Recently I found this large bald cypress bathed in morning sunlight. Every ferny leaf seemed to glow. I wanted to capture that luminous image before the light changed. It is a birthday week for me so I have spent time considering what I have learned in these 77 years and ways I want to spend the time ahead.
I am grateful for light and the ways it touches and changes. I thank God each morning for the new light another day brings. I am grateful for being able to see this, grateful for grace to know that as light changes, new ways of finding and seeing it will remain.
“Defend me against the chances and changes of this life, not that I may escape them but that I may meet them with firm resolve; not that I may be saved from them but that I may come unscathed through them.
Defend me from discouragement in difficulty and from despair in failure, from pride in success, and from forgetting you in the day of prosperity.
Help me to remember that there is no time when you will fail me and no moment when I do not need you.
Grant me this desire: that guided by your light and defended by your grace, I may come in safety and bring honor to my journey’s end…” ~ Norman Shawchuck
Feather on the Breath of God
pay attention, be astonished writes Mary Oliver.
be still and know says a Psalm poem
what will surprise me today?
am I ready to receive that gift?
I did not take this photograph; I do not know where it was taken. It found me. I kept returning to it to think of its story. How many hymns were sung by the faithful in this country chapel? How many wedding vows repeated as families began? How does the color of the glass glow when lit from inside at twilight?
I am grateful for those stories, the message of endurance told by weathered wood and stained glass.
Globe Amaranth, Gomphrena
This flower is small but you almost never see just one or two plants. They have visual impact because they are usually seen massed together in a flower bed. That could be because there are so many seeds in a bloom not much bigger than the end of my thumb. Every petal becomes a seed. I once had Joe stop by a road for me to collect a couple of flower heads because that particular patch was a variety called Strawberry Fields – bright red pom poms waving in the sun.
It may be a stretch, but as I held this flower my granddaughter picked, an odd comparison floated up in my mind. I recently read in a morning quiet time the phrase “sturdy faith.” The words stuck and I have frequently considered what it means to have that quality, so necessary in a world of confusion and uncertainty.
Thrives in heat and does not need pampering.
Blooms nearly nonstop
Good for cutting and drying to share in many ways.
Attracts butterflies, adding to our garden’s beauty.
Harvesting promotes flower production.
wind. rain. relentless pounding as water rises
this hurricane is the worst ever they say
Nora calls the rising water “the ocean”
forever my picture of the storm
will be my son taking his daughter’s hand
as they hold umbrellas high
facing this together
Hurricane Harvey made landfall late on August 26, 2017, spinning and spewing and stopping over Houston and surrounding areas, including our home in Fort Bend County. Four days later, we have clear skies and sunshine for the first time. Our home is dry inside although thousands of homes are not and many thousands of people are displaced, rescued, evacuated. Businesses and hospitals are closed. Many roads are impassable. And here in our community, the Brazos river is flooding to crest 2 feet beyond its record. In the days to come, there will be more massive flooding. There is peace in this storm. There is this picture of tender love and protection. There is togetherness.
This print of an original artwork by David Arms hangs in the dining room of our home. It is rich with symbolism, as is all of David’s art. On this Saturday that is called silent because Christ has been crucified but not yet risen, I stand and consider the meaning portrayed by the artist and more importantly, the meaning and mystery of all that Christians celebrate in their remembering during Lent, the week called Holy, and this time when we wait in vigil and anticipation of Resurrection. I am Eastering. Each year that passes (now 76 for me) I am more aware of all that I do not know yet all that I know that I have been given. The name of this painting is The Last Supper.*
*This is the story of the Last Supper portrayed symbolically. The sparrow is the most common and lowly of man. The blackbird represents sin. The nest with the three eggs (home in heaven with the trinity) is where this scene is leading. The floating table meaning God is in control. And most importantly, the white dove is Jesus.
scarlet torch reminds
Winter does not last. Spring comes.
I am alive.
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
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.
…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
bare branches reach
waiting in a gray veil
to wear green again
On Christmas day, Nora and I rode in the back seat of our car to church, watching for trees. She said the leaves were all gone away and I agreed. I said they would come back in the Spring and be here for her birthday. This is an often repeated story recently as she widens her 2-year-old world to pay attention to things that go away. I thought of this the last few days in our early morning fog. Most mornings, I can see beyond our fence and across the lake to a house that is being built there. I see duck families and herons on the water. But the fog here obscures all but the most pronounced and closest objects. So it is with these days approaching year’s end. I know what recent days have looked like, but the new year coming holds no clear vision for me. I am called to trust, to practice discernment, to watch for markers that remind me I have been and will be guided.
“Spiritual discernment asks us to pay attention…on many levels: to sensus fidelium ( the collective ene of the faithful), to read widely and deeply the best ancient and contemporary thinking, to pray, to attend to the prick of conscience, to watch, to wait, to listen.”
~from “Passing Angels: The Arts of Spiritual Discernment” by Wendy M. Wright in Weavings, November 1995