Flowering

Night Blooming Cereus   September 26, 2019

change begins, barely noticeable

 pay attention to little things

wait expectantly

in anticipation of fleeting beauty

flowering in a dark, dry night

Over 4 years ago, a friend mailed me a brown envelope containing 2 different varieties of several long narrow “leaves.” These were actually leaf-like structures, flattened stems that function like leaves. Following my friend’s instructions, I stuck each of these into pots where they easily rooted. I lost one of the plants to an unexpected temperature drop 2 years ago. The remaining plant had one bloom last summer that we missed until it was withered.

A few days ago, almost by accident I saw a bit of growth on the edge of one of the flat stems and sent a photo to the friend who sent me the start of the plant. She confirmed it was a flower bud. That meant watching the plant carefully for the next 2 or 3 days. As the growth lengthened and began to swell, anticipation grew so that by the evening I felt it was sure to open, I was bound to stay up and watch. How magical!

Night blooming Cereus may not begin to flower until the rooted plant is four or five years old. It only blooms in the dark.  The flower is almost 7 inches across and is fragrant, borne off the tops of the stems. The bloom usually begins at 9 or 10 p.m. and is fully open by midnight. After the sun rises, the petals droop and die.

Leaving Prints

When we moved in 2016, there were many choices made about keeping. After so many years and so many moves in our married life, Joe and I were joining households with our son Ben and his wife Kristen, our granddaughter Nora (at the time, 2 years old) and Oliver, who was born later that year. Every move meant sorting and packing and rearranging to fit us into new space. As years went by, we changed some things, discarded some things, and  of course, acquired some things. As much work as each move entailed, I always enjoyed the part of unpacking where we chose what would go where, and the ways in which we would make the new place home.  When we did that, I invariably linked many things sentimentally with where we had acquired them, how they had previously been used, and remembered their story.

This small handprint is part of a pair of handprints on a mirror. The mirror is part of a larger wooden piece which we found in the attic of our beloved Victorian house in our hometown, Jacksonville, TX. The house was built in 1904 by John Wesley Love and has its own story here: https://mappingsforthismorning.blogspot.com/2010/10/home_3697.html

I am not sure of the origin of this piece, but I am sure it is part of something else – a mantel, the top of an organ, I don’t know. The original mirror suffered damage in one of the moves so we had that replaced but we have found a place to hang this in every home we have made since 1982. I was sure we wanted to keep it with us this time. Only after I had it hung in my bedroom (over a fireplace) here did I notice the sweet reminders that a granddaughter had left her touch. It must have been while the piece was sitting down on the floor waiting to be moved or hung. It must have been Nora, who was 2 at the time. MIrrors are always a fascination, a mystery to babies and toddlers. This week, she started Kindergarten, out the door in her school uniform.. In what seems like only a few heartbeats, she is reaching for new mysteries, leaving more handprints.

I know that no matter how much she grows, Nora has and will always leave her touch, her handprint on not just a mirror, but on me, a God given blessing. The same is true for all my grandchildren . I  don’t know  how the marks I leave behind will be noticed  or make a difference, but I am aware that I am leaving prints behind as well.

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.

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.

Windswept

 

 

I often speak of lessons I learn from my garden. I learn, too, from my grandchildren – all of them. My favorite lessons (and photographs) come suddenly. If I am not quick with thought and camera, I may miss the moment entirely.

Nora, like me, loves to be outdoors. Our back porch and yard face north, and the past 2 months have been unusually windy. The wind pushes over waters of the small lake behind our house,whipping tender foliage and flower petals and Nora’s long hair. She does not like the way the wind gets her hair in the way of what she is doing. On the day I took this picture, she had just told me she was mad at the wind, shook her fist at it, and yelled “Go away, wind!”

Of course, the wind did not go away I was not enjoying the wind myself, but when I look at this photo, I see much that is often missed in posed photography. Nora learned focus and determination in imperfect circumstance. The same wind that blew pillows off the porch rocker, snatched petals from the roses, and caused the tousling of a chlld’s hair was responsible for tears a grandmother shed over beauty.

 

 

 

Leave Room

heart petals unfold

opening to mystery

leaving room for new seed

 

“Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the ploughshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring.”

Henri Frederic Amiel