Flight

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How quickly our front porch nest scene moved from the wrens’ nest building to those beautiful little spotted eggs to incubation and hatching.  Hatchling to nestling to fledgling bird, now this one last photo captured the moment before down wisps waved in the wind and became flight feathering.  The next time I saw the nest the tiny beaked face lifted above the little scraps of wings, tumbled over the edge and in one scurry disappeared into my Katy Ruellia at the porch edge. Now I only see a still, silent nest although I hear wren song in the trees.

No empty nest  pathos

Is that a triumphant note I hear?

On to living and singing

Until nest time next year?

symphony

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Words in these lines from William Henry Channing create  a leit motif  as we slow down into the pace and space of summer. The song of this tiny feathered friend perched on the back of our porch swing calls me to stop and look and listen. And sing.

listen to stars and birds and babies and wisdom

open my heart

think quietly

talk gently

hurry never

let the holy grow up through the common

sing

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common — this is my symphony.”

William Henry Channing

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Faithful

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photo by Jeremy Parker

The past weeks have been full of unknowns and discovery – rivers rising, flooding, storms, fevers, 911 call, uncertain hospital days, alongside nest watching, eggs hatching, and bird watching. Contrasts of hospital and home, of chaos and peace, of anxiety and trust, of leaving and staying. Each trip to and from the hospital I checked on the tiny nest by the door. Over the weekend after I brought my husband home, he discovered a new scene. I thought our front porch nest of eggs was home to a House Wren, but after my son was able to get this photograph, we see that her rakish white eyebrows declare she is a Carolina Wren.  Mama bird now has babies to feed, so she is flying off for food finding forays. Since Carolina Wrens mate for life, and both male and female take care of nestlings, we are watching for both and enjoying the songs.

 

faithful mama

protection and provision

her mission

 

 

The Color of Hope

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Texas has received devastating damage throughout the state delivered by deluges of rain, tornadoes, and rivers out of their banks. 46 counties have been declared disaster areas. In our town alone, a severe storm system which produced more than 11 inches of rain in 11 hours began a week that finds the entire metropolitan area of Houston in the throes of  historic flooding. Lives have been lost, homes destroyed, motorists stranded. Rivers continue to rise.  The Brazos River, near my neighborhood, is expected to reach flood stage tomorrow.  We have a good levee system here and should be OK, but two nearby communities which are near other stretches of the river are already evacuating. I pray for strength and peace for  those who are suffering tragedy and for those who will face unknown trials in the next few days. And I claim hope, the kind of expectant waiting that provides strength and endurance and perseverance. .It is so needed for those in the throes of crisis now.  It will be needed in the days to come as people who are hurt and grieving must begin to rebuild not only their homes but their very lives.

in the Jewish faith, blue is the color of hope, in Christianity, purple candles in the Advent wreath symbolize hope, a time of waiting and hoping. Others say green is the color of hope as it comes to us when spring is on its way, in hope and expectation of a new season of growth.  I like that.

Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!  ~ Romans 15:13    The Message

Look Again

IMG_2330The tree in the back corner of our garden is not noticed by most people who walk around out there.  It is easy to pay attention to the roses, admire the lilies and tomato plants that have clusters of tomatoes almost ready to pick.  The fig tree has grown huge and is heavy with green knobs easy to recognize as figs. But this little corner tree is not remarkable.  It is only medium height with foliage that does not look too different from other plants. It grows happily in this spot with very little care.  But once a year, the pineapple guava blooms and if you look closely, each bloom is a dazzling display of fireworks. The creamy white petals look like they are waiting to catch the sparks.  Because they are tiny, even these exquisite blooms are not easily noticed.  Even the fruit, which does not ripen until late fall, is easy to miss.

It has been a long tine since I quoted  my favorite lines from one of Mary Oliver’s poem, but I am thinking of her words today – “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”

There is so much beauty that we miss when we fail to do just that.

Begin Again

IMG_2335sprouting takes time

cracking the hard black seed shell

pushing through into darkness

reaching for light

then warmed in sunlight, kissed by rain

the green in me reaches up

for strength to lean into

wrapping around and holding on

I grow and bloom

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What Is Mine to Do?

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Photography courtesy of Pert Roddy Garraway, who grows these beautiful plants.

In my observance of Lent this year, I worked with others in an online retreat reflecting on the question “What is mine to do?”  The question comes from Jesus when he said” “What I just did was to give you an example: as I have done, so you must do.” When his own  death was approaching,  St. Francis told us, “I have done what is mine to do. May Christ teach you what is yours.”

 

For me, the answer to the posed question is simply that what is mine to do is to practice serving. I am not sure why, but my friend’s photo of her beautiful Cereus reminds me of serving.  It may be because this exquisite blooming only happens at night, when it is unseen by many. It does not require the brilliance of sunlight to bloom on, offering its beauty and fragrance. for a brief time.

 

I have become aware of the difference in helping, in fixing, as opposed to serving. When I worked as a registered nurse, my connection to patients was best applied in service to them and to their families as opposed to a goal of repair.  I am aware that in my community relationships, my parenting, and my grandparenting, my calling to serve may be played out in many different roles – in offering hospitality, in gardening and cooking and sharing the beauty of art and music. My joy in any of these is heightened as I realize that this, too, is serving.

 

“Serving is different from helping. Helping is not a relationship between equals. A helper may see others as weaker than they are, needier than they are, and people often feel this inequality. The danger in helping is that we may inadvertently take away from people more than we could ever give them; we may diminish their self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity or even wholeness.

 

When we help, we become aware of our own strength. But when we serve, we don’t serve with our strength; we serve with ourselves, and we draw from all of our experiences. Our limitations serve; our wounds serve; even our darkness can serve. My pain is the source of my compassion; my woundedness is the key to my empathy.

Fixing and helping create a distance between people, but we cannot serve at a distance. We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected.”

–Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen