Enough

I learned to love roses from my grandmother

why did I never take a picture of her cutting roses to bring inside

to put in a jar in the middle of a table

dressed with a white tablecloth she had ironed

so Sunday dinner could be offered to the preacher and his wife

or family could sit down to fried chicken and peas from the garden

or tea cakes and cold milk shared with a skinny brown-eyed girl

she only had that one rose bush  under the front window of the farmhouse

bearing teacup sized yellow blooms that smelled as pretty as they looked

she only had that one rose bush

but it was enough

enough for her to grace food offered on mismatched china

enough to brighten the room they called a sleeping porch

enough to make a little girl remember

I wish I had a picture of her with those roses

I have her table, even the tablecloth

I have her love of one rose bush

I have grandchildren to help me pick roses

it is enough

 

Home

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.

 

Star

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Nora places the star on the stable, telling again the Christmas story.  The star is a symbol of the true Light that has come.

In the church year are found Cycles of Light , Cycles of Life and Cycles of Love:

Today, the celebration of Christmas with family in the kitchen and around the table with festive celebrating has changed –  slowing, stopping , savoring.  Standing still in the Light..

The first step to peace is to stand still in the Light….

George Fox (1624 – 1691)

Peace and all good my Friends!

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.

What Is Mine to Do?

cereus

 

Photography courtesy of Pert Roddy Garraway, who grows these beautiful plants.

In my observance of Lent this year, I worked with others in an online retreat reflecting on the question “What is mine to do?”  The question comes from Jesus when he said” “What I just did was to give you an example: as I have done, so you must do.” When his own  death was approaching,  St. Francis told us, “I have done what is mine to do. May Christ teach you what is yours.”

 

For me, the answer to the posed question is simply that what is mine to do is to practice serving. I am not sure why, but my friend’s photo of her beautiful Cereus reminds me of serving.  It may be because this exquisite blooming only happens at night, when it is unseen by many. It does not require the brilliance of sunlight to bloom on, offering its beauty and fragrance. for a brief time.

 

I have become aware of the difference in helping, in fixing, as opposed to serving. When I worked as a registered nurse, my connection to patients was best applied in service to them and to their families as opposed to a goal of repair.  I am aware that in my community relationships, my parenting, and my grandparenting, my calling to serve may be played out in many different roles – in offering hospitality, in gardening and cooking and sharing the beauty of art and music. My joy in any of these is heightened as I realize that this, too, is serving.

 

“Serving is different from helping. Helping is not a relationship between equals. A helper may see others as weaker than they are, needier than they are, and people often feel this inequality. The danger in helping is that we may inadvertently take away from people more than we could ever give them; we may diminish their self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity or even wholeness.

 

When we help, we become aware of our own strength. But when we serve, we don’t serve with our strength; we serve with ourselves, and we draw from all of our experiences. Our limitations serve; our wounds serve; even our darkness can serve. My pain is the source of my compassion; my woundedness is the key to my empathy.

Fixing and helping create a distance between people, but we cannot serve at a distance. We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected.”

–Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen

Story Telling

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gray and grateful, I am

glad to be grandmother

holding this child who continues my story

she sleeps in my arms

as if melted and poured out,

I am melted and poured out too

 

Nothing in my life prepared me for how being a grandmother would change me.  I should have suspected, remembering the molding and mentoring of my own grandmother and seeing the love and tenderness my mother gave with abandon to my sons when she became a grandmother.  Our first granddaughter came to us when she was three, when our oldest son brought her and her mother to meet us for the first time. I enjoyed fussing over her, and when my son married the two of them, was tickled when she began calling me my Grandmother name, Granmary, instead of Mary Ann. I jumped into being a grandmother without a second thought,love, tea parties and all.  And when her sister Skye was born.12 years ago, I was ready and waiting to be crazy about this baby,  cherished from the moment of the announcement of her conception. I kept a journal during the time we waited for her birth, a practice which I continued 9 years ago with Madelyn, 6 years ago with Jordann, and this year with Nora! This is something I now realize helped me tell family story to them and to welcome them into that story. As they grow and interact with me, I have many exciting opportunities to add to our together stories!

Every grandchild that is born is another leap of heart and soul for me, each one unique.  I am changed forever in my love for them and my joy in them.  And I am increasingly aware of the importance of our story and the need to tell it.  It is another Mary Oliver moment: “Pay attention, be astonished, and tell about it.”

“My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it anything like right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours.

Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I, of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories in all their particularity, as I have long believed and often said, that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally.

If this is true, it means that to lose track of our stories is to be profoundly impoverished not only humanly but also spiritually. The God of biblical faith is a God who started history going in the first place. He is also a God who moment by moment, day by day continues to act in history always, which means both the history that gets written down in the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle and at the same time my history and your history, which for the most don’t get written down anywhere except in the few lines that may be allotted to us some day on the obituary page.

The Exodus, the Covenant, the entry into the Promised Land—such mighty acts of God as these appear in Scripture, but no less mighty are the acts of God as they appear in our own lives.”    Frederick Buechner

 

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.

Nora

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Like snowflakes and bubbles

no baby is like any other

bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh
each son unique, each his own

butterfly kick in my womb
breath and yell
word and step
skinned knee
broken heart
never the same
nothing twice

in a doubling unlike repetition
You lie in my arms
I look deeply into your shining eyes
and think for the briefest second
everything again

Nora, March 19, 2014