After I left the Fetzer Institute this summer, both Stuart and I began to feel an eastward tug. Our life together has followed this path: VA, TX, IN, Haiti, IN,VA, IN, Ivory Coast, IN, NC, IN, MI, VA. Love has taken us to a circle of new places, and now love calls us home.

Forty-four years ago, we fell in love with each other in a very special place, the Shenandoah Valley, the place where Stuart grew up. We meet at Eastern Mennonite University, located in “the valley,” in 1966. The picture in color below was taken along the Skyline Drive, probably in 1966 or ’67. The black and white photo was taken at the Maple Sugar Festival the year after we were married, spring of 1970.

The same mountains that surrounded us then have wooed us back again as we enter the last third of our lives. I’ve described my own childhood home in Lititz, PA, when I wrote about my mother and the farm where I grew up. We will be closer to our children, my mother and all my siblings when our move to VA is completed this week.

When Stuart’s mother died, I wrote a blog post about her and about Stuart’s family also. The older both of us get, the more we appreciate the deep roots our families have to land, landscape, and each other.

Friends have been asking us about our decision with regard to why VA, why now, why move so soon, and what will you do in VA? We’ll tackle all these questions in the next few days.

“Home for the Holidays” holds new meaning for us this year. We closed on our new VA home the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. We will celebrate Christmas with my PA family in three weeks, and all four of our children (and our grandson in utero!) will join us for Christmas week in the new home. The tree stand and all the trimmings were the first items to arrive from MI.

We start and end our circle of love with deep gratitude for family, friends, freedom, and fun! Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Shirley Showalter


  1. DazyDayWriter on November 30, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    Lovely idea and post, Shirley! We’ve also lived a variety of places called “home,” as in most recently, Indianapolis … but previously, St. Louis, etc.! Each place has given us something special and I hope we’ve left something behind of merit. One constant, at least for the past 8+ years has been our beloved schnauzer, Noah. More from him @ Zen of Noah now posted @ — think you’ll enjoy 🙂 For me, pets make me feel at home; even when an address changes, their treasured loyalty never wavers. Have a great week. –Daisy

    • shirleyhs on December 2, 2010 at 2:17 am

      Thanks, Daisy. I know how much pets mean to many of my friends. We have had several cats over the years but no dog. I will need to go check out the zen of Noah!

  2. Kathleen on November 30, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    With my best wishes and hopes for a smooth move, a meaningful transition, and encounters with love and grace through it all!


    • shirleyhs on December 2, 2010 at 2:19 am

      Thanks, Kathleen. We arrived safely in Virginia today, grateful that there were no mishaps in snowstorms along the way. More to come later on the subject of “home.”

  3. Sharon Palmer on December 1, 2010 at 1:53 am

    This is beautiful, Shirley. Thank you for all the lovely and moving links about your mothers. And thank you for listing all the places that you and Stuart have shared life and the joy you are experiencing as you move “back home” where you’ll be close to family and the land that you both love. It’s a part of your story that I’m glad to learn more about. Love the photo of you and Stuart in each other’s arms. The whole thing made me teary. Blessings as you continue your life together back where it all began!



    • shirleyhs on December 2, 2010 at 2:26 am

      Dear Sharon,

      I loved this heartfelt response. I wish you could have been with me in the car today (we each drove a car loaded with plants and other miscellaneous items the movers didn’t want to take). I was listening to three playlist CD’s that were created a few years ago when our daughter-in-law Chelsea shared her meditation tape with us. The scenes outside the window and the soundtrack inside were making me levitate. You and Parker must come visit. Steaks medium rare will be on the menu!

  4. Lisa Guedea Carreno on December 1, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Shirley, I look forward to reading more of your insights about home — what it means, where we find it, when we make it. During the first three decades of my life I never lived in any one place for more than a half dozen years or so, and many places were much shorter stints than that. Then, earlier this year, I reached the a milestone of living in the same place for more than a decade, and I’m not sure how I feel about that! Home/place/borders are important themes for me, even as my relationship with them continue to develop and evolve…

    Best wishes to you and Stuart as you settle in again in Virginia. I will miss crossing paths with you here in the Midwest, but I’ll keep in touch via FB and your blog.

  5. Chin on December 1, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    I love the title, Shirley. You guys are definitely seasoned movers, thanks for listing them all. I look forward to new stories back home. You look as vibrant as your picture here and even moreso. I think. Pure happiness? I also noticed this happiness in your goodbye shoutout on the neighborhood. 🙂

    • shirleyhs on December 2, 2010 at 2:33 am

      It seems impossible that I just pulled out of Stratford Woods yesterday afternoon, Chin. We left Ann Arbor at 8 a.m. and are now sitting in the home of Stuart’s brother and sister-in-law here in Harrisonburg. It’s great to have a sibling in every port! Tomorrow the trucks arrive and all the boxes and furniture come into the house. Then all we have to do is unpack–which will take weeks to finish completely, I’m sure. BTW, the “portable Chinese kitchen” has already been placed in the pantry. Thank you so, so much for your generosity in our last week.

  6. Betty on December 1, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Shirley–thanks for sharing your chronos journey back to VA. May you have many happy moments there with family and friends. You and Stuart are models of kairos time and for creating space for the divine to work in unexpected ways. Savor this time and space!

    • shirleyhs on December 2, 2010 at 2:40 am


      I loved this thought. Saw it on my iPhone when we stopped at Starbucks on the way to Harrisonburg this afternoon. Yes, I felt like I was living in Kairos time all day. In fact, I was thinking a lot your message as I listened to the eclectic mix of spiritual music I had on CD’s in the car. Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. GutsyWriter on December 1, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    I didn’t even realize you were moving to VA. What a beautiful love story. I’d love to talk to you over the phone, once you settle in. Please let me know when you’re ready. Good luck. Sonia.

    • shirleyhs on December 2, 2010 at 2:42 am

      Hi Sonia, we should be semi-settled by the end of next week. My cell phone is my only phone right now. Send me an email and we’ll make a date. All best as you finish your manuscript.

  8. clifh on December 3, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    When I heard Nancy Perman’s comments on NPR’s Morning Edition today, I couldn’t help but wonder what Shirley of 100 Memoirs would have to say about it.

    • clifh on December 4, 2010 at 11:42 pm

      I need to correct and clarify the above comment. I meant to refer to Nancy Pearl (not Perman). On the Friday, Dec 3, NPR Morning Edition show she commented on what she didn’t like about many memoirs. Then proceeded to recommend some that she liked.

      • shirleyhs on December 5, 2010 at 12:06 am

        Thanks, Clif! I really enjoyed this NPR story and am honored that you thought of me and this blog when you listened to it! I agree with Nancy Pearl that me-moirs and “Job stories” get tiring. I have a strong dislike for whining myself (except when I do it, of course :-)). I hope all the readers of this post listen to the story–just in time for gift giving.

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