Facing the Light

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When it is dark outside and lights are turned on within, I can see the beauty of this stained glass only by standing outside. When I am inside darkened space, I see  breathtaking art because there is sunlight outside.  The color is always there, but I have to stand where I face the light to see it.

 

 

 

 

 

An Old House Story

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Last week Joe and I enjoyed a trip with some friends to hear the history of a plantation house a little over an hour from our home. Dozens of trips to and from College Station when our son was a graduate student there took us on a highway almost at the edge of the acreage where the house is located, but we had never been able to go inside or learn about the important place in Texas History held by Liendo Plantation. The grounds were lovely and shady on a very hot day, peacocks strutted and called, a beautiful herd of Red Brahman cattle grazed beyond the fences, a one-hundred-year-old black walnut tree towered, and a small pergola at the back of the house was covered with wisteria that must have been breathtaking when it bloomed in late Spring. I took some pictures of the massive twisted vines from one side, but Joe found this on the other side.  The tiny birdhouse with a heart shaped hole must have been set there years ago. Through the years, the vines have twisted and turned their way through the house and out the “door.”  No room for birds there anymore. It is a novel picture, but disturbing thought.

What do we allow to grow inside our hearts and homes, filling them so that home is no longer a place of rest, refuge and hospitality? I wonder how long the vines grew before birds could no longer nest there. We have moved almost 2 dozen times in the over 50 years of our marriage and have recently moved again. The houses may change, but as we settle and fill each with faith and love and open doors, it becomes home. I hope to never allow something to grow that pushes the things that belong there away.

 

Burning Layers

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 Sunrise, June 11, 2016

“By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us. We imagined it as distant and inaccessible, when in fact we live steeped in its burning layers.” ~  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

 

Survive!

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The roses which cover this arbor have a name and a story. The official name is now Peggy Martin. The nickname is “survivor.”  In the middle of our final move away from this garden and home this past week. we had vivid reminders of the origin of this rose. Our area has been covered with the waters of a devastating, history-making flood. The Brazos River crested 2 days ago at a record-breaking 54.81 feet, As water surged from the river, entire neighborhoods were flooded and evacuated  or stranded, roads rendered impassable, fields of crops and cattle inundated, and lives changed forever. There has been so much loss of property and livelihood.

The survivor rose is a symbol of this heartbreaking picture.  In late August 2005, Category 4 Hurricane Katrina created this type of destruction in New Orleans on an even larger scale.Levees were breached, and  85 percent of the city was underwater.  This rose  was the only rose among over 400 antique roses surviving 20 feet of salt water over the garden of Mrs. Peggy Martin, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, Mrs. Martin  lost her parents, her home, and commercial fishing boat in the storm. When she was finally able to return to visit their property she was heartened to see the lush growth of her climbing rose, a testament to its toughness and status as a true survivor.

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Our roses covered an arbor which has provided shade and shelter for children playing, birds nesting, and a place for quiet respite.  This too, reminds me of our present circumstances.  We have witnessed the hospitality and shelter of our community. Our church is a Red Cross shelter, where many evacuees have received a place to stay dry and sleep, meals, and help from many volunteers. Our emergency responders have diligently and consistently worked to rescue, assist, and keep us all informed and protected as much as possible. Many have responded with generosity and caring in a variety of ways.  Neighbors have helped both neighbors and strangers. As Mr. Rogers once said, in trying to help children absorb the impact of tragedies, we can look beyond to the helpers.

I am thankful for the Grace that enables us to be helpers, to offer peace to one another, and that hope remains.

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Amazing. Grace.

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As swimmers dare
to lie face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace.

The Avowal  by Denise Levertov

Morning Resolution

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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.

 

Journey Home

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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