Monday, March 28, 2011

Eyes to see

This gangly geranium is SO me! All the life and color and joy in me, pressed against the window of winter and wondering if I just imagined last week's warmth.

My little garden buddy says, "No, you didn't imagine sitting on the deck last week, taking a sun bath. But neither are you imagining this fresh layer of snow. Be patient, my friend . . . this snow will melt and water all that is busy underground, gathering strength."

If I close my eyes, look with my heart, I can see this brave tuft of grass spreading all over the front yard, waving in sunshine.

I can see water in this pond shooting skyward, sparkling in the light.

I can see this blade of green at the base of a shockingly red tulip, opening up to show its yellow and black center.

Ah . . . see how the heat generated by this insistent growth is already melting the snow. This tiny field of daffodils can already see itself laughing in the wind.

And here come our newcomers . . . transplanted hybrid iris from a friend's yard last year. I once cut a bouquet of them while they lived in her yard that was so magnificently tall and gorgeous that it kept tipping the vase over. How will they do in MY yard? Will they be shy their first year? or will I see what I remember them to be: waist high, with stalks like broomsticks, and blooms of lavender/blue beauty bigger than my hand?

My eyes are open again, and yes, I see yesterday's snow and today's heavy obscuring fog. But I can also see, from deep within, the beauty about to blossom. I just have to know where to look.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Yes, YES, Y. E. S. !!

Like so many, I've trudged through a long winter this year. Snow and ice have brought their own unique beauty, but my heart has longed for nourishing warmth, for the freedom to be outdoors without the confinement of coats, mufflers, boots, and gloves. Like this scraggly persistent geranium, I too lean toward the light and press my face against the glass.

I can get so mired in my own difficulties. To offset that, I pray daily, often hourly, for God to keep my heart and soul tender towards others and their journeys. I ask God to help me fulfill what Jesus presented as the two great commandments: to love God with all our heart and soul and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The people in Haiti. In Japan. A friend whose husband and life-long dance partner just passed away. A mother who cares for grandchildren because their daddy--her son--is in prison. I ask God to help me pray for all these people. And I ask Him to help me have the courage to do whatever it takes to see healing in my own life, to keep hope alive when progress seems measured in 100 steps forward and 99 steps back. Help me, God, to cherish that one step forward.

God answered those prayers this morning by nudging me out the front door, to inspect my gardens. Here, after just a little elbow grease (well, maybe more than just a little), fresh flowing water will sparkle and bubble.

Here the sun has kept watch all through the winter and tells me to turn him around, so that he can bring a fresh smile.

Here, just out of sight underground, extravagantly fuchsia peonies are gathering themselves, ready to spring skyward and burst into glorious bloom.

Here, daffodils and tulips, lilies and irises, all quiver with new life and listen for their time to emerge.

And here, oh wonder of wonders, at the far end of the garden, in the spot nearest the sun, poised to get the most warmth and light of all, tiny blades of hope show their face and make me almost cry with joy.

Spring doesn't "begin" just when the growth shows. It lives inside us during any long winter of the soul, out of sight perhaps, but ever growing, through cycles of blossom and rest, renewal and flowering. We must never give up hope. Never give up believing. The day will arrive when the growth finally shows above ground and we can glory in the visible beauty. But until that day comes, the whole world needs us to keep believing. Believe in what we can't yet see, but what our heart tells us is still alive, still growing, deep inside us.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Winds of Change

I'm one month into a three-month self-assigned project. It started on Valentine's Day, and will stretch to mid-May. In a nutshell, the task involves going through every box/tub/shelf in my house and sorting it all, with a core intention of discovering what is in each box.

As I expected, the work has been tumultuous, as I uncover all sorts of my writings, from published pieces to barely decipherable scribbles on faded paper scraps. Photos, travel plans, printed out emails, magazines, newspapers, all sorts of stuff deemed Very Important at one time, all "saved" in boxes and tubs, as I would change around the different rooms of the house, sleeping here and having an office there, and then later, switching all over again. All the expected shifting as a family of 5, homeschooled until college, grows within the home. And then all the unexpected shifting, as the children mature and leave, and then the husband leaves as well.

I've been in tremendous transition since spring of 2004, since I first began living alone. As it turns out, this project of mine, named the ButterFly project, is scheduled to end 7 years, almost to the day, that I became the sole inhabitant of this house.

One month into the project, a couple days ago, was my birthday. Daughter and son-in-law came by with a potted plant of spring beauty . . . . later in the day, I hit a huge emotional roadblock when I got some news. Right as I was shaking from overwhelming sobs, a friend came to my front door with homemade rolls and yet another plant of yet more liquid sunshine. Surrounded by such love, I was steady again by morning.

It has been a very very long 7 years. But oh, I see so much growth. And I feel such hope. I have absolutely no idea what life will be like once this house is purged of painful past, and is home to just me, living in the present. And honestly, the prospect scares me at times. As hurtful as much of my past has been, it is still what I know. But that huge unknown stretching before me is already inhabited by the God who has sustained me all of my life. And She has only good for me.

So here's to spring. To growth. To flowers--and lives--that glow with joy and possibility.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

New Views

What a lovely lunch I had the other day.

Shredded the last bits of a 22 lb turkey. Sliced some celery. Diced the last few sweet pickles. Sprinkled in some raspberry vinaigrette. Stirred in a little Miracle Whip. I've never eaten a fuchsia-tinged turkey salad before.

I perched on the end of the twin bed in my living room. It's serving as my sofa until I find a new one, one without memories. Sold the other one to my son.

After so many years in this house, I'm actually getting a different view out my beloved picture window.

I'm well into my 18th year of living in this house. That simple fact astounds me at times. I spent the first 17 years of my life in one house and then after that, I moved every year or two or three.

It's a whole new feeling to live in one "building" for that many years. Maybe not for other people, but definitely for me.

At one point, two grown-ups, three children, one dog and one cat lived here. One by one they all left except for me. And I labor every day to set this house free from sad memories, and let it be a place of fresh joy and vibrant life. That means a lot of physical work, clearing away outgrown items, repainting, pulling out old carpet.

But it also means fresh thought. New views. Seeing old rooms with new eyes. Using familiar objects for unfamiliar purposes.

Life can sparkle, can't it?

(P. S. Over to the right of this entry, you can click on the BearLodge emblem and see my new front page essay . . . )