Our neighbor's tree is in bloom and fits well with these lines I read Sunday in a psalm by Thomas Merton:
Today, Father, this blue sky lauds you.
The delicate green and orange flowers of the tulip poplar
tree praise you.
The distant blue hills praise you, together with the sweet-smelling air that is full of brilliant light.
p. 47, in Book of Hours
Unfortunately the blue hills are indeed distant, as are some of the other praising images Merton offers.
And in the past few weeks, I've heard from three friends that their parents recently learned they have cancer. Another friend is in the throes of chemotherapy and side effects, after surgery for breast cancer. Pastor Heidi is in the midst of her own struggles with the side effects of treatments. And the young teenage son of a cousin was hospitalized after ingesting muratic acid, a side effect to a school bullying situation.
And yet the sun shines, and the spring flowers keep opening, and the bees buzz their praise. And the toddler grandson of another friend has had a successful heart transplant, the cousin's son is responding well to medication, and those with cancer are receiving the best help that the medical world can give them.
Life is always such a mix of joy and sorrow.
So, with awareness of that mix of sorrow and joy, I'll join in with Merton's later lines in the psalm:
I too, Father, praise you, with all these my brothers [and sisters],
and they give voice to my heart and my own silence.
We are all one silence, and a diversity of voices.
You have made us together,
you have made us one and many,
you have placed me here in the midst as witness,
as awareness, and as joy.
Here I am. p 47, Book of Hours
My approach to contemplative photography --
Tell about it."
Mary Oliver in "Sometimes"