Oranges, yellows, and reds refused to be still but soared on a gentle breeze.
Leaves dismissed from their posts skipped and danced across the ground where little bare feet used to tread. The sun kissed the maples and oaks that were wrapping a mantle of glory around the hills.
My aunt and I were in the country exploring places that few visit these days. We were back in the country on gravel roads by crooked streams that laced hills and trees. It was beautiful!
Aunt Virginia was taking me back in time exploring old home places where my ancestors used to live. Most of the houses and outbuildings have been gone for many years, but memories of them were very much alive in my aunt's mind. She delighted in sharing timeless tales with me.
One of the farms was at one time located in the most beautiful place. It was my favorite location. I don't know what it looked like back then, but today the farmhouse would sit among the most amazing surroundings.
Most of the families had ten children. Every place we went was so quiet and peaceful now with only the leaves whispering among themselves, but I was imagining another day. A day when many voices were heard, singing, whistling, shouting, whispering, teaching, praying.......
Back to my aunt's memories.........
Story after story was passed on to me. Stories of ways of doing things, so different from today. Growing, processing, and storing food for long winters. An art somehow lost.
Later we poured over photographs that revealed faces of long ago. Character and natures were matched with the images as my aunt shared memories etched in her mind about each one.
Some were described as gentle and quiet. They were not weak as some would suppose, but very strong. They ruled their dispositions with a gentle nature. The meek.
Some were dominant, vocal, opinionated, and you might say stubborn. They were allowed to think that they had total control by the gentle, quiet ones. When it came down to the fine print, the gentle ones had the final word.
One of my great grandmother's was named Mattie Etta, but she didn't like the name Etta so she changed her middle name to Hattie. (She was one of the strong-willed ones.) Her children used to tease her in later years when she would do or say funny things (she was a funny one!) by saying, "Now, Mattie Hattie!"
I learned about Model A stories, one-room school house stories, chores and play stories. I learned that my Grandpa would go upstairs where his children slept, tuck them in and kiss them goodnight every night. That really touched my heart. I pictured him bending over their tiny little frames, assuring them of his love.
The physical structures of the farms that we saw were, for the most part, gone. I learned of one great-grandpa that had built an amazing barn, very large, on the cutting edge for its day. The barn is now gone, the whole farm is under a lake that was built a few years ago. A barn built to last, gone forever. Even the foundation is permanently hidden.
Foundations are so important, but it is only the spiritual ones that will be eternal. Disciplines, natures, convictions were passed down in our family but houses, barns, things are gone.
I love this scripture:
"We are God's fellow workers: you are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it. For no man can lay a foundation than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet as though by fire. Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"
There is a foundation which can be laid, Jesus Christ, which can never be destroyed.
The next time I travel those country roads I am likely to find the hills wrapped in a different season, blanketed with snow, dressed in the grandeur of spring, or basking in the summer sun. Whatever season I visit, wonderings of what used to be will rise to meet me.
I wish I could reach back to the days when there was more among the shadow of the trees. I want to see what used to be. I want to meet those who lived here, ask them questions, judge their character for myself......taking ahold of all that was good, excellent, worthy of praise. Getting a grip on the baton of the past and passing it into the future.
A sadness comes over me as the reality settles in that just as season pass, the season to touch those generations is gone. Some of them will meet me in eternity, some I will not be able to find. Like their homesteads, not even a foundation left to explore.
Our little explore has reminded me that there is only one thing that really matters:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.
This world is not our home, we are just passing through.
A home awaits us, with an eternal view.
Blessings, dear friends!