I’m here to celebrate Black History

Virginia McLaurin, at 106, danced with Barak and Michelle Obama at the White House.

This video has been seen by most of you on facebook, I’m sure.

It is so definitely, though, about aging with vibrancy, beauty, tears, and grace that we are posting it here as well.

It is worth watching again:  Virginia McLaurin.


“Show up” – an invitation

Terry Gremel leads the Cancer Support Group in Northport.  She has done this for years.  Those who attend speak very favorably of the group and of Terry.  At their February meeting, Terry invited Amy Columbo, Music Therapist and Mental Health Counselor, to attend.  Some who attended spoke of Amy’s beautiful heart-reaching harp music.  Today Terry emailed this poem by Minx Boren, “Show Up,” that Amy also shared that evening.  I asked if I might share it with you and she said, “Yes.”



Show Up
not because you should
not because you must
but because of the magnitude of love
because of the magnetic force of compassion.

Show Up
because you can
because life has come knocking
and you are there to answer now
not when or then
but in the immediate potency of the call

Show Up
not because it is time or timely
not because it is easy
or tough
smooth or rough
not because it is
reasonable or not
but because this is what matters
no matter
what next

Show Up
because it feels right and real
because it makes your heart sing
or sob
because it might ache
or break
if you did not
because joy lives in the present
in your presence.

just show up.

by Minx Boren

What are your thoughts about these words?

“Life has come knocking . . . “

Lent – 2016

It is here already.

On Wednesday night February 10, 2016, at 7:00,
you are invited,                                                                                                                               to Trinity Church of the United Church of Christ                                                                      in Northport, MI,                                                                                                                                   to receive ashes on your forehead or your hand.

These are the words you will hear on Wednesday:

Our ancestors in the faith
used ashes as a sign of repentance,
a symbol of the uncertainty and fragility
of human life.
Like them,
we have tasted the ashes of hopelessness;
we have walked through the ashes
of our loss and pain;
we have stood knee-deep
in the ashes of our brokenness.
God of our lives,
out of the dust of creation
you have formed us and given us life.
May these ashes not only be a sign
of our repentance and death,
but be a reminder that by your gift of grace
in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer,
we are granted life forever with you.

In these words are the promise of God’s love for you.
“YOU ARE MY BELOVED!                                                                                                            “Yes,                                                                                                                                                      you are mine, ”                                                                                                                                          says God.

                                                                                                                                                     Even, or maybe especially,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           as we begin Lent                                                                                                                                  in Michigan,                                                                                                                                        God says                                                                                                                                           “Yes,                                                                                                                                               you are mine!”

                                                                                                                                                      You can trust that promise!

You’ll find things                                                                                                                              a wee bit different at Trinity on Wednesday . . .                                                                            and,                                                                                                                                                 well,                                                                                                                                                                all through Lent too . . .                                                                                                       thank you Janet, Carl, Jim, Steve, Patricia for making this happen.

anticipating Lent - 2016 - from the front of the sanctuary.jpg

Our focus this Lent will be from the work of Eric Elnes,                                                            “Gifts of the Dark Wood”                                                                                                                                                      as encouraged by Marcia McFee.                                                                                                       “Jesus knows,” writes Eric,                                                                                                              “that the human soul is terrifically buoyant.                                                                                                                       It’s yearning is for the freedom that comes from the Spirit’s call.                                                                  Shackled by our fears and excuses for very long,                                                                                                                            the soul inevitably revolts and breaks free.”

You will not want to miss                                                                                                                 one single Sunday morning during Lent at Trinity Church in Northport.

anticipating Lent - 2016 -  the table of God's forgiving love.jpg

Our worship center for Lent – beach stones and twigs and light.

anticipating Lent from the loft.jpg

What the sanctuary looks like from the loft – “worship in the round.”

  anticipating Lent - 2016 -  what you will see as you leave the sanctuary.jpg

What you will see as you leave our Lenten worship space each week.


The music will be excellent.

The scripture will inspire.

The prayers will be eloquent.

The sermons will touch your heart.

The aura will wrap you in the caress of God’s loving, living mercy.

You are invited!

Every Sunday in Lent, 2016,                                                                                                    Trinity Church of the UCC in Northport, MI.

Please do join us every Sunday morning at 11:00!

Seven people of Ireland

Here are seven more images (plus the featured image of the harpist on The Ring of Kerry). This time all of them are faces that Patricia and I love from our time in Ireland, 2012:


beautiful penny whistle player on the streets of Dublin


Patricia and an eastern european refugee woman selling papers on a Dublin street in order to survive

man sleeping as he holds a cup hoping for some change.jpg

a man’s weariness and hope on a Dublin street.

