From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord‘s name is to be praised. Psalm 113:3, KJV
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
One of my favorite places to be still is here, beneath a very old oak tree in our church prayer garden. Its branches spread out over a trickling stream and bubbling fountain and a small labyrinth. In dry times, like our present drought, there is crusty brown growth along its mighty branches. But when we are blessed with rainfall, this turns to vibrant green. It is Resurrection Fern.
At all times I soak up the green and growing refreshment of this place. But it is in the times when I feel drought in my spirit that I come here to be still and know God, and to refill and refuel – the greening of my heart, Eastering.
At the beginning of a new year, I am not so much making resolutions as I am considering how I spent myself and a year’s worth of time in the year just past. That leads to choices about spending time and personal resource in the present. What do I need to keep or change in order for me to honor God, delight in His presence, and show my love to others in ever growing ways?
As I mulled these thoughts while packing away Christmas lights and garland, clearing table tops and starting the cleaning tasks which accompany taking down decorations, I saw the disappointing results of a gardening project I began around Thanksgiving. Every year, I enjoy placing Paperwhite Narcissus bulbs into containers with stones and water. They put down roots, send up green shoots, and always delight us with fragrant white blooms before Christmas. Most of the bulbs offered beginning shoots of green. Some grew a few inches. But none of them bloomed by Christmas, and in general failed to thrive. Now, only one bulb appears to have the small swelling at the base of its leaves that tells me a flower may eventually unfurl. I decided to remove the bulbs. That is when I discovered that they never grew any roots. Only the ones with more than an inch or two of leaf had grown the plump white roots which could reach down into the water for necessary nutrients. Beginning was all they did; then lacking roots and healthy growth they began to decay.
That was an epiphany moment for me. No matter how full I am of possibility and fresh starts, I can never grow if I am not rooted and absorbing the nourishment necessary to flourish. “Feeding myself” is never on a daily to do list. But I realize I have little to offer others if I don’t choose healthy foods and activity for my body as well as take the time to begin my days with quiet time which feeds and grows my soul. I love listening to a John Michael Talbot album called “Come to the Quiet” each morning. As I listen and worship, I am fed. My roots spread and deepen. I stretch and grow. I can bloom!
Sabbath is not just important to me. It is essential. I participate in Sabbath/Sundays, gathering with others to worship, being with family around the table, and setting times to rest at the beginning of the week. I have learned that I also need what I call Sabbath moments every day, part of my morning and evening rituals, but also those unexpected gifts of quiet awareness that come upon me and gift me me with deep peace.
“The room is quiet. You’re not feeling tired enough to sleep or energetic enough to go out. For the moment there is nowhere else you’d rather go, no one else you’d rather be. You feel at home in your body. You feel at peace in your mind. For no particular reason, you let the palms of your hands come together and close your eyes. Sometimes it is only when you happen to taste a crumb of it that you dimly realize what it is that you’re so hungry for you can hardly bear it. –Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC