All serious daring

Sheltered, daring, and soaking wet after climbing Anna Ruby Falls in the rain,1974.

“A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.”
Eudora Welty

By most standards, I have lived a very sheltered life. I don’t regret it. I’ve had a lot of interesting experiences, traveled widely and read extensively, but I also have had the luxury of being spared exposure to the sordid, violent or sleazy. I’ve known people who find such things fascinating (“I love squalor,” a college friend once explained to me earnestly, without a trace of irony) but I’ve never been one of them. I dislike horror films and graphic descriptions of sex or violence in fiction, and cringe at some of what I encounter in news headlines. Give me a clean, well-lighted place with uplifting books and salubrious beverages and lively, congenial company.

Yet I don’t think many would describe me as timid. As Welty says, a sheltered life does not preclude daring. It takes courage to face the uncertainty of encountering new ideas, people and possibilities. There is a comfort in sameness, and a (mostly false) security in sticking to the known and familiar. Breaking away, even in philosophical exploration, requires an adventurous spirit that may or may not lead to far-flung journeys into space or across continents.

Today, right where you are, you can instill some boldness into your otherwise typical day. In fact, a sheltered life can fortify you for fearless forays into yet-undiscovered paths. Try a new spice or ethnic cuisine, read an author whose work lies totally outside your usual literary taste, or write a forthright, unpretentious note of encouragement to someone you don’t know well– maybe even to someone you have never met. Visit a new (to you) neighborhood, place of worship, library or museum. Show up at an assisted care home, or an animal shelter, or a community group that could use your help. Write a letter to the editor of the local paper, or post a thoughtful, conciliatory comment online to combat the current hatefest.

Then, feel free to pop back over to our Virtual Verandah for a cup of pretend tea and tell us about your adventures. In the cozy world of our sheltered cyber-salon, you’ll almost certainly encounter some serious daring. Everyone is welcome here– especially you.



  1. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. ☕️ Once again, I’m feeling how similar we are in so many ways. I “turn a blind eye” rather than participate in uncomfortable! 👀 Maybe that has left me sheltered but my little simple world suits me just fine. I was in a book store a few weeks ago and bought “Under The Tuscan Sun” and it’s a fabulous read, certainly not a new publication. I may venture to a Virtual Verandah today in Tuscany, flowers 🌸 🌺 and vine covered, with 2 rockers, of course! 💛 Hugs to you and Matt!

    • Hi Sheila, good morning! I read Under the Tuscan Sun many years ago, and really liked it. I didn’t like the movie version, though. That was one of those times when I thought that the book was way, way better than the movie. Hope you enjoy it! I’m having the rare coffee on the Verandah this morning. I have a lot of tasks to do and need the energy. 🙂 Hugs right back to you! ❤

  2. Joining you on the Virtual Veranda with a sparkling water!😄 I have not lived a sheltered life and would have loved to have less chaos. Living here in Texas is pretty nice now. People are hurrying all around us chasing the $. Ron and I are in our tiny house content with what God has given us. I am praying for you and Matt and all the family sweet friend. Ron has gained over 10 lbs. since we’ve moved here!😀 Love and Light!🌞🌞🌞

    • Cherie, thanks for joining us here. Sparkling water sounds great. It has become Matt’s drink of choice and I drink a lot of it too. With the Texas climate and the unseasonably warm weather here, it really hits the spot. I’m so happy to hear that you are doing well! We keep you in our prayers. “Contentment is great gain!” 🙂

  3. MaryAnn Clontz

    WOW! Dear Lady! I read this yesterday & immediately was impressed with how this fits the “Open Doors” study at church. The past 6 weeks the preaching & the home group Bible studies have been on open doors. Studying the book: “All The Places To Go, How Will You Know”; subtitled: “God has placed before you an open door. What will you do?”
    I had been making a list of suggestions for our home group. Your list has added much substance to mine! There are many personalities in our group, not everyone wants to serve the way I enjoy (what???)…Tonight will be like you are with me!!!
    I love you! Hugs to you & my Matt!