Agnes & John.jpg

Agnes and John at their B&B in Kells, Ireland

horre drawn carriage driver - Dublin.jpg

a driver of a horse carriage in Dublin


a fella with a hat . . .  he was in Dublin . . . but not sure where


our magnificent guide to Irish history, Grace O’Keefe, medieval history Phd who guided us through the halls and streets of Dublin.

Watch for a video of her story of the Battle of the Boyne here sometime soon.



Imbolc – February 2, 2016 – Half Way

Last Sunday, I got telling the folks of Trinity Church a bit about the Celtic Calendar and about St. Brigid.  Imbolc, on the Celtic Calendar, is tomorrow, February 2.  It is a day that honors the waning of winter, laying as it does on their calendar half way between the winter solstice and spring equinox.  It is a day that honors the celtic goddess and Catholic saint, Brigid.

Bridget.jpgThere are lots of wonderful legends about Brigid, among them is that her cross of straw, made every year anew on Imbolc, can help to provide you with   Brigit's Cross.jpgprotection and light.

Check out the door handles on St. Brigid of Kildare, Ireland – this is their front door welcoming all, whoever you are, in bronze:  DSC05430.JPG

The candle in the featured image of this post is the St. Brigid candle that Mary Meighan, our celtic guide, lit for us each of the nine days she led us in our celtic pilgrimage.  For  Patricia and me, Brigid, has to do with light.  We still have the candle and light it on special occasions.  We will light it tomorrow night as we have dinner.  We will ask for blessings upon you.

Thoughts of Brigid and Mary, Imbolc and winter’s waning, the darkness and the light, led me on this first night of February, 2016, to “seven pictures of light” from our 2012 time in Ireland for you to enjoy.  With each picture there is a description of the location of the image and there is a question, seven in all, for you to ponder.

Sunset, Dingle Bay, Ring of Kerry near Kells.jpg

Sunset on Dingle Bay, the North Atlantic on the west coast of Ireland, looking toward the east coast of the USA.  What have been your favorite settings of the sun?

rainbow across Dingle Bay, County Kerry, Ireland.jpg

Rainbow, looking east across Dingle Bay from Kells toward Dingle.  Which rainbows have inspired you to greatness?


Fog settling on the Gap of Dunloe in County Kerry, Ireland.  Who/what do you trust when you can’t see, for sure, where you are headed?


Ancient stone walls separating Irish fields, some in the shadow of overcast skies and some in the direct sunlight of a break in the clouds, south of Dingle, Ireland.  What are the ancient walls, dividing this from that, within your soul?

Nine Stones leading to Riversdale B&B and the stone cottage.jpg

Nine stones leading across the Glendasan River to Riversdale B&B in the Glendalough Valley of Ireland, south of Dublin.  Thank you, Liam and Zell.  We spent nine days and nights in the stone cottage to the right of this picture. What are nine stepping stones of your spiritual journey?


Keeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiii!  Patricia’s joy, on the rugged coast of Dingle Bay, the North Atlantic, the town of Kells on the Ring of Kerry, County Kerry, Ireland.  What do you know of joy . . . and when?


A rose and a ribbon left in prayer at the ancient sacred well of St. Brigid not far from Kildare, Ireland.  Who will you pray for tonight because you have read this post?

Along with these images of Ireland for you on the eve of Imbolc (we are half way to spring equinox from winter’s solstice), here is a blessing for you shared with Patricia and me by Mary Meighan:

May the blessing of light be on you – light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you like a great peat fire,
so that stranger and friend may come and warm her/himself at it.
And may light shine out of the two eyes of you,
like a candle set in the window of a house,
bidding the wanderer come in out of the storm.
And may the blessing of the rain be on you,
may it beat upon your Spirit and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there a shining pool where the blue of Heaven shines,
and sometimes a star.
And may the blessing of the earth be on you,
soft under your feet as you pass along the roads,
soft under you as you lie out on it, tired at the end of day;
and may it rest easy over you when, at last, you lie out under it.
May it rest so lightly over you that your soul may be out from under it quickly; up and off and on its way to God.
And now may the Lord bless you, and bless you kindly. Amen.



Martha was at the heart of things

Today a wee bit after 5:00 pm, little Ella, who is a Girl Scout in the troop that meets at Trinity on Tuesdays, was headed for home.  She had just finished working on a sewing project with Marie Elena.  I asked her if she had sewn something fun today.  She said, “I sewed seven rows on a quilt.”  Wow,” I said, and asked “What color is it.”  “Oh it is many colors,” she said.  “Thanks for telling me about it.  Hope you have a good night,” said I.  “Thanks.  See ya’,” said she.

