Evening sun after a day of rain encouraged a walk on campus, where we found a flock of cedar waxwings feasting on old fruit. And on the other side of campus, a festive display of redbud, some of it so eager for spring it came bursting out of the tree trunk.
Which brings to mind an old song, learned from a friend on a long car trip during college:
To ope' their trunks the trees are never seen
How then do they put on their robes of green?
They leaf them out.
The trillium and this bright yellow flower (wood poppy?) were easy to see, as were new leaves in the sunlight. Some of the wildflowers were shyer and harder to find. Another woods-goer told us with delight of finding jack-in-the-pulpit for the first time. I've found them other places, but we never spotted hers. We did see other small flowers -- and some colorful fungi.
This week we went on an expedition to Edna Spurgeon Land Trust, near Topeka. The drive out took us through flat farm fields till we found our way into a woods with rolling hills and full of spring flowers. Trillium -- red, white, and shades of pink -- mayapples, ramp, and numerous other wildflowers carpeted the ground.
On the third Sunday of Eastertide, the woods were in spring celebration mode -- green leaves dancing, trees festooned with fringes, white trout lilies opening in the sun's warmth, turtles basking, and a gladsome sunlit glade.
Last Sunday was beautiful and we were able to get out for a walk in the Larry Beachy Classified Forest on the other side of the millrace from us. The green haze is moving upwards and the wildflowers were opening up. I was hoping to get out again later in the week, but since then the week has been full of April showers and we have limited our outings to quick rounds on campus.
First week of Eastertide -- Several inches of snow piled up, bringing memories of this song:
Ring out, bells of Norwich, and let the winter come and go,
All shall be well again, I know.
Love, like the yellow daffodil, is coming through the snow,
Love, like the yellow daffodil, is Lord of all I know.
The song refers to Julian of Norwich, a 14th century mystic and anchoress who lived through three waves of the black plague, a collapsing economy, and the ongoing war between England and France. Yet she was sustained by a deep certainty that God held all that is like a small hazelnut in the palm of her hand, that God created it, loves it and preserves it. Certainty and trust, alongside questions and doubts.
She wrote "And so our good Lord answered to all the questions and doubts I could raise, saying most comfortingly: I may make all things well, I can make all things well, I shall make all things well and I will make all things well; and you will see yourself that every kind of thing will be well."
Not "nothing bad will ever happen" but "All will be well, and all manner of thing shall be well." Not a blithe "Don't worry, everything will be fine," but a hard-won, deeply felt trust that deep down, "All will be well." Love, like the yellow daffodil and the yellow forsythia, survives the snow. Good news for these difficult days.
And here in Goshen, snow gave way to spring wildflowers, velvety moss, rugged bark and new green leaves.
Added note: My sister-in-law tells me they heard this sung on Easter Sunday by a family from Hyattsville Mennonite, singing to the neighborhood from their porch. They closed with Bells of Norwich, but changed the last line from "Let the winter come and go" to "Let this virus finally go."
And if you'd like to hear a version arranged and performed by Sarah Turner and David Glick, here's a link
Easter sunrise -- for the past seven years or so, Open Table Mennonite has celebrated an Easter sunrise service at Rieth Interpretive Center, gathering in silence before dawn, watching the sun rise, hearing John 21:4 -14, singing a song or two, and then enjoying a feast of smelt cooked over a charcoal fire, with bread, and hot drinks.
Because of the "shelter-at-home" orders in response to covid-19, this year we were invited to do our sunrise service individually, take photos, and share them online in a Zoom gathering later that morning. So John and I went out to our son's property in the morning twilight, and the four of us, appropriately six feet apart, listened silently to the morning bird chorus and waited for sunrise.
Hidden by clouds at dawn, the sun itself wasn't visible till an hour or so later. We read the ending of Mark's gospel, and the John story, and watched the light increasing imperceptibly, and listened to sandhill cranes calling in the distance. Later we drove around, leaving jam jars of daffodils on the doorsteps of Open Table participants, before joining them for our online fellowship time and exchange of photos.
For all the Easter hymns and festive celebrations we usually have, this Easter may have been more like that first Easter. Disciples locking themselves in an upper room, in fear and uncertainty, women going out to mourn the dead. Rumors of unexpected new life, of Jesus raised from the dead, going ahead into Galilee, coming to them as they sat at the table or walked down the road or fished off the shore. He was raised, but not with loud trumpet blasts and hosts of angels. In resurrection, he is still coming in unexpected ways. And we are reminded "The kingdom of heaven is in your midst. Stay awake. Watch for it."
We've been enjoying the purple blossoms of the Grandpa Ott morning glory vines on our trellis all summer. I had also put in a couple Heavenly Blue plants and the vines did okay but there were no blooms until the middle of September. Since then we've had several sky-blue blossoms every day -- and a day or two after the Heavenly Blues, the moonflower vine started producing large white blossoms as well.
At the end of this post there is a slide show -- a medley of three weeks of morning glories in sunshine, fog and rain. (If you receive this by email and are not able to see the slide show on your device, try going to the actual blog.)
By mid-September, most of the prairie plantings on campus have gone to seed. But there is one strip, mowed earlier in the summer to keep it short for the train, that is still full of coneflowers and other plants in full bloom. It's a great cafeteria for the butterflies. Monarchs, of course, but also many other combinations of brown, gold, amber, and orange.
An afternoon on the Michigan City beach this past week, shared with sailboats, sandpipers, and seagulls. And lunch at a nearby park, where the monarchs were feasting on sedum and resting in a nearby maple tree. How many do you spot?
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"
Tesserae: small cube-shaped tiles of ceramic, glass or precious stone used to make a mosaic, or in this case, brief essays on some element of lectio divina with Luke 10:38-42.