There is an emanation from the heart

which cannot be described,

but is immediately felt and puts

the stranger at his ease.

~Washington Irving

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough...

.........and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,
chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

~Melody Beattie

Don't be satisfied with stories,

how things have gone with others.

Unfold your own myth.

May my life be like a great

hospitable tree, and may

weary wanderers find in

me a rest.

~John Henry Jowett

Monday, 13 June 2016

Beauty Is A Prayer

....whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, 
whatever is pure, 
whatever is lovely, 
whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or
praiseworthy—think about such things.
~Philippians 4:8

A reflective angel, Holywell Cemetery, Oxford
Today is another day of sadness, another day of tears heaped upon a world already heaving with tragedy and sorrow. It's another day we've watched in horror, as over 100 families and loved ones of victims in Orlando, Florida ask, why? Another day of prayers offered, opinions given, facts related, sorrow verbalised; a day of hyperbole from some and eloquence from others. It's another day of words upon words, upon more words.

I grow silent.
Dear soul, you speak.

I realized as the sun rose this morning, I have no words for today. No prayers to offer, no opinions, no wisdom or grace, nothing to add to the cacophony of sound in the world. There isn't one word I could add to social media, a word I could murmur to friends, nothing to write in emails or texts, that would add one iota of light to a world darkened by sorrow. I have no prayers today other than a prayer of silence. Lying alone, healing from surgery, sleeping, dreaming, enveloped in quiet.

Other than Good Dog Jack and silence, my only other companion today has been beauty--so as it turns out, that's all I have to offer anyone today. Simple beauty. I've saved about 10,000 photographs for editing as I recover from knee surgery, so besides sleeping, I've been immersed in beauty. Today I've been editing hundreds of photographs of the Cotswolds, one of the places on the planet that I find the most beautiful. Silence and beauty make for very good cushioning against a volatile and chaotic world, especially on a day like today.

Silence is a fence around wisdom. 
 ~German Proverb

A Cotswold cottage in the
village of  Burford, Oxfordshire.
Two weeks ago, knowing that I'd be laid up for awhile after my surgery and missing some of the June roses, Stuart and I spent a day roaming through our favourite Cotswold villages. The Cotswolds are where we fell in love and where we go for quiet getaways, if only for an afternoon. It was a beautiful, late spring day, the sun shining, and even Jack got to come along.

Jack tucked safely inside his
travel crate, with mummy's arm
(numb by now) for extra comfort.

Just a few miles west of Oxford,
and the road opens up to blue
skies and Constable clouds.

Rolling hills and fields of rapeseed
start to fill our car windows.

Our first stop was, as it normally
is, the Burford Garden Company,

Flowers... are a proud assertion
that a ray of beauty outvalues 
all the utilities of the world. 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844

Stuart took Jack for a walk while I
shopped for roses and herbs......
and a few other things
that made it into my cart.

Our England is a garden, and such
gardens are not made By singing:
"Oh, how beautiful!" 
and sitting in the shade... 
~Rudyard Kipling, 
"The Glory of the Garden"

When my basket was full and Jack's
walk finished, we drove on through
the village of Burford and
then to the Windrush Valley beyond.

Driving down the hill,
through the village of  Burford.

Two of the very beautiful cottage
doorways of Burford, Oxfordshire.

Where flowers bloom so does hope.
~Lady Bird Johnson, 
'Public Roads: Where Flowers Bloom'

The single track lanes made
a romantic bower for us.

The lanes were lined with Queen
Anne's Lace, like an elegant church 
aisle, just waiting for a bride.

The village of Taynton greeted us
with this sign--obviously a village
with it's priorities on straight.

The cottage roses were
just beginning to bloom.

The last of the lilacs were in bloom
along the gates and dry stone walls.

Taynton, Oxfordshire

Our next stop was down this single
track lane to the village of 
Lower Slaughter
(meaning muddy or boggy
place in old English).

