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photograph by Jeremy Parker

When I first saw this photo, I almost missed the tiny, solitary figure of my 11 year old granddaughter standing still to gaze at the beauty of this mountain lake in Nevada. She and her sister hiked here with their Daddy, my son. They fished for trout in the clear cold water. I am thrilled to see that Maddie also stood still and experienced the wonder of tall reaching evergreens, and glistening lake with its ripples and reflections. I like to think about the beauty she experienced here, the sounds and fragrance of the woods. I have seen her Dad stand still and wonder, too.  I believe moments like this do come suddenly, as glimpses, when we turn a corner. I am thankful I can experience this with her, prompted  by a photo, felt deeply in my heart.

We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes… –Madeleine L’Engle, from The Rock That Is Higher

Advent Blooms

paperwhitesMy first Advent post this year pictured the paperwhite bulbs Nora planted on the day her baby brother was born, November 26, 2016. My, how fast they have grown!

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Today, almost 4 weeks later, Nora holds her growing leaves close and says she loves them. Their blooms should be ready to grace our Christmas dinner table!

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She loves her baby brother even more!  Oliver has many adoring arms to reach for him. He has grown too, a much more amazing miracle than the paperwhites. It has been fun to watch growth and blooming. Tending the blooms and the baby has given particular grace and meaning to these days of Advent, to my reflections of another baby and the way He changed the world.

oliver3weeksOliver and his Papa Joe.

 

Advent

paperwhites

A cold dark day in winter, when spring’s arrival seems to be an eternity in coming, is a good time to force bulbs indoors. Paperwhite bulbs, green and growing, hearken toward the light and warmth of spring to come. A week ago, our 2 year old granddaughter and I placed marbles in this dish and added water, then nestled dry, brown bulbs on top. I watched her little hands as she worked on our project.  Today, we can see how the roots have grown and how much they have grown.

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A few minutes ago, I helped the same little hands add a tiny cardboard shepherd girl to our vintage Advent calendar -the most powerful story of  light and hope and promise.

Reflections

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Blowing bubbles on the porch with my 2 year old granddaughter turns me into a child again. We laugh as we watch the bubbles float out over the grass and disappear. This batch of bubbles mysteriously decided to stay longer, lingering on a fern frond or hibiscus leaf long enough to amaze us.

globe of mystery

holding wonder.

I hold my breath.

 

More Feathers

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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.

Little Ones

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The Littlest Shepherd…

There is so much about Christmas days that involves children. In A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens  wrote “it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.”  

In the singing and ringing, the laughing, standing-on-tiptoe, eyes sparkling joy of children, we experience fresh joy ourselves. Each year when our boys were young, our family began and continued traditions that were then and still are important to all of us.  I love seeing many of those being carried into their own homes today. This is little Nora’s first Christmas. She delights in  the sights and smells and sounds, and trusts her parents, her grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins as we hold her and share this beauty. She does not expect it all, but she experiences it, learning and laughing. Trusting because she feels our love and care.

When I read the gospel message that we are to become like little children, I think of that quality of childlike trust.  I want to experience all of Christmas like Nora – laughing, learning, trusting.

 

Adventure of Grace and Joy

Grace

Days which lead up to Mother’s Day are a time of reflection and remembering..  I savor the model of mothering provided to me by my mother and grandmothers, express gratitude for their lives, and remember the simple tradition which marked Mother’s Day for me as a child:  picking a red rose to wear to church in honor of Mother.  Those whose mothers were no longer with them wore a white rose. It was a sweet gesture, and I miss it.

I cherish the images and thoughts of my sons as babies and little boys, and bask in the light of their lives as strong men of faith and integrity who have become faithful husbands and loving fathers. They love me and tell me so in word and actions. From the beginning, being a mother has been an adventure of faith and grace and joy.  I have often spoken of the fact that parenting has shown me more about God’s love and care for me than any other element of my life.  On Mother’s Day, our church’s order of service included a statement that affirmed this.

“It has been the amazing, often painful, often ecstatic adventure of being a parent that has most formed me. It is parenting that has made, unmade, and remade me into someone who comes up hard against the great religious questions that have always been part of the human quest:

Who in fact am I?.

What is a life well led?

What is most essential, permanent, and foundational?

What responsibility do I have to others?

How do I deal with evil and fear?

What is “the good?”

How do I love well?

How do I move in this wild and worrisome world with some grace and joy?

Wendy Wright,   Seasons of a Family’s Life: Cultivating the Contemplative Spirit at Home 

 

                            

Today

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Photograph by Jeremy Parker, Maddie’s Daddy.

Like the flush blushing of azaleas and sun, Maddie surprised us today..  After days of chilly rain and pewter skies that made it hard to see the new green on tree branches, there is a sudden lifting of spirit and laughter rising.  There is the song of birds and little girls.  There is dancing, twirling, skipping. There is  joy. Tomorrow Maddie will go back home.  Pink petals will begin to drop on the flagstone path.  But having been surprised by this joy (thank you, C. S. Lewis) I will gather this light now, and it will be mine tomorrow.

“Light tomorrow with today.” ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning.