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compost dig 2

I know some women think diamonds are beautiful, and would swoon  over a big sparkling gift from their lover.  My lover gave me compost.  This is a GOOD thing!  Sinking my hands into rich cool black earth is my idea of bling and maybe I don’t swoon, exactly, but I do get very silly with excitement!  And when I think that this gorgeous soil was created from JUNK, my recycling genes just kick into triple euphoria.  Beloved JR layers on the yard clippings, chopped autumn leaves, ash from the woodstoves, manure from the neighbors, and then Roscoe goes to work.  Roscoe is our herd of 500 red worms imported a decade ago to chew up the junk and turn it into fine, rich black dirt.

Digging this beautiful soil into my vegetable beds this spring got me to thinking.  Into the bin goes all the waste.  The dead leaves.  The uprooted dandelions.  The rhubarb tops.  The dug up, out-of-bounds perennials.  The mowed grass.  The sh*t.  The ugly, useless, unwanted, unwelcome parts of the garden.  And, as it decays, it is transformed.  There in the dark, a miracle happens.

I’ve discovered that God, the Master Gardener, does the same thing.  In the compost bin of my soul.  He takes the rotten parts of me, and transforms them into something rich and useful.  The important factor, of course, is that I have to be willing to be pruned, and to have my ugly taproots dug out into the light, and to long to be renewed.  Then He kindly and patiently takes – my fear, for example, of everything, and shows me the pride hiding at the base of that fear – he takes the fear and pride into the depths of His mercy and grace, and transforms it into a powerful kind of trust that can become, in turn, a place for seeds of goodness to grow.  I can almost feel it, the Holy Spirit, like Roscoe, working down in the dark, replacing old lies with His marvelous Truth.  Isn’t this the very best recycling of all??!!?

spring boxes

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It was a colorful day, with blue and white sky and hillsides dappled red and gold.  The sun was bright and warm, the black dirt cool and damp.  There were potatoes and carrots still in the ground, the last of the vegetable garden, and it was a day in between the rains – a day to finally finish the garden for the year and put it to bed.  I love square foot gardening – I can plant exactly 9 seed potatoes in my 3-foot square, and harvest just enough to last us through a winter’s worth of fennel-roasted or garlic-mashed potatoes.  And if I’m lucky, I’ll have a few left by the first of June which are just starting to sprout long leggy things from their eyes (ooh, try to picture that!) and I can use those to start my new crop.

I use a small garden fork to get me started, but end up sifting through the dirt with my bare fingers, it feels so earthy, and love to pop out those spuds, gently brush off most of the clinging soil and place them in my bucket.  I remember planting that piece of budded eye last spring, ignored it all summer except to pick off an occasional potato beetle and now find it solidly fascinating to harvest the miracle of growth and know I can put a pile of produce in our little root cellar.

The carrots also fill an entire square, and I actually thinned them pretty well this year so they have grown nice and straight without too many tiny ones.   Kneeling or sitting next to the box, I can take hold of a green carrot top with one hand, rock it back and forth just a bit with my other hand as I shove my fingers down into that cool dark soil and pop up the carrot.  In one motion I swipe off most of the dirt while twisting off the green tops with the other hand.  The tops will go into the compost pile, and the carrot root goes into my cart.  One after another, grab, pop, swipe, twist, I am like a machine.  Pretty soon I am not even thinking about what I am doing, and realize I am working like in a frenzy.  There are a lot of carrots here, and I want to be done already.  The clouds are moving in.  My back hurts, and the tendonitis in my elbow is screaming.

Funny, but in one instant I am reminded of an old monk I once watched harvesting carrots.  I don’t remember exactly when, or why, but many, many years ago, it must have been in the early fall, I was visiting a Benedictine monastery, the beautiful Weston Priory in Vermont.  While strolling through the lovely grounds, I came upon the large, tidy, fenced-in vegetable garden.  There in the middle of the garden, kneeling in the straw, was an old monk in a rough brown robe.  I watched as he unearthed each carrot, one by one, and reverently laid it out in front of him, creating a straight row of orange and green against the soil.  He worked in a rocking motion, back and forth, and from where I stood, it looked like he bobbed in prayer over each carrot.   The whole scene was filled with an astonishing peace and completeness.

