From a single source

A garden at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, where I spent some memorable hours in July 2013.

A garden at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, where I spent some memorable hours in July 2013.

“At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source. When you are an artist, you are a healer.” Rachel Naomi Remen

Often we think of art as something that hangs in a frame on a wall, but in reality the work of countless artists surrounds us so pervasively that we scarcely notice it most of the time.  The photo above was taken in a lovely little garden at Northside Hospital in Atlanta, where I was able to spend some quiet moments during the long day of waiting for Grady to be born.  Megan had checked in the night before and labor was induced early that morning, but Grady was not letting anyone hurry him, and he didn’t show his face until almost 9:00 p.m. that night.

I had spent many long hours in hospitals for most of the preceding year, so it wasn’t a difficult wait for me.  However, I was eager to see our grandson, and increasingly anxious to know all would be well.  I escaped to that little garden more than once that day when the waiting area became too dull, and was outside there when Drew’s friend Paul (who was staying in touch with the delivery room via texts with Drew) called me to report that they had decided to do a C-section. 

Being a physician, Paul was able to give me enough details to reassure me that this was a sound decision based on avoiding risk of complications from prolonged labor, and not an emergency situation.  Everyone was fine, and I would be seeing our grandson in an hour! So the photo above brings back a lot of happy memories about the night Grady was born.

A variety of artists made that healing little garden a reality.  Landscapers, architects, and woodworkers joined forces to create a perfect setting for the sculpture of a newborn baby lovingly held in two hands.  In the years since it was finished, I believe hundreds of nervous family members must have found calm and solace in that serene space, as I did. 

I’m so thankful for the imaginative spirit that each of us has, in some measure, which we use in various ways.  Whether you are engaged in producing art, or appreciating the work of others, I hope your life will be touched today with the healing power of creativity.

One year ago today

Added to the inner freedom


  1. Julia, good morning. A beautiful garden. Just the place for some quiet moments. 🙂

    • Yes Merry, I was thankful the hospital planners had thought to put it there. Hope you have a lovely day!

  2. Sheila

    Julia, that’s such a calm, serene setting. Don’t you love finding a soothing “spot” that’s created just for that purpose? I love the sculpture! There is a sculpture in Brookgreen Gardens of a man reading a newspaper on a park bench that is so popular. It’s probably one of the most photographed, as people want to have a picture taken, sitting beside him. Fun!
    I’m sure yesterday was a long day for y’all. I hope a restful night finds you ready for this new day. Make it happen! 🙂

    • Thank you Sheila! You must have radar because “make it happen” has been my unspoken motivation today – getting a lot of little (or medium sized) tasks done that have been hanging around nagging at me for weeks. I just love statues. I have a sort of collection of photos of me and/or various family members posing alongside different statues we’ve seen over the years, as if part of the sculpture. I’m not ashamed to admit it, since even sophisticated intellectuals such as Dave Barry also do this. In fact, sometime I’ll have to post some of those photos here. Do you have a photo of yourself reading with that man in Brookgreen Gardens? If not, I’ll have to come down there sometime and take one to post here! 🙂 Thinking of your and hoping you are doing OK. Keeping you and Bill in prayer.

      • Sheila

        Yippee! Feels so good to tackle those overdue tasks; even “baby steps” will help. I’m glad one of us was productive. I did little more than looking out the windows all day. These ice storms are not our normal, so I’m intrigued… from inside and with electricity. You would love Brookgreen Gardens! Although, I don’t have a photo of me sitting with the man, I took one of my mom. I commented at the time that she was “quite the flirt”! Just last week, I took a photo at Bristol Herald Courier of a statue outside their entrance. Appropriately enough, a paperboy! 🙂 I keep you, Jeff, and Matt in my prayers.

        • Sheila, I don’t blame you for looking out the windows all day. Ice can be so treacherous, but it’s also quite beautiful, especially if the sun is shining at all. We are getting snow here now; the federal government is shut down tomorrow so that means Jeff will be home with us 🙂 which is good news to Matt and me! Stay warm and enjoy this strange, strange winter as much as you possibly can! I’m having a virtual cup of hot herbal tea with you right now. 🙂

  3. All the hospitals should have such green spots where the patients or bystanders can relax. The people won’t have much to do while at the hospital. I remember going for strolls in the minimum nature available while spending during my days as a bystander.
    That sculpture is unique and many must have found it fascinating.

