Category Archives: Meditations/Liturgies

Liturgy meditations

My backstory

Whenever I meet someone new, perhaps meeting them to write an article about something they have done, I like to understand their backstory. How did they get to where they are today? What are the choices they have made, or the events, the influences that pushed, pulled or drew them in the direction they now find themselves in?

Over the years I have referred to various parts of my own backstory. There’s a reason I only take Easy Walks. This article, an interview with the “Brenda After Sixty” website, offers a clear summary of my backstory, including important events that influenced who I am, and choices I have made along the way.

Marjorie, how did you get the idea to publish your Easy Walks books?

I have written for local newspapers for the past 20+ years. Ten years ago I wrote a short series of articles on local places to walk, which my editor titled “Naturally New England.” After publication, I had a sense the information was of continuing value so I created a blog on my writing website, MarjorieTurner.com for “Local Walks.” Pretty soon people found their way to my blog, and the most common search term was “where is Joe’s Rock?” (It’s in Wrentham, MA and offers a nice view).

After about the 500th “hit” on my website, I recognized a need, researched available sources, (found none) and realized I could fill this void. This was 2013. What began as idea for a newspaper column has grown into the “Easy Walks” brand because of the multiple Easy Walks in Massachusetts books I have written. The first three are trail guides to over 130 trails in 37 contiguous towns in south central Massachusetts. The latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are, offers a broad overview of methods I used to find these (and other trails in our travels throughout the country), strategies that others can put to use, and basic “outdoor” tips for how to dress to keep warm, stay safe on the trail, find walking partners, and more.

Why Do You Focus on Easy Walks?

Well, I only take Easy Walks. Twenty-seven years ago I found myself unable to even walk across a room. Surgery to save my life left my right size paralyzed.  To read more, here’s the entire articleBrenda after Sixty Easy Walks article

Happy trails!

Marjorie

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.

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When is an easy walk not an Easy Walk?

This is not an Easy Walk…

We were scrolling through Google Earth, fantasizing about visiting the English Dales when travel is a “thing” again. We had enjoyed watching PBS’s All Creatures Great and Small, and have gotten a taste for the Yorkshire countryside. For now it’s a fantasy. Perhaps some day, but not yet.

As we scrolled across the landscape, we headed to Yorkshire Dales National Park—ohhh, looks like some stunning waterfalls, trails, stone walls and gorgeous scenery. But what are the trail surfaces like? I am all about trail surfaces when talking about walking, since lots of the muscles in my right foot and leg just do not work well.

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Birds draw me outside

A bluebird perches near our feeder at the edge of the yard

I have a confession–I am not walking outside much right now. The pandemic has worn me down, shredded my sense of connection with others, and made me reluctant to leave the supposed safety of the walls of my home. Getting outside alone has felt more difficult than in the past. How much easier to simply move back and forth from upstairs to back down, from the living room to the kitchen then back again (we have a very small house).

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Outward appearances

Blue sky, lots of white

Paths outdoors are filled with ice hereabouts, so we are sticking to the quiet, clear, dead end road that runs alongside the lake near where we live. We see little difference to see from day to day. The lake is frozen, and snow fills the yards alongside the road, insulating the ground of my neighbors’ properties. Except for days when fresh-fallen snow provides a fresh bright coating, our world offers a rather monochrome view.

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Sounds of silence wandering outside the lines in the snow

Wavering footprints through the snow near Silver Lake, Bellingham, MA

We were returning from a short walk in new fallen snow when I spotted our tracks. We had ventured outside right in our neighborhood near Silver Lake in Bellingham, MA, where an old trolley line railbed still stands in the woods near our house. The rail bed is a straight line; the path our footprints followed was not. Despite the clear template of the railbed, our footsteps wandered back and forth through the snow.

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With limited time, take a walk around the block

Mute swan at Silver Lake

My calendar for the day mostly was full (for me) and it promised to be comfortable and sunny. What to do before the sun set? Take a simple walk around the block.

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Heading outdoors in faith

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Passing on stories of faith and love to the next generation

My friend Christine asked me to write my “faith” story, and so I wrote. This is about growing up in church, having Godly parents who provided opportunities for me to learn about God. It’s also about maturing, being shaped and challenged by life circumstances. You’ll also learn the story of how I became a writer, and even a little about how I came to write my Easy Walks books.

