I woke up this morning and saw the daylilies blooming outside my window. Their faces were turned eastward, towards the sun and the brilliant orange of their petals lit the backyard like the glow of a jack-o-lantern on Halloween night.
I thought of the other beautiful things that surround me and the places that I go - both physically and in my mind - that are lovely and stir what lies deep within me.
One of those places is Coronado Heights.
Atop a lone hill 15 miles south of Salina rests a small castle. The history of its knights and ladies is embedded in each stone, each spiraled step... and the tables once seated great kings and queens who ruled the land with scepters of conscience and love for their kingdom. Beyond the castle to the west is a cliff that overlooks a land in peace; lived by a people who were happy in the tranquility of their lives and in those who held them.
Actually, Coronado Heights is a memorial. Built in 1936, it is believed to be the farthest point north that Coronado came on his expedition, almost 500 years ago. But for me, it's fun to imagine it in the time it represents. And it is a place that does hold much peace for me.
I have been there many times before. The first was when I was a college student, since it rests just outside of the little town of Lindsborg where I got my degree. Back then it was mostly a place for kids to party so it was difficult to find moments for private thoughts. Later, after I moved to Salina and the children were small, I took them there to hike and play.
Along the winding, rocky road that leads up to the castle, you will find a marker that reads, "A Place to Share". It is a beautiful place; certainly a place to share and couples often go there to watch the sun set low upon the horizon.
But it is also a place to be alone.
I remember one evening, a few years ago, I went there needing some solace...some quiet time to think about my life and who I was. I walked along the uneven ground so I could sit on the edge of the cliff and ponder all that was revolving through my mind.
It was one of those beautiful days when the wind is but a breeze and the temperature one of shirtsleeves. It was a rare day, a rare moment and I was alone up on the hill. As I walked I watched each step I took, aware of the crunch of sand and gravel beneath my feet and the stillness all around me. Then suddenly I looked up and what I saw literally took my breath away.
I had seen that same view many times before, but that day it was as if I was seeing it for the first time, its beauty heightened. Everything was in technicolor: the lush, green meadows, the rolling bluffs, scattered evergreen trees and a crystal-clear pond with little diamonds lying upon its surface. I don't think I'll ever forget that day as I sat along the edge of the world and gazed out upon Heaven, listening to the sound of angels upon the wings of birds and feeling the peace of God within the deepest parts of me. I may not have been quite at Heaven's gates that day. But I was close.
If you go back and climb the winding steps of the castle you will come out of its damp darkness onto the top of the world. From there you can see something different from every direction. But my favorite view is looking east and down upon the patchwork quilt of my heritage.
There I see the fields, textured in different stages of sowing and reaping. In the spring everything is covered in shades of green; the wheat in its adolescence, the pasture land of waving grasses and the intermittent patches of what is unknown from such a distance. In summertime you can see the golden hues of mature wheat, mixed with the brown soil of tilled ground. The corn and milo are beginning to take hold and their leafy, green stalks stand like thousands of floppy scarecrows protecting the fields. As autumn arrives, everything turns into a Thanksgiving rainbow of oranges, yellows and browns and meets the bright blue skies as a land of harvest comes to rest. And in winter, a restful calm settles over the land as everything sleeps in preparation for another season of growth and renewal. New life awaits...and indeed, it always comes.
And throughout the changing of the seasons, the stitches always run through the quilt, separating each square, bringing it all together. And I think about my own patchwork quilt; the people who have come into my life and placed their squares upon the blanket of my existence. I have carefully included them all, painstakingly stitching them together to make a beautiful tapestry of color that has enriched and enhanced my life. Each is unique....special and adds a joy that can be found nowhere else. Every square is colorful and makes the quilt bigger...that much warmer and richer.
We are all a part the "quilt": putting the finishes on our own, and contributing to the beauty of those we love - and who love us - the most.