Front Porch: What’s saving your life day-to-day?

Published 9:02 am Friday, March 10, 2017

By Lisa Johns

Sun columnist

“… there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world determined to do the only thing you could do — determined to save the only life you could save.”

— “The Journey” by Mary Oliver

I have a confession to make: I love reading blogs on the Internet.

Most of you know about them. They are the ones that have the perfectly-decorated home, the gourmet meals on the table with these elaborate desserts, and dogs that actually pose for the camera.

Recently, my daughter sent me a new blog (gulp) for me to read, Modern Mrs. Darcy. The writer, Anne Bogel, resides in Louisville and writes about books.

The other day, Bogel posed the question, “What is saving your life right now?” The question caused me to think about what is truly saving my life. While these are in no particular order and are somewhat serious yet also light, these are the things that save me — from myself and from others, and quite frankly, from our world.

— Caffeine. There is nothing better than a great cup of coffee. I have been drinking it for as long as I can remember. I love it anyway you fix it, except with sugar.

The great thing about Winchester is we have service stations galore for coffee but also locally-owned and operated places for coffee.

Visit The Cairn, Creative Coffee, Grace Cafe and the Daily Grind for an amazing cup and help support local business in return.

— Faith. I am a member of St. Hubert’s Episcopal Church on Grimes Mill Road. The drive there is a lesson in beauty each Sunday.

I also read three inspirational writers daily — Richard Rohr, Kayla McClurg and The Upper Room. They ground me. They offer a sense of peace in a time of upheaval, hope in time of distrust and reminders of glorious light when shadows linger.

In times like these, we need a good word and these challenge me to be better and better. Not perfect; just better.

— Books. I used to stay glued to the television or just turn it on for “white noise.” Now, I read.

I had forgotten about the melody of words on a page, the picture of a place in my mind that I see from words, the smell of the rain on a dusty trail, and the characters who become your friends. When thoughts of not reading creep into my head, I realize it’s importance to who I am.

— Creativity. I am a firm believer that creativity can be nurtured and grown within everyone. Creativity has revived me. Whether you doodle with a pencil, build furniture, arrange a vase of flowers or paint with watercolors, these activities pump life into you.

When I pick up my needlepoint, write my articles or hook a rug, I am revived.

— Intentional walking. A great theologian once said, “You make your way by walking.” We do — if we take the time.

Intentional walking is seeing, really seeing. It is looking at the beauty of the bulbs pushing their sleeping heads up from the soil, the glistening frost on a blade of grass, a newborn calf wobbling out in the middle of a field and the gorgeous architecture of our buildings on Main Street and in neighborhoods around town.

Walking with my friend, Debbie Catron, for the last 21 years has enabled me to meet others whom I would have never met had it not been for walking.

— Chocolate. I love Dove milk chocolate for two reasons. The first is that it is different from any other chocolate. It rests on your tongue and slowly melts leaving this chocolate wonderfulness. Secondly, I love the inspirational sayings inside the wrapper. Tonight mine read, “Choose your own path.”

What more could one ask to have chocolate and inspiration to eat it.

— Yoga. I couldn’t even begin to express my gratitude to the four wonderful yoga instructors who have changed my posture, my breathing and my ability to feel calm when the whole world around me is shaking.

While many confused people believe it to be a religion, let me just say this. I cannot imagine anything better that promotes love, acceptance, better health, honoring one’s body and nature, light and kindness, except religion.

— Activism . According to Merriam-Webster, activism “emphasizes direct vigorous action in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue.”

I don’t like the word “controversial” nor do I go looking for controversy. But I am adamant about the need for a viable and growing downtown area.

I see the need for an additional swimming pool, not water park, where the youth of our town can actually go under the water and learn to swim and interact with others.

I am a proponent of community-supported agriculture and our farmers‘ market. I want to know where my green beans came from and whose land and hard labor brought them to me fresh. I want to talk to these farmers on Saturday and form relationships.

These are causes that create a fire in my belly and ones that are legitimate causes for me.

— Children. I taught for 27 years in the Clark County public school system. I loved it, and more importantly, I still do.

I was fortunate to move to Saint Agatha Academy where I teach my former students’ children. Their truth, their laughter and their ability to remain their true selves is an inspiration for me to do the same.

— Writing. I may not be Louisa Mae Alcott, Jo Jo Moyes or Danielle Steel. I might not ever win a Pulitzer Prize or be recognized. But this much I do know: We all have a voice. We have something we need or want to say. We have likes and dislikes. We need something to hold on to — a faith, a belief, a practice. We want food, shelter and something hot or cold to drink. We need a purpose; a someone or a something to make us look at our life from a totally different perspective. 

What is truly saving your life? Something bigger than all of this: “Life is a gif t —don’t forget to live it.” (from “Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon, p. 141)

Lisa Johns is a former teacher and librarian as well as an activist on revitalizing downtown Winchester.