From Sea to Shining Sea

March, for many reasons, is a significant month in our family.
The month brought a mark in my history, as well, in 2005.
It was an unexpected blessing when I found out I would be traveling to London and Eastbourne in England on a business trip with a special opportunity for sightseeing on the weekends.
Never in my biggest dreams, did it ever include a trip to England.  (And I dream BIG!)
Our company was merging information from the UK office and the USA office that required concentrated networking.
A week of intense meetings was sandwiched in between two tourist packed weekends of sheer bliss.
As we began to explore the land, it was an unforeseen reaction to feel like my feet were touching the soil of ‘home’.
Surges of inner excitement came over me again and again as we scurried from one land mark to another.
I was taken aback by my historical entanglement of emotion; it was not anticipated.  A connectivity that I did not know existed came to the surface of my heart and mind to ponder.
I knew my maternal heritage came from English shores and so I went prepared to explore, in case there was a time of connecting.  Being part of a group, you bob like a buoy as the group takes on a leadership of its own.
However, the second weekend we toured South East England which showed more hope for a personal destiny.
Some 375 years prior, my Great + Eight Grandfather, William Clark,
stood on the same shores of the English Channel,
where I then stood, ready to board a tiny ship ready to sail the Atlantic.
The “Mary & John” set sail in March 1630, (20 years after the Mayflower) with my ancestor,
William Clark, who was 21 years of age at the time.
In my home, I started collecting models of old ships early in my adult life, without awareness of my personal story that would someday unfold.  My spirit was drawn to the adventures at sea even at an early age and influenced my decor.
Now, standing on the same shore in March 2005, overlooking the great body of water, I wondered…
… What time of day did they depart?
… When did they hear the last sea gull?
… What was it like to experience their first sunset?
… Did they feel fear, the first night of pitch black with the sound of water slapping against the ‘boat’?
… Was he seasick?
… Did he keep a diary?
Daydreaming and gazing over the water as it sparkled in the sun, I marveled at their courage.
No technology as we know it,
no confidence of relatives waiting on the other side,
little medical knowledge or medicine if needed.
What they had most of all, was TRUST.
Trust in the Captain of the “Mary & John”, trust in their ability to persevere, but most of all, trust in God.
As my research continued, I was surprised to find how much was written historically about William.  He became a Judge Lieutenant in his new life in what would become America, and is documented in history as one of the seven pillars of the first church in Northampton.
History books records his life as follows:
“Trumbull called Clarke, “One of the ‘Dorchester men’ who arrived here soon after the settlement of Mr. Mather, he remained, to the end, the firm and faithful friend of his pastor. A man of quiet dignity, self-contained, and ready of resource, he bore a more conspicuous part in the early history of the town, than any others who lived here during the first twenty years of its existence.” Clarke was “one of the most influential among the founders of the town. His reputation as a man of business preceded him, and he was at once put forward in many affairs of public importance, and so continued, a leader, till old age compelled him to give place to younger but scarcely better men. A man of great public spirit, resolute and capable, he was sure to be employed by the town in conducting any of its businesses requiring skill, knowledge, tact, and determination. He was a hard worker, a pioneer in the best sense of the term. Enduring hardship with cheerfulness, meeting difficulty half way, conquering oftener that conquered, he stands one of the most prominent among the promoters of the plantation. Founder of a numerous family that has had worthy representatives during the entire history of the town, and whose descendants are scattered throughout the land, his name I honored and respected wherever it is found.”

His life made a difference in the new land and he left his mark:
“…firm and faithful friend ~ …quiet dignity, self-contained, ready resource, leader, ~ great public spirit, resolute and capable, ~ skilled, knowledge, tact and determination, ~ hard worker, ~ endured hardship with cheerfulness, “
“…whose descendants are scattered through the land…”
To personalize, William Clark left a mark in me.
I am a descendant of William Clark, who was born in England in 1609.
I have his DNA in this earthly body of mine.
William just lived the daily life of his era, but with strength of character and integrity.
No special education,
no grand inheritance.
What he lived cost nothing yet it was priceless.
I have potential to leave a mark in history just living my daily life with strength of character and integrity.
No special education, no grand inheritance… just being a cheerful, hard worker and a faithful friend.
Free and priceless.
It is my responsibility.
I CAN make a difference in my “Moment in Time”.

“May I Have Your Autograph, please?”

