In addition to rocks and trees and water, the Japanese garden was full of rhododendrons -- I am fascinated by the shapes, the color variety, and the way they catch the light.
More photos from Saturday's trip to the Calendar Garden -- seed pods, dried leaves, bare trees, and one surprise.
Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.
from Charlotte's Web, E.B. White
Back before our big snowstorm, the week between Christmas and New Year's, we had several warm days. On one such sunny day, we went down to check out winter in the Calendar Garden.
It was a rainy weekend for the annual Assembly retreat at Camp Friedenswald, but a group of us were able to explore the woods with Carol Good-Elliott Saturday morning, before the showers started.
We ambled along, stopping to examine the diversity of shapes on sassafras trees (oval, Michigan shaped, and two thumbed), the rich purple of squashed pokeweed berries, the golden eyes of a tiny spring peeper. Carol had us using all our senses, tasting anise-y sweet cicely, listening for woodpeckers and warblers, rubbing our fingers over the raised ridges of papery beech leaves,.and sniffing spicebush and sassafras leaves (which, according to the grade school children who visit Merrylea where Carol works, smell like Lucky Charms. We went with "lemony, " or to at least one person, "Lemon Pledge"). And even with a gray damp day, and lots of brown leaves around, there were plenty of colorful leaves to admire.
Breathe deeply. The air is crisp and cool. Except for bird calls and an occasional small plane overhead, the only sound is the breeze stirring the golden poplar leaves. The mosquito hum of summer is gone. Drying leaves crackle underfoot. Mushrooms thrive and the rose hips are cherry red. Overhead is a symphony of blue sky, white clouds, golden leaves, white tree trunks, dark evergreens. Alberta woods in late September....
Sparks of light of a different sort...
After I posted about the Soil and Soul Retreat I attended at Maple Tree Meadows a few weeks ago, several friends expressed interest in learning more about what Karla Kauffman has in mind for the farm.
So yesterday five of us spent the morning visiting with Karla, learning about this wounded farm and the healing place she hopes to create here. The Gleason family were early settlers in the area, and farmed this land for over 150 years. It's been through many configurations, including a state-of-the-art dairy operation decades ago, and years as a horse farm, known as Gleason Meadows.
Eventually it was sold, and over time became more and more wounded. Karla bought 12 and a half acres of it four years ago and has been slowly working on renovating the old farm house and developing plans for the rest of the land.
She dreams of hosting a small community of fellow healers, who would tend to the land, and provide a space where others could come for rest and renewal -- perhaps offering a sanctuary for rescue animals and a place where veterans and others suffering from post traumatic stress disorder could spend time working with soil and soul. But all this is down the road -- for now she would be happy to have a small group of people who could help her consider how to give the dream body and prioritize the tasks.
In the meantime she is hosting once a month retreat days with the Soil and Soul theme from May through October, inviting women who serve in healing roles of many kinds (pastors, teachers, nurses, spiritual directors) to spend four hours in study, soil-work, soul-work, and fellowship.
And we shared many sparks of light -- the laughter and sharing of dreams, the birds singing in the maple trees, and fellowship on a beautiful summer morning.
Trees grab our attention, but there were also many intriguing tiny scenes on the floor of the forest around our campsite in Colorado -- flowers, rocks, mosses, ferns, decaying logs serving as hosts to a myriad of small plants and animals. Here are a few.
Looking back through my photos of Colorado trees, I can't help but think of Mary Oliver's poem, When I Am Among the Trees:
When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine."
With the drought here, and yet another day of 100 degree temperatures, it seems a prime time to post some pictures of the mountain stream near our campsites at Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp.
And for a more complete experience, here's a short video clip of the rushing waters.
"Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"
I've taken on a prayer practice of looking for the moments of light in each day, whether actual or metaphorical, and then writing or posting photos of what I find.