In a journal from three years ago, I found thoughts about Ash Wednesday that are much the same I would write today. “Lent, Day 1. We are adding readings from Psalms to the few minutes we have before Joe leaves for work in the mornings. In all my Protestant years growing up, Lent was little recognized most of the time. I have grown in need and appreciation of these set apart days approaching Easter and in all my observation of the liturgical year. I crave the structure, need the framework for deepening spiritual sensitivity and awareness. So begins arranging days and heart and home in new awareness of Eastering.”
I am deeply touched this morning as I read a blog I follow: www.allenlevi.wordpress.com. Often I find that God brings story and song to my attention like a friend coming alongside me to remind me what matters. This video is from a previous post of Allen’s during a time in which he has been caring for his terminally ill brother, Gary.
Right now we have a large dove population in our back yard. I know this because when I walk outside, I often startle a pair or two on the walkways or fence. I love finding their nests. This one is on the top of arches where a climbing antique rose grows. I can stand underneath it, which is where this photo was taken.
Greening in the Rain
Peaceful garden, greening in the rain
Roses blooming, shattering, scattering confetti on the flagstone
Hyacinth thrusting up a sweet purple bouquet
Doves building twig nests in twining vines.
Roses blooming, shattering, scattering confetti?
Shaken by startled darting wings –
Doves, building twig nests in twining vines
Petaled path inviting passage.
Shaken by startled darting wings,
I am stilled as I see their nest,
Petaled path inviting passage
Peaceful garden, greening in the rain.
Two weeks ago today we were preparing for a return to the hospital for Joe so that he could have the surgery I posted about last week. There have been many surgeries, four of them in the last five months. We are grateful to report the surgeon successfully put new knee replacement parts back in (the third set!) and although Joe has pain and a huge amount of work as his muscles regain strength and healing begins, he is walking, bearing weight on that leg for the first time in a long long time! He is smiling, holding his head higher, talking about going back to work and a trip this Spring. He is thriving.
You may be asking what my seedling photo can possibly have to do with this journey for us. Just this – two weeks ago today, I sowed a package of my favorite heirloom tomato seeds in pots which I set inside my kitchen. When we left on the morning of surgery (3 days), there was not a tiny speck of green anywhere that indicated anything was happening with my seeds. Each morning before I left for the hospital, I misted them, keeping the soil moist but not soggy. On the 5th day, I smiled as I told Joe we had "babies" when I got to his hospital room. Joe came home at the end of the week, and agreed with me that the seedlings were "looking for light" as they stretched their spindly stalks toward the window. The bit of sunlight they got in their spot just wasn't enough. I hooked up a couple of grow lights and this is the result! Now the stems are getting stronger, and if you look closely, you are able to see the secondary leaves just beginning to appear. My Cherokee Purple tomatoes are thriving!
Two weeks can make such a difference. I am thinking I just might have some help harvesting tomatoes this summer.
Daily work goes on. It goes into the ground, into crops, into children’s bellies and their bright eyes. … the very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope.–Barbara Kingsolver
During this long season of waiting during Joe’s surgeries and setbacks, of longing for relief for his pain and a return to health and wellness for him, it is true that daily work goes on, and that the most I can do is to live, dwell, abide in hope. But as for the least I can do being the figuring out what I hope for, I have a different word choice. Hoping for the best for my husband? Well, yes, as in optimism and outlook. However, I am learning that hoping in, rather than for is more important. And I don’t have to figure out what that hope is, I already know. Reading Scott Cairn’s little book The End of Suffering, I echo his words, ” In those trials in our life that we do not choose but pass through – a stillness, a calm, and a hope become available to us.”
This week Joe had another surgery. We want this one to be the last one, for awhile at least. Whatever happens, our hope is in a God of grace who sustains us.