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.

 

A Growing Edge

It is the last day of 2019. Will my thoughts be of the past year or will I pause on the cusp of a new beginning? I am asking questions. What is my growing edge? How am I able to move beyond unwanted circumstance and find new wonder, new ways to encourage, new resolve? What is your growing edge?

“Look well to the growing edge. All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born;all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be no new lives, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge! It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of the child – life’s most dramatic answer to death – this is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge”.  ~ Howard Thurman

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.

Return

When rainfall dampens the brown, crusted, outstretched arms of these ancient oaks, a reenactment of  beauty begins. Delicate green fronds curl around the branches. The verdant festoon is  called “resurrection fern” because, in dry weather, the fern’s fronds curl up, turn brown, and seem to be dead—that is, until the next rain, when they turn green and spring back to life.

Resurrection fern is the common name of an epiphytic plant that in our part of the country grows most often on the massive limbs of live oaks..

I never tire of seeing this happen. As I write today, I feel as if it has begun to rain for me. My long absence from this blog as well as the two others I regularly write posts for has been a dry time for me, and I have missed both the writing and the exchange with readers.

During the past year, my husband, Joe, has lost most of his vision due to retinal bleeding and glaucoma. There have been multiple medical appointments, injections, and laser surgeries for him. Loss of vision is never easy. He has met challenge after challenge with courage but also great sadness.

In mid April, I fell, resulting in a compression fracture of a lumbar vertebra with subsequent surgical injections, hospitalization, some unwelcome complications, and an addition to my summer wardrobe: a molded brace. Uncomfortable? Pain? Yes. Restrictions, certainly. But also so much support and help from our family and friends. Since we live with our youngest son, Ben, his wife Kristen and their children, they added helping us with all we needed to their already busy schedules. Right now, Ben is making pot roast for our dinner while 2 preschoolers “help”, Kristen is working in the yard, and they will do our laundry tomorrow!  Our oldest son and his wife, Sean and Teion, have helped so much  in numerous ways, including hours in the ER with me.  Our son in Nevada, Jeremy, calls and texts almost every day. Always attentive, our family has made sure we are cared for.

I had to hand over my calendar to others for all of Joe’s appointments as well as mine. Close friends from our church brought meals and coordinated driving in the early weeks, stayed with me during surgery, prayed for us, and along with our sons, daughters, and grandchildren have given help and poured encouragement over us. I cannot say Thank You enough. To all of them. To God, who blessed us with these dear ones in our lives to love us and care for us.

There is a great deal of healing and work yet to come. But there is also hope and always, God’s presence.  Today I feel the rain begin.

.

 

Puzzle Peace

This photograph might bring a different story to any viewer. Sit with it for a few moments and think of the message it brings you.

The pictured piece hangs from a strip of leather – a bookmark left in a poetry book. I thought of it when I received a note describing ways of looking at puzzling, hard to understand times.  When I am open to the wonder and synchronicity of my surroundings, I find encouragement, illumination, and illustration everywhere.  I am thankful for learning puzzle peace.

New Year, New Day, New Light

0Photography by Jeremy Parker, Reno, NV            January 2019

My son recently photographed the view from his bedroom window as sunrise revealed light snow which had fallen quietly in the night. I contrast his view of snow and the Virginia Foothills with my view on the same morning nearly 2000 miles away on the South Texas Gulf Coast. Snow is rare here. Many mornings I wake to dense fog, On other days I see mist rising from the lake behind our house as sunrise fills the sky with color.

new light, new choices, new mercy

new landscape

if I pay attention,

fill my soul with astonishment,

I can tell you …

it is never “just another day”

~ written with attention, astonishment,  gratitude, and recognition of poet Mary Oliver, who died last week.

Instructions for living a life –

Pay attention

Be astonished

Tell about it.

from Mary Oliver’s poem Sometimes, published in the book Redbird.

 

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.

  ~

 

 

Worship

Window in sanctuary of First Baptist Church, Richmond, Texas

 

To worship is

to quicken the conscience with the holiness of God

to feed the mind with the truth of God,

to purge the imagination with the beauty of God,

to open the heart to the love of God,

to devote the will to the purpose of God.

~William Temple

                                        (printed in order of service October 14, 2018)

 

 

 

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