“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
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.
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
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.
Even in our most cherished moments, it’s there—this “something more,” a feeling that all life can offer is not enough. C. S. Lewis says of our best experiences, “They are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”
rustic arbor of arching branches
twisted in patterns of Gothic lace
inviting me to look beyond
Easter may be a noun defined by a day of family gathering, celebrations like egghunts and pastel dresses, and a special church service. But Easter is more – an action word. Like wonder and worship, it is also a verb.
“It is like a display of spiritual fireworks dazzling us with each burst: LIfe! Power! Love! Triumph! Transformation! Hope! Joy!” ~ Bobby Gross, Living the Christian Year