Telling the Easter Story

IMG_0692

As Palm Sunday approaches, signaling the beginning of Holy Week, I am drawn to the beauty and symbolism in the flower of this garden vine, which trails over the fence at my son’s home.

In the woods of East Texas where I spent my childhood, it grows wild and is often called maypop, but I love the imagery in the name given to the flower by priests in the late 16th century when it was found growing in what is now Latin America - Espino de Cristo, (Christ’s Thorms.)  Now named Passion Flower, the colors may range from white or pale lavender to purple, but each part of the flower can be used to tell the story of the crucifixion. Simply gazing at  the flower’s perfect shape and hidden mystery can be a reflection and retelling of the story.

IMG_0695

Flowering

FloweringAlmondVanGogh

Art of the Day: Van Gogh, Sprig of Flowering Almond in a Glass, March 1888. Oil on canvas, 24.5 x 19.5 cm. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

greening

leafing

budding

flowering

resurrection

Walking

“Solvitur ambulando – It is solved by walking
— often attributed to St. Augustine

Prayer Garden

Prayer Garden

Walking is something I am doing very differently for the present.  I am entering my fifth week of either non or partial weight bearing for one side, and have  as many weeks to go  plus months ahead for therapy. I am thankful repair was possible, for good medical direction, and help from my husband, our family and friends.. I am learning or choosing different ways to be and do. Since walking the  labyrinth in our church’s prayer garden is not an option for me , I can use this finger labyrinth given to me by a good friend.

IMG_1934Today I realized that since we have had so many days of cold, rainy weather, I most likely would not have been out there in the prayer garden with my umbrella anyway, and I smiled. As I trace my finger along the spirals into the center of this little pewter labyrinth I can pause to look out at my own garden and be grateful for all the different ways open to us to recognize God’s presence.  I put my thoughts if not my feet on this path inward, then outward,

Not everything, of course, is solved by walking. But a good deal is. And if it isn’t solved, it is reorganized, refreshed, or revitalized so that new responses are possible. Walking changes perspective. It offers a path that moves us forward, literally and figuratively.”

Carolyn Scott Kortge, author of Healing Walks for Hard Times, and The Spirited Walker

Windows

IMG_1889

View from a windowr in our living room

Because our local temperatures have mirrored the widespread hanging on of Winter, I am even more grateful than usual for the warmth of my home and plenty of books to read. But I know that 29 degrees and wind and rain are minor compared to severe cold,snow and ice elsewhere, I am also grateful I don’t need to shovel snow and drive in those hazardous conditions. I know that Spring is around the corner – but I was still smiling in surprise when I saw this redbud tree in full bloom as my husband drove me to the surgery center 2 weeks ago.  When we returned this week so I could have sutures removed, I asked him to go the same way so I could look for the tree. There it was, on a corner where we could stop for a quick photograph.

I am thankful for windows, and for vision to see through them to beyond my immediate surroundings. But these would not be enough if I did not pay attention to them. At this very moment, I am in a room with windows but the blinds are closed. By paying attention, I hear not just one but many birds warbling and calling. It is still and there is no sound of rain beating down or wind tossing branches so I know the storm that ushered in this latest cold front has moved on. I am reminded again that being aware and giving attention to my surroundings  provide windows and views as well. And I am aware of stirrings within me. There  are also seasons of the soul.  I welcome Springtime..

IMG_1920 (2)View from the car window

Seed Time

100_0146I am not going to be heading out to the garden to prepare the soil for receiving new plants and seeds. For the time being I need to be an armchair gardener. I will miss digging and planting, and will need to accept the help of my husband and other helpers if the sprouting, growing, and flowering I so enjoy each Spring gets started.

In these weeks of being still and refraining from  things to do,  I choose a different way of fasting and focusing for Lent. This means tending a different garden  – the garden of my soul. It is here that I will prune and dig out roots of unhealthy habits to make room for new growth. As welcome as the new plants outside will be, and as much as we will enjoy watching their growth and benefit from later harvest, even more important and welcome will be the results that can come from tending my interior garden.

100_0144

Hold On

AntiqueRoseEmpMothersDay 013

Suppose your whole world seems to rock on its foundations. Hold on steadily, let it rock, and when the rocking is over, the picture will have reassembled itself into something much nearer to your heart’s desire.     -From The Seven Day Mental Diet by Emmet Fox

Since my recent injury and then  surgery day before yesterday, I have been holding on  – to my husband’s loving and steady arms, the strength of my sons, our family, friends, and church, and, always, the eternal Grace in which I am bathed.. The picture has not been reassembled so much as it has been brought into focus. This camera lens has sharpened and clarified all the pieces. I am dearly loved, well cared for..basking in Light, healing.

My Lenten journey has begun.

Matter of the Heart

IMG_1871

Last month I opened my small 2015 calendar book and began entering appointments and commitments already made.  I like that part of beginning a new year with fresh calendar pages. It is popular now to do this calendar recording on phones and other electronic devices, but I like handwriting little reminders of place and time. By the first week of
February, I already had a number of dates marked with plans leading up to Lent and Easter, a happy time and typically a very busy time for our family.

And then, a week ago, I ruptured an Achillles tendon and began the changes which would clear almost everything already on the calendar and replace commitments for choir and handbells and meetings with appointments for doctors, an MRI, and surgery. I was not only in severe pain, but crestfallen, disappointed.  Of course I did not welcome this interrruption and the extra work it creates for my husband and our busy family, but I realized that I was not only reacting to the physical discomfort and  limitation, I needed some heart work. The weeks ahead of surgery and limited mobility closely parallel the weeks of Lent, Perhaps I could consider this time of being still and healing in that light.

At the suggestion of my friend and pastor, I have registered for an online Lenten retreat which begins a few days after my repair surgery which considers the questions: Why am I here? What is mine to do? Who am I called to be? And what can I contribute and offer to the world?   It is a matter of the heart. I have put it on my calendar.

If you should be interested in learning more:

http://www.shalem.org/index.php/shalem-programs/open-hands-willing-hearts-online

Where are You Standing?

IMG_1729

This is a fragment of a very old leaded glass window featuring painted glass and the one word “Blessed.”  I wish I knew the whole story of the window it came from, but I know only a little.  In the late 1970’s, my husband was approached about repairing vintage leaded glass windows which had been purchased in England by a couple who were members of our church .  They had donated the windows, where they were to be used in specific places inside the church.  This meant they must be cut to fit those places.  Joe disliked trimming the old windows, but did so.  There were many small pieces left, and this piece was given to me.  It now rests on a tiny easel in my kitchen window alongside another piece of stained glass. Recently, when someone cleaned the window sill, the glass was put back on the easel backward.

When I noticed the mistake, I reached for my camera and only after I looked at the image did I realize that the glass might be backward, but the reflection on the shiny granite beneath it is right.

How many times do I not recognize how blessed I am, simply because I need to look in a different way?

” ‘What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.'”   C.S. Lewis, in The Magician’s Nephew