Sunday, November 30, 2014
Last night, before Mass, I had a few minutes to look around in the quiet.The colors, Lord, the colors.A huge basket of white roses, purple and pink candles, a piece of the priest's vestments that was streaked with turquoise and pink.Out the window behind the altar, I could see the evening sun bathing just the tops of the pines with gold and only for a few minutes.Watching in the silence.
The theme of the sermon for the beginning of Advent was watching and waiting.Waiting with your eyes wide open.For what? For the small subtle glimpses of Him at work.I sat straight up in the pew and thought ,yes, that is what this coming time should be.Refocus and be alert.
I have seen His majesty while waiting and watching.
Crows, my amazing crows.Lately, I have noticed pieces of corn in the bird bath.How did they get there?I am sure that John didn't waste them like that.Yesterday, I saw the crow, huge and black from beak to tail, on the bird bath rim.I watched as he leaned into the full bath, came up with a kernel and tapping it on the side, softened it up.If a leaf in the water got in the way, he lifted it and placed it on the rim.I have expressed my admiration for these birds before. How the story goes that they protected an infant Buddha from harm.The fact that they feed the elderly members of the flock touches me .
Crows in Australia sound like crying children.And I once saw a video taken in Russia of a crow sliding down a slanted roof on a jar cover.After the slide, he took the cap in his beak, flew to the top of the roof and slid down again.How do they know to do what they do?
And there is this: I have a young friend from church who I see once in a while.I have known her for so long and the delight I feel when I see her is hard to describe.She is married to a wonderful man and has a little boy that she loves with all her heart.Yesterday, I found out that she is facing a serious health crisis that will involve chemotherapy, surgery and reconstructive surgery. A long journey in a new direction not of her choosing.I hope that she won't mind me sharing what she wrote yesterday that has moved me deeply:
"I do know for sure that God is once again using me for something He may never reveal to me personally....but my heart...knows that He has my back."
"Lord, look down from heaven and regard us from your glorious palace!...O,Lord hold not back , for you are our Father."Isaiah 63
Friday, November 28, 2014
There are four afternoon deer in the yard with a solitary raccoon.These are not tawny colored bodies but tree trunk brown and they move like ghosts through the woods to the corn.Three male turkeys just raced in as if chased by a predator but that is just their way.They own the stage now and root around for food.These three have escaped any hunting and never are apart.Neighbors.
Winter has come early this year with the birdbath frozen over day after day and then a warm afternoon appears and one wonders.The maple outside my window didn't even have time to turn before the first frost:the leaves are crumpled and grey.My vision from cataract surgery is spectacular and I am grateful for steady hands and advances that made it so easy.Deo Gracias.
Let me be open to what this Advent brings ; let the Bradford pear and maple be my witnesses in this wintertime of heaviness and cold.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
In Fall of 2012, I found myself in Australia, a place I had always wanted to experience.I was enchanted.Such beauty, wide open spaces, green/blue coves, crashing waves.There is much to tell of this trip but something small happened that many be a stretch for some .So stretch along with me.
On an off day, we went hiking and I hated most of it.Straight up, no switchbacks,no shade and with summer heat shimmering.No one cared that I was lagging behind.Younger family members sprinted up the winding trail like goats and I wondered why I had agreed to this trek.It was two miles up, and the view was lovely. On the way down, again I lagged, disgusted with everything, and everyone ahead. I told them to go on and sat down on a pile of timbers feeling quite alone and disgruntled. As soon as I sat, I noticed a small white butterfly.Around and over me it fluttered, never landing, just bobbing.It never left.This felt like a visit ,that's the only way to describe it.I settled in to enjoy the company of this flighty creature. It's movements seemed playful.I smiled and may even have spoken to the butterfly.Asking it to stay.Refreshed, I began the descent to the farm house again, this time carrying with me the small pleasure of those few moments.
