f Morning Rose Prayer Gardens: 05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Spring 2012 Morning Birds

Chorus of Birds

            It’s about 3:45 in the morning and I’m wide awake. I surrender to the temporary insomnia and head downstairs, shadowed by kitties and an old groggy dog.  The house is quiet as I turn on the small light over the sink and pull the canister of Starbucks coffee from the back of the counter. After starting the coffee to brew, I walk to the back door and switch on the yard light, being sure to scan the outdoors for wildlife before I let the dog head out for the lawn.
            With an oversized cup of freshly brewed Italian Roast, I head back up the stairs to the prayer room. Opening the windows a bit further I hear the peeper frogs’ soft chirping from a distant pond. Setting the cup on the end table, I settle back in the recliner with the graying little dog curling up between my feet and a long haired silver cat on my lap. Neither of them is any too happy about my early morning wanderings.
            Picking up my rosary I begin my usual morning prayer routine. There is an unclouded comfort in starting each day drinking a cup of coffee with Jesus and his Mother. I’m not one to wake up easily or quickly and this hour with them eases me into the day…one of the special privileges of living a single life.
Cardinals Consorting
Charlie Harper
            As the night progresses into morning, before there is even a glimmer of light, I hear a single cardinal let out a tentative whistle; it is 4:18 a.m. A few minutes pass and he whistles again two notes. A similar response from one of the neighbors’ trees is heard, and they repeat as their little voices gain confidence.
            Like tiny roosters they seem to be waking the other birds to the coming dawn. Gradually I hear the toning of the robins, clear trilling of wrens, beeping of nuthatches, the distinct chirp of chickadees, and finally pitching in are the jays, grackles, red-winged black birds and woodpeckers. It is a slow and steady rise like the sunlight, reaching a vibrant morning crescendo. I delight in their chorus forming a singular proclamation.
            I am so caught up in their rising song that I have forgotten that I am in the middle of a rosary. And yet my song is rising with their voices. My song of prayer, my waking to The Light blends with their welcoming the dawn.
            I wonder if God hears our prayers as I do the songs of these morning birds. At first a small single tentative voice, waking to new light, and as more prayers form, gaining confidence, clarity, diversity and strength. We voice a lively warbling from the melody in our souls. I wonder if God too delights in our boisterous crescendo of songs.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Spring 2012 Hidden

Bugs Under a Log

                   It was late in the day and I felt the sun warm my back through the dark green t-shirt. I decided to seek the cool of the shade and continue my weeding there.
                The difference of the texture in the soil under the trees was familiar. With all of the fallen leaves the soil was soft and friable with decaying organic material. The weeds pulled out easily without digging. Even the creeping quackgrass, with its directional line of prostrate roots, was easy to remove as it trailed underneath the cushiony leafy mulch.
                The area was so crowded with matured shade plants that to avoid damaging the leaves I had to stand and bend forward at the hips to move between them. Occasionally there was an open space near the base of a tree. Here I could go to my knees and rest my back while the clean-up continued.
                I crawled along absentmindedly until a sharp pain went through one knee. I had knelt on a piece of something hard and rounded. Sitting back I rubbed my knee slightly and looked at the spot that had assaulted it. Out of sight under the ferns and hosta leaves was a piece of broken limb. It had lain there for some time and was partially rotted with little worm holes running through it. I had knelt on a tough unyielding edge of the bark.
                Usually I leave woodland debris rest where it has fallen. After all, it’s all good stuff nourishing the soil. This fallen piece was large enough and close enough to the plants that it was forcing them to be twisted and deformed trying to grow around it. I decided to pick it up and break it apart into the compost heap.
                Lifting it to one side I saw a scurry of activity. A few brightly colored bugs darted in multiple directions looping back on themselves, blinded by the unexpected light. They had formed a lace like pattern in the soil under their familiar roof. Even the back of the cinnamon colored bark had a lovely silvery pattern reflective of their living trails.
                The discovery of the beautiful golden striped bugs hidden beneath a dark and decaying piece of bark made me smile. Their industrious munching while working in the dark had left delicately curved channels. Usually no one would see and appreciate their usefulness in breaking down pieces of broken limbs. But there they were, simply doing exactly what they had been created to do, lovely in their own peculiar way, as part of the Creator’s design to be useful, beneficial, and hidden.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring 2012 In Memorium, Marcy

Marcella Keefe-Slager
Went Home Yesterday.