I actually stood and watched the monk for quite a while.  It seemed to me an inviting example of what Brother Lawrence calls “practicing the presence of God”.  I was captivated by his deliberateness, alone there in the garden, cultivating discipline.  I don’t think he ever noticed me.  The image was very vivid, and I did nothing more with it at the time than tuck it away.

Here then, years later in my own garden one late fall afternoon, I considered the discipline of harvesting carrots, and decided to give it a go.  Each carrot, a singular gift.  Each root, from a tiny seed placed in the soil months ago.  Each one, unique and unlike all the others.  I tried to slow down enough to consider each carrot as I pulled it from the earth.  I laid it down, tops and all, along the edge of the planting box, instead of tossing it right into the cart.  I noticed the gentle softness of the leafy greens. I noticed the heady aroma of fresh carrots, its own perfume. I noticed the sweetness of the rich soil.  I noticed beauty, simplicity.  One single carrot after another.  I noticed quietness, peace.  God was there.  I imagined Him enjoying each carrot, even as I did. Time slowed.  I slowed. I actually started to listen.  For a short while anyway.

Then I’d had enough.  After about four dozen carrots, which, at maybe 5 seconds each, is only 4 minutes, I was ready to be done.  I was ready to finish the carrots, rake the garden out, empty the compost, clean up and go inside and make myself a cup of tea.  The last section of carrots went grab, twist, plop, and the chore was finished.  But when I straightened up and brushed the dirt off my hands and black-kneed levis, and looked down and saw the pretty row of colorful carrots serenely lying there, I realized what I’d missed.  A powerful truth of spiritual discipline nearly bowled me over:  “That’s why it’s called Discipline!”  I couldn’t pull it off, not without concentration and disciplined effort anyway.  I managed only four minutes of patience, then I couldn’t do it any longer.  How much practice would it take to maintain that presence for an entire carrot crop??!  And what a harvest of peace and grace that could be, indeed.

After I’d given my nails a good scrub and as I sipped my steaming cup of blueberry tea, I pulled Richard Foster’s book down off the shelf.  It has been decades since I read Spiritual Disciplines.   But there was something I wanted to be reminded of, and I found it, underlined:  “Instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem…The classical disciplines of the spiritual life call us to move beyond surface living into the depths.”  And that’s where I do want to live, really, in the depths.  In the presence of God.  And a brief four minutes is no measure.  But something has stirred in me, and I sort of wonder if I may give it another go.  Maybe not with carrots, at least not this year, but maybe I’ll go about my morning reading a little bit differently.  Or, maybe I will need to join a monastery.

I’m gently encouraged as I remember that Jesus understood (Matthew 26:41) :

 Couldn’t you stay awake even one hour?  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. 

and sometimes carrots just turn out like this

The day after, Vermont residents watch in shock as water threatens the dam in Windsor

Every American who was alive at the time remembers where they were and what they were doing on November 22, 1963.  We remember, too,  exactly where we were on September 11, 2001.  And for Vermonters, we remember the day Irene came to town.

One year ago today, we were hauling in deck chairs and taking down dead trees in our little wood, preparing for the high winds that were predicted to be heading our way as Hurricane Irene barreled up the east coast.  The big winds never really amounted to much, but it rained.  and rained.
Vermont is  small state with a big body of water on either side: Lake Champlain to the west and the mighty Connecticut River to the east.  The lovely Green Mountains run down the middle of the state, and hundreds of beautiful streams flow down the mountains in all directions, draining away snowmelt and rainwater into the larger rivers and out to the ocean.  Vermont’s 250 towns lie along these streams, roads following the natural course of the green valleys.  When the rains of Irene hit, our already soaked landscape couldn’t absorb another drop, and the streams were overwhelmed with the torrential run-off that tore through every village and took away roads, forests, bridges, houses, farmland and the face of Vermont.  On August 28, one year ago, we were aware of the rain pelting outside, but had no idea of the magnitude of the destruction that was going on down the road.

Water Rising

Residents watch as their home washes away in Killington

Hillary Mullins, a writer from Bethel, VT, posted an article in an online local newsletter, Seven Days, describing her Irene experience.  I’ve shortened her essay for my post; you can read her full essay here.

WHEN IRENE CAME

When Irene first arrived — not as a hurricane but as a tropical storm — she didn’t seem so significant after all. The rain started Saturday night, and, yes, it came steady, but around here we’ve all seen rain like that before.  A thunderstorm hits, creating a flash flood in one area.