The trip ended and we travelled home dragging jet lagged bodies with us.It was a few weeks later that the second part of the story begins.At Mass one Sunday, a young man and his wife sat behind us that I knew by sight to have been former members of our church.As I started to leave the pew, he tapped me on the shoulder and asked if he could talk to me.I smiled and he began to ask if I had a good relationship with my mother.Not knowing him, I was slightly alarmed.I didn't know where this was going and began backing away.He explained that since two near death experiences, he sees things and she, who he assumed was my mother, was all around me during mass. Really? Now, I was inching faster down the pew but he persisted and startled me by asking if I had had an encounter with a butterfly recently.I told him my tale.He said that this was my mother comforting me.I didn't cry then, I saved it for now.
There are more things under the sun than we can imagine.I took the picture above from the pile of timber that day because I knew dimly that something unforgettable had happened.
Monday, November 17, 2014
The book named above is on my desk ready to be wrapped for Christmas.It is for my two year old soccer playing, letters knowing granddaughter, Maddie.It's a Dr. Seuss, so colorful and inviting.I got the idea from a story I saw on-line.A Dad bought this book for his young daughter and then took it when she out-grew it, and had teachers, friends, and coaches write little messages to her in the book.He did this for many years and when she graduated from high school, that love letter book was her present.How very thoughtful.I am sure she was touched beyond measure.
This got me thinking of the people in my life and what they would have written if someone had done this for me.Strolling through the years, I see these little notes :
On the opening page, the first word is Congratulations and I think of the card my then 19 year old sent when I was promoted by BellSouth after 13 years.He wrote:" Wow.Good for you to be in management with such a big, important company." He acknowledged that I started my working career as a Green Stamp clerk and knew and appreciated that I kept very little of my paycheck.Thsi was so long ago, but it touches me still.
The second page says: "You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes" and I recall with smiles the young Atlanta man that we met while walking on the Camino.We were chatting about how hard the walk was.He had me laughing hilariously about our mutual deprivations and then I explained how we were taking it easy not to get hurt.He took my hand and said,"I admire your wisdom."I admit I glowed a bit ,well, quite a bit.
Another page mentions that:"It's opener there in the wide open air."I think of the friends we made in Denver, Huntington Beach,California and here in Georgia when we cut ties and headed West to make our own lives.What would they have written in my book?From them I learned of Natural Childbirth, the joy of bells, that I was a good Sunday School teacher.And that with faith, any place could be home.
I would like to have had a note from Mrs. Rooney, my older friend on Long Island, who listened and understood a lonely, skinny merink tossing about in her teen-age years.Or Uncle Les could have written that he thought I had sterling character.How that spare comment helped me live a better life.Maybe Sister Elizabeth Loretto could have written that I was mature enough to read a racy novel for a book report.She saved me without knowing it.
You have no idea how my imaginary book has made my gratitude index soar.
Friday, November 14, 2014
I don't know how I found Wendell Berry;one thing leads to another.Bumping into him, knowing his name but little else, then finding his poems has been providential.His words remind me how much I have missed my woods.Inertia, heat, busyness, exercise or other things have kept me from my dawdling time.The well of words has been dry and untended.
Mr. Berry is a devoted environmental activist; I am not.He farms in Kentucky and I cook vegan meals in Georgia but when the trees call, they call us both.My writing will never come close to his words but when he writes:"I go among the trees and sit still.All my stirrings become quiet...", he is singing my song.
Berry talks of Sabbath Walks and yesterday I took one, finally.Walking slowly back to my bench, I asked that my Creator walk with me.It seemed fitting to make that appointment.Crickets calling, leaves clicking as they were blown together and then silence.No creature moved until, under the Beech, a small raccoon eyed me.I have to smile at his face.The ones who live here are so used to me that they no longer scurry up the pines.He gazed a while and moved on.
Mr. Berry, I lift a kale smoothie to you and your words:
"Leave word and argument, be dark and still,
And come into the joy of healing shade.
Rest from your work.Be still and dark until
You grow as unopposing, unafraid
As the young trees, without thought or belief;
Until the shadow Sabbath light has made
Shudders, breaks open, shines in every leaf."