    • Hi Mary Ann, that sounds like an interesting study. I’ve always been intrigued by the passage in I Corinthians 16, where Paul tells them he is going to stay in Ephesus, “because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.” How many of us would say “Well, I was thinking about staying, but there are too many people who oppose me, so I’m going to move on…” Paul chose to focus on the open door, while remaining aware of the opposition. I smiled when I read your comment “not everyone wants to serve the way I enjoy” — it reminded me of when I first came to northern California and brought up the idea of organizing to do the Magi Project boxes. I had tried that same thing in San Antonio at our church there, and got ZERO interest– but you jumped in with both feet, and just a few weeks later, Michelle and I took 84 gift boxes down to the offices of Manna International, to be shipped to central America. We could barely fit them all into her van. YAY!! Somewhere I have a photo of all of us with some of those boxes…I want to scan it and send it to you!

      • MaryAnn Clontz

        Tuesday night at the end of Bible study, our leader said; “the most important is people, so serving others through whatever door we choose, exemplifies Matthew 25:40
        Jesus said: “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
        That was a good segue for me to present the “list from my dear friend in Virginia”! It was well received, I sent an email for the group to have it on hand.
        One of my BEST memories was when you were at Mother’s care home for Ladies Bible Study. You suggested Magi boxes & I literally jumped up & we became lifelong Sister/Friends! God had a great plan that day! I remember the photo of us holding the MANY boxes ready to be sent! I still do the boxes, all through the year gathering as I see clearances, sales, etc. Manna Int’l was special to me The youth groups from our church all over California did walks & collected money to buy food & supplies to send to Poland. If memory serves, they collected $500,000.00! The YOUTH!

        It did feel as if you were here at Bible study, Tuesday!

        • WOW, I am so happy that I was “there” with you at the Bible study! I’m flattered that you shared my work. I had forgotten we were at Sis. Annie’s care home when I first brought up Magi Project. It’s funny how memory can retain only a few details. What I remember was that you were totally in and from that moment I knew we were going to be best pals. So I wasn’t surprised when you knew (without being told) exactly what Matt needed…and indirectly, what I needed too. Happy memories! Yes, Manna and the young people who started it and ran it were phenomenal!

          • MaryAnn Clontz

            Matt & I have been loving one another from 1st glance! I have such cherished memories of him at my home, at church, doing youth group activities and more!
            He is a treasure!

            • I cherish those memories too. They are all the more precious because of how rare such relationships have been in his life.

  4. MaryAnn Clontz

    LOVE your photo: walking IN the rain, climbing the falls! PERFECT time spent, I’d be right there with you! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Mary Ann, I have no doubt that you would be there. Probably with a wonderful picnic lunch in your trunk, for when we got back down to the parking area. 🙂

      • MaryAnn Clontz

        Okay, I’ll do that!

        • 😀 see you there

  5. Good morning, Julia! Again, I can resonate with your “sheltered” life leaving you bolder to face new experiences. My childhood was pretty sheltered; even when at 15 I started working at a McDonald’s in downtown Minneapolis, my parents prayed like crazy, and no harm ever befell me. (I got some funny looks some nights like, “is she for real? What does she think she’s doing here?”)
    I remember parts of a poem that was in a card that I received when my son was born:
    “Turn softly, world while baby’s new …

    “Then baby will be unafraid, and learn to live the world God made ….”
    I think there’s truth in that.

    • Hats off to you for having the moxie to work at McDonald’s downtown. And to your parents for prayerfully letting you do it! Were you anywhere near the iconic Hennepin Avenue? Yes, there is much truth in the verse in the card you quoted. I think our generation probably had that lovely scenario as a goal for our children: a world where they could grow up with friendly curiosity that was not tempered by fear or anger. But sadly, it sometimes seems to me that the younger generations have far less of that innocent enthusiasm than ours did. Even if our adventurous (though sheltered) outlook on life was partly born of ignorance, it was a lovely way to start life.

      • 606 Hennepin Avenue. 😀
        Yes, there was a Shinders (sp?) Drug store on the corner on both ends of the block. The health department was always trying to close us down (eventually, the block was leveled), but we had good business as the bars were closing and after movies let out, so we worked hard to keep it clean and safe. It was the ’70s.
        One day, I stopped by as a customer, and this big guy ahead of me in line was giving the cashier a hard time. So I said, “Hey, knock it off!” He turned around … looked down at me (skinny white girl) … and stopped picking on the cashier. Apparently, crazy people are scary.

