Babes and Blossoms
Our spring may be a little later than usual this year, but it's following the same patterns. Our crabapple tree was covered with pink blossoms for about a week, while the delicate green miniature iris bloomed in the herb bed.
A robin built its nest in the yew beside the driveway, right at eye level, making it easy to keep an eye on the fledglings. A recent walk along the race gave glimpses of several families of mallards, with ducklings ready to turn on the turbo jets to keep up with mom. And the three or four mature rabbits who had been feasting in our yard at twilight seem to have vanished -- but at least two of their descendants have been enjoying the clover and the odd flower or two (but so far the fence has kept them out of the garden).
We returned from our travels to find green had arrived in Goshen while we were gone, reminding me of a short song learned from a college friend on a long trip years ago:
To ope' their trunks the trees are never seen.
How then do they put on their robes of green?
They leaf them out.
Green's not the only color in sight, as flowers begin to blossom. Along the path we've been walking near the dam, there's the light purple of wild geranium along with the new spring green leaves. And there are the maroon bells of paw paw trees, with the maroon echoed in the trillium flowers below.
I went directly from the regional Mennonite spiritual directors retreat to the airport, meeting John there for a flight to Alberta, Canada. His parents recently sold the house where they have lived for nearly 50 years, at 7103- 111th Street, Edmonton.
We were there, along with the rest of John's siblings and a few of the grandchildren, to help with a three day yard sale. Ike and Millie had done an amazing job preparing for it, putting prices on things and displaying them attractively -- we repeatedly heard people say, "This is the best organized garage sale I've ever seen."
After three long days and a good amount of sales, we were glad to have a day of rest at Jan and Brent's house, celebrating Mother's Day and various birthdays, singing from a familiar family songbook, and enjoying Alberta skies and early spring weather.
On Monday, we made the first step of moving things to the new condo. Years ago, Ike inherited a grandfather clock from his great-uncle and it made the trip to Alberta safely. Now it has made the move across town and was the first piece to get set up in the new space. This past weekend the rest of the household items followed. John and I will need to learn a new address, for those times when we send an actual letter, instead of an email. Transitions.
Tending the Fire
On May 5 to 7, Mennonite spiritual directors from the Great Lakes region gathered for a retreat at Lindenwood Retreat Center, near Plymouth, Indiana. Our theme was Tending the Fire -- and we had time to tend the fire that God has kindled in each of us through worship times, story sharing, experiential workshops on spiritual practices, conversations of many sorts, and sabbath time. The Emmaus road story, Luke 24:13 - 36, wove its way through our worship gatherings: Were not our hearts burning within us while he was taking to us on the road?
The room for most of our large gatherings looked out over the lake and the beginnings of spring -- flowering trees, tulips, baby geese. Our visuals required some creativity. We had chosen the theme of Tending the Fire before we knew that Lindenwood has a policy of no open flames, for insurance reasons. So we improvised with fiery colors, salt lamps, paintings, figures, and flowers, changing with each worship time.
The visual center below has a story of its own. Jane Halteman brought a number of things to be used for the visuals. At the last minute she threw in this red and blue cloth, one that she had purchased from the Congo Cloth Connection at Mennonite General Assembly last summer. She choose it for the colors, not aware that the pattern was of candle flames until she opened it at the retreat. It immediately struck us as just what was needed for our main gathering space, along with a contemporary icon of the Emmaus encounter and some light from a Ten Thousand Villages salt lamp.
If you count the candles on the cloth, you'll find 30 whole flames and 3 partial ones (allowing for a bit of imaginative stretch in the case of that right uppermost flame). There were 33 registrants at the retreat, with several who were not able to be there the whole time. A lovely synchronicity (even if the numbers don't quite match -- there should be four partial flames!).
Thich Nhat Hanh: Miracle of Mindfulness
I like to walk alone on country paths,
rice plants and wild grasses on both sides,
putting each foot down on the earth
in mindfulness, knowing
that I walk on the wondrous earth.
In such moments, existence is a miraculous
and mysterious reality.
People usually consider walking on water
or in thin air a miracle.
But I think the real miracle
is not to walk either on water or in thin air,
but to walk on earth.
Every day we are engaged in a miracle
which we don't even recognize:
a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves,
the black, curious eyes of a child--
our own two eyes.
All is a miracle
Grey and Green
More from Tuesday's stroll through the Shoup-Parsons Woods, with spring flowers flourishing. The may apples are spreading green umbrellas, jack-in-the-pulpits proclaim spring, a fallen "caterpillar" blossom curves gracefully on a piece of bark. I bent to take a photo of trillium ready to open, and was amazed by an eight inch lacy leaf skeleton wrapping the fallen log beside them. And a little further along the path, I discovered a whole congregation of jack-in-the-pulpits. They were a pale green in comparison with the first two I saw -- a different variety or different growing conditions or just further along in their growth?
By the way, the bronze-colored trees nearing blossom that I posted last week turn out to be buckeyes and native to Indiana. Thanks, Aaron Sawatsky-Kingsley for the identification!
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"