When we were little girls, my sister and I played under our raised back porch, shaded by two magnificent hydrangea bushes. The huge leaves and blooms were part of our tea parties. At times the leaves were the plates and blossoms separated into dainty cookies and cakes. Other times the same leaves and flowers became bridal bouquets or fancy hats. I was amazed when I learned the colors of the blooms can be changed by what is added to the soil. Only pink and bkue blooms can be influenced. White blooms never change! I am thankful everyday for the beauty of God’s creation, and that He gives the same gift of these blooms over and over. I am reassured that the lovely white hydrangea blooms like the ones on my kitchen table are not going to change. Everytime I look at them I smile and think, “Again!”
Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
I have been on the verge of complaint some mornings lately. We have had so many consecutive days of pewter colored skies, bleak landscapes, and dreary, rainy weather. But I believe in finding sacred moments in the ordinary and this, for now, is the ordinary. So I put the garden planning on paper instead of the ground, plan more ways to use the indoor time, and am reminded to praise God for his glory displayed in shadow as well as light.
…and in the mist.
We praise thee, O God, for thy glory
displayed in all the creatures of the earth,
In the snow, in the rain, in the wind, in the storm;
in all of thy creatures, both the hunters and the hunted…
They affirm thee in living;
all things affirm thee in living;
the bird in the air, both the hawk and the finch;
the beast on the earth, both the wolf and the lamb;…
Therefore man, whom thou hast made
to be conscious of thee,
must consciously praise thee,
in thought and in word and in deed.
Even with the hand to the broom,
the back bent in laying the fire,
the knee bent in cleaning the hearth…
The back bent under toil,
the knee bent under sin,
the hands to the face under fear,
the head bent under grief,
Even in us the voices of the seasons,
the snuffle of winter, the song of spring,
the drone of summer,
the voices of beasts and of birds,
praise thee. ~ T.S. Eliot
In South Texas, Winter is often more a word. than a season of bitter cold. But many times a few days after we have celebrated Christmas, Winter makes a sudden, although usually brief, dramatic appearance screaming “Take me seriously!'” Citrus and tropical plants on our back porch did not survive our recent episode. We already talk of replanting, ordering seeds, replacing. But we also hope, waiting to see what life will come back. I am thankful for comfort and good food and warmth for our family, for good hugs and kind touch. I am thankful for talks beside the fire. I am thankful for home.
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand, and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” ~ Edith Sitwell0
Kindness is my word for 2017, It is in the consisitent, repeated acts of kindness that it is best illustrated. If I ask what color is kindness, answers come from different directions. I took a walk around the house and captured little things that might speak kindness.
Warm, glowing colors. Stained glass that sings come in, worship, linger.
Candleglow and warmth and the fragrance of pine needles.
Light that shines from window panes at night.
Open arms and open hands.
What does kindness look like to you? What does it feel like?
On Christmas day, Nora and I rode in the back seat of our car to church, watching for trees. She said the leaves were all gone away and I agreed. I said they would come back in the Spring and be here for her birthday. This is an often repeated story recently as she widens her 2-year-old world to pay attention to things that go away. I thought of this the last few days in our early morning fog. Most mornings, I can see beyond our fence and across the lake to a house that is being built there. I see duck families and herons on the water. But the fog here obscures all but the most pronounced and closest objects. So it is with these days approaching year’s end. I know what recent days have looked like, but the new year coming holds no clear vision for me. I am called to trust, to practice discernment, to watch for markers that remind me I have been and will be guided.
“Spiritual discernment asks us to pay attention…on many levels: to sensus fidelium ( the collective ene of the faithful), to read widely and deeply the best ancient and contemporary thinking, to pray, to attend to the prick of conscience, to watch, to wait, to listen.”
~from “Passing Angels: The Arts of Spiritual Discernment” by Wendy M. Wright in Weavings, November 1995
My first Advent post this year pictured the paperwhite bulbs Nora planted on the day her baby brother was born, November 26, 2016. My, how fast they have grown!
Today, almost 4 weeks later, Nora holds her growing leaves close and says she loves them. Their blooms should be ready to grace our Christmas dinner table!
She loves her baby brother even more! Oliver has many adoring arms to reach for him. He has grown too, a much more amazing miracle than the paperwhites. It has been fun to watch growth and blooming. Tending the blooms and the baby has given particular grace and meaning to these days of Advent, to my reflections of another baby and the way He changed the world.
Advent is neither just a period on the church calendar nor my personal one. Advent has become an important preparation time, a time to reflect on my path, entering into the darkness of unknowing, opening to new possibility and radical availability. Light coming into darkness.