How silently, how silently…

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My day at Dayspring Retreat Center was, again, full of beauty, stillness and peace. I forget  how much I enjoy the time in silence. The Divine speaks so loudly through Creation! The photos above capture some of the moments of our conversation…

In the chatter of the tree limbs banging one against another,
You are there.

In the whisper of the wild grasses, bending and dancing in the wind,
You are there.

In the utter silence on the path between the pines,
You are there.

In the muddled outlines of trees reflected on the pond,
You are there.

In the blooms of lichens and mushrooms,
You are there.

In all the twists and turns of the vines, and of my going out and coming in,
You are there.

My day in silence reminds me
That I know that I know that I know that I KNOW
You are there.

Blessed peace
Blessed quiet
Blessed silence

You are there.

 

Rain. Reign.

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I had other plans for this weekend. Spreading mulch and doing weeding, some errands to the garden center… which the downpours have postponed. And I’ll confess it made me a little cranky.

Then I broke a favorite glass…

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And  I have to pay bills… do laundry and dishes… All which were  beginning to put me in a foul mood. Instead, I focused on the loveliness around me…

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The first Peace rose of the summer…

Deb-irises

Irises from our garden…

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The wisteria having a party on the pergola…

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Grandma’s peonies about to pop…

And while I’m still a little cranky about the weather… there’s a lot of beauty to appreciate. And the discipline of gratefulness to practice… even when the weather (or people like me!) are just a wee bit ugly!

Henri Nouwen wrote in Return of the Prodigal Son:

“Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to be grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly. I can choose to listen to the voices that forgive and to look at the faces that smile, even while I still hear words of revenge and see grimaces of hatred.”

I choose to be grateful and keep trying to show love. Even when I don’t feel like it. Especially when I don’t feel like it.

Beauty at the Beach

Beauty at the Beach

It’s a place that speaks through its silence and its beauty,
in the riot of colors and variety of vegetation
in the changes of humidity and the intensity of the heat
in the opportunity for rest and silence…
For these and many other reasons,
I enjoy our trips to the ocean.
In a place that is “home” and yet not.

God is louder
the world fades
and relationships that matter are closely in focus.

I go home a little sunburnt
a little travel weary
and deeply blessed.

May these photos take you to a safe and lovely place
in your mind
and in the presence of One
Who knows and loves us all.

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These photos were taken at Harbor Island, SC and Hunting Island, SC in 2014 and 2015. 

After The Storm

rain

It stormed last night
The wind and rain woke me
(or perhaps it was the cats,
running for cover in a panic!)
This morning I found
the air was fresh,
the heat abated,
and the dewy aftermath of the storm
beaded every surface.

How true it is
that storms in life come,
overwhelm and panic,
and soon after
there is quiet and peace,
and reminders of what we saw.

For the debris from the storm
is still there,
awaiting composting
or perhaps some heavy lifting,
but the raindrops
offer a blessing
and a benediction
that yesterday’s storm is done.
We can walk through today’s
knowing that Peace, Shalom, will be ours.

God is gracious.

In full bloom: a season of growth and change

Every year, it happens. Every year, usually the end of March, it seems impossible. Spring shows up in all of its hyperactive glory! What a wondrous thing!!

A hydrangea bush, which 2 weeks ago was timidly peeping through the mulch, today has burst through the supportive wire frame and is working at setting buds and sprouting new branches. Though it’s chilly today, the pollen count and fresh growth in my garden tells me that spring is definitely here.

There’s lots of change ahead for our family. The Johnnie is about to graduate. Reedy Girl will soon head to college and become our second Johnnie. I am taking two courses between now and the end of July, one on-line and one at a conference, and continuing my per diem chaplain work. (And, Lord willing, a job interview…) Bearded Brewer has new assignments and challenges at work. We will have a summer of change, moving, packing, shopping, new jobs… and it will require a lot of flexibility and patience with one another. (I tell myself this because the carefully orchestrated life of the public schools will be gone, and in its place, four busy adults, 2 young and 2 not-so-young, will take its place.)

Change is wonderful. Change is exciting. Change can also be… terrifying, inconvenient and unfamiliar.

If I take each day in this season and enjoy its newness and delight, there is much to be excited about. Consider this photo of our crabapple tree in the front yard, bursting with loveliness:

Crabapple tree at its peak.
Crabapple tree at its peak.

Just a few short weeks ago, it looked like this:

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Even as the petals fell off, I enjoyed the final kiss of blossoms on our sidewalk:

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In all three, there is a burst of beauty that lasts only for a moment. And in our lives, there is much of the same.

Recently, when I held the hand of a patient, she asked me to pray that she would “love life as long as I’m living it, and show my love to my family every moment.” She, who has multiple health challenges, some of them life-threatening or at least “life-limiting,” had a joyous perspective and understanding of the fleeting beauty of life around us.

I too often take it for granted. So this afternoon, as I watched the rabbits trim down the dandelions, and the squirrels chase each other around the oak tree trunk, as I listened to the cardinals and wrens singing and watched the hesitation of the hummingbird as she came to the nectar feeder, I wrote this prayer of thank you’s…

For trees with new leaves
And hummingbirds whispering by
For crabapple blossoms carpeting my sidewalk
And maple blossoms twirling in the air.
For bird song and blossom,
Tree, root, leaf and flower
In every moment,
In every hour,
May I not forget to say
Again and again,
“Thank you, Lord.”

From The Blotter

I had to throw away a desk blotter – the kind that you can slide pictures or little quotes underneath.

(I know it doesn’t make much sense to have this kind of desk blotter, particularly since mine is always COVERED with papers. But I like them.)

Anyway, there were some quotes that I had carefully saved and I didn’t want to lose them. So there will be a series of posts “From The Blotter” so that I can put them on my virtual desk, together with some of my favorite photographs. Enjoy!

from New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton

Give me the strength
that waits upon You in silence and peace.
Give me humility
in which alone is rest,
and deliver me from pride
which is the heaviest of burdens.
And possess my whole heart and soul
with the simplicity of love.

Occupy my whole life
with the one thought
and the one desire of love, that I may love
not for the sake of merit,
not for the sake of perfection,
not for the sake of virtue,
not for the sake of sanctity,
but for You alone.
Amen.

On the path towards Copeland Falls, Colorado