But even though we knew all this, even though we knew the land here is all ridges and river valley, brooks and streams pouring down from everywhere to merge, uniting in the river that runs through our village, we didn’t know the power of what was running at the level of our feet. We didn’t know what could happen if all those little waters — not just some here or there — began to rise….

A cubic foot of water weighs a little over 60 pounds, and 60 pounds on 60 pounds countless times meant the beast was unleashed and the waters were going where they wanted. Two miles up Gilead, the brook was the size of a river by noon, and what once was road became river, and what once was meadow became gully, 30 feet wide, all churning water and torn-up trees.

Finally, around midafternoon, I heard the news that Gilead was flooded and that, over on the other side of the River Street Bridge, they were flooded, too. But still I didn’t understand… I called my brother. He was working a long weekend shift at a milk plant up in St. Albans. His road home, he said, was supposed to flood later on that night.

“I’m on ’til nine,” he said, “but guess I’ll leave at eight, seven-thirty if I can.”

“Why not leave now?” I asked. “It’s only milk.”

Then I called to check on my two friends who live in a house this side of the River Street Bridge, the town side. When they didn’t pick up, I worried, but I didn’t panic. I decided I would do some cooking and try them again in a little while. I didn’t know that already, just a few miles down the road, a husband and wife had been running through their barn, desperately trying to unhitch their cows as the river came pouring in, trying to move the animals — many of which they’d raised from calves — to safety. Twenty-five were swept away by the water. Somebody downriver saw one go by.

I didn’t know, but all over town, all over whole swaths of Vermont, the same thing was happening: streams and brooks and rivers swelling to huge and terrible dimensions, churning like furies through the landscape and taking everything in their path: trees, roads, houses, trucks. Toys, tires, sofas, stoves.

Me, I was making ratatouille. Slice the eggplant, salt it, let it stand…I tried my friends over on River Street a second time. No answer. I sliced the squash, the onions, the garlic. Put in basil. And then, just as it was getting dark, the power went out.

I brought the emergency candles out, made sure I had matches on hand. I called my brother. “Just pulling into the driveway!” he said. “I’m home.” I went out.  This is when I began to know. But it was just a start. A few hundred yards down the sidewalk, I looked north through the trees, down onto … the kids’ playing fields, a large stretch of land. The ball and soccer fields weren’t there. Only lake was there. And I could not see where that lake ended…But, those fields were not a lake: They now were part of the river, and all the river was moving, and, though I didn’t know this because I couldn’t see it from where I stood, over on the main road north of my house, that river was running through the place we call the Dented Can Store and running through the plumber’s shop behind it, and running through the house of the woman who manages our post office; the river running a quarter of a mile beyond its usual banks through the fields and over the road and onto the other side, coursing through house after house, overtaking even the front row of the trailer park, shoving people’s trailers right off their moorings. And those people were lucky. Somebody else’s trailer washed away. Folks over on the other side of town saw it go under the River Street Bridge.

The next morning, the morning after the flood, was strangely lovely, a perfectly sunny and soft, end-of-summer day. All over our town, people were waking up and seeing what would have to be done. Roads and sidewalks and driveways were gone, entire fields layered under two feet of mud. This side of the River Street Bridge, their house thankfully spared, my friends were shoveling soggy bedding up out of the goat pen. On the other side of the River Street Bridge, neighbors were lining up to help the people whose places were wrecked, carrying out chairs and tables, armfuls of coats and books.

So far, the recovery bill is $733 million.  And we’re still rebounding, all over the state.  There are still many in temporary housing, farmers who have lost their livelihood, some roads still unpassable.  Repairs on both of our local covered bridges won’t be completed for another 12 months.  We have to drive a long way around to get into certain parts of town.  But one of the things that made the tragedy of Irene remarkable was the way that communities, in every part of the state, pulled together.

Our Covered Bridge

FLOOD BOUND:

There were many towns completely cut-off from the outside world; isolated islands, every road in or out was washed away, power and phone lines gone.  One such town tells its story, as Marion Adams, an Emmy nominated videographer and resident of the little town of Pittsfield,  reveals how the tragedy changed her home town and the people in it, in her documentary entitled Flood Bound.    Along with 36 residents of Pittsfield, she tells the story of rallying to overcome adversity, the building up of a community, of how isolation and ancient grudges were healed in the aftermath of the storm.  It is a very personal, compelling story — the result of a community pulling together, described as “the best kind of disaster you could have”.  As neighbor unselfconsciously helps neighbor, the final comment on the tragedy, in the words of one local resident,

If humanity could be like this, there would be nothing wrong with this world.”   Indeed.

