For about 40 years I have taped these words inside a cabinet door or in another place, always close to the spot I make my coffee so that I see it every morning. I recently removed it to take with me to a new kitchen. Mornings will still mean an early cup of coffee and a new day for this resolution. It reads:
All this day I will realize that I am a child of God. His love is round about me, underneath are the everlasting arms. I will be honest and true in everything I say and do. I believe that all things work together for good for those who love God. I will try to replace all bitterness, hatred, resentment, over-anxiety, and fear with the spirit of understanding, tolerance, love, patience, and trust. Behind all that comes, God’s love and wisdom will be present to strengthen and sustain.
_ Copied, author unknown. I clipped the words from a newsletter published by Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, around 1977. Bruce Willcox was pastor of Willshire, a church we previously attended when we lived in Dallas. Our youngest son, Ben was born in 1973 so his baby dedication was held there.
story by story
palimpsest of homecoming
always grace for the journey
I wrote the following for a post on April 5 2011. 5 years later, we are moving to a new home,so the container changes once more, but the God given surety inside me remains. I am given Grace to take each new step. I do love coming home.
Every time I enter my front door, even before turning the key in the lock, my eyes rest for a moment on the small engraved stone nestled in the feathers of foxtail fern planted in an urn beside the door. I take the word into the house with me, breathe deeply, and am grateful once more for being home. The house itself is only a container for this awareness, though tucked into baseboards and behind walls throughout its rooms are small scripture cards which we placed as the house was built. The walls are only reminders, with their glad burdens of family pictures and framed statements of faith and hope. Home is God-given surety inside me. I love coming home.
“And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles,
no matter how long,
but only by a spiritual journey,
a journey of one inch,
very arduous and humbling and joyful,
by which we arrive at the ground at our feet,
and learn to be at home.” -Wendell Berry
We are happy every year when the magnolia tree in our yard begins adding little upright buds that look like candles on an old-fashioned Christmas tree. The smooth, straight stick figures that hide tightly furled promise were described by poet Wallace Stevens as “ghosts of its forthcoming flowers” They look fragile as if bird or breeze could tip them over and onto the ground.
So after flooding rains and wind that snapped some trees, we welcomed the unfolding of huge ivory blooms. Joe brought one to me as I sat on the porch swing this morning. Its fragrance and beauty bring both tears and smiles. The magnolia is one of my earliest childhood memories. Like pine boughs and gardenias, even if I close my eyes, the fragrance brings a surge of memory and story.
“Like the magnolia tree,
She bends with the wind,
Trials and tribulation may weather her,
Yet, after the storm her beauty blooms,
See her standing there, like steel,
With her roots forever buried,
Deep in her Southern soil.”― Nancy B. Brewer, Letters from Lizzie
If the saying “April showers bring May flowers” were born out next month, we would be covered in blooms. On Monday this week, rains came and camped out over many parts of Texas, creating historic event flooding in Houston and several surrounding counties. There have been tragic deaths, and thousands of people are displaced. Although the rain has stopped, flooding continues as rivers and bayous rage out of their banks flooding homes and pastureland.
Our garden welcomes us once more with cool breeze, shade, birdsong, and flowers blooming. Joe brought in a gardenia that I could smell when he opened the door. I am grateful for this peace and beauty but sad for loss for so many.
Prayer for Those Affected by the Floods
God of compassion,
You created a world for us
To know your love and peace
Yet amidst the beauty of creation
We encounter pain and hurt
And forces beyond our control.
At times like this our hearts are shaken and ache with sorrow
At the destruction of our lives, homes and livelihoods.
Hear our prayers for those affected by the floods
And for all those working
To bring relief and fresh hope.
from the Toowoomba Diocese in Queenslnd following a devastating flood in 2011
“The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.”
scarlet trumpet, herald of Spring
signal for all bulbs and seeds
wake up and bloom!
Cool, rainy days coaxed our roses to bloom- full, fragrant garden gifts. But the two rose bushes that produced this exquisite flowering are not growing strong and healthy. We have a large white crepe myrtle tree and a lovely purple flowering Vitex near our back porch that have grown so tall and full the past 10 years that they provide shade for that part of our garden and porch. Wonderful respite from the heat of summer sun for us when we sit on our porch, but now a threat to the rose bushes. Roses require at least 6 hours of sunlight a day so the spot where they are planted has become too shady for them to remain healthy. We need to move them if they are to survive. I understand I must do certain things to help them make the move: Reduce the plant size, dig a new hole, remove the plant and roots and transfer, nourish the plant by providing the right soil, watering, and not forcing growth by fertilizing too soon.
As I thought about this, wondering if we might do best to remove them and take them to plant in our new house when we move, I was surprised to realize that the same advice applies to us as we get ready to relocate. We have already reduced the quantity of things we need to take with us by clearing clutter, passing on family treasures, selling, and donating. We have found the place where we will be transplanted, along with our son and his family. But we will need to remember the need to stay nourished and avoid forcing too much change too fast.
I am thankful for the plans we have made to be attentive to those things. And maybe we will take two rose bushes along with us to remind us.
Looking forward to blooming in a new spot.
Photo taken in the prayer garden at First Baptist Church, Richmond, Texas. Our early morning Easter services are held under this oak tree, among the oldest and largest in South Texas.
Lord, from clay you made us,
to be a living soul
from your own breath
to live in harmony with you.
Too soon we strayed away.
But clay I am, and you the potter
always shaping and reshaping.
However you make me
I am your child,’fashioned in your image.
Your continual moulding turns
pride ito humility,
indifference to love,
faint-heartedness to faith,
ingratitude to thankfulness.
` from Clay, by Marianne Dormann
lemon blossom bobs,
wafting fragrant promise of bounty