The Importance of Stress Relief: Meditation and Looking Unto the Hills

I wrote a few years ago about attending a lecture at Harvard’s Annual Intensive Review of Internal Medicine on the importance of daily meditation as one of the medically verifiable “best practices” for Mind-Body health. In our world of frenetic activity, meditation has almost become a lost art, but I want to stress (??) the importance of this ancient practice and encourage all of us to pursue meditation, particularly during our time of world crisis.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” ( Psalm 121:1-2).

According to the gurus from Harvard, even twenty minutes per day makes a statistically significant difference in a person’s emotional/physical health. A healthy immune system is our first line of defense against COVID-19 (and myriad other infections), and long-term stress and fatigue clearly reduce the human body’s ability to fight off infections. SO, we not only need to practice “sheltering in place,” but we also need to eat right, sleep enough, exercise, and as much as possible reduce stress and learn how to relax.

The Harvard research group studied the health benefits of meditation on people from various religious persuasions, but because I am a Christian, I am going to explain meditation from a Christian perspective, which has been my personal approach for the past 55 years. Meditation, by definition, is contemplation on a subject. Unlike some Eastern religions, which teach that people are to clear their minds and “think about NOTHING,” Christian meditation has as its goal to focus our attention on God and find our rest and peace in Him.

Yesterday I got a note from a dear friend who returned from visiting India (her homeland) recently with double vision. Mayo Clinic was able to determine that her problem is caused by a palsy of her sixth cranial nerve with no “pill” to ameliorate the symptoms. She has to wait six months to see if her nerve will heal spontaneously, but if it does not, she will need surgery by a neuro-ophthamologist. Meanwhile, one of her friends recommended that she practice an ancient Indian Ayurveda exercise called “Trataka,” where the person sits quietly, intently focusing her gaze on the tip of a candle flame. After doing this exercise for a few days, my friend feels like this is actually helping!

This is a perfect example of spiritual mediation on God and His Word. As we focus intently on God, our blurry, double spiritual vision becomes clearer. God instructs us to meditate daily on the Bible: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8). Want a promise to cling to in this troubled time? I’ve been clinging to this one since I first learned it!!

How does one meditate? I usually try to memorize a verse or passage on which to focus, and as part of that process, I pray and ask God to teach me what it means for me at this time in my life. As a girl, I was taught that meditation is like cogitating on a thought the way a cow ruminates on its cud. The cow chews its food, then swallows it, where it is fermented by microbial activity in a specialized stomach before being regurgitated as a “cud.” The cow continues to chew on the cud for a while before eventually swallowing it again (and so on) until it is finally digested.

This is what God wants us to do daily! Jesus taught us in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” The Bible is our daily spiritual bread, and God wants us to munch on it . . . chew on it . . . think and rethink on it . . . focus on it . . . feed on it, until it is absorbed into our very being to strengthen us! Meditating on the truths in the Bible feeds our spirits! (It also helps reduce stress and relax us as we’re able to trust God to help us with our burdens.) My girlfriend who’s been struggling with double vision has a lifetime mantra that she also passed on to me: “Feed your faith and your fears will starve.”

Feeling fearful and stressed under all the pressure? I am! Let’s lift up our eyes and focus our hearts and minds on the flame of God’s love. Let’s meditate on our heavenly Father, who is our creator, our sustainer, and our help!

Psalm 121: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

What Makes America Exceptional: Ninety-Second Video by a Harvard Professor

Clay Christensen on Religious Freedom (His personal views, not HBS)

I hope you’ll take a minute to listen to what Dr. Christensen has to say, because I think he’s absolutely right. But, if you’re unsure or have never heard of this Harvard economist, let me introduce him, because I think he’s earned the right to one minute of our attention! His pedigree includes being a Rhodes Scholar, studying econometrics at Oxford University (M.Phil.), an MBA and later a DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) from Harvard. Christiansen set a record for becoming a “full professor” at Harvard’s Business School in only six years. In 2011 Forbes called him “one of the most influential business theorists of the last 5o years” in their cover story. In both 2011 and 2013 he was ranked #1 in the Thinkers 50, considered “the most prestigious ranking of management thinkers” (Wiki). His seminal work, The Innovator’s Dilemma (1997) received the Global Business Book Award for the best business book of the year. According to Wikipedia (where I garnered this biographical info), “He’s best known for his theory of ‘disruptive innovation,’. . .which has been called the most influential business idea of the early 21st century.”

