The First Day of Spring

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” 

Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

I’ve been able to get outside and into my gardens these past few days. Honestly, there is so much to do I don’t know where to start. The rains we had this past fall and winter blessed us with a bumper crop of wild flowers along with an even larger array of weeds.

My understanding of  the cliché, “Growing like a weed,” has advanced to an entirely different level.

As I walked our yard doing weed assessment, it was appropriate to find St. Francis surrounded by a huge patch of blue bonnets.

For me, the patron saint of ecologists, provides a perfect antidote for the very difficult winter many people endured this year. Now, on this first day of spring, the aftermath of all that snow is causing epic flooding all through the Midwest.

Our weather continues to rage at a magnitude we’ve never experienced. As with all the unrest in our world, we find ourselves caught off guard and completely unprepared.

There are many questions in my mind on this first day of spring. I don’t have any answers but I do know prayer helps.

May the Prayer of St. Francis bring peace to all battling hardships today.

 Lord, make me an instrument
of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred,
let me sow charity;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light; and Where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying to ourselves that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Hugs

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” 

Anne Lamott

What a beautiful time to be in Texas.

God was indeed generous when He created this state. Our heavy rainfall over the fall and winter months set the scene for some of the most amazing wildflowers.

Michael and I have been working very hard in our yard. I have to tell you, it is very hard for us to know what’s a weed and what’s a flower. I’m beginning to see that it really is a matter of taste. What I call a weed I discovered today Michael thought  was a great looking flower. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he probably wouldn’t be seeing many more of that particular type of flowers.

Another great thing about this time of year is it is the perfect temperature to have a fire in the evenings. Michael built a fire a couple of nights ago which gave us a chance to sit and watch for satellites while being hypnotized by the fire itself.

It was still light enough for a few pesky bugs when I noticed a small little butterfly skirt across the fire and land upon my lower chest. She rested there and extended her wings as if she were giving me a hug. Both of us saw her and commented on how we hoped she was okay and had not burned her wings in her flight over the open flame. She remained on my chest for a minute or two before she flew off and landed between the two of us. To us she looked like she was doing her own little self assessment. We watched her–and watched her–and watched a few minutes more. We were starting to wonder if she was okay when in one quick little bit of movement, she simply flew away.

I’m not positive  who came to give me that hug. The memory of it is so powerful I start to cry every time I see those little wings spread widely over my chest. Whoever it was, my gut tells me it was someone very very special.

A Prayer for Living Up to the Best in Our Souls

You have blessed me with many gifts, God, but I know it is my task to realize them. May I never underestimate my potential; may I never lose hope. May I find the strength to strive for better, the courage to be different, the energy to give all that I have to offer. Help me, God, to live up to all the goodness that resides within me. Fill me with the humility to learn from others and with the confidence to trust my own instincts. Thank You, God, for the power to grow. Amen.

Levy, Naomi. Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Winters

“Wisdom comes with winters” 

Oscar Wilde

Aging is an interesting thing. I’m beginning to see this getting older stuff provides me with challenges and opportunities which may or may not help me gain some wisdom along the way. Some of my lessons are definitely easier to accept than others.

One of the most fascinating things I’ve observed over the past few years is how I’ve become invisible. I’m not sure exactly when that happened. I began to notice it took much longer for people to notice me–whether I’m at the store waiting for someone to ring up my items or walking down the street–the steady stream of people around me seemed to simply glide right by me.  A less pleasant awareness occurred last week when my femininity took a reality check square on the nose. As I sat in a lecture I began to notice the person presenting the talk scanned the room very nicely and had great audience connection EXCEPT he never once made eye contact with me. I have to tell you this took some time to accept and I had to mentally brush off my pride. As I thought about the last few lectures I’d attended, I realized this was not the first time I’d been “looked over” both literally and figuratively. I was not at all impressed with this latest bit of aging insights.