Over the years in the life of Trinity, there have been lots of short conversations that are never recorded, never become part of our history, but are woven into the fabric of who we are, all the same.

Marie Elena said to me as Ella was leaving, “Oh, I put up a poem I wrote about Martha.  I miss her.  She is in everything here and so much of Northport.  I wrote the poem the day she died . . . and . . . I put it on the bulletin board.”

I read Marie Elena’s poem.  Tears of gratitude welled up within me for Martha, for Marie Elena, for Ella who was hearing and watching this Trinity story of a life savored and a poem written, and for all who loved and were loved by Martha.

I asked Marie Elaina if I could share her poem and she said, “Yes.”  So here it is:


In Memory of Martha Roberts

Martha was at the heart of things.

She always knew what to do, and just how it must be done.

A pink and white complected powerhouse, tastefully dressed, sometimes tart of tongue.

Martha died this morning.

She always knew what to do, and just how it must be done.

“Marie, put those dishes in the big cabinet, third shelf down.”

Martha died this morning.

Who will tell me what to do?

“Marie, put those dishes in the big cabinet, third shelf down.”

Her presence was everywhere, the church, the lighthouse, Community Center, and choir.

Who will tell me what to do?

I need Martha’s hard-won wisdom.

Her presence was everywhere, Rag Bee, stone soup, Village Voices, the museum.

She could have ruled a small country, daring, caring, sure-minded, and strong.

I need Martha’s hard-won wisdom.

A woman born to the long-rooted history of this town.

She could have ruled a small country, daring, caring, sure-minded and strong.

A pink and white complected powerhouse, tastefully dressed, sometimes tart of tongue.

A woman born in the long-rooted history of this town.

Martha was at the heart of things.

Marie Elena Gaspari  2016

Martha poems.

There must be a hundred of them written or in the process of evolving to words on paper.  If you have written one (or are in the process), would you consider posting it on this blog in the reply section below?

So many conversations and interactions are woven into the fabric of Trinity and are never recorded, (like the one I had with Ella today) because, well, they are too small in the universe of what really matters.  And yet, it is these small stories that are us.

Share your poems about what really matters here if you wish.

The picture of Martha in this post was taken on November 6, 2016.  She was at Trinity to check on the progress of the making of peanut brittle.  Such a smile!  An unremarkable interaction that has now become remarkable because . . .

well . . .

Martha died early in the morning on Monday of this week, January 25, 2016, about 4:30.  It was quiet and still in Northport as she left us.

She is and will be missed.

Martha L. Roberts’ life will be remembered as people gather for the “visitation” at Martinson’s in Sutton’s Bay on Friday evening of this week from 5-8 pm.  Then we will remember Martha and give thanks for her life beginning at noon on Saturday at Trinity.  The Trinity Choir and members of the Village Voices will sing.  We will sing, we will pray, we will hear scripture, a few selected remembrances of Martha, a Bill Cook solo, and a some words of faith.  After the time of worship, there will be a luncheon including a Martha-recipe of “chicken casserole” for those who wish to stay.  Thank you Suzanne for coordinating the meal with the assistance of many.

Thank you to so many for your condolences and kind words.  Thank you to Bethany Lutheran for your presence and your many offers of assistance and support.  It is a privilege to be in the same block with you.

Many of you know Martha’s story.  She was born in Northport on August 11, 1940.  Her parents were Frederick and Daisy Baumberger.  She was their tenth child.  She was raised a Methodist.  She was her high school graduating class valedictorian.  Martha and Carlyle married in 1958 at the Northport Methodist church and then moved downstate for eight years before returning to Northport in 1966.  The year before they came back, 1965, Northport Methodist Church and First Congregational became one family of faith, Trinity Church, of the United Church of Christ.  Martha’s loyalty to “this new church” never wavered.

When Trinity was remodeled, six of the stained glass windows from Northport Methodist were incorporated into the worship space of Trinity.  Two of the six windows are dedicated to Martha’s forebears.  The windows are described as follows in the 2005 Pictorial Directory of Trinity Church:

In memory of Frederick Baumberger and Mary Elizabeth Baumberger – Mr. Baumberger was a civil war veteran and he began farming in the Northport area in 1875.  The Baumberger’s would spend the school year in Indiana where Mrs. Baumberger’s parents lived.  They are the grandparents of Mrs. Martha Roberts.

In memory “Aunt” Susie R. Baumberger and “Aunt” Lida I Baumberger – These are Frederick’s daughters and the aunts of Mrs. Martha Roberts.  These ladies were stalwart members of the Methodist Church.  They were the overseers of the church as well as of each new minister and his family.

Marie Elena is relatively new to Northport.  Patricia and I are newer still.  Even as “newbies” we get that “Martha was at the heart of things.”

Thank you Martha!

Thank you Marie Elena.

Thank you Ella.

Thank you to all who have graced this community of faith with your lives and heart.

Thank you to all of you from other communities of faith who have graced churches, synagogues, temples where you live with your lives.

Martha thought Trinity mattered.

She was “at the heart of things.”

She is woven into the fabric of who we are.

May we cherish every good thing about Martha and keep them alive at Trinity and in our own lives too.

“a humble partner with”

Today Northern Michigan’s Magazine “Traverse” arrived at our PO Box.  It is a very cool (no pun intended) journal.  Today’s issue includes articles titled “I Come in Praise of Snow,” “Breathtaking Winter,” and “Witness to the Land: 80 years on a Leelanau Farm.”

In “Witness to the Land” I encountered the story of a man named Rex . . .  and his forebears . . . and his love of the land . . . and his vision/hope for the future.  Nancy Kotting wrote the article which she ends with these words:  “Sitting alone, listening to his voice late into each winter’s eve, I often find myself overwhelmed with grief only to be equally overwhelmed with the warmth that came from the gift of now truly knowing my friend Rex Dobson, an ordinary man made extraordinary.”

Some of us are overwhelmed in this January of lives . . . overwhelmed with both grief and gift by the ordinary now made extraordinary.

I encourage you to read the whole article.  It is in the February ’16 issue of “Traverse.”   But if you can’t do that, or don’t want to, take some moments to savor these two quotes from the article:

“Rex was a man who spent his life in just one place.  He remained obedient and subservient to nature, his life spent as a humble partner with, rather than dominator of, the world around him.   In the end, I realized I had known a man who was once a boy and had grown into a wise elder under the tutelage of Leelanau itself.”

“I never knew how thin the line between a man and his land could be until I met Rex.  I had followed him many a time as he walked his fields or contemplated the rows in his gardens, and every time I had found myself mesmerized at the sheer breadth of his peaceful empathy for all that surrounded him.  It almost appeared at times to be returned in kind by both animal and plant.”

I have met a number of people like Rex since I have come to Leelanau.  Wow.  They are both women and men.  They have an aura about them of quiet and respect, of joy and depth, of heritage and wonder.  They love this place in the cosmos.  They are loved by the place and by its people.  Oh, of course, this is a small place.  There are only about 22,000 of us in the county.  Lots of us know lots of stuff about each other.  Truth be told, for the folks like Rex, it is more their grace than their gravel that people speak about.  We acknowledge our humanness here.  And, we honor what it is we cherish.  Here, we speak of the peach at its best:  succulent, sweet, juicy, tender, warm – and we acknowledge that getting the peach to it’s best is not all there was.

The story of Rex is the story of his farm, the Ruby Ellen Farm, named after his mother by his father.  The Ruby Ellen Farm is being conserved after Rex’s death in part by the Ruby Ellen Farm Foundation,

cropped-rex-dobson-ruby-ellen-farm-foundation.jpgand  in part by the Leelanau Conservancy:


Patricia and I are now quarterly contributors to the Conservancy.  Having lived in Sarasota, FL for nearly ten years where developers usually carry the day, I am amazed by this statement from the Conservancy’s history page:

It all began with a vision. Ed and Bobbie Collins of Leland saw the future of Leelanau County in peril from over-development and increased demand for second and third summer homes. They feared seeing the loss of critical farmland and wetlands essential to the rural character of the County.

In 1988, their vision was put to work when they hired a young, ambitious lad with a geology degree and an interest in fishing. Brian Price and wife Susan took on the positions of Executive and Finance Directors and remain in those roles today. The staff of two has grown over the years to take on the many projects we have completed.

Since then, the staff and board of the Leelanau Conservancy has worked tirelessly to protect the places that you love and the character that makes the Leelanau Peninsula so unique. Our organization has earned a reputation as one of the premier land trusts in the country, with projects touching lives and saving land in each of Leelanau’s 11 townships. Since our formation in 1988, we’ve preserved over 10,500 acres and over 3 5 miles of shoreline/stream and river frontage, and worked with 149 families to preserve cherished lands. We’ve launched a farmland preservation program, established a renowned water-quality monitoring program and created 23 Natural Areas and Preserves. Some of the best views, most sensitive wetlands, and biggest working farms have been forever protected because of the Leelanau Conservancy. With nearly 2,800 members backing us up, the Conservancy is making a very real difference in what Leelanau County is to become. In a column he wrote for our 20th Anniversary, our founding Executive Director, Brian Price, tells our story.