Now are you willing to listen?

 “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3).

“Spotlight”: Does God Ask Anyone to be Celibate?

SpotlightI shied away from Spotlight because of its  “R” rating, but my daughter challenged me on that one, accusing me of refusing to look at the ugliness of sin, and pointing out that part of the problem with societal evils is that people refuse to acknowledge or investigate. So, on our flight home from Venice last weekend,Spotlight 2 I watched Spotlight. I think movies are edited for flights (due to youngsters being on board), but the version I saw was not defiling, although it left me grieving deeply for the state of Christianity throughout the world. Spotlight 3Spotlight is based on the investigation by the Boston Globe into Catholic priests sexually abusing children, and the movie has won 2 Oscars along with 108 other wins and 123 other nominations for their compelling unveiling of the massive evil covered up by the Catholic church. Spotlight 4The statistics are staggering: As a result of the investigations, 249 priests were charged in Boston, and over 1,000 survivors gave testimony. Spotlight 5Cardinal Law resigned in 2002, and since that time hundreds of major scandals have been uncovered in the Roman Catholic Church around the world, including both Detroit and Grand Rapids here in Michigan.  Spotlight 1Molesting children is a horrible evil. In Matthew 18:6, Jesus gave this scathing rebuke: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Molesting children goes even beyond physical abuse because it causes great emotional and spiritual damage too. Notre Dam Cathedral. Paris 5.8.16The Sunday we spent in Paris, we attended the service at Notre Dam, and I noticed that there were no altar boys in attendance. I wondered it that was a change due to a desire to reform and give no appearance of evil, but I don’t know. Interior of Notre Dam Cathedral. 5.8.16However, for me, the deepest question is: “Why?” and I think the real answer is that God created us as sexual beings who are meant to marry and find fulfillment in a sacred partnership. God never asks anybody to be celibate in the scripture. It’s contrary to the way He created us and contrary to his intention for us. Requiring celibacy is a human law that is really inhumane. Let the priests and nuns marry! “Let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn” (1 Corinthians 7:9).

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats…” (1 Timothy 4:1-3).

A Tale of Three Marathoners…from Chicago to Boston…and Back to Home!

Jess and Sam after the Boston MarathonDo you like running? Did you catch any of this week’s Boston Marathon? Boston MarathonI knew someone who was running this year, so I had a keen interest in the race, Baby Cheering her Daddy for the Boston Marathonbut it made me think about three other marathoners whom I admire
even though they weren’t running in the Boston Marathon. Baby with a Hat 1The first one is Jess, whose daughter’s cuteness (Sadie)
has adorned some of my Bless Your Baby entries. Marathon running coupleJess is totally delightful! She’s also a marathoner, and the story goes
that she and her husband, Sam, ran a marathon togetherBride and Bridegroom running a Marathon the morning before they got married. Doesn’t that put a big grin on your face? Baby with a Hat 2 Jess has set aside many of her personal ambitions in order to love her family, Baby on a jet planeand this past week she went with her husband and their little girl to Boston, Ready for the Boston Marathonwhere they cheered Sam on in the Boston Marathon. Way to go, Sam and Jess!! Baby with a Hat 3Life is a marathon, and you’re doing great! Luncheon TableLast week while Alan was at a conference in Chicago, Mom and Baby eatingI spent a blissful afternoon with Jess and Sadie, Sistersalong with two other women who are running a great race in life’s marathon.Green Rice with SaffronThe hostess, Marlene, is an Iranian Christian and always makes the most delectable, exotic meals. Baby with a Hat 4I won’t go into details, Iranean Soupbut the transition from Iran (many years ago) was at great cost to her family, and she still cares for an older brother who was never able to recover emotionally. Baby with Great AuntDespite the trials in her life, Marlene radiates a gentle kindness which makes me (and I suspect everybody else in her life space) feel dearly loved. Baby with her Great AuntShe’s the kind of woman I wish lived next door to me, and I envy her neighbors! Definitely one of those blessed, virtuous woman whose worth is far above rubies.

