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.”
This bloom on a small container potted shrub reminds me of another purple bloom, in another place, the garden we moved away from a few months ago. It also reminded me that I still need to sit, that I need to be still. The birds and flowers are different, but there are yet the settling and knowing, the holy moments.
“Sitting in your garden is a feat to be worked at with unflagging determination and single-mindedness – for what gardener worth his salt sits down. I am deeply committed to sitting in the garden.” – Mirabel Osler
Sitting still is necessary for so many things: I listen better when I sit still. I hear things unheard when I am crunching on the gravel or digging or clipping. The butterflies and hummingbirds come closer when I am still. The cardinal pair lingers longer on the fence. Appreciation and savoring of beauty may run after me when I am on the move but they settle around my shoulders like a soft cover when I sit still. And in the stillness I begin to settle – the cloudy debris of things which can fret and hurt begin to drift to the bottom, leaving pure, clear knowing. Holy moments can happen when I sit in my garden. (Reposted from this blog, written on August 17, 2013.)
Still true, in a very different garden. Three years ago, this is the picture I posted, a different purple bloom on the Vitex tree in that garden.
As swimmers dare to lie face to the sky and water bears them, as hawks rest upon air and air sustains them, so would I learn to attain freefall, and float into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace, knowing no effort earns that all-surrounding grace.
If the saying “April showers bring May flowers” were born out next month, we would be covered in blooms. On Monday this week, rains came and camped out over many parts of Texas, creating historic event flooding in Houston and several surrounding counties. There have been tragic deaths, and thousands of people are displaced. Although the rain has stopped, flooding continues as rivers and bayous rage out of their banks flooding homes and pastureland.
Our garden welcomes us once more with cool breeze, shade, birdsong, and flowers blooming. Joe brought in a gardenia that I could smell when he opened the door. I am grateful for this peace and beauty but sad for loss for so many.
Prayer for Those Affected by the Floods
God of compassion, You created a world for us To know your love and peace Yet amidst the beauty of creation We encounter pain and hurt And forces beyond our control. At times like this our hearts are shaken and ache with sorrow At the destruction of our lives, homes and livelihoods. Hear our prayers for those affected by the floods And for all those working To bring relief and fresh hope.
from the Toowoomba Diocese in Queenslnd following a devastating flood in 2011
“The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.”
Anyone who has been around small children knows how often we hear the question “Why?” I have been asking that question about my fig harvest this year. We have a fine fig tree in the garden that typically has so many green figs it is hard to keep up with the harvest as they ripen. This year we had an unusually wet June and although there were hundreds of green figs and they began to ripen early, harvest slowed and stopped completely in the second week. Our brutal Texas heat came on suddenly. My research tells me the tree went into conservation mode and began aborting its fruit. Even though we watered heavily, nothing brought back the production so the hard little green figs began to drop to the ground, wasted and of no use to anyone. Not even the birds would eat them.
The problem is that figs are shallow rooted and easily stressed. That reminded me of my own need for being rooted deeply to be able to take the heat and avoid reacting in damaging ways to the stress of our uncertain times!
” May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love;” Ephesians 3: 17, The Living Bible
This box of impatiens and Caladium on the wall at the edge of the back porch reminds me how much nourishing water it requires in our summer heat. Without this shade and daily watering, the blooms stop, the stalks wilt and leaves begin to curl. The container, made of measuring sticks, and the fading sign speak of need, too. Yes, it is a wonderful life, as long as I am refilled with wonder. Wonder. Full.
Words in these lines from William Henry Channing create a leit motif as we slow down into the pace and space of summer. The song of this tiny feathered friend perched on the back of our porch swing calls me to stop and look and listen. And sing.
listen to stars and birds and babies and wisdom
open my heart
let the holy grow up through the common
“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common — this is my symphony.”