Thanks Christine, for asking the right questions, and for caring… a lot. Here’s what I wrote, for Christine, and for anyone else who is interested.

https://missistine.com/2016/07/10/marjories-faith-story/

Marjorie Turner Hollman

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.

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More healing walks

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View of Silver Lake, the island in the middle of the lake on the right.

I get the sense that many think I’m a high-level walker, leaping tall bushes at a single bound. Well, the truth is that I clump along as best I can, and in fact, I need to take easy walks, since I’m simply not up to more physically demanding trails. I was a strong hiker at one time, but that was long ago. Since that turning point in my life nearly twenty-five years past, I’ve lived with total paralysis of my right leg that thankfully  transformed into partial paralysis, and even that not always evident to casual observers. I love to take easy walks, but they are the only kind of walks I can manage, with support.

The most important support I have is willing walking partners. My husband and I walk almost every weekend, if we’re not on our tandem bike. During the week, I schedule exploratory or simple revisits to favorite outdoor places with friends, family, and other interested folk who are able to arrange their schedule to my own.

My walking rhythm stopped abruptly in March after sustaining a bad fall that injured my back. Six weeks later, I was just getting back to short walks when some kind of bug bit my toe. Soon all the toes in my right foot swelled alarmingly. Rest, elevating my foot, and lots of helpful drugs to calm the allergic reaction have allowed me, ten days later, to start getting back to gentle walks.

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My neighbor’s flowers brighten the walk, the lake is on the left

As when I was first relearning to walk, Silver Lake in Bellingham is my go-to spot to heal. Our house overlooks the lake, so it’s a short walk to the water, a very easy walk for me. As I recover from these latest physical challenges, once again Silver Lake is  where I find healing.

I’ve been keeping my eye on a nesting swan, and I hoped to get a glimpse of her cygnets, which surely have hatched by now.

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Swan plucking feathers from her breast to feather the nest

Alas, when I got to the end of the road that follows the shore of the lake, the swan was “feathering her nest,” making things more comfortable (or perhaps simply finding something to do as she sits, and sits, and sits!).

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After plucking feathers from one side, the mother swan carefully tucks the feathers into the other side of her nest.

No little ones in sight. Perhaps at dusk or dawn I’d have a better chance to spot little swans paddling behind their mother, but not this day.

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Windblown birch tree on the shore of Silver Lake.

Instead of seeing cute bird babies, I was content to watch trees blown about by the gusty winds of this spring day.

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Oak trees finally greening up as they eventually do each spring.

Flowers are in bloom, bees are drinking their fill on the blossoms, and even the oak trees are beginning to shift to green from the bare branches that have stood so starkly all winter.

I love to explore, to find new places to walk, but as many before me have said, there’s no place like home. And lucky for me, home offers an ever-changing landscape, with the promise of surprise each time I venture to the shores of the lake.

Here’s hoping you have a “go-to” spot for healing. I’m always glad to hear about those places too.

Marjorie Turner Hollman

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.

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Healing by getting back on that bike

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Back on the biketrail in Gardner, MA

It’s been over 20 years since I was able to hop on a bike and pedal myself down a path. That saying, “just like riding a bike” always catches me—people think riding a bike is something you can’t forget how to do. Yet for some of us, because of balance issues caused by many things, riding a bike is exactly what we can no longer do. Maybe it’s not that big a deal for some folks. But before my life changed because of surgery to remove a life-threatening brain tumor, I was physically very active. I loved to get outside, loved to walk, loved to swim, loved to dance, and biking was something that was easy for me. Continue reading

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Coming Home

19Millis Pleasant and Myrtle 2

Fall in New England

I have heard it said that understanding and sharing your past can change your future, but it was only recently that I began to fully grasp this truth.

In my work as a freelance writer and personal historian, I often ask people, “How did you get to where you are today?” The question might be in reference to a person’s vocation, but it may also simply be about how a person came to live in a certain place. The answers I’ve received have been endlessly fascinating. Continue reading

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