Holiness in our Midst: Session 49

Holiness in our Midst


STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: Share an autumn memory.

In my early teens, we lived in Urbandale, IA. As a family, we did lots of fun outings. An autumn memory stands out. One September Saturday morning we picked up black walnuts at Walnut Woods State Park in West Des Moines, a wooded bottomland along the Raccoon River. It was holy ground: The family togetherness, the leafy canopies of red, yellow and gold, the chilly weather that made us huddle closer. It was a time before my sisters Jean and Janet went off to college The rest of us (my father, stepmother, brother Jerry, sister Jill, and me) hopscotched from Iowa to Minnesota and on to Colorado by the time I graduated from high school. But that beautiful day, time stood still as we stooped to fill bushel baskets full of black walnuts, some with and others without hulls. Our bright sweaters blended with the colors in the trees. We were a contented bunch, laughing and calling to each other, “Over here. Over here.” On the way home, we stopped at an orchard to buy several boxes of Golden Delicious apples. The distinctive odors of walnuts and apples permeated the car, even though the harvest bounty was in the trunk.

That evening my brother and father sorted the walnuts for drying in the basement. In time, they would take off the hulls and crack the shells. I remember that a vice and a hammer were involved. The rest of us were assigned to pick “the meats” with nut picks, careful to toss any shells. The walnuts were stored in plastic bags in the freezer in the basement (the “deep freeze,” we called it), ready to be added to cakes and cookies.

Later in the season, we reaped the rewards of our outing. Mom made baked apples with walnuts; I don’t remember the exact recipe, but cinnamon, brown sugar, and butter were among the ingredients. My parents made applesauce. During the holidays, Dad made his caramels and fudge, some batches with walnuts, using his mother’s recipes. The apples were kept in boxes in the garage, fair game for snacking anytime throughout the long winter months. Our bounty lasted through the winter and the memories a lifetime.


  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write a journal entry about an autumn memory. Recall where you were, who you were with, and the sights, sounds and aromas of the day. Why does it stand out?


  1.   Read aloud Session XLVIV.
  2.   Ask each person to answer the Story Circle Prompt.

[View Past Sessions Here]

Note: Holiness in Our Midst: Sharing Our Stories to Encourage and Heal is a monthly on-line feature created by Janis Pyle to facilitate sharing of our personal experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and spiritual practices with one another, especially through stories. Barriers are broken down when we begin to see all persons, even those with whom we disagree ideologically, as sacred and constantly attended to by a loving Creator. Each column is accompanied by a “story circle” prompt and study guides for personal and group reflection. To share your stories, contact Hannah Button-Harrison at communications@nplains.org. Janis Pyle can be reached at janispyle@yahoo.com.

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