On Keeping a Cheerful Heart

posted by Sharon February 21, 2012 11 Comments

I’m inspired by the life of John Adams, our country’s second president. This month we celebrate President’s Day and we focus on George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but John Adams also has much to teach us, too. His story is one of giving to those who needed him, of serving those who called on him. Here’s the home in Quincy, Massachusetts where he was born and raised and began his career as a lawyer.

John Adams led our country during war, during its formative years, through criticism and conflict. He spent the prime of his career traveling back and forth to Philadelphia, then abroad in France and the Netherlands, then in the newly built capital in Washington, D.C. He was at the helm when America was so spanking new no one knew if it would survive. When he was not elected to a second term as president, he retired to this lovely home, Stonyfield Farm, about a mile from where he grew up.

Here’s what I find fascinating. This industrious, energetic man went from president of the United States to countryside farmer in the space of one bumpy carriage ride. How did he handle this drastic change?

“The only question remaining with me is what shall I do with myself,” Adams wrote in a letter soon after arriving at Stonyfield. He referred to himself as Farmer John. He expressed concern that, after the decades of total dedication to his role in assisting the birth of a nation, the stillness “may shake my old frame . . . . Something I must do, or ennui will rain upon me in buckets.”

Battered by years of mean politics and an absent spouse, his wife Abigail Adams focused on the beauty and tranquility of farm life. One day, looking out on the garden, she contemplated the blooms and wrote, “Envy nips not their buds, calumny destroys not their fruits, nor does ingratitude tarnish their colors.”

In their later years, John and Abigail lost their only daughter to cancer. Adams wrote that death was no stranger, as he had lost children and grandchildren, but the pain of these losses did not diminish. Still, he approached life with fortitude. Abigail wrote to her son, John Quincy Adams, during this time of the good remaining, including “the life, health and cheerfulness of your father. Bowed down as he has been . . . he has not sunk under it.”

He endured loneliness, loss, rejection, illness, estrangement from friends, and the death of his children. Yet he enjoyed the blessings of love and accomplishment and of living on a peaceful farm that still stands.

“The phrase ‘Rejoice ever more’ shall never be out of my heart, memory, or mouth again as long as I live, if I can help it.” Words of John Adams worth emulating . . .

For more inspiration, I highly recommend David McCullough’s book, John Adams, and the superb miniseries based on the book.

Linking up with Sweet Shot Tuesdays and Texture Tuesdays. Photos of the John Adams homes are processed with Kim Klassen’s Felicity texture.

 

 

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11 Comments

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Kim Young February 21, 2012 at 6:06 am

The second shot (of the door) is awesome. I love the tones and textures it has. The garden path photo is so lovely, too.

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kimB from Alaska February 21, 2012 at 6:30 am

Oh my goodness — a fascinating history lesson to aong with the lovely photos of such an important historical person and place! I loved your entire entry and read every word – I was not interested in history during my school years, but enjoy learning now, in my middle age 🙂

Wonderful preocessing on the photos, too — I greatly enjoyed my time visiting your blog!

kimB from Alaska (& TT!)

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kimB from Alaska February 21, 2012 at 6:33 am

I apologize for the typos in my post, above — thought I had proofread well, only to discover otherwise after it was posted…

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Kathleen February 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Wonderful post! They don’t seem to make people like John and Abigail Adams anymore, unfortunately. Your photography and texture work is lovely, too.

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robin February 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm

what an inspirational post. thanks for sharing this!!

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Radish February 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I also suggest the series of John Adams which I think is from the book. It is wonderful. He had a lot to offer, and his relationship with Thomas Jefferson is most interesting. Thanks for this post.

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Evelyn in Oregon February 21, 2012 at 5:40 pm

What a beautiful history photo lesson! Wonderful images and wonderful words.

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Teresa O February 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm

McCullough’s book, John Adams, is an insightful look into the makings of a new nation and John Adams, as well as a peek into the society of early America. What a wonderful post partnered with great photos.

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Madge @ The View From Right Here February 21, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Full of hope and history… what a place! I especially love the weathered door!

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Pat February 22, 2012 at 12:44 am

What a wonderful tour of the historic homes of our second president! All the photos are beautiful but the shot of the weathered door is really wonderful. I enjoyed McCullough’s book and the miniseries.

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Sue February 28, 2012 at 5:22 pm

I especially love that last image.

=)

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