Blooming in the Dark

There is an old saying that declares you find what you are looking for. But there are times I find what I did not look for or expect at all. The times when I am surprised by grace. The cold, dark times when my face is lifted and lit up unexpectedly. This exquisite  blossom almost opened and faded without anyone finding it. During an early but short spell of freezing temperatures, all our container plants were pushed near the house on our back porch, clustered together. The small pot containing this plant was in a dark corner with large pots in front. There has been joy and activity in our home this Advent and Christmastide, but the many cold, wet days have kept us inside more.There have been colds and flu in the family. There have also been elements of loss, darkness and uncertainty, threatening soul drought due to my husband’s continued loss of vision.

Our little succulent helps remind me that hope and beauty bloom in darkness. Indeed, this plant requires dormancy to bloom at all. It must have less water, cooler temperatures, and at least 12 to 14 hours of darkness at night. But this is not the only lesson – plants may also need dormancy to survive stress.

After providing us this pleasure and beauty, this blooming in the dark, our Christmas Cactus will drop its blooms, then return to light and growth.

As 2019 begins, may we turn toward Light and thrive.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve, 2018

Soon my 4 year old grandchild and I will add the last figure to our Advent Calendar that is also a nativity. This is my favorite of all our manger scenes, one I found years ago at an estate sale. It is a hinged wooden box with tiny wooden pegs for the members of the scene. Every year I enter the story more. With each Advent, I am more awed by the mystery of Divine love, this gift. Each year at this time I am  learning a little better the work of Christmas.

 

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart

~Howard Thurman.

  ~

 

 

Perspective

Photograph by Maddie Parker, August 17, Reno, NV

all day, leaves chatter,

wave in bright sunlight

by night they fade and whisper

Maddie’s photograph helped me think about the way we look at things, and the choices we have about the way we see and remember.. C. S. Lewis wrote in The Magician’s nephew “What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”

 

“I had been told how the old-time weavers, all the while they were making their beautiful and intricate patterns, saw no more than the backs of their shawls. Nothing was visible to them but a tangle of colored threads. They never saw the design they were creating until they took the finished fabric from their looms.

The parallel to the mortal lot is plain. Human experience appears to us – as the shawls did to the weavers – to be no more than incomprehensible tangles of colored threads, whereas in fact life represents the ordered threads in a great design – the design being woven daily on the loom of eternity.”

Source: Ernest Gordon, Miracle on the River Kwai

One Question

I rarely cross post in the three blogs I maintain. They seem very separate in theme and topic most of the time. But occasionally I write something which could easily fit interchangeably. I found this in my family story blog recently and offer it again here.

Originally posted in http://www.mappingsforthismorning.blogspot.com on July 22, 1917, about a year ago.

One morning a few days ago, a writing friend who posts thoughtfully on FaceBook, posted the simple question, “What is the coolest thing you have ever done?”

I do not often enter threads of conversation like this, but this one so intrigued me as I read some of the comments that I quickly typed in one of my own, without considering more than a few seconds.

So many…birthing 3 sons! Sitting in front of a peat fire in Ireland with a cat in my lap while the innkeeper told ghost stories, watching butterfly caterpillars munch on dill with my 3 yr granddaughter this morning.

The answers kept coming, but more than that, I started thinking. Not constantly, but an all day, in and out kind of musing – not unlike the repeating melody when an old song is mentioned and you can’t get it off your mind. Others were returning to the question as well, adding another cool thing they remembered. I kept returning to scene after scene in my mind, but the next thought I posted referred to times I have been allowed to play  musical instruments I would never have dreamed I would see or touch.
Played the organ in Gereja Immanuel, the oldest church in Jakarta, Indonesia.  Played the piano in Shipman House B&B, Hilo, Hawaii which was once played by the last Queen of Hawaii.
There are a great many ways I could have responded.  Some of them are constants, so much with me that I do not single them out. Years of growing into the certainty of God’s love and faithfulness.  Loving and staying married to Joe for almost 54 years. Moving 21 times in the first 28 years of our marriage, and making it home every time. Knowing by heart the stories of my ancestry, and the legacy of faith and love modeled for me since I was born. Surviving a massive postpartal hemorrhage that nearly claimed my life when my first son was one week old. Being witness to the courage and determination of our youngest son as he lost his vision. Added to the births of our own children, being part of the birth experiences of grandchildren. Being gifted with corneas from people I will never know for transplants that restored my vision.
Flying as a passenger in a jet plane piloted by my son. Admiring the homework, the family buiding of our sons and our daughters -in-law. Living in Jakarta, Indonesia for 4 1/2 years, learning a language I had never heard before, hearing the sounds of mosques and gongs and cik -caks and street vendors.  Traveling. Riding a speedboat across Lake Toba to the island within an island on Sumatra. Having a Singapore Sling in Raffles Hotel in Singapore, watching my sons and husband para-sail on the beach in Bali, climbing the steps at Borobudur, staying in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, visiting the Golden Bhudda in Thailand, riding a funicular railway in the Alps, hearing an organ concert in Notres Dame Cathedral, eating at sidewalk cafes in Paris, eating scones at Shore Cottage Tearoom in the Scottish Highlands, Seeing Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables in London.
Falling in love with poetry.   Learning to pay attention, be astonished, and tell about it. Learning to write it myself. Finding the sacred ordinary.
I wonder if “cool” means awesome, profound, or life-changing, or just interesting and unusual. I will probably keep remembering cool things.  And feeling grateful for all of them.

Eastering

Centering

“Christ eastering within us means we have a new center and core from which we live. We now live Christ’s life. Easter is more than a day, an event, a remembrance. It is a way of life”.  ~Michael Marsh, in his blog  Interrupting the Silence..

My life gathered new meaning when I began to understand the word Easter as a verb, not just a noun.

So what would it mean for you if you knew Easter as a verb rather than a noun? How would your life be different?

“Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us.” Gerard Manley Hopkins

Starting Over

 

There are countless things that bring my observance of Lent and the daily changes in our garden into side by side meaning for me – changing my heart in the simple practice of being open to wonder. We planted this small Red Baron peach tree less than a year ago. Flooding in our back yard from a hurricane and unusually long hours of severe freezing temperatures during wintertime appeared to defeat the young fruit tree. It stood, a forlorn stick we thought had not pulled through the trials it faced with roots so newly sunk into our soil. Then came a day when leaf buds tentatively swelled and one small blossom appeared as if dropped onto a twig of a branch, followed by 3 more. I see that small wonder every time I look out the windows near my desk. This morning I read excerpts from a book by Georges Bernanos, The Diary of a Country Priest.. Good words that settled and helped me. The tiny peach tree tells the story too.

“Lent reminds us…conversion is a lifelong process…We never stop starting over.

I fall down. I get up.

Keep marching to the end. Don’t shed your equipment. Keep starting over..”

And when the country priest (who had started over many times in his life) lay dying, he said, “Does it matter? Grace is everywhere.’

 

House of Christmas

In these days between Christmas Day and the ending of the year, I read again and again the story. I read it in Luke. I read it in dear messages from friends as I look through our stack of Christmas cards. I read it in the children’s Christmas books I read to my granddaughter. And I read it in poetry.  I am glad for these quieter days, colder now so I want to stay inside.  It is still Christmas.

 

GK Chesterton (1874–1936)

The House of Christmas

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost – how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.

This world is wild as an old wives’ tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.