(Keep your eye out for Doug and Ann McInnes in the 25 year history video . . . if you find them in the video, let Patricia and me know by way of a comment on this post.  There will be a gift sent to each of you who have seen the McInnes’ in the video, and let us know that you have.   Just write something like:  “I saw Ann and Doug.  They are noted in the video from [the year of their involvement as donors.])

Conserving the land, the water, the scenic character of a community . . . it takes the will and dream, the passion and hope, the awe and efforts, the action and largesse of a whole lot of people.   There are are nearly 2800 members of the Leelanau Conservancy.  It takes alot of us, maybe even most of us, aging with vibrancy, beauty, tears and grace, to do what we need to do as humble partners with the earth to ensure our grandchildren a future for their grandchildren and theirs after them . . . you know, seven generations and all.

Thank you Nancy Kotting for leading me to Rex.  Thank you Leeelanau Conservancy for saving so many Natural Areas for whoever you are wherever you are on life’s journey for long and long and long . . .

Patricia and I skied this Leelanau Conservancy Natural Area late this afternoon:  Kehl Lake Natural Area,

Kehl Lake - January 22, 2016.jpg

We see you . . . yes, we do!


Those of you who have been following this blog from the beginning may remember that Patricia and I began it with the idea of exploring Celtic wisdom for aging with vibrancy, beauty, and grace.  Very early in our time in Ireland, 2012, with Mary Meighan, as our guide for a pilgrimage in Glendalough Valley and beyond, she suggested:

On the second day of our nine with Mary Meighan in Glendalough, she said, “I’ve read your proposal to the Lilly Endowment for your sabbatical. I wonder, though. . . I like vibrancy and beauty and grace. But, there is sadness in aging too. Those of us in Ireland do death and dying very, very, very well. At 9/11, we stopped everything in the country for a day of mourning in solidarity with you. When my mother died we held a three-day wake at her/our house, and her body was here all the while. We know how to mourn here. I wonder. . . ”

That evening I wrote a blog, “The Fourth Word,” which you can find if you scroll down and look for this image of Mary:  mary-meighan1.jpg.  I began that blog with these words:

I don’t much like sadness. It is heavy and wet. It’s feet are plodding and slow. It’s arms are limp and untouched. It’s eyes are downcast and bleary. It has to do with an ache in the marrow of you. It has to do with an awareness you are alone before all things. Maybe you made the wrong turn way back when, and there is no turning back now from this long way. Maybe life betrayed you with an enormity of loss.

I’ve known times of sadness, some of them pretty deep.

I’m sure you have known of it too.

I don’t much like sadness.
Many, if not most of you, have heard me tell the story I read many years ago about a woman whose daughter had died too young. Some months had passed. She was walking with a good friend and said to that friend, “I don’t know if I can make it through this.” The friend immediately thought of all the reasons this mother was sure to make it through the valley of the shadow of death. She had a resilient spirit. She had other children. She was a person who had helped others in times of loss. She was invested in her work, her church, her community. The friend thought all these things and said none of them. What she said instead was, “I don’t know either.” The mother said it was at that moment that she knew she would get through. Her friend had met her where she was . . . not where she was capable of being, but where she was.Continue reading “Tears”

takes about a hundred seconds

The new theme for our blog (watermark) will (depending on your internet speed) take a minimum of 60 seconds to download if you scroll down over each picture. . .

some are mine (some are other’s)

breathe easy . . .

the pictures are good . . .

Each one (if scrolled over and clicked on) will lead you to a blog of comments by Patricia or me.

Take the time to let them load.

They are worth it.

Click on the one(s) that intrigue you and comment.

We want to hear from you.

Ohhhhhhhh, yes!



did you notice?

Wellsofwellness.org has a new look.

The site has been updated with WordPress’ Watermark Theme.

Each blog is now displayed with an image.

Scroll over any image on the home page to see the title of the post associated with that picture.  Take your time to take a look at these pictures . . . there are images that may intrigue you with perspective or surprise you with familiarity.

Click on a picture to go to the post.

This blog site is computer, laptop, iPad, iPhone and smartphone friendly.  Let us know your experience with exploring and engaging the blog.

You will find the “archives” and “links-to-other-posts-with-the-same-tag” on the right column of each post.

Leave us a comment in the “leave a reply” window at the bottom of any post.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Let us know your thoughts about Watermark with a comment on this post.

WordPress wants to know



so do we.