        • How cool! A lucky guess on my part? I first heard of Hennepin Avenue from reading Natalie Goldberg. Who knows, maybe you crossed paths with her at some point. In fact, if she was sitting nearby writing when you chastised the ugly patron (she often writes in cafe settings), you may be immortalized in one of her spiral notebooks. The big guy may have not have even realized he was giving anyone a hard time. Perhaps it was an eye-opener for him. In any case, it sounds like something I would have done. Jeff was always telling me “you’re going to get yourself killed one day.” 😀

  6. Mike

    I heard a program on nameing of hurricanes. It is weird to have the same first name as that of a hurricane, There was also a hurricane Michael in 2000. The thirteenth named storm. It was only a category one storm. As it was not so bad- now there is a nother Michael on its way. If a storm is really bad then it’s name gets retired-like Katrina that went from a Category one to a five in tweleve hours. No more Katrinas. One was bad enough.That name was retired. Soi I pray that the name -Michael does not have to be retired. As you know Michael is the lead arch Angel an at one point cut off the head of the Devil. He has a wonderful stature outside the Cathedral of the Divine in NYC. Pretty powerful guy. This statue is pretty amazing and probably my favorite of all time, with many animals included in the Peaceful kingdom. I am not sure I like living down here in the southern climes where hurricanes get to play. We don’t have hurricanes in my hometown.
    Saturday we went out to Stone Mountain for the kid’s Haloween thing. I did not go up in the Gondola as hieights are not my thing, although I have climbed up it twice on the trail. And I have to ask you take on the memorial thing? Someone said the Democratic candidate wants to hose off the carvings? Crazy. I watched a short film about the people who carved the figures into the mountain. Talk about risky. They show one picture that looks like a 30 story ladder off the West side of the carving. Imagine going up that everyday. Well stone Mountain has lots of stuff for the kid’s but I am not sure I have to go back there. Anna Ruby falls is close to Blue Ridge??

    • Mike, I haven’t yet heard whether the name “Michael” will be retired, but based on the stories of devastation, it seems likely. I’ve never seen that statue you describe, but I certainly hope to see it one day. As for Stone Mountain and the idea of erasing those carvings, I can only sigh with resignation. My memory is that the carving was interrupted and went unfinished for quite some time before it was eventually completed. Iconoclasm is dangerous on so many levels. I pray we (as a culture) do not head down that dangerous path. Anna Ruby falls is in North Georgia, not too far from where you now live. Remember that every place has its risks. California had the dreaded wildfires (and the less dangerous earthquakes); coastal areas have hurricanes; inland locations have tornadoes, which might be the most frightening of all as (unlike hurricanes) they often carry no advance warning. Maybe my fear of tornadoes comes from the Wizard of Oz, but I also remember childhood stories of relatives living through tornadoes, and came close enough to them myself to fear them.

  7. Ann

    Once again I feel that we are so similar. My life was and still is, to some extent, sheltered. I haven’t done anything particularly bold yet. I wrote my Senator a strongly worded email and got a canned response. Tomorrow I am trying a yoga class for the first time. There is so much acrimony right now that I am trying to be extra polite and kind. Nothing big but maybe it will make someone’s day a little better. Have just gone through two hurricanes in one month so kindness is big with me right now.
    Can I have a glass of wine on the veranda?

    • Being extra polite and kind is something very big nowadays, keep at it. And yes, you can have wine on the Verandah. It will have to be BYOB, since I don’t keep it around. I wouldn’t know a good wine from a cheap one!

      • Ann

        Expensive doesn’t always mean better..for wine and for most other things.

        • Ann, I agree!

  8. Harry Sims

    Many much to their chagrin never dare to look within.
    For the wisdom of the ages says that a life unexamined is not worth living.
    So I thank God for spiritual programs for spiritual progress.

    • Harry, that’s so true…and now, I think, more than ever.

  9. Mike

    I think the name is toast,, as far as Hurricane epithets go- Michael that it, but not sure. Michael lived up to his reputation and did some real damage. Watching the CNN series on the 70″s which is on Netflix. There are 8 episodes and the third is on Vietnam, and they contrast the warm welcome of the 700 plus released POW;s with the enlisted persons who were treated so badly with such idsrespect -etc. As you know manhy of the released POW’s were flyers including John Mcain, who is missed so much I believe and seemed to form a buffer between those of different political views. One of the flyers mentioned in this Documentary was a Jeremiah Denton. Any relation??
    Found out last week I have a cousin now living in Destin, Fl. So hope to get down there.

    • Mike, we are not related to Jeremiah Denton, but that man was quite a hero. I’ve never been to Destin but I’ve heard it’s lovely — I hope you are able to go there.

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