Recently someone asked, “What is your favorite treasure in your home?”
I am blessed with many heirlooms, but my mind immediately went to the tiny treasured book that sits quietly on the greeting desk in the Vestibule.
Calligraphy has been a passion from High School days in my art class with Mr. Clere.  He took pride in my work and his connections brought me my first job of hand lettering certificates for the Portland Public School Board.
But the history of ‘her-story’ goes back even farther with my love for letters.
My journey in calligraphy began in 8th grade through my “Antique” teacher, Miss Baughman, at Chapman Grade School.  She had been teaching for so long that a collage education was not required when she began her career.
But she knew her stuff, and her handwriting was a work of art.  I was honored to sit under her training and it has stayed with me all my life.
Penmanship class was part of our daily curriculum.  Hold your arm still, do not move your wrist, form the letters using your whole arm back to your elbow.  This will keep your ‘circles’ round and even.  Lines after line of ‘slinky’ circles were drawn trying to master an even flow of ink.
Miss Baughman would walk from desk to desk looking over the shoulder of each student, pause a bit longer at my desk, pat me on the shoulder and say a simple “Good”.  That was just the word I needed to apply myself to the challenge of the perfect “O”.
The art of handwriting, with such flair and perfection, fascinated me after the introduction to the beauty the pen could create, at the will of the master.
Even to lining the walls of the “Learning Room” in our home today, with various letters written with a chiseled point pen.  I honestly cannot read the words, but oh, how I love the form of the letters on my walls.
With my passion for the pen, it will not come as a surprise that a discovery amongst my Grandmother’s belongings, literally took my breath away.  A  family heirloom “Autograph Book” with pages of vintage script handwriting written by my ancestors.
Hattie, my maternal great-grandmother, was the proud owner of the beloved collection of words in an art form, that were written to her.  She would have been 10 years old when she received the precious “Autograph” book.
Signatures and sayings were collected from 1880 to 1884 throughout various places in the New England states. The tiny book is filled with poems, advice, remembrances, signatures and wisdom all from a pen nib filled with ink.
“To Hattie”
Feb 15, 1883
When you wish to Laugh,
Glance at my Autograph
Norwood, NY
T.C. Ellis Aged 73

“In after years when this you see, I wonder what your name will be?”
Your Schoolmate ~ Lizzie M. Farris ~ Lowell, Massachusetts
April 16, 1884
April 18, 1884
Love many, trust few
And always paddle your own “canoe”.
Truly your friend,
Marcy C. Stacy
Lowell, Mass

One of my favorites has a quirky saying but a beautiful embellished challenge:
“Trust In Jesus”
Drop one gem in the casket of remembrance for Your Friend
Jim Grant
Pittsfield NH December 3, ‘83
I wonder if the book traveled to all these places or if these autographs came to Hattie.  I knew of our roots in Connecticut, but all of the documented places stir me on to more research of our family and the beginnings in the New England states.
What I value most, in this tiny book of life, is to read the Spiritual challenges and encouragement that was given to my Great Grandmother, Hattie.  I would love for her to know that I, too, love Jesus and want my children and grandchildren to know them as their ancestors have and successfully transferred the Truth.
“Some friends may wish thee free,
Others joy and wealth
Some may wish you blessings rare,
Long life and perfect health.
My wish for thee is better far
Than all others have given.
That when you from this world depart
Your soul may rest in heaven.
Lizzie Zimmer
Onward & Upware
be your motto, Hattie
Rust Sweet Jan 7, 1882
Hattie, Seek to have well grounded principles of Truth & Righteousness
W. F. Grant
Dec. 28, 1883
Always obey the voice of the
“Good Shepherd” Hattie
Aunt Hilda
April 12, 1882
Remember thy Creator in the days of your youth.
Yours H. J. Sweet

Hattie, Let your love of God be like the grass,
Always growing!
W. H. Webb

He Lives who lives to God alone,
And all are dead beside;
For other source than God is none,
Whence life can be supplied.
Your Friend, J. P. Branshaw
Fort Covington
Feb 28th, 1883
May your name be an Angel’s pen,
In the Book of Life be written,
And the Friends of earth
May you meet again.
On the peaceful shore of Heaven
Grace Lewis
April 24, 1884

And now, we have a new signature in my beloved little book.  I don’t know who and I don’t know when, but one of my blessed Grandchildren felt the need to add their signature to our family “Autograph Book”.
With letters crudely formed, what could be more precious in our “Moment of Time”?
…and a final word from Hattie~
Miss Hattie Sweet
Franklin County
New York

Rainbows In Glass

March brings weather that ‘comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb’, but with all the variables in weather, there are rainbows.

We live on a hill over-looking the valley and the sky is often adorned with rainbows…double rainbows, partial rainbows, misty rainbows, vivid rainbows that come from the darkest clouds… but always reminding me of the covenant made from our God.

Genesis 9:16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

I have always loved rainbows, and as with many things, it stems from my childhood.

My mother had glassware in every window and always arranged them in the rule of the rainbow…seven colors from indigo blue to red and pink. In her dining room, which faced to the south, glass shelves filled with her most precious glassware always gleamed when the sun made itself known.

When asked why the glassware, why the rainbow, somehow it was always linked to her New England roots. In my pathway of discovery, I often found windows in the New England calendars and decorating books that were filled with colored glassware… but not always in the rule of the rainbow.

I was delighted, while watching an episode of “Gilmore Girls”, to see windows filled with colored glassware . It must be true ~ for I have never seen it for myself. Still a vacation dream to visit our New England states.

However, I, too have created the rainbow with many inherited pieces of glassware. Not as many as my mother’s, but it still brings me the joy. Our Gathering Room, of the Nantucket theme, boasts a rainbow, arranged in the rule of the rainbow… from indigo blue, to red and pink.

Rainbows fill my house in various places beginning in the Vestibule.

Wall paper and an oversized Tiffany lamp display vibrancy when the light shines through

~ always reminding me of the sunlight shining through our windows growing up… and a promise from our God… “A Moment in Time”.