~To Balance a Preservation
of the Quality of Innocence
with the Reality of Experience…
grounds us in Deliberate living~
Above paraphrased from excerpts in a favorite periodical:
Parabola:The Search for Meaning
Innocence & Experience, Summer 2016
Between the lines of ‘containment and freedom’ exists a fresh, pure place, one of rolling meadows and even a ‘magical tree’. My daughter Ella & I found this place through “SERENDIPITY” just as Shirley and Henry found that special tree.
Shirley Hershey Showalter’s love of life’s wonders brought about the writing of BLUSH. This adventurous poignant memoir drew us in, as Shirley proved time and again how her desire to grow up balancing the harmony between two worlds– became her great strength.
🌸The innocence of her ingenuity within a life of simplicity- presented alongside the contrasting realities and freedoms of the cultural world beyond- were instilled at a ripe young age, through the grace of her mother.
This is the first book Ella & I share, that holds tremendous significance for us as Mother and Daughter. The world today is deeply entrenched in almost anything that would attempt to take us away from the balance and grounding of life’s deeper meanings.
Spahn Farm in Lancaster County, PA. is home to a little girl named, Shirley and her modest, faithful, yet adventurous Mennonite family. Shirley grew up with her young brother Henry, the strong-footed countenance of her revered father, Richard and her captivating mother, Barbara.
Mother Barbara’s beautiful balance between the devout love of homestead and the dazzle of the outside world, instilled a similar likeness in her daughter Shirley. BLUSH is the story.
My daughter Ella and I decided we’d love to start off our summer writing together here about what this book has meant to us, how we relate to it and why we both consider it an absolute treasure for mothers & daughters to share.
Mama: Ella, what is one story or moment you recall & treasure from our reading of the book BLUSH, by Shirley H. Showalter?
Ella: There’s a part in Shirley’s book were she retells a story her mother wrote. Her mom would tell Shirley and her brother Henry this magical story when they were little. She even puts their names into this story, called the Magic Elevator. In it, the children go off alone to explore in the meadows of the farm and have a picnic that their mother packed for them.
After eating, Henry goes off and gets lost. Shirley hears him calling and she follows his voice to a huge hollow oak tree. There’s a door inside the tree and they find a magical key to enter.
They go inside and it’s a magical elevator. It takes them up and out of the tree onto a cloud and on the cloud there’s a special little elf the size of a raindrop.
Mama: This is one of my favorites too, Ella. I couldn’t believe how creative Shirley’s mom was- to write such a story at the age of only 15. What happened on that cloud– when they stepped out, do you remember?
Ella: Well, Shirley realized they had somehow lost the key to get back.
Mama: What did she do in the face of this adversity, with them stuck on that cloud?
Ella: Well, Shirley said that her mother told her that rain and the sun makes a rainbow— and she saw the sun out that day. So, she asked the rain elf they met to turn on the rain inside the cloud. She waited and soon a rainbow appeared. That’s when Shirley and Henry jumped onto the rainbow and slid down right into their very own backyard, where mother was waiting.
Mama: You do a great job retelling that story, honey. If you imagine yourself in that situation, what do you feel they might have learned from it?
Ella: I would think that they could always come home if they could really see the magic and be brave & creative. Shirley also remembered that her mother told them: water and sun together make a rainbow. That’s what got them home.
Mama: was the rainbow a symbol of something else, do you think?
Ella: The rainbow might have been a symbol to guide them home and to help them feel happy and safe.
Mama: What a beautiful symbol of guidance. We have always talked about the rainbow as a “bow of promise on the cloud” and that’s pretty much what this was for Shirley and Henry.
Ella: You’re right and I would feel really accomplished, if I was Shirley—that I had thought of the idea when I lost the key and that I was going to come home safely to you.
Mama: You get that feeling of accomplishment, she must have felt. That’s so neat! Thanks for sharing your thoughts honey!
Ella: Mama what about you? Did you have a favorite part?
Mama: I think I’d say one of my favorite parts also surrounded Shirley’s early school years. It’s a pure joy to read and just so fun, because Shirley’s relationship with her mom makes me think of us & even our homeschooling experiences together.
I love how Shirley’s mom was grounded in her life convictions, devotion to family and the purpose of her spirituality; while at the same time she was eager to explore and have her daughter experience life & cultures beyond their own.
A story within BLUSH that resonates deeply with me is when Shirley’s parents decide to become part of the Fresh Air Fund- and volunteer to have a young girl of Shirley’s age come to live with them from New York City for a portion of the summer.
In this part of Shirley’s Memoir, (the reasons for the outreach project are specified in greater detail) Carmen Victoria Martinez -or- “Vicky” steps off train in Lancaster—and into their lives. I felt eager to read the experiences both girls share, and how their contrasting lifestyles converge. Shirley’s eloquent writing conveys the beauty of the girls’ learning experiences and how this time forever changes them.
I stumbled upon BLUSH when searching for cultural memoirs and since then have enjoyed many of her other written posts on family values and the balance between forces in life.
For both Ella and me, BLUSH- resonates with the simplest yet most profound meaning stated by Parker J. Palmer of the Center for Courage and Renewal. In Shirley’s Foreword, Parker states, “hers is a balance between freedom and discipline…” “between creativity and containment” and the “human capacity to march to the beat of a different drummer”.
“THE SHELTERED LIFE CAN BE A DARING LIFE AS WELL. FOR ALL SERIOUS DARING STARTS FROM WITHIN.” ~Eudora Welty
Click 🌸HERE to visit Shirley’s site
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Ella’s Homeschool Journey 💕www.HomeTweetHome.co💕
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