Savoring Garden Grace

WhenWhen my son and granddaughters were with us in the first days of this new year, my thiirteen year old granddaughter wanted to paint in the prayer garden at our church. While she sketched and painted with oil pastels, I savored being back in this space after a long absence. I have written before about this small garden and ancient oak tree. I have photographed the labyrinth and written about its prayer walk. The word I chose for a focus word for 2020 is savor but I didn’t even think intentionally about that. My joy in being back there, watching Maddie take it all in and put her impressions into her work was complete.

Later, when I hung her painting on my wall, it came to mind that savoring was just what we were doing. Although there were benches there, my back injury keeps me walking, so I walked the prayer walk and around the garden paths over and over. I took photos of Maddie, and dappled sunlight through a dozen different kinds of leaves.

The walker I need to use now does not travel as well on grass or sand or pebbles, so that part of walking was a different effort for me. It was a listening walk for me. I heard the rustle of oak leaves, wind, scattering dry leaves, soft notes from a wind chime, distant sounds of a train and cars, closer sounds of nearby lawn care. She was absorbed in creating. We savored this place and this time. When I made a turn in the labyrinth, I saw that the wheels of my walker had left tracks in the spiral next to me, reminding me I leave prints behind regardless of  my manner or speed. I won’t forget that lesson. I love Maddie’s art work and enjoy it often. But the picture of her dear head bent over her work will always accompany it in my mind.

 

Water for Dry Roots

On this first day of Advent 2019, I am drawn to these photographs I took early one morning from our back porch. I learn so much from paying attention to gifts of green and lingering mist on the lake and leaves in our garden.

Water for Dry Roots

Lord, send my roots rain.

I need water for dried up hope.

I stand on tiptoe, reaching for Light.

I yearn to be watered by Grace.

 

I need water for dried up roots

Clouds of unknowing clear.

I can be watered by Grace

leaving drops for my growing roots.

 

Clouds of unknowing lift,

bathing my thirsty soul.

Grace gathers on my greening heart.

I have a God of green hope.

 

Gratitude salts my tears.

Thank you for sending rain.

Roots grow again.

I reach toward Light.

Simple pantoum, inspired by need, by receiving the gift of these photos on a morning I so needed to be reminded, and by Advent readings.

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.

Considering the Circumstances

When we began landscaping the large back yard of our current home 2 years ago, some of the plants I wanted to include were oakleaf hydrangeas. Unlike the pretty pink and blue mophead blooms, these flowers are greenish-white when they are young, picking up subtle shades of pink and brown as they age. After new flowers stop coming, the blooms stay on the plant and look lovely as they mature.

The foliage is different, too. Lobed leaves are bright green in spring and fall, turning brilliant shades of burgundy and orange as autumn turns into winter. They are also interesting shrubs in winter since the bark peels back, revealing the dark layer beneath. We planted several at the east end of our back porch where we could watch them as they changed. One plant did not survive the first winter which was more severe than usual. The others have come into their own this year. I almost missed the first blooms since I was seldom outside for weeks during the beginning of my recovery. Part of my determination to aid healing has been to go outside for a few minutes at least each day and walk on the porch if not in the garden. After I discovered the first tight green buds of beginning flowers, I made sure I checked on their progress.

Often, the smallest lessons learned on this porch and others we have called home teach me Garden Grace. While admiring the progress of these blooms, I remembered that these shrubs bloom on the prior year’s growth.

I may not feel very productive or useful in these days of being homebound and restricted, but the healing of bone, body, and spirit happening now may provide my ability to bloom in the future.

“If, then, we desire a simple test of the quality of our spiritual life, a consideration of the tranquillity, gentleness, and strength with which we deal with the circumstances of our outward life will serve us better than anything…It is a test that can be applied anywhere and at any time. Tranquillity, gentleness and strength, carrying us through the changes of weather, the ups and downs of the route, the varied surface of the road; the inequalities of family life, emotional and professional disappointments, the sudden intervention of bad fortune or bad health, the rising and falling of our religious temperature. This is the threefold imprint of the Spirit on the souls surrendered to his great action.”  From The Spiritual Life by Evelyn Underhill

Here. Now. This.

Red Baron Peach blossoms, February 28, 2019

Here. Now. This.

Now.

I want to notice.

I want to pay attention

to beauty that won’t wait

to music that may fade

to chances to be kind

 

We planted several fruit trees, including a small Red Baron peach tree in our back yard in 2017. That winter, one unusual hard freeze produced a couple of 19 degree nights so several of the trees did not survive. The little peach tree produced a few leaves in the Spring and stayed with us. Last winter brought more cold than is typical for us. The tree   looked like a 3 feet tall stick. When the roses nearby were blooming in January and February, we often noticed the sad little stick. Then, proving survivorship, it began to bud. The buds swelled to these brilliant blossoms. Four days later, Winter came back with a vengeance. Even though we covered it with a pillowcase, our tiny tree is now a stick again. But the story is not over…

 

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.