We fan the seed packets out like playing cards. My granddaughter chooses Red Leaf lettuce, Sweet Basil and Bouquet Dill. I pick Tarragon and Jewel Nasturtiums. We take them outside and find the rusty trowel and a small hoe. She loosens the soil and draws a line with her finger before carefully placing the tiny lettuce seeds, patting a veil of earth over them with the other hand. She fills the watering can she once called “flower shower”. My seed picks unopened, I stand watching her with a fullness in my heart that makes my eyes sprinkle.
I have previously written about my love for feathers, how a long time I ago I began to recognize the finding of a feather as a small signal that God is present. Often when I pray for myself or others I pray for hiding under the shadow of His wing. It is very simple, I choose these tiny found objects as reminders of how God has been and will be with me. This is not the only reminder, there is evidence all around me in my home and garden. Recently as I was reading passages in the Old Testament which speak of the stone markers erected to remind both present and future generations of God’s help, I realized these and my feathers are doing the same thing – simply saying “remember!”
“Samuel took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer—”the stone of help”—for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” —1 Samuel 7:12, NLT
Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I’m come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood. —Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Gardens are such good storytellers! The climbing rose in this picture is on an arbor by our backyard fish pond. It is a Peggy Martin rose. For those who may have never heard this story, I will tell you it is named for the woman who grew it in her garden near New Orleans, along with hundreds of other roses before Hurricane Katrina. All the roses were under about 20′ of salt water for two weeks following the hurricane. When she was finally able to return to visit their property she found new growth on this one rose, all that remained. In the devastation she also lost her elderly parents, her home, and commercial fishing boat that her husband used to supplement their income. She didn’t even know the name of the rose since a cutting had been given to her by mother in law who had also been given a cutting.
Dr. Bill Welch from Texas A&M along with other antique rose experts and growers helped to get the newly named “Peggy Martin” rose into the marketplace where proceeds help restore gardens throughout the South devastated by Katrina and other forces of nature.
The story always makes me wonder what made this rose any different from the rest to give it the resilience and fortitude to say “I’m still here and growing better.” One thing has to be that its roots were stronger and deeper. I am still thinking about the fact that its cuttings root very easily…it is flexible and can handle change. The telling of all this has to include a theme of restoration, too. Out of the Martins’ great loss has come a way to help others.
John Muir said, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” I think the same may be said of what we see in nature. This year the early blooming trees are particularly beautiful. Redbuds, Huisache, Plums, Bradford pears are a riot of purples and yellows and lacy whites against many still bare branches. I notice them when I am driving, but I keep my eyes on the road for safety’s sake. When I am walking, I often find myself at a standstill due to seeing one tree bursting with color and then looking up or to the side for some different flowering. I feel they lead me to each other, all singing songs of fresh starts.