Lunch PartyMarlene’s sister-in-law is another rare gem. Lillian and her husband are caring for both her brother and her mother…and have been for years (in addition to rearing their own brood, a very demanding medical practice, and being very involved in their Messianic Jewish community, etc!). Baby with a Hat 5Their example of working tirelessly and extending grace to others is mind-boggling to me. I don’t think I had the metal to have lived such a rigorous, unselfish life of putting the needs of others ahead of my own. I know God certainly didn’t test me in that way. Baby with a Hat 6 At any rate, I was deeply touched by the experience of sharing an afternoon of life and love with these precious spiritual kin (same Father and all mothered by my spiritual mentor, Mommu). It was super fun, refreshing, and so encouraging!

Baby with a Hat 7Life is a long, hard marathon, isn’t it?  But, like Sadie, let’s just keep trying,
and in the end, everything will turn out right!    🙂   Baby with a Hat 8“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

P.S.—All the pictures of Jess, Sam, and Sadie (except for the pictures taken on the day of our visit last week) were taken and used by permission of Jess, who is very generous besides being so cool! Thank you!

Just One Week

Wailea BeachJust one week ago, Alan and I were strolling along rainbowed beaches in Maui. AaronJust one week ago, our oldest son,  Aaron, had to fly from NYC to CA for a week of Facebook business, narrowly escaping the “Snowpocalypse” (as he said),Child awaiting NY storm Junowhile his brave wife, Carleen, held down the fort with their 4 boys,
who were all eagerly awaiting the snowpocalypse (Snowstorm Juno’s arrival)! Holding the Fort!Just last week, our second son, Michael, had to leave his family in Korea for the week to attend a conference in San Diego while his dear wife, Grace, Fun at the Farm managed their bouncing bevy  all alone. So much can happen in  just one week! Regensburg on DanubeAnd, that’s just the beginning of everything that happened to our family last week! Just one week ago, our son Jon and his family returned from Germany, Grandpa reading to his grand daughterwhere Linda and the girls had been staying with her parents Regensburgwhile Jon was away teaching a J-term course on church history in Regensburg.

Child on couchI used to say that Kathy was my rose between two tornadoes, and in some ways that’s still true! Her family had at least a somewhat normal week. When Kathy asked her daughter if she’d rather go on an outing or help clean the bathroom…guess what Iris chose? “Help clean bathroom!” (Home is great!)

Transport IsoletteDaniel and Brianna’s week was anything but peaceful! Their preemie, Baby Samuel, had to be transferred from his nest at St. Mary’s HospitalNew home for Preemie to an acute care center to be prepared for the possibility of emergency surgery to prevent retinal detachment. OUCH!! That had us all in a dither.  😦 Boston SnowsLast week, Stephen started out trying to drive from MI to NY for an interview, 2015-01-27 12.02.51but the driving conditions were so dangerous that he turned back, opting for a Skype interview instead. We talked to a couple in Maui who’d flown out of GR that same day and said their 1-hr. drive to the airport was terrifying, plus the planes were all late. Wisdom is the better part of valor. Good choice, Stephen!Boston MFA in snowAnd my youngest, Joel, didn’t really go much of anywhere last week except for a walk or two, because the adventures (some traumatic) came to him! Boston Blizzard Joel lives in Boston, where blizzard winds whipped up to a frenzied 75 mph, covering much of his area in over 2′ of snow, totally shutting down the city.

Boston Blizzard 2015During that time, Joel and his floor-mate went out walking (which is where all the snow pictures are from). Did you happen to hear anything about the death of Dr. Michael Davidson, a 44-year-old cardiac surgeon who was murdered at Brigham and Women’s Hospital last week by the disgruntled son of a patient? Joel’s floor-mate is an oral pathology resident who works at the same hospital. This was a deeply felt loss for the entire medical community.Boston Snows 2015Dr. Davidson was just 5 years older than my oldest son and was devoting his life to trying to save lives. It just doesn’t seem possible, right, or fair, but unexpected tragedies do occur. Drying mittens on radiatorWell, thankfully, today we and our kids are all safely home again. Alan and I just walked in the door after a harrowing trip home that ended by renting a car and driving from O’Hare (all shut down from 19″ of snow);  Joel’s Boston dug out from last week’s dump, but his university shut down again today due to another foot of snow falling! All this action has made me think about how much can change in just one week.Rainbow over Aston Maui Villas Right now is a rosy time in my life (this picture was literally of the apartment where we stayed last week), but none of us ever knows what tomorrow will hold. Skyline Ridge Road, Haleakala, HIHowever, we can know the God who holds tomorrow, and we can trust Him to lead us into the path of life everlasting. I am trusting Him with my life and future, and I hope you are too!

“Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
(Psalm 139:23-24)

Boston’s Emerald Necklace

Muddy River  I’ve been to Boston many times throughout my life, but I’d never even heard of “Boston’s Emerald Necklace” until we visited Joel. Geese Emerald Necklace copy It’s not exactly made out of gems, but it’s a gem of a place! Boston Commons The Emerald Necklace is a sparkling swath of green parks and quiet waterways Emerald Necklace that wend their way  for 7 miles across the “neck” of Boston’s peninsula, Swan Boats in Boston Commonsbeginning at the Boston Common and ending at Franklin Park in Brookline, MA. Roses. WhiteI think the reason I’d never heard of it is that Hydrengeas at Harvard—even though it was designed by America’s first landscape architect, Pink Roses in Sun Frederick Law Olmsted, about 250 years ago Muddy River of Boston in an effort to control and maintain the marshlands in Boston— Crossing bridge over Muddy River it’s just been in the past 10 years that more than $60 million have been spent to Quiet Area renovate this restful 1,100-acre park system where more than 300,000 people Boston Park Geese copylive and many millions work and visit. Joseph B. Martin Conference Center Joel lives in the Longwood medical area, so he took us for an early morning DSCN8730stroll  before church on Sunday morning. (See the green “necklace” above?)DSCN8713 Our meander took us through the Harvard Medical school campus, Ivy-covered bench (—how’s this for Ivy League?—)Boston Latin School past America’s first and oldest existing public school: The Boston Latin School, Muddy River sun and along the “Muddy River,” which flows from Jamaica Pond to the Fens Rose. Red (thus the name “Fenway Park” for the Boston Red Sox Stadium). Chestnut trees on Emerald Necklace It was a simply gorgeous September morning, and I can’t tell you how happy it Path along Muddy River made me to see that Joel has a restful place to walk that seems a lot like home! Great Blue Herson 9.14.14 copy We even saw a great blue heron fishing in the Muddy River, and the river was Geese copyalive with sounds of Canada geese, just like we hear on our little lake! James P. Kelleher Rose Garden One of the walk’s highlights was the beautiful James P. Kelleher Rose Garden, James P. Kelleher Rose Garden Pool a circular “secret garden” of sorts hidden away in the heart of the cityRose Gardenand filled with dozens of varieties of beautiful roses! Pink RoseBecause we’d come so early on a Sunday morning, we were the only visitors, Yellow roseand many of the roses Dewy Roses were still covered with dew! Pink rose in sunshine My heart kept singing one of the songs from my youth…Do you know it? James P. Kelleher Garden flowers“In the Garden” Joel in James P. Kelleher Rose GardenI come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses. James P. Kelleher Rose Garden StatuaryAnd He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known. White RosesHe speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.
Variagated Pink RosesAnd He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
~C. Austin Miles (1868–1946) Dewy Rose
“I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.”
(Proverbs 8:17)


An Expensive Minute

An Expensive MinuteWhile Alan and I were visiting in Boston, Joel found that the best deal around for overnight parking was $24 for 24 hours in a lot not far from his house. We’ve experienced much worse! Once we inadvertently parked in a Chicago lot that charged us $22 for an hour (because we failed to buy anything from their store while looking at Christmas decorations). In Rome we stayed in a parking lot that literally lifted our car on a hoist and hand-pushed it into place just 3″ away from the next car. Our  hotel there had advertised that they had parking, but we were naive enough to think that meant “free” parking. As the attendant assured me upon arrival: “Madam, in Rome…nothing  free!” (I can’t write that line with the appropriate accent and flourish, but imagine it!) Woman in White In London it’s impossible for mere mortals to buy permission to drive a car downtown, so don’t even think about it. (But, do think about the fact that some of the tube stations close during the night. Once after watching a glorious performance of The Woman in White, we emerged into the midnight darkness of London’s theatre district  only to discover that the tube station was closed!   😦      It took a long time to hail a cab to our room at the Tudor Lodge…which [being quite far out of town in order to save money] was a very expensive taxi ride!