I may be less visible but my new awareness has helped me see others who are in need. At the store this past weekend I noticed a little man with a cane trying to push his grocery cart, a woman with a walking cast struggling to open a heavy door, and a man in an electric cart struggling to make it around all the aisle displays. These proud souls are the true invisible ones.

It only took a minute of my time to help them. It’s something we can all do and it certainly made me feel better afterwards. After all, believe it or not, in the not so distant future, that may be one of us in need of a helping hand. What a nice way to continue to observe Lent–helping our fellow invisible people.

Oh, yes, I’ve reached those golden days

You hear so much about;

I don’t feel any older yet, 

But will one day, no doubt.

The sky is still a lovely blue, 

The rose is just as sweet. 

Each day is like another chance

To make my life complete.

Sure, there is hardship, sorrow, and pain,

Who thought there wouldn’t be? 

But now I know it’s just a test

To find the worth in me. 

~Betty Irean Loeb

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Wings

Oh, to catch the winds of flight

And soar where eagles go, 

To leave the woes of troubled souls

Behind me far below.

I’d listen tot he song of birds

And sail in endless flight,

Then chase the sun through cloudy paths

And play with stars at night.

The boundless heavens for my home,

The breeze to lift me high, 

To rise a one my mortal bonds

And never have to die.

Knowing I have found the way

To trails where angels trod,

And when my wings could fly no more—

I’d take the hand of GOD!

~C. David Hay

I had a very simple day.

I took my computer, my iPad, and my phone to the kitchen table and spent the day reading, writing, and watching birds swarm our bird feeders.

From my inside perch, I quietly observed as the neighborhood feral cats slyly prowled the fence line while different flocks of birds staged themselves in nearby bushes. Each little cluster of birds flitted from branch to branch as they awaited their turn to storm the stations. Close at hand was my quick, fold-out bird guide of Texas along with a pair of binoculars. I was prepared for a little work and a day of bird watching. I was not disappointed.

It was the best therapy.

Soul searching is hard work and I’ve roughed up some old wounds. This hearty dose of Mother Nature was just what I needed.

“Be kind to your body, gentle with your mind and patient with your heart. Stay true to your spirit, cherish your soul and never doubt yourself. You are still becoming, my love, and there is no one more deserving of the nurturing grace of your love.” 

Becca Lee

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

Ashes

“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Genesis 3:19” 

― The Holy Bible

I had trouble putting my story together yesterday so today it’s all coming together with the help of my friends, Judi and Glynis. They may be just as surprised as I was!

For the first time in many years, I went to a Catholic Ash Wednesday service. I, like many of my fellow Catholics, am very frustrated and unhappy with many of the things The Church has ignored. Every time I start to lean into the thought of going back, some new bit of dirt is uncovered. I mentioned this to Judi–a Catholic who regularly attends church services. After a few moments of thought, she shared her thoughts–

She, too, had and has issues with The Church. BUT, she told me, she attends church not for the church, but for herself. She goes for the feeling of peace it gives her.

Interesting…

I believe that God, Spirit, The Universe–whatever terminology you want use–is everywhere. A Church is simply a building–do I really need that?

Today Michael and I decided to check out St. Paul the Apostle, our local Catholic Church. The noon service was a short service for the distribution of ashes only. It was the perfect opportunity for us to visit. Situated at the top of a high hill in the hill country of Texas, the building and setting were spectacular. We sat in the back row, taking in the unobstructed view of Lake LBJ and surrounding waterfront.

As I sat and prayed, an overwhelming feeling of connection passed through me. From my hilltop seat I felt incredibly close to my departed family members. It was difficult for me to listen as the Priest read the passages and shared his Lenten messages. Is there more power in prayer when two or more are gathered in His name? Maybe Judi has a valid point–maybe I DO need to go back to church–for ME. Was this the feeling of peace she talked about–was this the “grace” I’d learned about as a child?

