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.
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
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 –
Tell about it.
from Mary Oliver’s poem Sometimes, published in the book Redbird.
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.
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
my outstretched hand stops
plan to cut the last Vitex bloom
changed by looped poison ivy
I will “let it be.”
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.
(printed in order of service October 14, 2018)
cobalt blue and emerald dragonfly,
burnished lace wings still
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