 

((The documentary FLOOD BOUND was aired last weekend on Vermont Public Television,and is currently only available on DVD,   but THESE CLIPS are certainly worth watching!))

ONE YEAR LATER, and now another hurricane, Isaac, is bearing down on New Orleans, having already lashed Haiti, leaving devastation in its wake.  I struggle, maybe like many of us, with the images of the horror of so many tragedies on our planet.  And struggle, too, maybe like many other Vermonters, who might just be a little bit self-congratulatory about our own heroic response to our own flood trauma, and squirm when we must ask ourselves “Who, really, is my neighbor?”

 “What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied, “How do you read it?” 

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”    But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Tent City in Port-au-Prince after Isaac

Who is my Neighbor?

 

I just want to be clear – I have nothing against bugs for the most part.  In fact I generally find insects very fascinating and typically have my little bug lab going on my kitchen counter all summer long.  Beloved JR says he doesn’t mind, really.

I guess I come by this this interest naturally – my grandmother was an entomologist, even discovering a new species of colembolla, which was named after her.  She got married before she finished her doctoral thesis, though, which, in those days, in 1915, was the end of that.  I will probably write more of her another time – she was a spritely character.

So, bugs.  I watch them.  I watch them hatch, I watch them eat, I watch them poop, I watch them mate, I watch them lay eggs.  I also squish them, when necessary.  I carry my ‘bug bucket’ with me into the garden (maybe another post on this, too, one of my can’t-go-without garden tools) and don’t hesitate to handpick any manner of bug that is abusing my perennials.

EXCEPT Tomato Hornworms.     I HATE Tomato Hornworms.

These grotesque creatures are the most camouflaged creepy insect, and you never, NEVER see them before you almost touch them.  Enough to make you jump right out of your skin.

I’ve learned to look for the signs, like de-nuded branches and half-nibbled baby green tomatoes and the tell-tale little black droppings on the leaves below.  I’ve learned to search assiduously – before I begin picking the fruit, so as not to be surprised.  When I find the critters, hiding in plain sight along a little leafy branch, I can’t bear to touch the icky things – besides, they cling tenaciously to the branch and it becomes a tug-of-war.  So, I pull out my handy garden nippers, hold the bug bucket underneath, and just snip off enough of the branch so that the whole thing – worm, twig and all – drops Plunk! into the sudsy water.  Easy-peasy.

Unless, after harvesting at least half a dozen juvenile-sized hornworms, and double-searching to make certain you haven’t overlooked any, you begin to pick the ripened tomatoes – even popping a plump red cherry one in your mouth, warm & juicy & delicious like nothing but a fresh ripe tomato can be – when POP! There is the Mother-of-all-hornworms right at your nose!  *** S H R I E K ***

When I finally caught my breath, I was able to comprehend that there was no way this huge hornworm and the branch on which she(?) was hiding would even fit in my little bucket.  It would require a different sort of mega-method.  And I couldn’t even bring myself to imagine what that might be, I was still trying to keep my stomach from turning inside out.

That’s when I called over my personal handy Hero.  To my knowledge he has never worn a cape, but my beloved JR obliges me by dispatching troublesome little rodentia and slimey rotting watermelon with equal chivalry, and he was willing to help out this damsel in distress.

I was handing him my clippers to remove the whole branch, when he suddenly reached in and took hold of that revolting monster with his bare hand.  I. FREAKED. OUT.  By the time I quit flapping around and had stopped hyper-ventilating I was half-way across the yard and JR had already successfully wrestled the beast into oblivion.  I’m so thankful he wasn’t laughing, because non-violent, peace-loving me might have punched him one.  What he did was, he came over to where I was twitching and emitting rapid little squeaks, and wrapped his big arms around me and said, “I’m sorry.  Next time I’ll warn you to look away first.”

It took a few moments to calm down.  Quite a few.  This morning, warily cleaning out under the overgrown daylilies, I actually picked up a slimy slug with my fingers and deposited him into the trusty bug pot.  And I gently remembered yesterday, and JR, and I smiled; and I thought of how God looks on my irrational fears, and His arms are always there too.  But I haven’t been back to the tomato patch.  Maybe I don’t even need to put up any more sauce this year anyway.

