This small bunch of wonderfully fragrant Paperwhites blooms all by itself in an almost hidden spot by a pomegranate tree on the side of our house. Members of the narcissus family have a sap that contain a chemical that causes other flowers to wilt, so they should not be mixed in a vase with other flowers. This bit of garden trivia helps me to remember value in simplicity and solitude.
“Nature offers us a thousand simple pleasers – plays of light and color, fragrance in the air, the sun’s warmth on skin and muscle, the audible rhythm of life’s stir and push- for the price of merely paying attention. What joy! But how unwilling or unable many of us are to pay this price in an age when manufactured sources of stimulation and pleasure are everywhere at hand. For me, enjoying nature’s pleasures takes conscious choice, a choice to slow down to seed time or rock time, to still the clamoring ego, to set aside plans and busyness, and to simply to be present in my body, to offer myself up.”
— Lorraine Anderson
“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.” ~ Simone Weil
Recently when family gathered to help us celebrate our 50 years of being married, we were given a small white pot which contained a plastic bag filled with potting soil and a dried, brown ball with papery layers peeling back about the size of a small onion. It was an Amaryllis bulb. As long as I let the pot, the soil, and the bulb wait on my counter, nothing much happened. There was one place where a spot of green wanted to push through its crackly wrapping, but seemed to have grown weary and quit trying. But as soon as opened the soil packet and poured it into the pot, pushed the bulb down, set it in a window, and added water, I could almost hear the dry dirt begin to breathe a lullaby to hungry roots as they began to channel new life into stalk and leaf. Two sturdy stems soon grew heavy with swelling buds. Above, the first scarlet flower opens wide, stamens heavy with pollen.
Then there were three, so large it seemed they would topple. And just as the first bloom began to fade, the second stalk of buds began to open. In all, 6 magnificent delights have graced the plain white pot in my kitchen window. Without roots, this blooming would have stayed inside the brown bulb. The roots were a potential, but not a possibility until nourished with soil and light and water.
What nourishes my soul to satisfy this need for rooting? Do I choose that which roots and grows? These are questions I ask again in a soul’s wintering.
Ideally, a human life should be a constant pilgrimage of discovery. The most exciting discoveries happen at the frontiers. When you come to know something new, you come closer to yourself and to the world. Discovery enlarges and refines your sensibility. When you discover something, you transfigure some of the forsakenness of the world.—John O’Donohue, Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong
discovery is not always finding
a thing never before found,
coming to know the unknown
I loved the little gardenia bush
my Mother planted
snuggled against the screened porch
struggling to survive East Texas winters
when blooms came,
stars hanging on dark green sky
all the way to the porch swing
I picked one to float in a glass bowl
this fragrance is not new to me
nor the ivory petals strange
held brushing my nose
but strangely fresh joy is found
when I place this gardenia
in my granddaughter’s palm
hear her breath of delight
as she cradles it
this thing I have known for 70 years
is new and exciting
Mary Ann, February 6, 2014