Glynis attends New Hope Baptist Church and shared her pastor’s Lenten message with me earlier today. I was impressed with the words her pastor chose in this teaching. The advice seemed so much healthier–mentally and physically–in ways to observe the Lenten season. Let me share some of the highlights:

  • …”What is Lent? Lent is the 40 day period in which many believers in Jesus reflect, repent and pray as a way of preparing their hearts for Easter.
  • …The choice to observe Lent is a personal one–the whole point is to focus your heart and mind on Jesus during the journey to Easter.
  • If you are planning to participate in Lent this year, we encourage you to begin your journey not with the question of ‘what should I give up for Jesus?’ but instead ‘what is Jesus’ invitation to me right now?’ How does He want to renovate my character, my marriage, my work, my life? If you can answer that question, Lent will take on a deeper meaning for you.”

Thanks to Judi and Glynis, my Lenten season has taken a much different course than it has at any other time in my life. May the following prayer serve to guide as well.

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.

Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.

Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.

Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.

Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.

Fast from anger; feast on patience.

Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.

Fast from worry; feast on trust.

Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.

Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.

Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.

Fast from hostility; feast on nonviolence.

Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.

Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.

Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal Truth.

Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.

Fast from facts that depress; feast on truths that uplift.

Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.

Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.

Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.

Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.

Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.

Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.

Gentle God, during this season of fasting and feasting, gift us with your presence, so we can be a gift to others in carrying out your work. Amen.

– Attributed to William Arthur

I am…

B…simply being.

~Peace~

The Gift

The gift of encouragement

Should be given each day—

Pass it out freely

And in gentle ways.

There’s no need for ribbons

To make it look grand—

Just the simple encouragement 

Of a kind, helping hand.

~Joan Stephen, Bedtime Prayers

As this busy season flies by, please take a moment to be kind.

It costs us nothing and it takes very little additional time.

And if you’re feeling up to it and ready for a more advanced challenge–think about this–

“Being kind to the unkind is a higher art of kindness” 

Vineet Raj Kapoor

I am…

B…simply being…

~Peace~

 

 

 

Let Sleep Come

Lord, unwrinkled my tired soul

unsnarl my garbled thoughts and words

unwind my gnarled nerves

and let me relax in Thee.  

~Marian Wright Edelman, Bedside Prayers

Lately, many people I talk with tell me they cannot sleep.

Thank heavens, I rarely have that problem.

When I was working, there’d be nights when my mind would not shift gears and slow down. I’d find myself re-hashing and replaying different scenarios from that day or the day before–some nights there’d be scenes from many years prior intertwining and mixing into the current featured attraction. When that started happening, I knew I was in for a very long night.

Luckily, I’ve made peace with most of that. I couldn’t help but wonder if I could find something to share that’d help those struggling now.

I’ve been reading my little book of bedside prayers. I enjoy this book a lot. It’s certainly a precious little find and quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Today I found two prayers I think my help ease some of the restless minds out there.

The first prayer introduced today’s story and the second follows.

Now is the time to light the vesper candles of the soul

for their flame shall illuminate this sacred place.

Now is the time to rest in the indigo blue arms of the earth

for the earth shall support and embrace you.

Now is the time to dry the tears of the day

for the Spirit shall comfort and console you.

Now is the time to offer thanks for the blessings of this day

for the Spirit shall receive and honor your graciousness.

Now is the time to hear the lullaby of wind over the land

for you shall be rocked in the soothing of  its rhythm.

Now is the time to close your eyes and let sleep come

for the Spirit shall keep tender vigil through the night.

~Susan J. Erickson, Bedside Prayers 

As someone shared with me earlier today–may angels rest upon your pillow.

I am…

B…simply being…

As someone shared with me earlier today–may angels rest on your pillow.

~Peace~

 

I am so fortunate to have an amazing photographer in my circle of Facebook friends. Thank you, Chuck Hackenmiller, for allowing me to use your wonderful photos as part of my blog.

You can see many of Mr. Hackenmiller beautiful photos on the Facebook page, I grew up in Iowa.

Please note, no re-use of this photo without permission from Chuck Hackenmiller, Boone, Iowa.