“Do not be afraid of sudden fear…For the Lord will be your confidence.” (Prov.3:25)

Let me ask you a question… 

When you hear “photo-time, smile for the camera” do you panic and find you have a sudden urge to hide in the bathroom until the photo taking is finished?  Do you instinctively cover your face with your hand? Do you suffer through comments like “what are you so unhappy about?” when you’re only aware of feeling good?   Does the helpful suggestion “Smile!”  make you want to cry?  When you meet someone new and offer them your best smile, do you recognize the flash of awkwardness and discomfort that crosses their face in a micro-second before they recover enough to greet you?  When you’re un-self-consciously enjoying yourself, talking and laughing and smiling freely, do you notice others staring, looking away, or looking uncomfortable because of you?  If not, if you don’t relate to situations like these, maybe, without realizing it, you have “smile privilege”.  What I mean by this is, maybe you have the privilege of enjoying a normal smile without ever giving it a thought.

I know I did.  Until I lost the ability to simply smile with fullness and ease.   I never considered what an elemental gift it is to be able to communicate openly with a smile — a simple and effective non-verbal instantaneous communication that says “I like you.  I am interested in you.”   Psychologists know that smiles have a powerful and instinctual effect on us as humans.  The simple act of smiling is often contagious; people typically react favorably and are more comfortable around you when you are smiling. Who doesn’t take for granted the fact that smiling transmits happiness, friendliness, warmth, and liking.  So, if you smile frequently, you will be perceived as being more likable, friendly, warm and approachable.   bp half smileBut for those who can’t smile, the loss is very, very real. The immediate, non-verbal communication is broken, the person may subliminally be perceived as unfriendly, unlikeable and unapproachable.  Two-plus years with residual Bell’s Palsy and permanent facial nerve damage to one half of my face, leaving me without the ability to move the muscles that automatically produce facial expressions, has certainly opened my eyes to the unexamined ‘smile privilege’.

And led me to be thinking about all kinds of other privilege as well.  You know, the things we take for granted that make life easier, if we think about it.  Like, for example, ‘white privilege’.  Or, if you’re female, you bump into ‘male privilege’.  Put these together, and you get the Biggie:  White Male Privilege, or WMP.

Our denomination has been working carefully at a program called the Damascus Road Project: Dismantling Racism.  This process begins when the “light goes on” so to speak, and we’re “knocked off our horses” and are transformed.  Until we recognize, personally, that we  — racially white in the United States of America I mean — live with an unexamined prerogative to access, education, acceptance, inclusion, familiarity, etc, we can have no concept of racism and white privilege.   If you are white, since when did you go to a drugstore to buy bandages, and choose the package that says “flesh-colored”.  Really?  Whose flesh?

I always thought racism was contemptuous, prejudicial, biased thoughts and actions.  “I’m not racist,” I would have insisted, “Look at my African-American friends.  Remember, I’m the one who got rocks thrown at me over the hedge and teased ‘nigger-lover’ by other children in my neighborhood, for playing with the kids of a family from Nigeria.  I’m not the one who’s racist.”  Only lately have I come to understand that racism is much more subtle than being overtly prejudiced.  It begins with ignorance of the privilege that comes with being white.  It begins with taking something as simple as bandages for granted.  And the process of dismantling it begins with recognizing, in the first place, that privilege exists.  The same goes for sexism, I might gently add.  Or Good Healthism.

Which brings me back to smiles.  If you’re a “smilist”, I hope that the next time you smile today, you will enjoy the privilege, bask in the ease and access it provides you, and delight in its rewards.  And then smile again, for me, and for all those who live with Facial Nerve Palsy.

When 1 + 1 equals 2.
Brain confusion: Which side of the face do you automatically respond to??

A NEW FRONTIER !

Well, the crows pulled up half my corn, in spite of the black cloth effigy of a dead crow fluttering there.  So grows my garden.

Then, for the past week or more Vermont has been beset by substantial rain storms and besieged by high temps and humidity – so my time in the garden contending with weeds and bugs and rodents is set aside for now…

But, hunkered down indoors, feet propped on cushions and laptop on my – lap! — I’m cool and dry (and clean) and I’ve been discovering another kind of gardening.  A new field, untilled soil, unknown crops; and the best part of gardening – the surprise of miracles (now how did THAT happen?) and satisfaction of hoped-for-but-unexpected results (wow! look what I did!).  And did I mention that my fingernails stay clean?

