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

 

Advent

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A cold dark day in winter, when spring’s arrival seems to be an eternity in coming, is a good time to force bulbs indoors. Paperwhite bulbs, green and growing, hearken toward the light and warmth of spring to come. A week ago, our 2 year old granddaughter and I placed marbles in this dish and added water, then nestled dry, brown bulbs on top. I watched her little hands as she worked on our project.  Today, we can see how the roots have grown and how much they have grown.

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A few minutes ago, I helped the same little hands add a tiny cardboard shepherd girl to our vintage Advent calendar -the most powerful story of  light and hope and promise.

Transplanting

 

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Cool, rainy days coaxed our roses to bloom- full, fragrant garden gifts. But the two rose bushes that produced this exquisite flowering are not growing strong and healthy.  We have a large white crepe myrtle tree and a lovely purple flowering Vitex near our back porch that have grown so tall and full  the past 10 years that they provide shade for that part of our garden and porch. Wonderful respite from the heat of summer sun for us when we sit on our porch, but now a threat to the rose bushes.  Roses require at least 6 hours of sunlight a day so the spot where they are planted has become too shady for them to remain healthy. We need to move them if they are to survive.  I understand I must do certain things to help them make the move: Reduce the plant size, dig a new hole, remove the plant and roots and transfer,  nourish the plant by providing the right soil, watering, and not forcing growth by fertilizing too soon.

As I thought about this, wondering if we might do best to remove them and take them to plant in our new house when we move, I was surprised to realize that the same advice applies to us as we get ready to relocate. We have already reduced the quantity of things we need to take with us by clearing clutter, passing on family treasures, selling, and donating. We have found the place where we will be transplanted, along with our son and his family.  But we will need to remember the need to stay nourished and avoid forcing too much change too fast.

I am thankful for the plans we have made to be attentive to those things.  And maybe we will take two rose bushes along with us to remind us.

Looking forward to blooming in a new spot.

Wake

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Lichen growing on the gravestone of Opal and Howard Teal, Bullard, Texas

“…their wake reaches us, rocks us.”   ~ Denise Levertov

When I visit the graves of my parents, I am not visiting them, I am remembering them, along with many other family members.  In the Bullard, Texas cemetery are graves belonging to a number of aunts, uncles, maternal and paternal grandparents and even great grand parents. Lichen spreads and clings to the stones and reminds  me of the spreading and clinging of their stories in  my life.  As the poet quoted above suggests, their “wake” reaches and rocks” me.   I have  been cradled in their love and faith. I remember.  Without opening a single page of written family history, I thank God for lives lived, names that roll easily off my tongue.

Opal and HOward Teal

Veda and Woodrow Teal

Clyde and Ky Terrell

Ida and Tom Teal

Edna and Leo Warnick

Lela and Dewey Kirkpatrick

Wayne Kirkpatirick

Earnestine Matilde Curley

John Wesley and Elen Terrell

Vinnon Grady Terrell

Alice Stripling

plus many others whose names and stories I know even though I may not bring them to my mind at this moment, some who lived and died before I was born!

Alleluia!

For All the Saints (1864)

For all the saints who from their labor rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blessed,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine.
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia! Alleluia.

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
Singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
Alleluia! Alleluia!

William How

Telling the Easter Story

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As Palm Sunday approaches, signaling the beginning of Holy Week, I am drawn to the beauty and symbolism in the flower of this garden vine, which trails over the fence at my son’s home.

In the woods of East Texas where I spent my childhood, it grows wild and is often called maypop, but I love the imagery in the name given to the flower by priests in the late 16th century when it was found growing in what is now Latin America – Espino de Cristo, (Christ’s Thorms.)  Now named Passion Flower, the colors may range from white or pale lavender to purple, but each part of the flower can be used to tell the story of the crucifixion. Simply gazing at  the flower’s perfect shape and hidden mystery can be a reflection and retelling of the story.