We parked alongside the tiny river
that runs though the middle of the
village. For a girl used to the
Columbia and the Snake rivers,
I'll never get used to this being
called a 'river'. Where I come from
 this is a creek. Creek or river,
it's beautiful and so serene--
from another time and place.

Jack immediately met a new friend.

The simple, pastoral life of a Cotswold
village has at it's heart, horses and dogs.

The river 'Eye' runs right down
the centre of Lower Slaughter.

Cottages line the lane
that runs along the river.

The village green.

These were some pretty stiff gate-penalties,
so we made sure to keep on walking,
leaving the gate untouched & unopened.

The original cottage industry,
selling home grown & made
things from your cottage door.

One of the reasons we stopped in
Lower Slaughter was to find a
 Cotswold stone trough like the ones below
 to use as a planter on our terrace..... we walked along the river
to the Old Mill and the shop.

The Old Mill, Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire

Once the trough was purchased, we 
sat and ate ice cream, watched over
by some very relaxed mallard ducks.

We repacked the Land Rover, making
room for the new stone trough, with
just enough room for Jack in his crate.
Can you see him peeking out amidst the

Then we wandered more single track
lanes, lilacs blooming brightly
against the Cotswold stone walls--
these were in the village of Asthall.

We rounded a bend and there were four
spring lambs, more like teenagers now than
tiny lambkins. I got out of the car to take a
picture and they barely paid me any attention.
Hoping to get them to come a little closer to 
the fence,I sang the little song I had made 
up for my own children when they were.
wee lambkins. The four of them looked up, 
seeming my singing very much, and came
over to the fence to quietly & calmly listen.

My new friends with their pink ears
and little heart-shaped, black noses.

I sang to them for about five minutes.
then wished them well for the rest
of their lamby-lives, and left them in the
field with their kinsmen.

It was a beautiful afternoon and we came home refreshed and smiling, both our car and our hearts full of happiness. I managed to find a home for all of my new plants, flowers, and herbs, staying out in the garden until 10pm the night before my surgery to get everything planted. Now it's out there growing and waiting for me to recover--and we'll have the rest of the summer to enjoy one another's company.

Our secret garden, tucked
in the middle of Oxford's
'dreaming spires'.

I think that if ever a mortal heard
the voice of God it would be in a
garden at the cool of the day.
~F. Frankfort Moore, 
'A Garden of Peace'

So that's all I have to offer the world today, the day after yet another senseless tragedy. A day when nothing much makes sense and all the voices chiming in seem like an unholy cacophony. All I offer is a small glimpse of beauty, a look at something beyond the pain, something that is steady and constant in our lives, if only we look to it, hold onto it as though our lives depended on it. Beauty is a quality from beyond this world yet of this world, that has never been, and can never be, destroyed. 

Even in their darkest hour people, like holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, have learned this. The author of 'Man's Search for Meaning' writes,“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”  Beauty, like nothing else. can blaze like a beacon of light in the darkest of human hours, and that's what I choose to cling to. That is how I live my life. Like Elsie De Wolfe writes, “I am going to make everything around me beautiful - that will be my life.”

The world is violent and mercurial --
it will have its way with you. 
We are saved only by love -- 
love for each other and the love 
that we pour into the art we
feel compelled to share: 
being a parent; being a writer; 
being a painter; being a friend. 
We live in a perpetually burning 
building, and what we must save
from it, all the time, is love.
~Tennessee Williams

If you'd like a little tour and taste of the Burford Garden Company, just click here.


  1. What an amazing blog post this is! I had missed words from you today, and now I know you've been composing a work of beauty!! So very appropriate at this tragic time. XO Nellie

  2. Oh Carrie....your heart's desire today to give us words of comfort and beauty through your pictures in response to yesterday's horrors was so thoughtful. You certainly captured the essence of my most favorite of all places, The Cotswalds. I think there is no building more beautiful than a rose-covered Cotswold cottage! Thank you for sharing your beautiful words and sensitive eye for capturing the beauty of God's creation. (And the hedgehog crossing sign! *sigh* Only in England...) Hugs and prayers for continued healing. xo...Karen

  3. Your thoughts on yesterday's terrible event have mirrored mine--to be silent, to pray, and to admire all the beauty around us. There really are no words when darkness like this occurs again and again. So... I planted more flowers, I put out blueberries for the catbirds nesting in my plum tree, and admired the family of deer grazing in the field across the way--solitude and peaceful joy with the Creator's amazing handiwork. And I prayed some more.

