life could be better anywhere else.

Because it doesn’t get any better than farm life in the country.

7:33 p.m, after the storm May 16, 2023, Johnson Funny Farm Westside – I came home from camping this past weekend to find this glorious flower blooming on my back porch. I have no idea how in the world it grew there – I didn’t plant it, so the only guess: a sunflower seed from the bird feeder fell into a planter pot and received Heaven’s touch from my mother.

May 14 – My Mother’s Daughter

I’m so proud to be my mother’s daughter! She was one of a kind, ever conscientious and always protecting all of us. She was a seatbelt enthusiast, a nighttime curtain puller, and an avid door locker. So when someone tells me I’m just like her, I am reminded how fortunate I am! Remembering Mom today on this 8th Mother’s Day without her. Hug your mom if she’s still here – tomorrow holds no guarantees!

My mother in the early 1960s
My Mother's Daughter

at the Dames Ferry
dump station
at the top of the hill
two and a half days worth
of our waste
sliding down 
a three inch hose
from the belly
of our camper
into the waste tank

you stepped to 
the back to check
the spare tire

I looked out over 
the lake 
at the bottom of the hill
and panicked
thinking you, too, 
might slide

ran to the truck
set the emergency brake
announcing in a high pitch

for all to hear

to let everyone know you were safe

not about to get flattened
and drenched in pee
sliding all the way down 
to the lake

you walked up the hill
wiping your hands with
a glove
chuckling your 
secret knowing smile
satisfied with yourself

I searched your face

you raised your eyebrows 
in answer

I love you
you said
kissing my cheek

and there's nothing wrong
with this

May 12 – How Could I Have Known?

I’m missing my hairdresser and friend of 18 years, who died in May 2021. In our small town, everyone knows everyone, and my former hairdresser’s son is a school teacher in my district. I see her young grandson in one of our buildings, and I see so much of her in him. It reminds me to treasure every single moment. Tomorrow holds no guarantees for any of us. April 30 was National Hairstylist Appreciation Day, and I’m sending up a belated appreciation to Heaven for my friend and miracle-worker Penny.

Be Like Leo 

how could I have known
sitting in front of the mirror
in your swivel chair
as you snipped split ends 
that by the next haircut
you’d be walking
down your hall, laughing,
talking one moment
and fall over and die the next

leaving your husband
your children
your grandchildren
your dog
smiling through their
knotty tears
scattering your ashes 
a mile off shore from 
your favorite spot in Florida
then all getting
GPS tattoos of your
final destination points

how could I have known
that one month shy
of two years later
your husband would suffer
a heart attack and die, too,
leaving two young married sons
their wives 
your grandchildren
and your banana-loving
searching for her people
ferrying out to sea once again
to scatter more ashes

how could I have known
that unexpected tears
out of nowhere would well up
in my eyes when 
your little grandson Leo arrived
for his first day of preschool
hair tousled
half-crooked smile
an image of you
(only not the hair, not the hair)
backpacked-out like a rocket man
his tiny hands clinging tight
to his lunch
something he could hold onto 

and that I let the tears fall for a moment
then took his picture on his first day 
of big school 
sent it to his daddy
in his science classroom 
at the middle school
greeting those who’d 
surely lost grandparents, too
only not this young

Your mama would be so proud
I texted him

I still have that picture
and more like it that I take
whenever I see sweet Leo

like yesterday
when the teacher was 
giving the hero compliment
to the line leader, who stood
with one hand on a hip, 
the other pressing a pointer finger
over his lips
still and quiet
(he knows a lot about that)
telling the others, 
I like how Leo is leading.
He’s quiet.  
He’s not touching anybody.
Let's see if we
can be like Leo.

how could I have known
that would be 
the last time I 
sat in your

It’s Beckham’s Birthday!

Today, the baby of the family, our grandson Beckham, turns 2. It’s the last birthday he’ll celebrate as “the baby of the family” before his newest sibling arrives in July. We celebrate our Beckham today, and all the joy he brings to us!

Beckham sharing his ice cream with his dad
Beckham Cash Meyer 

Baby Beckham,
Everyone's joy!
Carefree days
Kayaking with Dad
Huddling up with Poppy
Appreciating these fleeting
Moments, savoring all the love

Careening on bare feet
Always listening for a blender:
Smoothies!  (His favorite)
Here he comes to claim his own (or yours)!

Making his footprint on the world
Ever the sweet little boy, another
Year older and still, 
Every day, 
Reminding us how blessed we are to be family.
In a tender moment at Christmas, Beckham chose Poppy as his person to snuggle up to in peace and warmth. The magic of his eyes and twinkle-cheeked smiles before he settles in to get sleepy were moments etched in time!

May 9 – Put a Lid on It!

Kings and Queens are famous for their hats.

Everyone, it seems, was wearing a hat last weekend – at the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky and on the opposite side of the pond in England, and all points in between at those smaller parties the commonfolk threw to celebrate these events. I chose a sun hat purchased at Marshall’s for $16.99, designed by the swank San Diego Hat Company to go with my no-frills weekend, just in case anyone is wondering, and although it was tempting, I didn’t adorn it with little hot glued horses running around the brim – or oversized flowers or bows.

