Holiness in our Midst: Session 61

Holiness in our Midst


What do you collect? Why?

I collect Midwest art, mostly original watercolor paintings of Iowa fields, fences, barns, and windmills. Decorating my home with them is my way of preserving the Forties and Fifties way of life. Setting the mood in my living room are prints of a red one room schoolhouse and a little white church as well as a tapestry of a country home. My small town/rural theme happens to extend out my windows. My bedroom overlooks a field and forest. My office window features the road out of town. The living room view is of a parklike setting with three large trees and a quiet subdivision. My daily surroundings are all of one piece.

To describe some of my artworks:

  • Two paintings by Ankeny, IA artist Pat Hykes depict gas stations from my past. They were done from photographs. One is of the Handsaker gas station on Highway 65 between Colo and Zearing. I’m glad for the visual reminder of the landmark place where we filled up on our way to visit my paternal grandparents down the road Geneva. Only an overgrown stone marker and an abandoned farmhouse are currently on the site. Another painting is of a long-gone gas station/grocery store in Panora. A family friend, Naomi Beal, lived above the store growing up.
  • A panoramic watercolor depicts the rolling Iowa countryside in spring. The rows of corn are just visible in spring, magnifying the contours of the land. It is a study in greens.
  • A Midwest storm is brewing in black and deep blues and purples in another watercolor.
  • My favorite is called “Wash Day in May.” Clothes blowing on the line stretch from a farmhouse to a barn. In the foreground in a lush garden.

Rounding out my décor and colorful calendars and sayings that give me pause, like the plaque over the stove that reads: Gardens and families must be tended daily. My home helps me remember a time when people talked to each other face to face, families gathered for reunions, and churches were the social centers of the community. I can’t turn back time, but my collection reminds me to extend the spirit of civility that was the overlay of a vanishing way of life.

STORY CIRCLE PROMPT: What do you collect and why?


  1. Read the above reflection.
  2. Write about a special collection. What was your first piece? Do others add to it? What special feelings do your things evoke?


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

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Note: Holiness in Our MidstSharing 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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