I have written in earlier posts about finding feathers. I have chosen to believe when I find a feather, it is one way God says he is with me and providing for me. A feather is also a symbol that small things are important. My 9 year old granddaughter came to me this week with this feather. She said, “Granmary, this is another feather to go with the others.”
I am grateful for this girl and her generosity. It is important for me to remember that what I do and say is seen and heard. Small things are important.
These words are powerful all by themselves. At times when I am feeling overwhelmed or bewildered, I sometimes choose one just one to help me focus or to use in a breath prayer. But I love seeing them gathered like this.
Among the herbs in my garden, purple cone-flower, or Echinacea, stands out because of its flowering in our summer heat. It is not just a pretty bloom that looks like a purple daisy. Used for hundreds of years for its medicinal benefits, it could tell so many stories. The large center cones are actually seed heads. I am thinking of how many new plants can grow from only these three.
This box of impatiens and Caladium on the wall at the edge of the back porch reminds me how much nourishing water it requires in our summer heat. Without this shade and daily watering, the blooms stop, the stalks wilt and leaves begin to curl. The container, made of measuring sticks, and the fading sign speak of need, too. Yes, it is a wonderful life, as long as I am refilled with wonder. Wonder. Full.
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.
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
let the holy grow up through the common
“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.”
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.
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
The 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.