Breathe. Even when it hurts. Just breathe. 

  
There is laundry to do. Dishes. Vacuuming. Dusting. Reading and studying. A book review (which really must get bumped up on my priority list!) The list is actually quite long, and just a wee bit annoying.

Being productive by striking things off my to do list was not what I needed to do this morning. Instead, I put on my gardening shoes, walked out into my muddy yard, and enjoyed some moments of beauty. The birds were singing their heads off. The violets were peeking out beside newly sprouted grass. And my grandmother’s peony bush shows the first signs of blossoms!

A week ago this area had snow showers. Today I don’t need a jacket, and I’m swatting at gnats.

The headlong, crazy rush of one week into the next is almost overwhelming. And while I have plenty more yardwork left to do, the most productive thing I did all morning was to sit on this bench, breathe, (and sneeze!) and hear the sound of God’s love deep in my heart.

Find a moment, grab a moment if necessary, and just breathe. Be. Beloved. 

  

Today, I Choose Beauty

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Today, I choose Beauty.

I know there are wars and conflicts,
Disease and death,
Selfishness and greed,
Abusers and liars.

I choose Beauty.

I choose Beauty because of the sights around me that take my breath away.

I choose Beauty because I have seen Love acted out in a million different ways.

I choose Beauty because I have a roof over my head, food on my table, and a car that works.

I choose Beauty because I have the ability to act in ways that show Beauty to others.

I choose Beauty because the One who created it paints the trees and fall flowers with a wild paintbrush of color, a riot of joy.

I choose Beauty.

Fragile Beauty

Our world was iced over this morning. The patio and steps (made of slate) were slippery and very difficult to walk on safely. But as the temperature rose, the ice layers melted. I stepped out to take some pictures and reflect.

So much of what we think of as “beauty” is such a fleeting thing: the roses in my garden, the leaves in their brilliant glory in autumn, the fluffy, giant snowflakes of an East coast winter storm… they all quickly end.

So I celebrate the glories of even an ice storm, of rain transformed by air temperatures above and below, and the whims of weather.

Enjoy…

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Our patio this morning was glazed with ice!
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Branches on the maple tree
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Looking back towards the labyrinth.
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Just as it was starting to melt…
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Beautiful!
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Everything is coated with a frosting of ice.
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The holly tree
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Pieces of ice falling from the branches. It was like a hailstorm of ice tubes!
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The ground is covered with melting ice falling off the branches.
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The ground is littered with branches from the white pines, too. And more ice.

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.”