The Last Rose of Summer

lastrose

Tonight the overnight temperature is predicted to go well below 40 degrees. I decided that I wouldn’t risk my roses another day, but brought in the last blossoms on the bush. The rose is a “Peace Rose” and the flowers meld from peach to yellow to pink as the bud swells and opens. The rose also has a gentle fragrance, too.

But it’s November 1st, and the reality is that we are deep into Autumn, and the rose is done blooming for the year. It’s later than most years. I’ve loved looking at it out my kitchen window all summer.

I went out and clipped the last blossoms of the bush and brought them in… I inhaled the fragrance and admired the glossy leaves, the tiny thorns. It was one last gasp of beauty before we have the cold, chilly days and long evenings of winter.

Then I realized… how many times do we have a “last” moment — and don’t stop to appreciate it? What ends, and you suddenly realize that it’s gone from your normal routine? There’s many of these milestones in life…

– the last time you clean crayon off the walls

– the last time your hold the bicycle while they wobble down the street

– the last time you see a friend or relative

In hospice, we know that just about any time could be a “last time”… We try to affirm the life well-lived, and remember to appreciate each interaction. It’s part of mindfulness, being thankful, showing appreciation, and honoring others…

All these events can slip by unrecognized for how special they are. Today, for me, was a day to ‘stop and smell the roses.’

Ad majorem Dei gloriam

To the greater glory of God.

Autumn Alleluia

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Autumn Alleluia

This fleeting moment

when leaves turn, one by one,

from green to gold and orange,

I stop and take a breath.

Japanese maple

Life drifts by,

the moments blur

into days, into weeks, into years.

I stop and look up

and offer a silent Thanksgiving

for all of the good gifts

God brings.

DSC_0465

Even in death,

even in times of painful change,

even when there’s nothing I can do

to stop the blur of time,

I offer an Alleluia

a simple praise

such goodness

such beauty

such joy.

Amen.

Pink Crocs in the Labyrinth: God Mother Shoes

IMG_6694Family legend states that my mom had a pair of “Godmother Shoes.” They were so-named because one of her progeny reportedly objected to her wearing them by saying, “My GOD, Mother, you’re not going to wear THOSE shoes, are you?”

Mom is a good sport. The shoes were forever nicknamed, and she wore them when she wished.

My pink faux-Crocs (or “Frocs”) fall into this category. However, they are the perfect shoes to slip on when I want to go get the mail, do a quick chore in the yard, or empty the compost bucket. This bright pair of footwear gets the progeny eye-roll every time I wear them. This morning, however, they were just right for a quick stroll around the labyrinth before work. And in pajama pants to boot!

Fall in the labyrinth is lovely. The morning light is stunning. The birds are happily chirping, feeding at our many stations. The rabbits watch from the cover of the forsythia. And there is little background machinery or mosquitos to annoy me as I walk.

This morning I wandered, camera in hand, to capture the loveliness that I saw all around me. The photos helped capture the words in my morning reading of Psalm 86:

Teach me your way, Lord,
so that I can walk in your truth.
Make my heart focused
only on honoring your name.
I give thanks to you, my Lord, my God,
with all my heart,
and I will glorify your name forever,
because your faithful love toward me is awesome
and because you’ve rescued my life
from the lowest part of hell.
Psalm 86:11-13 CEB

Here’s a taste of the beauty I could see all around me.

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The Labyrinth: 10 bricks in (or “Honey, I bent the trowel!”)

I worked on setting in some of the pavers today. It was a less than productive start.

For one thing, the very first brick I was setting in, I encountered a rock the size of Gibraltar. (OK, I exaggerate!) But it was pretty big.

Stupid rock!
Stupid rock!

To get it out of the way, I dug and chipped away at the clay around it, and ended up bending all of my hand tools.

Oopsie.
Oopsie.

Yeah, that wasn’t so good. But it was clear I wasn’t using the right tool for the job. (You may all say a collective ‘WELL DUH!’ to me…)

So then I regrouped and went and got a larger shovel. It worked pretty well and I made progress until it really started pouring. Time to take a retreat and try again tomorrow. Plus, I needed to buy a new trowel. Nothing like having the RIGHT tool for the RIGHT job!

The good news is, I managed to get ten bricks set in the ground. Only 165+ to go! This labyrinth will be a lesson in persistence, if nothing else. (And hey – if you are so inclined, come on over! I’ll loan you a shovel and a pair of gloves…)

Solvitur Ambulando: It Is Solved By Walking

Our backyard labyrinth!
Our backyard labyrinth!

Today I hauled over 175 bricks from a place by the garden fence to the middle of the back yard. They were pavers that we saved from when we fixed the front walk. I had them stacked out of the way but still easy to access (when I finally DID want to use them). They were covered with vines, had ant nests in between them, as well as slugs (ew!) I tossed the slugs towards the bird feeders and the blue jays and wrens had a delicious snack. As I uncovered the ants, I left the nests exposed and waited for them to move their eggs and pupae cases to safe places. 

It took about three hours to unearth, clean and move those bricks. (Yes, I could have used the garden cart, but we had some attack wasps who effectively kept me from getting into the shed.) Fortunately, it was a lovely day, low humidity and a nice breeze.

Trip after trip, I carried a stack of 5 or 6 pavers, which is about all I can manage. I started in the center and using a stick from the yard as my gauge, began to spiral outwards, spacing them on the grass. (Reedy Girl had helped me paint lines in the grass about a month ago so I used those lines as a rough guide.)

windchimeOnce the layout was finished, we rehung one of the wind chimes in a tree near the labyrinth. Eventually there will be some kind of seat in the center. We’re using an old picnic bench for now.

It’s walkable but not complete. I have to set in every single brick so that when the lawn is mowed, it doesn’t knick a blade. That’s gonna take a while!

So why all this work so that I can walk in a circle? I find labyrinths to be a quieting, focusing activity. It requires slowing down as I place my foot gently in the grass, and gently shift my weight and place the next foot. The speed doesn’t matter. The journey is to a quiet place in my soul, a journey inward.

Aristotle said, “the soul thinks in images.” For me, visualizing the process of hearing, understanding and responding to God is a spiraling process. It isn’t immediate. It isn’t always clear. But it is often solvitur ambulando.