The trees in Pennsylvania seemed to be a bit behind our early spring, so as we traveled out to Pittsburgh last weekend, we saw hills covered with mostly bare trees, and scattered among the gray, a few trees ablaze with color -- red, yellow, light green. I tend to forget that trees other than dogwoods and redbud also flower.
While Beth and Jesse practiced with the choir before church last Sunday, John and I strolled through the park across the street, and I found trees at various stages of flowering and putting out new leaves.
Which got me to wondering, "Where does the phrase 'turning over a new leaf' come from? Does it have anything to do with springtime?"
Thanks to that font of wisdom, the internet, I discovered that the "leaf" is a page. You might turn over a new leaf in your ledger to start a new account, for example (back before you kept your records in a spreadsheet, of course). This gets expanded to mean "starting over" or "getting a fresh start" in a more general way.
Nature may be turning a new leaf, starting yet again into the year's cycle of growth and new life. I'm needing to turn a new leaf in that more metaphorical sense. With the shift in seasons and yardwork, and the shift from Lenten practices to Eastertide, I'm feeling like I haven't found my prayer rhythm yet for this time of year.
I'm not worrying about it too much, remembering a lovely story told about Father Thomas Keating, one of the teachers of centering prayer. He was teaching a group of nuns this way of praying, which involves silently centering yourself on God with the aid of a word that you return to any time you find your thoughts getting hooked into carrying you away from the prayer.
One sister came up to him afterwards and said, "Father Keating, I am so bad at this type of prayer. I kept thinking of other things and had to come back to my prayer word a thousand times."
Father Keating smiled and told her, "How delightful! A thousand opportunities to return to God!"
I'll find the right rhythm for this season too, the right mixture of silent prayer and gardening prayer and photo/blogging prayer for this time of year. All in good time.
"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.