So, $24 for 24 hours seemed like a pretty good deal. The only trick was that we couldn’t buy a pass for 4 days. The pass ran from 6:00 am one day until 6:00 am the following day, so each morning we had to get up at 5:45 am and run over to the parking lot to buy a new pass. We never saw an attendant, but there would be a line of people each morning getting their passes for the day at the automated ticket booth. One morning we got in line, but when it was our turn, it was apparently only 5:58 am, because the ticket booth spit out a ticket for us that read “expires at 5:59″…just one minute later. We discovered that everyone else was buying the “early bird” pass (only good until 8 pm but available anytime after 12:00 am), but we hadn’t realized this! There was an 800 number to call for help, but no one answered, and there was no ticket agent available in the booth. I remembered parking once in Chicago with my girl friend Lizzie. We parked in a line of cars on a street, but when we returned, not a single car was there. Apparently it was a school pickup spot, and cars stopped but didn’t actually park. We hadn’t noticed, and we had to take a taxi to the bowels of Chicago’s underworld (which I didn’t even know existed until then) to retrieve our car…plus pay a very hefty fine. Not wanting to take any chances, Alan bought us a new pass. Sigh. That was one very expensive minute!

However, there are many even more expensive minutes: a skid on black ice, a critical wrong turn at an intersection, not looking “left last” (in the US…but “right ready” in the UK)…there are endless ways to lose your life on the freeway. The head-first dive that broke a neck, the last fateful drink or pill…it only takes a second to pull the trigger, literally or figuratively. Hateful words that end a relationship, spoken in a moment of anger but never redeemed. Do you have any horrifying “one minute”  stories? Can you look ahead and see one that might be brewing in your future? Lord, please help us to keep looking to you for wisdom so we avoid those expensive minutes!

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself:
but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:2).
“He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed,
and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).

Cape Cod: Seabreezes and Sunshine

Cape CodCape Cod is one of those watercolors where the sea, sand, and sky run together…Cape Cod Shorelinewhere the sky is huge and the dunes seem endless. Roses along Cape Cod National SeashoreMounds of wild roses crown the dunes, Lonely gull along Cape Cod Shorelineand seagulls fly above the cresting waves. Hiking the beach along Cape Cod National Shoreline They say the Pilgrims landed here in 1620 before continuing across the bay to Plymouth Rock, the official “birthplace” of America…Cape Cod Sunset over Atlanticand yet, this is the same spot about which Henry David Thoreau wrote:
“A man may stand there and put all America behind him.” Kathi and Joel at Cape CodFor this reason, it seemed the perfect place to take Joel for a little retreat! DSCN8507Our first stop was the Visitor’s Center for a pass  and to learn more about thisCape Cod National Seashore 63 sq. mile national park paradise with its gorgeous, 40-mile shoreline. Showings at Cape Cod Visitor CenterWe were there in time to see a film on Cape Cod’s maritime history, Cape Cod Visitor Ceneterbut I would love to go camping here sometime for days and soak in everything!  Cape Cod National Seashore WalkwayAs it was, we contented ourselves with a long stroll down the beach, Little Fish along ocean shorea little beach combing, Seagulls along Cape Cod National Seashoreand basking in the endless rush of sunshine and salt air.   🙂   Nauset LighthouseWell past lunch time, we enjoyed picturesque Nauset Lighthouse Provincetown, MA  before driving to the end of Cape Cod into the quaint village of Provincetown. Lobster at the Lobster Pot, MA Here we waited patiently for the unquestionably best lunch in town, Ocean side view of Lobster Pot with the unquestionably best view in town.  Lobster PotTo us, nothing is more delicious than “lobster pots” at the Lobster Pot, Fresh lobsters at Lobster Potright at the end of the pier where fresh lobsters are caught and hauled in daily! Touring ProvincetownAfter lunch we took a stroll through town to take in the sights. Lilac House in ProvincetownAlthough Provincetown is a small community with only 3,000 residents, Frog holding flowersit caters to a summer population of 60,000. DSCN8692It’s one of those places where anything goes, Bright hair!I think in the name of freedom and artistic flair. Wedding in ProvincetownI’m personally all for being unconventional and having fun, DSCN8701but I also believe that true freedom is found in following God’s commandments. Provincetown PierGod offers us a safe way to walk on the water without fear of drowning, Heading out to Sea and his commands were given to us for our own good because he loves us! Sailing Ship For instance, you might feel that skydiving with a parachute on your back or heading out to sea with a bunch of sails on your ship is too restrictive. 05You might not like the heavy weight of a parachute and think it’s too burdensome. But, the “freedom” to free fall to your death isn’t a good freedom!Hoisting up the sails What about sails? They’re heavy to hoist & take a lot of practice to use properly,DSCN8653 but they can also help you get to your destination. DSCN8661 The same is true of God’s Word. DSCN8667When you open up the parachute at the right moment, 14 it keeps you from dying, DSCN8668and when you use the sails on a sailing ship, they’ll speed you on your way. Watching the Ships heading out to sea in ProvincetownI’m thankful that Joel is working hard at learning how to handle his craft, Sailing Ship leaving Provincetownand it’s reassuring to see him heading out to sea with his sails hoisted high! Cape Cod SunriseHappy sailing! May we all remember that God’s way is the best way.