    • Thank you Bindu, I agree! There are several little courtyard gardens at Bethesda (the huge hospital complex where Jeff takes his cancer treatments and had his surgeries) and even when when I just see them out a window as I’m walking by, they do bring a moment of serenity. When Jeff was in the hospital back in May, and had been there nearly two weeks, one of the surgery residents told us about a rooftop garden at the hospital that we could visit. It was very nice, and at night it was even lit up. It had fountains and lots of benches all around with glass walls so you could see the view. It was part of the mental health floor but anyone who knew about could go up there. I guess the resident knew that after two weeks of complications such as Jeff had just endured, he could use a little boost to the mental health, as could I! I think all hospitals should plan for such places. That was a very unique sculpture and it’s even more interesting when you’re there waiting on a baby to arrive, as almost everyone at that place is! Thanks for visiting with us today.

  4. Michael

    Beautiful sculpture and garden. Is that the Northside hospital in the Buckhead area? They are now building a branch campus out near Canton. I think it is called Northside Cherokee Hospital.
    Keep my son in your prayers for round two- or is it three – storm Atlanta. Called Pax? Where did they come up with that? I think he is on the ambulance crew today.
    BTW yesterday I heard part of a talk by the author of your quote- Rachel Naomi Remen. The talk was on self care for health care workers. She has a book out called “Kitchen Table Wisdom” which is recommended .Have you heard of it?

    • Michael, I haven’t heard of that book, but it sounds interesting. I think that health care workers are often in need of that sort of advice. It has always amazed me how Matt’s surgeons, and now Jeff’s, seem to live at the hospital. You see them very late in the day, and then before dawn in the morning. Whenever someone I know has surgery scheduled, I always hope or pray that the surgeon(s) got adequate sleep the night before.

      Speaking of needing prayers, we will certainly pray for your son, and for all the Atlanta area. It sounds as if everyone is battening down the hatches. I don’t know where they get these names but they probably wanted some way to distinguish this week’s big storm from the disastrous one that just happened recently, as the two are likely to be discussed and compared for days and weeks to come. It’s very unusual for Atlanta to get two such storms in one year. Maybe even unusual in one decade. Yes, that’s Northside Buckhead, although it’s a bit north of what I traditionally think of as Buckhead. It’s just inside 285. It’s very nice; looks more like a hotel inside than a hospital. The rooms were huge, too. PLUS free parking, if you left after about 11:00 pm! 🙂

  5. HarryS

    Well friends, I have been a baptized Christian since I was around 15 or 16 years old. I joined the Presbyterian Church and I was sprinkled. Later on I joined the Baptist Church and I was immersed in the baptismal pool. In my adult life and only minimally committed or just going along with the crowd, I joined the Episcopal Church and for the life of me I don’t ever remember being confirmed which is the ritual in our church equivalent to the previously mentioned rituals.
    But I am spiritually confirmed in my intense interest and devoted focus to growing spiritually.
    Should I be publicly confirmed in the church?
    Is this a necessity for getting into heaven?
    Don’t I dip my toes in the heavenly pool as I declare in daily prayer, “Thy kingdom come!”?
    Am I joining God in the creative process as I exercise this art of communication which is a pure gift and was I also doing this in the life I lived which was beyond my comprehension in the practice of the art of medicine?
    Lots of times I wonder what the fairly long interval of the devoted practice of love towards two God’s would have been like on the other hand? Would the results have been different? Would I have existed and been effective at a higher level?

    I doubt all this but only God knows!

    • Harry, you raise a lot of interesting questions here. I can’t really follow the part about two Gods (are you referring to God and medicine? Or devotion to medicine vs. art?) but in any case, I do have some thoughts on your other questions. I do believe that Christians should be baptized, and should be part of the church. The debate about “which church” could take hours, so I won’t go into it here. As far as what is necessary for getting into heaven, I try to avoid that as a motivating factor at my stage of the game; I find that whenever I catch myself asking “yes, but do I HAVE to do that?” I’m usually on the wrong track. However, there is much in the Bible that does address these questions fairly extensively. The book of James being one that is uncomfortably clear and candid about what constitutes a living faith. So clear and candid that it makes some of us squirm, so much so that some people (including Martin Luther, a man I tremendously respect in most ways) have apparently tried to have it thrown out of the canon of scripture!