          We met over 20 years ago at the hospital where Marcy was the chaplain. She was soft spoken and properly dressed for her station. I was fresh from the gardens in overalls wet below the knees.               
We would often meet this way. She in a skirt and hose with proper shoes and me with my pant legs dirty, wearing old boots imbedded with soil. We contrasted nicely.
Marcy was 15 years older than me and we had nothing more in common than God and gardens. Apparently that was enough. We delighted each other.
We encouraged and challenged each other spiritually. We also agreed to disagree on many Catholic topics. For quite some time I was part of a study group at her house with five other women. It was enlightening and liberating. I learned from her how to express my beliefs in a contrary environment with conviction and respect. Not a small gift for someone like me, a woman who preferred to remain silent.
Marcy was a spiritual director to many individuals. I was privileged to be a recipient of her talent, though unofficially. She made me laugh when she said that at times I was mentoring her. We occasionally traveled unfamiliar roads together where unexpected but deep discussions of faith would occur. Often we only shared a compass, guiding us as we journeyed in our own unique ways to the City and Heart of God.
Her light was bright, clear and attracting, illuminated nearly everything around her. It will be easy to find her when I enter my own eternity.
Love you Marcy…I will see you soon enough.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spring 2012 Branches

Broken Branches

                The clouds are moving in quickly, billowing and dark with rain. I can feel the temperature drop significantly as the previously light breeze turns to a gusting wind. The distant thunder is not so distant any longer. The squirrels have disappear and the birds fallen silent. All these are clear indication that the approaching storm is going to be intense.
                I gather up the few garden tools around me and head for the shed; the weeds on the lawn can wait until tomorrow. Latching the shed door I head for the house as the first big drops of rain start to fall. My little mini-pin, Lilly, is two-legged dancing near the kitchen door. She is quite concerned that I will not open it soon enough…she hates getting wet…and makes little distressed barks as I walk across the drive.
                Hurrying upstairs I begin closing windows and work my way back down to the main floor. When all the windows are shut, I head out to the screened front porch. Standing there I watch the sheets of rain snake to horizontal from the wind. The mist it forms as it drives through the screens dampens my forearms, making the skin draw up into goose-bumps.
                We have a lot of storms and an occasional tornado in southern-lower Michigan. Mainly the generic types of storms pass through here. The ones that move in steadily, hang around for the expected duration, and then continue their movement eastward. Good rains, nourishing rains.
                Then there are The Storms. Those that make my heart beat fast with anticipation and anxiety. The times when I stand near as I dare to the windows and monitor the skies for changes in color, listening for the rain to turn hard, and count the seconds between lighting flashes and the resulting thunder. All the while weighing in my head when it will be necessary to grab the pets and make the run to the basement.
                All storms end and after the big ones there is usually the fall-out and debris of broken branches littering the street and lawns. The weakest limbs, those that have declined from the lack of nourishment, have snapped off during the turbulent downpour. It is usually those branches that had grown farthest away from the trunk that have fallen away.
Energy was not drawn up from the root; the branch no longer has life within it. It is no longer able to withstand the storms. A pretty clear analogy of how I should live: Drawing life from His strong roots, developing a living faith so I won’t break apart in the turbulent storms that come.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Spring 2012 Mud Pies

 Mud Pies 

Mud pies are fun to make; they are moist and gravelly, squishing between the fingers and cooling warm hands and arms. Much to my mother’s dismay it was my favorite way to play by myself on hot summer days.
 I had a favorite mud hole between my father’s greenhouses and cold-frames. It was a hidden place where the water-line had a slow continuous leak and was partially shaded by multi-trunked weed trees growing within the chain-link fence. A small pile of discarded wood had been pushed in and around the scrubby trees. There was enough of these moss covered boards so that when I sat on them they came just below my knees. This allowed my toes to squish into the edge of the mud as I leaned between my legs to work the water deeper into the soil.
The mud would soon thicken into a slippery mass as I kneaded it. This particular puddle had just the right amount of clay to hold together the soft rotting sticks and leaves. I would squish and squeeze the cool muck, sometimes getting squirted as it oozed between my fingers. Then, when the consistency was just right, being smooth and firm, I would create more than just a pie.
I would make little fairy dishes of cups and saucers, and for the bowls pick moss from the boards and place it inside so they looked to be filled with a salad. Sometimes I would form little animals like dogs or mice. My favorite mud creature to make was turtles. I would draw patterns on their backs, adding tiny pebbles to accentuate the designs. Talking to myself, and to my little creations, whiled away many a childhood afternoon in a delightful self absorbed way.
I have always believed that God plays and often wondered about God playing in the mud. He too must have liked playing this way because he took the water and the clay and squished it around and formed a person. Now God being God could have just willed us into existence, according to Sister Mary Martin, but instead shaped us with a potter’s hand.
In my childhood mind, God played in the dirt just like me. I’m sure he too made silly things, some of which he brought to life. Funny little creatures like the star-nosed mole and sea-horse, and how did he ever imagine a puffer fish or a kangaroo!
God delighted in creating, in gardens and growing things, and in sharing what he made. He made us in his own image and instilled in us ways to be joyful, and that includes silliness too.