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?

cereus

 

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

Thoughts and Prayers for April

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 In her memoir Iona Dreaming, Claire Marcus Cooper writes: “when something pulls at my attention, it is likely to hold an important message. Stand firm as we do, the trees seem to say. We are resting now – no leaves, no growth It’s a time to hibernate and recoup; without the times of non-doing, we would not be able to form buds in the spring and draw our sap to feed summer growth. Let yourself rest and be. You are gathering strength for a new role that awaits you.”    since these past 2 months have been just such a time of non-doing for me, it is easy to see why those words are  so meaningful. As I watch the greening of my garden from my window and porch, it is as if I feel the blush of an inward greening, urging me to welcome what is to come.
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Just before the green begins there is the hint of green
a blush of color, and the red buds thicken
the ends of the maple’s branches and everything
is poised before the start of a new world,
which is really the same world
just moving forward from bud
to flower to blossom to fruit
to harvest to sweet sleep, and the roots
await the next signal, every signal
every call a miracle and the switchboard
is lighting up and the operators are
standing by in the pledge drive we’ve
all been listening to: Go make the call.

“April Prayer” by Stuart Kestenbaum, from Prayers & Run-On Sentences

Remember

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“Judas, Peter”

because we are all
betrayers, taking
silver and eating
body and blood and asking
(guilty) is it I and hearing
him say yes
it would be simple for us all
to rush out
and hang ourselves
but if we find grace
to cry and wait
after the voice of morning
has crowed in our ears
clearly enough
to break our hearts
he will be there
to ask us each again
do you love me?
—Luci Shaw,

 

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Telling the Easter Story

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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.

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Flowering

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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