A few weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to see England through the eyes of my youngest daughter as we took our long awaited post college (for her) Mother/Daughter trip. Both of us are musicians and hearing Evensong services at Westminster Abbey in London and at the York Minster further north were high on our priority list.

Evensong is a service that is often sung from the Book of Common Prayer. It has been part of three principal liturgies of the Anglican and Episcopal tradition since the year 1549 when the Book of Common Prayer was first authorized for the Church of England.

The Westminster Abbey choir is composed of men and boys, while the York Minster Choir includes girls as well. All of the children who sang at the York Minster were members of the Minster Preparatory School which was established in 627 AD.

At both Westminster Abbey and the York Minster, we arrived early to wait in line so we could be seated in the quire (choir stalls) directly behind the choir. Deep voices of the men harmonized with the high sopranos of the children while the great pipe organ played and filled the church. The music was heavenly.

As an added treat, before the Evensong service at the York Minster, a wedding took place, and we got to clap and cheer for the happy couple as they exited the building.

So much has happened at these cathedrals for almost a thousand years. Babies have been christened, couples have married, monarchs have been buried, and people have sung and worshipped God.

And they still do today.

The Community Gathering

I live in a small town surrounded by several other small towns. And our small towns like music – a lot! Every town has a weekly summer concert in the park series, each on a different day of the week. 

If you enjoy live music, you can head to Atascadero on Saturday night, Templeton on Wednesday night and Paso Robles on Thursday night. If you want to drive a ways to a larger city and listen to music in a historic mission plaza, head to San Luis Obispo on Friday nights.

I love music and attend a lot of these concerts with family and friends which allows us to build relationships and community. (… and eat. We bring BIG picnics.)

There is just something about a setting sun, a cool breeze and music you can tap your feet to that opens the door to good conversations and good memories. 

Living History

My family and I have been historical reenactors for many years, and I delight in visiting living history farms wherever I am traveling. This summer on our trip through Texas, we happened upon the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historical site.

The farm was originally settled by the Sauer-Beckmann family in 1900. This turn-of-the-century Texas-German farm family went on to have ten children, one of whom served as midwife at the birth of President Johnson. The family sold the farm to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and it was opened to visitors in 1975.

Costumed interpreters carry out the day-to-day activities of an early 1900’s farm by feeding animals, gathering eggs, cooking meals, tending the garden, canning and butchering. Although I have visited many sites like this farm, I always find I still learn something new.

Here is what I learned:
  • If you put a small ball of cotton on a string and tie it to the top of the screen door, the bounce of the cotton will keep the flies off the screen and discourage them from coming in the house.
  • It is important to work smarter and not harder, especially when you have ten kids. (These ten kids, by the way, had their own bunk house away from the main house.)
  • Filling pin cushions with hair from a lady’s brush helps keeps the steel pins lubricated and keeps them from rusting.
  • You can store meat for up to a year if you submerge it in lard.
  • If the lard goes rancid, you can use it to make soap.
  • Use EVERYTHING! Turkey feathers make a good broom.
  • Beauty is important. Put up blue wall paper in the parlor if you can.  
  • After all the hard work is through, it is still important to remember where your help comes from.

 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.  

Psalm 121.1