      Given that I feel as if I’ve been living, breathing and existing in the land of medicine for about 35 years — a place I never intended to end up, being much more fond of the creative arts — I am intrigued by your reference to it. Were/are you a physician? I still refer to myself as a librarian though I have not worked in that capacity for years.

      Thanks for your interesting comment!

  6. I just finished a very good book that made me really consider the works of art I have seen and those I have yet to see. The book is about a group of men and women who rescued and restored art at the end of WW2. One of the men is Walker Hancock. He is a well known sculpter here in America. I first saw his work years ago in a movie, he carved Stone Mountain which is in Atlanta, Georgia. I don’t like all art but I enjoy art. I knew very little about Vermeer until you pointed out, “Hey Amy, did you know you are driving right by the home town of famous artist?” Boy did I feel silly and I made every effort to learn something about him since then. As you say, there are so many out there, known and unknown who make the world a brighter place for all of us. Nice. Read Monuments Men if you get a chance. Love to the boys. I love you. A

    • Amy, that book does sound really good. I had never heard of Walker Hancock despite growing up in Atlanta and hearing about the Stone Mountain carving, which was unfinished in my childhood. I have happy memories of going to Delft with you, especially visiting the china factory. I uploaded a photo from that shop here a short time ago when we were discussing odd trees. Maybe it will bring back some memories! I hope someday we can go back and have loads of time to prowl around more interesting European towns. Hope you are all staying warm as the snow is falling. Jeff feels pretty good tonight which makes me so happy. Just keep praying that chemo zaps those lung tumors. He expects WRNMMC-Bethesda to be closed tomorrow for weather, so he’ll have to disconnect his IV drip from his port on his own, which is fine by him. He still has to keep giving himself daily shots in the stomach (to prevent blood clots) but he’s a tough guy, thank goodness he’s always done that for Matt who also has to have them any time the week or so pre-op. Yuk, I’m afraid I couldn’t do needles very well!

  7. Michael

    Today is my son’s birthday in Atlanta. He survived yesterday on the ambulance. Today he is snowboarding down the hills around his housing complex in Canton. They got about 4 inches of powder last night. I will try and upload a pict of him.
    I will have to check out the garden at Northside Hospital. We have a nice garden here in Renton. It has a walking labyrinth for meditation which is rarely used- unfortunately.
    BTW have you read Paul Fleishchman’s young adult book- Bull run? It is kind of fun and can be used as a reader’s theatre in 11 voices. He is one of my faves. Author that is. I have read most of his stuff-my favorite being Seedfolks- a classic.

    • Hi Michael, I’m glad your son is having an easier, more festive day today. I have seen several labyrinths here and there, but as you say, very few people choose to walk them. I did take the labyrinth walk inside Grace Cathedral in San Francisco – they have one indoors and outdoors, but I did the one indoors (fewer distractions). All the others I’ve seen have been outdoors and I think those of us who are more easily distracted might find it hard to focus long enough to get through it. Also, without posted information, I would not have known what one was or how to use it.

      Paul Fleischman is one of those “I need to read him” authors on my list, but since I quit working as a youth services librarian, a bit of the urgency to get acquainted with his work has faded. As you probably know, he’s very highly regarded among librarians and other literary types. I’ve bought his books for collections where I’ve worked, but haven’t read him. I wouldn’t know where to start with his works, so thanks for the tip about Seedfolks. I haven’t read any of his father’s books either, though I think Jeff and Matt read The Whipping Boy and maybe Jim Ugly. It’s pretty unusual for two generations to win the Newberry Medal, as both of them have done.

  8. Megan

    Of course, I love this account from Grady’s birth day! What a day it was, but quite the happy conclusion! I’m thankful we were in such a nice hospital — I knew they took good care of me and Grady, but was unaware how pleasant it is for guests too.

    • Yes, Megan, that day is a happy memory for me. Nothing is more fun to wait for than a grandchild! The best part is they just keep getting more and more fun!

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