My first Advent post this year pictured the paperwhite bulbs Nora planted on the day her baby brother was born, November 26, 2016. My, how fast they have grown!
Today, almost 4 weeks later, Nora holds her growing leaves close and says she loves them. Their blooms should be ready to grace our Christmas dinner table!
She loves her baby brother even more! Oliver has many adoring arms to reach for him. He has grown too, a much more amazing miracle than the paperwhites. It has been fun to watch growth and blooming. Tending the blooms and the baby has given particular grace and meaning to these days of Advent, to my reflections of another baby and the way He changed the world.
Last week Joe and I enjoyed a trip with some friends to hear the history of a plantation house a little over an hour from our home. Dozens of trips to and from College Station when our son was a graduate student there took us on a highway almost at the edge of the acreage where the house is located, but we had never been able to go inside or learn about the important place in Texas History held by Liendo Plantation. The grounds were lovely and shady on a very hot day, peacocks strutted and called, a beautiful herd of Red Brahman cattle grazed beyond the fences, a one-hundred-year-old black walnut tree towered, and a small pergola at the back of the house was covered with wisteria that must have been breathtaking when it bloomed in late Spring. I took some pictures of the massive twisted vines from one side, but Joe found this on the other side. The tiny birdhouse with a heart shaped hole must have been set there years ago. Through the years, the vines have twisted and turned their way through the house and out the “door.” No room for birds there anymore. It is a novel picture, but disturbing thought.
What do we allow to grow inside our hearts and homes, filling them so that home is no longer a place of rest, refuge and hospitality? I wonder how long the vines grew before birds could no longer nest there. We have moved almost 2 dozen times in the over 50 years of our marriage and have recently moved again. The houses may change, but as we settle and fill each with faith and love and open doors, it becomes home. I hope to never allow something to grow that pushes the things that belong there away.
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.