“What does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13, ESV, emphasis mine…it’s for our good!)

Update on Joel: Impressions of Boston

Boston. Aerial viewBoston is one of the oldest and largest cities in America, Granery Burial Ground 1660 but it’s not because it was founded in 1630 Aerial View of Boston or because it has a commuting region of 6.7 million people that gives it gravitas.  Manhattan from the air copyNY’s Big Apple may be the financial and cultural center of the U.S., Harvard Medical School but Boston is the undisputed academic nerve-center of our country and really has been ever since the founding of Harvard (our first and still most revered institution of higher learning) in 1636.MA College of Design Today, there are 60 institutions of higher learning in metropolitan Boston Quincy Market enrolling nearly a quarter of a million students! Joel and Alan Just recently, our youngest son, Joel, swelled that number by one. Northeastern He’s beginning a 5-year PhD program in literature at Northeastern University, Bedroom and so Alan and I went out to visit for a few days. Writing Center Although Joel is studying and teaching at Northeastern, Longwood Medical Area he lives in a Christian community that’s part of the Longwood Medical Area. Backyard He shares a home with 6 other young adults who are all in the medical field. CourtyardAs a mother, I’d been praying for a safe environment with good fellowship for my youngest, Kitchen and you can’t imagine my delight to know that Joel now sits down to dinner on Sunday evenings in a “family” of 7 siblings, of whom he is the youngest Dining Room (as he was in our home as the youngest of 7 siblings). NEU Marino Center While we were in Boston, Joel not only showed us all around his campus, Boston LIbrary he also took us to visit the  Boston Public Library, which is the second- largest Boston Public Librarylibrary in the country (behind only the Library of Congress). Boston Library Study Area The Boston Public Library is one of Joel’s favorite places to write,Boston Library Courtyard and I can see why! MFA During our stay, we also spent an evening in the MFA (Museum of Fine Arts), DSCN7638walked the Freedom Trail, Massachusetts State House toured the Massachusetts State House, Cape Cod with Joel spent a day relaxing in Cape Cod, Boston Commons accidentally happened upon the “M” Fest (“Marijuana”) at the Boston Commons Sunday after church,Emerald Necklace and even discovered Boston’s Emerald Necklace. (Have you ever heard of that?) Northeastern Campus We had so much fun that it might keep me busy for a few weeks telling you all about it, and I’m going to make a new category for my posts Old South Meeting House called “Boston Adventures,” since I’m guessing that over the next 5 years  Alan will be doubly interested in checking out Boston medical meetings! Alan and Joel strolling on Freedom Trail  May the Lord bless and keep Joel—and the millions of young men and women who are away from home studying. If you are away from home in school, or have a beloved young person away from home, or know that before long your son or daughter will be needing to leave home for further training or employment, Strolling Harvard Med School Campus may I encourage you with Boston’s motto? Sicut patribus sit Deus nobis (Latin): “As God was with our fathers, so may He be with us.” DSCN8915 God is able; it’s our responsibility to trust and pray!Harvard Med School Campus“Preserve me, O God; for in thee do I put my trust…The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup; thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage…I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved…Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalm 16:1,5-6,8,11).

Sonnet in Eulogy of the Boston Marathon

How are the mighty fallen on this day—

Those strong and rugged runners of the race?

Who placed the bombs to kill, then ran away—

Intent to frighten, injure and deface?

What wound, untreated, festered in their soul

That they should turn from truth to follow lies?

What twisted hatred took its evil toll

So they considered death the better prize?

Our hearts cry out in angry, anguished prayer:

“Oh God of love and light redeem our fall!

Extinguish pain, all suffering and care.

Restore the world to Eden for us all.”

“Sweet peace and blessed joy await all mine

Who run by faith to cross the finish line.”

(—Kathryn W. Armstrong, April 15, 2013)

“Wherefore seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)