A fancy Kentucky Derby hat, perfect for sipping a mint julep and watching a horse race

It got me thinking about all the hats we wear. Last summer, I sent adventure hats to the coastal grandkids – to wear on the boat, at the beach, in the kayaks – anywhere adventure calls! I got the kind with a chin strap so they wouldn’t lose them.

I sent these hats to my grandkids last summer – adventure hats!

Ironically, I lost my son’s borrowed boating hat when my cap caught a breeze on a fishing trip in April. I’d needed my own chin strap.

I recently bought a new sun hat for kayaking and camping to replace the monogrammed one that a student gave me back in 2010 as a teacher gift – I’d given it a hard look and realized its age, like a teacher ready for retirement who has been worn slap down through the years. It was time for a new one!

The hat I lost boating, before it was windswept into the ocean and forever lost at sea
Camping Hat (my Kentucky Derby/Coronation Day replacement hat)

Bartholomew Cubbins knew a thing or two about hats. Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses know that head pieces such as crowns, tiaras, and hats make statements. The most famous crown of all time hung on a cross as a place in Heaven was built for us.

Kate and William sporting a tiara and a cap
Crown of Thorns – a symbol of the greatest sacrificial love of all time
A Kissing Fish hat for all our throw-backs
Golfing hats

Ice Cream Hats
Napping hats
Bicycling picnic hats
Marshmallow Roasting Hats
Swinging Bridge Hats
Stick-Your-Tongue-Out Hats
Ugly Sweater Run hats (with my son acting like a dancing reindeer after a morning run several years ago)
Kite Flying Hats
Birthday Hats
Magical Old Silk Hat that Made a Snowman Dance

I shared a recent post where my dad entered a synagogue in Capernaum and he and his friend had forgotten to remove their Atlanta Braves caps (the monitor smiled and tactfully gestured for them to remove them), and it got me thinking about all our hats. With all the hats we wear, literally and metaphorically, what are your favorite hats? Please share your best hats and hat stories in the comments, and if you have any great hiking hat suggestions, I beg your secrets!

May 7- Holy Ground

My father, Reverend Dr. Felix Haynes, Jr., shares his sermon from a few weeks ago, as he reminisces about Holy Ground and his Holy Land travels with my late mother, Miriam, where they walked the streets of Capernaum. They traveled with members of their church to the Holy Land several times, most recently when they lived on Hilton Head Island, SC in the late 1980s and 1990s.


The setting of today's sermon is Capernaum, a very strategic location for travelers in Jesus’ day, always bustling and busy. It was a well-constructed city built 200 years before Jesus’ birth. The structures were made of unique materials, stone and plaster. Capernaum is situated on the picturesque Sea of Galilee. Just to the north, an easy walk begins the grassy slopes of the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus said, “Consider the lilies of the field…” 

I remember well our visit on tour. As you enter, you see tall trellises with Bougainvillea growing in splendid floral beauty. Miriam walked over for a close look at the deep red and purple blooms, her eyes sparkling in complete wonder. Laurie Atkins, a member of our church traveling with us, joined her and pondered the amazing beauty. 

As your walk the cobblestone streets, you observe the archaeological structures and artifacts that tell a story of rich biblical history. Capernaum is an education in the ministry of Jesus. 

The two most striking sites are the synagogue and the ruins of the home of Peter’s mother-in-law, where Jesus healed the palsied man. There is a bench on which Jesus probably sat when he taught at the synagogue on that memorable day. The flat roof was made of a sturdy mud-cement compound. This would be a “patio” where on warm evenings one could catch the sea breeze. 

Holy ground!

Jesus considered Capernaum a “home base.” The house is a three-room structure, one for sleeping, one for cooking and eating, and one for animals. There was also a courtyard. Today, a church has been constructed over the ruins of this house with a centered glass floor area where you can look down and see the interior where Jesus healed the palsied man. When my colleague, Woodrow Hudson, and I entered that church, we had forgotten to take off our Atlanta Braves caps. The monitoring priest smiled and tactfully reminded us to take off our hats. 

Holy ground!

I did a short message on the four friends who brought their friends to Jesus to our tour group. 
We moved about reflecting, remembering, and privately worshipping. I joined my dear wife who said, “This is one of the most beautiful and sacred places I have ever been.” 

Holy ground. 

And I stand there again every time I remember Capernaum.

We got on the bus to travel north toward Mt. Hermon. This scene remains vivid in my mind: Laurie Atkins looked out the window at the flowers in the field on the mount of the beatitudes, still struck by the Bougainvillea of Capernaum and musing.  Mr. Laurie Atkins was the town engineer of Hilton Head, responsible for irrigation and all the lovely landscapes in the main streets of Hilton Head Island in those days. He said to me, “I wish I could get truck loads of dirt from this place to take home with me.” 

Holy ground! 

I have truck loads of memory from Capernaum, …the most beautiful and sacred memories…”
Bougainvillea at the entrance to Capernaum, the Town of Jesus

I do not own the rights to the video below.

Joy Gardner sings Holy Ground in The Holy Land