I’ve been discovering how to create a website.  Like jumping off into outer space, zero gravity, unknown worlds… To me, it feels like I’m going where no one has gone before.  This site has been in the some-day-maybe stage for a couple of years, but the time now seems to be RIGHT.  Plus, no one else in the family was doing it.  This site is a family history, genealogy, story, connection site for (we hope!) several generations.  Descendants from one Eben Whitney Chaffee of Ellsworth, CT; creating a successful land company in the Dakotas when the prairies were first being opened; his son (my great-grandfather) taking over the company and becoming the “managing genius of the Bonanzas” (quoted from the ‘definitive’ book of the era); and tragically, sinking with the Titanic, leaving his widow to carry on the great business; and, finally, generations scattered from North Dakota all across the continent.  It’s a big job, this website, and I’m learning a lot!  I even (#excitedlypattingmyselfontheback) wrote a little bit of my own html the other day.  WOW!!  That’s HUGE for me  ((:

Now, those of you that live and breathe this techy stuff can have your chuckle.  Here’s a middle-aged lady who barely passed algebra II, and gets freaked out about how a telephone works.  So, in spite of the strange and alien cosmos I’ve entered, I’m boldly surging ahead, and trembling ever so slightly each time I click on the “update” button, like heading into a black hole, not sure if I’ll even know how to get back if it doesn’t work out.  Outer space, for sure.

For my dear Chaffee family reading this, of course you’ll get a special notice whenever the site is launched, which I hope won’t be too long.  Let me know if you want in on the ‘beta’ testing.

 

IMAGINE – This is God’s Garden!     Some of the photos in this video are absolutely breathtaking.

DELIRIUM

My life as a spring morning

I can’t help it.  I am delirious.  The yard is freshly mowed, the temperatures are perfect, the air clean and fresh, the sky blue with those small, puffy white clouds, and I get to have my hands in the dirt.  The warm, rich, black dirt that we made from leaves and yard clippings, with the help of Roscoe, our intrepid herd of red worms imported to the compost bin for the job.  Everywhere I look, it is beautiful.  Plus, there is a bird song that I don’t recognize breezing up from the woods, so I have my binoculars close by, along with my tool basket.  I just don’t see how it gets better than this.

This is the time of year I love my gardens best.  It is all potential — before the gold rose chafers overwhelm the iris beds and the japanese beetles devour the berry patch and the slugs make mush out of the daylilies.  Any unplucked weeds are imperceptibly tiny, and the tomato hornworms aren’t even eggs yet.  The fresh mulch still has its warm cedar smell, and new annual flower seedlings are beginning to poke up in the flower beds (thanks Jan :)).  The baby chickadees are peeping in the bird box at the fence along our little apple orchard, and the young swallows have already fledged and are chattering along behind mommy as they swoop and soar, snatching bugs from the air.  And I will pick a big bowl of spinach for supper tonight.  The vegetables, too, are all full of potential, neat and tidy and sprouting green rows in their new beds.  Oh how loud can I write  I  LOVE  THIS!

And I marvel, how is it that I get to spend the morning in my garden on a perfectly glorious Friday in June…

I imagine part of my delirium comes from deeply knowing it is such a gift. Part of the delirium is gratitude; worshipful receiving.  I have this joy today, but keenly remember that it wasn’t always so, and there may well come a day when it will not be again.  I carry the hardship of facial palsy every day, and the memories of affliction and sorrow not too many years ago, and the scars of childhood wounds in my soul.  But these are now all in the light, where Jesus touches, as peonies open in the sunshine.  I am conscious of those I know and love who bear much worse, and weep aloud with cries of  ‘O Lord, where is the gift for them?’  But in the moment, my moment, I receive this gift with open arms, lifted heavenward like the perfect iris blooming, turning a face to the Creator, and the tears aren’t of grief, but an Ode to Joy.

Surely Heaven has gardens.  Lots of them – dirt, bugs and all.  We know Eden did, so maybe it’s an important part of being human.  I know my heart sings and worships best in a garden, with the intimacy of miracles all around.

“On my word,

a single May

is too heady for my blood.”

Rainer Maria Rilke, The 9th Elegy

White iris – praise uplifting

Momma phoebe flying over the hillside garden

Veggies coming