“Happiness? The color of it must be spring green, impossible to describe until I see a just-hatched lizard sunning on a stone. That color, the glowing green lizard skin, repeats in every new leaf… The regenerative power of nature explodes in every weed, stalk, branch. Working in the mild sun, I feel the green fuse of my body, too. Surges of energy, kaleidoscopic sunlight through the leaves, the soft breeze that makes me want to say the word “zephyr”—this mindless simplicity can be called happiness.”
What color is my happiness? I could easily say Frances Mayes has said it all, that yes, the color of my happiness is spring green seen in the glowing leaf and lizard, weed and branch. That green does fuel my energy, and I have always loved the dappled sunlight as I stand under swaying branches with leaves transformed into countless shades of green. Indeed, this “mindless simplicity can be called happiness”.
However, on this Monday, I am soaked in the exhilaration that comes from Eastering. The Alleluias of Sunday morning and joy of my granddaughters as they experienced awe and wonder in all the Easter colors filled my happy cup to the brim. Several years ago, after experiencing a season of sharply declining vision due to a corneal disease, I received cornea transplants, the gift of 2 donor families. Two weeks following the first surgery, as I sat out by our pond, I suddenly realized I could see the cobalt blue of an iris. I was shot through with happiness and gratitude that I could see that flower clearly.
This day, a different way of seeing for me means receiving the gift of seeing through the eyes of my granddaughters as they marveled at golden Day Lilies, orange fish swishing in the pond, and royal purples of the Zinnias and Salvia. The colors of happiness are the same as those of gratitude, I think. Alleluia!
Towel, loaf, and cup-
Still life of Life, still.
Finished task, eternal work.
The title for a favorite children’s book, The Trellis and the Seed, provokes thoughts of what emerging parts of life we nurture and support so that new growth and beauty can unfold. I have given Jan Karon’s book about a moonflower seed and a trellis along with a package of moonflower seeds to my granddaughters and other children. It is a story of planting and waiting, of faith and hope, a story of creation and shaping and astonishment, a story of tending a garden. The latticework must be strong as it balances and supports, as seeds take root and new green growth stretches into spaces, bearing fruit and flower, then reseeding for yet more beginnings.
I hold fast to a frame of Grace
Secured, marked, held in place.
One branch of Vine.
Included in my writings for Lent, these words are taken from two hymns written for the same hymn tune, Morning Has Broken and Child in a Manger. The original melody was noted by Alexander Fraser from a wandering Scottish Highland minstrel. Mary McDonald (1789 – 1872) wrote the words of the nativity hymn. Later, Eleanor Farjeon wrote words for the same tune which were originally printed in 1931 but not copyrighted until 1957 under its correct title, A Morning Song for the First Day of Spring.
Until today, I had never considered the two sets of words together and when I did as I listened to the haunting tune, I felt a connection between the thoughts of the two women. My heart filled as I considered the continuity and the depth of holding God’s work of creation, nativity, death, and resurrection in my own thoughts. First Eden, then Bethlehem, then on to Jerusalem.
Morning has broken,blackbird spoken,
First morning, first bird.
Praise singing and springing.
First dew, first grass
Praise garden and path.
Newborn Eden displayed
Praise Creator and created.
Then, Manger Child.
Outcast and stranger,
Wrapped in my wrong.
Child once most holy,
Living that lowly,
Now filled with glory
In salvation story.
Word defined… Atoned,
I am His own.
Mary Ann Parker April 12, 2011
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.”