For the Living of These Days—A Word from Renee Purtlebaugh

Renee originally shared this story with our families with children a little over a week ago in our weekly family e-newsletter, but it seems that in this week of treading new paths, it still very much applies. It is updated and adapted for the current moment!

One day a little over a week ago, Eliza and I took a late morning, pre-lunch walk through our neighborhood. We have several well-worn paths that usually take us to the hydrangea bushes that mark the place where we turn around to return home, the magnolia tree where we collect leaves from nature, the oak tree where we watch for the acorns that fall in late summer/early fall to finally appear, the concrete curbs that become balance beams, or the yard filled with orange lilies now known as “sneezy flowers” (as I am so very allergic to lilies)!

On this day though, we chose a different and less familiar path. We had walked it before, but it just isn’t our go to. Along the way, we discovered a lot of new things to see. Some flower boxes on either side of a driveway with beautiful pink blooms. Some really rough places in the sidewalk not meant for scooter riding. And ultimately, a home with the most beautiful and brightly colored wildflowers and bumblebees dancing around the front yard. Enamored doesn’t begin to describe Eliza’s obsession with beautiful flowers these days, and so we practiced observing the different colors, shapes, the multiple kinds of bees making these flowers their food.

It wasn’t long before the woman who owned the house opened her front door smiling, watching as we admired her garden. She came outside to say hello and offered to cut some of these beautiful flowers for us to take home. It turns out, we had received a package for this woman accidentally a couple of years ago—a delivery mix-up with same house number but different name and street—and so we made that connection too. After admiring even more of her garden, a lovely little greenhouse and beautifully colored birdhouses, walked away so grateful for having walked a different path that morning without any inkling of the gift of generosity and kindness we would receive.

When we got home, we quickly trimmed them, placed them in a vase and set them squarely in the center of our kitchen table. These orange, pink and yellow wildflowers have adorned our space and are somehow still reminding us of kindness and generosity and what unexpected gifts can arise from walking a new path.

A handful of days later, another walk, another path, and another chance meeting with a neighbor led us back home with the single blue hydrangea bloom of the season we had been admiring on the bush by the sidewalk. We added it to our vase when we got home, and it is still reminding us of generosity and gift on new paths today.

Our paths are typically so well-worn, and maybe even have some ruts, but this year? That is far from true. I’m really grateful for the lingering beauty of wildflowers and hydrangeas on my table reminding us that surprise encounters with the Holy will indeed happen, even if in this very moment we aren’t sure the new path will provide the sustenance we need.

I hope you’ll trust with me, and if you need the reminder like I do, especially in these first days of the new school year,









Be well this week!