    The photo essay of the Cotswolds is like a soothing piece of Heaven--with roses, lilacs, horses, beautiful doorways and window planters, rolling meadows, charming flower carts, oh and lambs that love lullabies! All the stuff that sweet dreams are made of, and I thank you for sharing your tranquil, untroubled day in the village with such eloquent words. Just beautiful, Carrie.

    *warm hugs*

    Maria M.

    God is the friend of silence. Trees, flowers, grass grow in silence. See the stars, moon, and sun, how they move in silence. ~ Mother Theresa

  4. Dear Carrie: I'm almost feeling guilty I have been so insulated from the details of these awful events. It just so happened that it has coincided with something amazingly important to us and could change our lives -- something we have not sought but suggested to us through a friend. Something that has totally consumed me all of this month as I've dug through files and records to prepare documents. It's also one of the reasons I have not been as active on social media, too. I'm going to write you a private email. I'm not ready to go "public" just yet! But want you to know. I have, of course, been aware of the unfolding events of the past two days. I have some thoughts on that, too, as God didn't lead me into Christians service and train me how to share His compassion and love, and that's what we did with all people everywhere. Having said, all that, though, you have profoundly shown the beauty of God that shines through all of this. I was thinking the same thing as I sat on my porch yesterday morning with the birds singing and the gorgeous blue sky with marshmallow clouds, all the shades of green from blue to yellow, encircling me in a cocoon of birdsong. "You can find hints of heaven along your pathway because the earth is radiantly alive with My Presence. Shimmering sunshine awakens your heart, gently reminding you of My brilliant Light. Birds and flower, trees and skies evoke praises to My holy Name. Keep your eyes and ears fully open as you journey with Me. At the end of your life-path is an entrance to heaven. . ." (Jesus Calling, April 14, page 109). Thank you so much for your gracious view of creation, the poetry you quote, and these gorgeous photos. Yes, we should fill our hearts will all of this, that we can go out and be Light and bring hope to those who mourn. Blessings. Jane xoxo

  5. Dear Carrie, Karen said what I am thinking, and I want to thank you, too. One of my most beautiful memories is of a day in June spent walking the Cotswold paths through farms and pastures and a hilltop and woods and along that tiny river (from Stow-on-the-Wold, through Upper Slaughter and Lower Slaughter, to Burton-on-the-Water). Returning there through your posting is a lovely way to go back, and yes, we also bought ice cream cones at the little shop near the mill and we did walk past a pretty rose-covered cottage (I could hardly believe my eyes when that came into view). Your photos of the Cotswolds remind me of a quote from Proverbs, "Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace."

  6. Your blog is STUNNING!!! I mean it... really gorgeous. You should be winning blog awards!!! People should be coming in droves How can I help promote it? I am on Facebook, but I'm private {I had to do that because all the old boyfriends come out of the woodwork. If only they could see how fat I've gotten;))_ And twitter... my account got hacked 3 times in the first week this year ( I still have the account it just is has no info so i can see everything but i cant tweet) and now i am scared, but I am on Pinterest and pretty active. I will start there and then if there is another way I can help, don't be afraid to tell me.

    Ever since I saw the movie The Holiday I have been dreaming of the Cotswolds. It is charming and quaint and drop dead gorgeous. Thank you so much for giving me a tour. I am going to get there, but you made a dream come true for now!! What I wouldn't do for a Jack or a lamb with a heart shaped nose:o) You and your hubby are so sweet too. I am embarrassed to say that I did not know the origin of the phrase "cottage industry". I love it! Thank you for teaching me that and I wish that we had that in Texas. Would love to pay the original maker and not Big Business. Thank you a million times for this post xoxoxo