Finding Courage

“Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage then to claim it; that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country home.” ~ Giovanni Giocondo

One Tiny Shell

 

This one tiny shell is less than 2 inches tip to tip, half the size of its photo. Although I have a basket of shells that are larger, I keep this one on top of the gratitude journal in which I write every morning. I pick it up before I open the book.  It is almost weightless in the palm of my hand, yet it is heavy with stories.The shell is one of a number of True Tulip shells  collected when Joe and I went with  our sons out to the mud flats off Sanibel Island, Florida. We spent most of the time on the beach near our rental apartment, searching for shells, building sand castles and a tracking a hurricane! Our sons still talk about it.

We added this to our last few days on the island because of a disappointed 9-year-old son. Jeremy used his trip money at the local Wal-Mart to buy a throw net, a net with weights that can be cast out to bring in small fish and other treasures. After only a single use, the net was stolen from the area where he had carefully spread it to dry. We planned the trip out into the flats to gather shells to soften the loss, an adventure all of us would enjoy.

I had no way of knowing in 1980 that many years later, one of the smallest of the shells collected during that family fun would be held in my hand during my morning prayer time.  It is one tiny shell, holding the sounds of the ocean and the laughter of my sons.

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

 

Call to Prayer

I A few weeks ago Joe and I had a business appointment in Houston and stopped by to get lunch in a busy restaurant that is famous for the delicious enchiladas prepared in its kitchens. We enjoyed our lunch, but the food is not what stopped me on my way out. In the middle of an adjacent dining room sat this magnificent carved prayer rail. It might have seemed oddly out of place if not for its careful placement on wonderful Mexican tiles and my sudden realization that it delivered a powerful message:  You can pray anywhere.

I quickly took my photo and wondered if anyone ever takes the invitation to kneel. All the way home I wondered about the prayer rail and thought of the stories it could tell.  How many bent knees and clasped hands have rested on its dark wood? The same God who heard those prayers heard mine offered in gratitude.

 

Cathedral

I love the ancient oak trees growing near our church. To look through the arching branches reminds me of the relationship between ecclesiastical architecture and the hands of God seen in nature.

Cathedral

rustic arbor of arching branches

twisted in patterns of Gothic lace

inviting me to look beyond

to light

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

Turning

lenttreeTurning

the turning days begin

reaching into soul search

dark with unknowing

each step on this road

closer to liminal light,

distant dawn of Grace

 

A journey, a pilgrimage! Yet, as we begin it, as we make the first step into the “bright sadness” of Lent, we see far, far, away – the destination. It is the joy of Easter, it is the entrance into the glory of the Kingdom.  ~ Alexander Schmemann

 

Praise

I have been on the verge of complaint some mornings lately.  We have had so many consecutive days of pewter colored skies, bleak landscapes, and dreary, rainy weather. But I believe in finding sacred moments in the ordinary and this, for now, is the ordinary. So I put the garden planning on paper instead of the ground, plan more ways to use the indoor time, and am reminded to praise God for his glory displayed in shadow as well as light.

mist

…and in the mist.

 

We praise thee, O God, for thy glory
displayed in all the creatures of the earth,
In the snow, in the rain, in the wind, in the storm;
in all of thy creatures, both the hunters and the hunted…
They affirm thee in living;
all things affirm thee in living;
the bird in the air, both the hawk and the finch;
the beast on the earth, both the wolf and the lamb;…
Therefore man, whom thou hast made
to be conscious of thee,
must consciously praise thee,
in thought and in word and in deed.
Even with the hand to the broom,
the back bent in laying the fire,
the knee bent in cleaning the hearth…
The back bent under toil,
the knee bent under sin,
the hands to the face under fear,
the head bent under grief,
Even in us the voices of the seasons,
the snuffle of winter, the song of spring,
the drone of summer,
the voices of beasts and of birds,
praise thee.  ~ T.S. Eliot

Source: Murder in the Cathedral

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