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Blooming Anyway

IMG_1716In our part of Texas, we seldom have severe winter weather.  Although November was colder than most years, December was unusually warm until Christmas. But 2015 turned a cold shoulder on us. It has been wet and cold, with twice the normal amount of rain and very cold – definitely coat, scarf, and glove days.  Since we have a few tender plants in our garden, when temperatures are predicted to drop to an extended period of hard freeze, we scuttle about trying to protect plants, pipes, and pets.  We haul out our stack of covers and  try to secure them in gusts of wind that take cover off as fast as we put it on while we weight or pin it down.  We didn’t cover our antique roses, but they seemed to welcome the wet cold days with an extra crop of blooms.  I have written before about the difference in color and fragrance in a winter rose bloom, but this round of blooming was so welcome in the bone chilling  cold, gray days that I found them particularly welcome.  These “Old Roses”  are known for their survival.  They come from root stock that is known for its stay power. The notable thing is that these roses didn’t just stay alive in the bitter cold and whipping winds. They bloomed anyway.

It is one thing to be grateful for having come from strong roots (the stories of my ancestors tell me over and over how much grit and grace they had)) – but it is another thing to be aware of  what I may be passing on to my sons and grandchildren. I want to live in ways that can be described as not just surviving, but blooming anyway.

Standing Still in the Light

  • IMG_1514The first step to peace is to stand still in the light. ~ George Fox

 

There is a hush in the house that is different in quality this morning, after yesterday’s gathering for Christmas Day.  Before I go back to the kitchen to finish cleanup from our festive meal, before I make a grocery list to ready for our other children and grandchildren who arrive this week, even before I sit down at the piano to enjoy playing the old carols again just for Joe and me, I claim moments  of this quiet to sit in the dark with only the twinkling tree lights and be still.  I hear again in my mind the words of the song often heard sung around the world at this time of year. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.?

 

 

Saying Grace

IMG_1063                      Our entire Satsuma harvest – but the tree is very small.
                                 
 As we move toward the end of November, our garden is a reminder of things that can be counted on: Gulf Coast Muhly fronds mound up like pink froth.   Satsumas are ready for harvest, Meyer lemons are hanging ready on the tree, the last of our okra and tender herbs fade as the first frost comes. Marigolds, chrysanthemums and calendula bloom gold and copper. Thanksgiving is less than a week away.  We will gather friends and family and favorite foods at full tables.

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Marigolds

I am remembering childhood meals around my Terrell grandparent’s table in Smith County, Texas. There were hearty breakfasts with farm fresh eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy,  dinners (at lunchtime) that often included  peas and tomatoes from their garden and an iron skillet of cornbread cut into wedges.There were suppers, often the same food reheated or a bowl of soup, and Sunday dinners after church. There were holiday meals at Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas where the table and kitchen were both filled with chicken and dressing or a ham, plus those garden fresh vegetables which had been put up into canning jars. To follow, there would be an assortment of sweets – cookies, sweet potato, pecan, and mince pies, and often a pound cake. The food and occasion might vary, but there was always the same beginning: This, too, was something I could count on.  Papa Terrell would say grace. Today we may say a blessing or give thanks, but he always said grace.  The words were always the same, and rattled off so quickly I could never understand them.  But his posture spoke to my heart with no need for words.  Over 70 years later, now I see him clearly in my mind:  gray head bent forward and bowed in humility.

“We offer grace at table as a form of waiting with confidence…reciting such a prayer is sometimes referred to as a way of preparing to receive all that has been granted to us. We offer grace in amazement that even the good things we have rejected are being offered again. And then we eat, and the food meets an earthly need of our souls, and we are made whole.” – Cynthia Rigby, W.C. Brown Professor of Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary*

For me, the calendar days designated to Thanksgiving are a wonderful approach to  beginning of Advent exactly because of this waiting with confidence…preparing to receive all that has been granted to us. Our family will gather once again around the old oak table, the very same one that Grandma loaded with food and where Papa said grace.

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Pink Gulf Coast Muhly, a coastal grass

*as quoted by Wayne Slater in DallasNews, a Texas Faith Blog

Lo, How a Rose…

RoseinSnow2009The past week has been unusually cold and wet here.  One day was said to have been the coldest ever for this part of Texas.  Of course, we have not had the snow and ice so many north of us have had, but I am remembering one day in the first week of December in 2009. I took this photograph while it was snowing.  The rose is one of my favorite antique roses.  It is called Maggie, and is the only rose I know that has a sweeter fragrance after it is cut to bring inside.  I remember, too, the sweet carol that it illustrates.  Old rose, ancient song, story forever new.

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming

From tender stem hath sprung!

Of Jesse’s lineage coming

As men of old have sung.

It came, a flow’ret bright,

Amid the cold of winter,

When half-spent was the night.

~ Fourteenth-Century German Melody

This verse, Sixteenth-Century German