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Excerpt from "Blessed: Living A Grateful Life"

A Faith Community

by Ellen Michaud

As it has for nearly two centuries, a simple country church sits in a profound stillness which with a sense of Presence.

As I carefully drive across the tumbling Baldwin Creek and turn up a dirt road toward a 200-year-old church high in the Vermont mountains, as early morning frost sprinkles across meadows stuffed with spiky milkweed, exuberant goldenrod, and gone-to-see Queen Anne's lace. Trees line the road as it twists up the hill through the woods, and a rich, golden sun turns the swirling piles of leaves along the road into bits of maple fire.

Swinging into the clearing in which the church sits, I turn off the engine and listen. Far off across the hills to the north, the faint buzz of a chainsaw tells me that someone's cutting wood. To the south, a dog barks.

But here there is no sound. As it has for nearly two centuries, this simple country church sits in a profound stillness rich with a sense of Presence.

There are too few moments like this in my life. Instead, like women everywhere, I'm usually frantically running from one place to another as I pick up groceries, drop off pets, get to work, swing by schools, and run through the bank's drive-in.

But once in a while when some chore or another brings me here alone to weed the flower beds or to make sure there's enough wood stacked in the woodshed, the silence allows me to hear -- to sense -- that still, small voice that whispers the truth about what's important in life. Like the joyous sound of a brook that's always present but obscured by larger and louder sounds of a fast and angry world, that voice expands in silence and fills my mind with thoughts of the remarkable people who gather here to worship.

Grabbing my gardening gloves and trowel out of the backseat, I think of Jane, an elderly woman who has been known to march across our well-trimmed lawn, pause beside a car stopped to watch our festivities, open up a conversation with its passengers, then lead them into the paths of righteousness before the driver can get his foot off the brake.

I think of Peggy's softly ferocious caring as she quizzes Jane and her husband, Sam, to make sure they've been eating well, dressing warmly, getting to their doctor appointments, and getting phone calls from their globe-trotting children.

I think of Joy, who always comes early to make sure a fire has been built in the woodstove, and of Greg, her beloved husband, who carefully checks to make sure the mice haven't taken over the vestibule.

I think of Kerry, who's always ready to tighten a step so our old folks won't trip or hold a flower sale so we can pay the awe-inspiring insurance bill that arrives regular as the frost this time of year.

And I think of Jill, who so recently lost her brother. Of Robert, who's lost his mom. Of Jim, who's fighting to save his. Of Elise, who misses her Ted. Of Tim and Marie and Douglas and Patty, who . . .

By the time I've finished weeding and pruning and thinking, piles of weeds and branches are around my feet, my heart is alive with love, and I realize that this small community of faith -- this tiny little church halfway up a mountain and filled with ordinary people -- is a tiny microcosm of all that's right with the world.

And that's a blessing.

The above is an excerpt from the book Blessed: Living a Grateful Life by Ellen Michaud. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright 2011 Ellen Michaud, author of Blessed: Living a Grateful Life

Ellen Michaud
, author of Blessed: Living a Grateful Life, is an award-winning author who has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, Better Homes and Gardens, Lady's Home Journal, Parents, Reader's Digest, and Prevention, where she was the editor-at-large for six years.

For more information please visit http://theblessedblog.com/ and Amazon, and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter

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