What was. . .and will be

All that’s bright must fade, The brightest still the fleetest; All that’s sweet was made But to be lost when sweetest.
Thomas Moore

“God can make a new beginning with people whenever God pleases, but not people with God. Therefore, people cannot make a new beginning at all; they can only pray for one. Where people are on their own and live by their own devices, there is only the old, the past.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

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(frozen and wilted gerber daisies / Julie Cook / 2014)

Brilliant and masterful, the truth once stood
Where luminescent colors mixed and mingled, flowing gently down upon the dirt.
The choice was presented, more times than once, but only the innocent could hear the offer.
“Prepare ye the way,” as the cold swept in, this time from the Northwest sky.
Heeding the warning, we gathered all we had.
The time to seek shelter had arrived.
The advancing forces prepared to route all the followers.
Heads now bowed, no strength remained, “it is done” whispered the wind.

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(frozen and wilted gerber daisies / Julie Cook / 2014)

Fading joy now sorrowfully droops, turning brown and crisp to the touch as the fluids of life simply drain away.
Limp and dying, yet held sweetly in strong arms, the silent foe claims victory at last.
Dormant and silent life now yields its glory.
No sounds nor growing objects dance to fill the silent void which stretches beyond empty ears and eyes.
Barren and desolate prop up against a monochromatic canvas now painfully empty as the sinister thief makes off with all we had.

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(frozen, wilted and brown a once white hydrangea / Julie Cook / 2014)

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(sickening gray and yellowing once vibrant blue hydrangea droop in the cold / Julie Cook /2014)

3 hours gives way to 3 days which gives way to 3 months, as a flat muffled world now waits in devoid silence.
Yet hidden, under the cloak of darkness and buried beep within, a mystery unfolds.
Trembling and twisting, that which was thought to be lost, begins to take form as the Master Creator secretly breaths hope in a world filled with hopelessness.
Hesitant color gingerly and slowly returns to the ashen gray cheeks of death.
Life reaches desperately upward, bursting through its burial chamber, as the gaping crevasse is thankfully bridged.
The resilience of a cyclical world, marked by the miraculous seasons of life, death and life again, offer to all who so choose to believe in the everlasting redemption of Hope.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
(John 10:10)

Lessons from a garden

The Lord’s mercy often rides to the door of our heart upon the black horse of affliction.”
― Charles H. Spurgeon

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(the remnants of a strong gusty wind and thunderstorm–blown over corn stalks / Julie Cook / 2014)

Calamity!
Or so it appeared.
Just when I thought I had successfully, yet wearily, finished one apparent battle, vanquishing the hidden foes; I am suddenly blindsided by a more ominous battle unleashed by Mother Nature.
No rest for the weary. . .

Saturday afternoon a rather nasty little thunderstorm blew up. Strong gusty winds swept in from the Northwest as the sky overhead darkened to an ominous heavy grey.
We received about a 30 minute gushing rain, which I was happy to receive, as the yard and garden were all in need of some ample watering. It wasn’t until Sunday morning, when I actually realized how the strong winds of Saturday had ushered in a near catastrophe on Sunday.

My corn stalks had proved to be no match for the wind.
When they were just young tender shoots, I had spent a full day hand packing dirt up around their bases. . . all for this very reason–all in preparation for the tempests of summer.
Yet my best laid plans were simply no match for Mother Nature.

I spent the better part of the day, this hot Sunday, trying to salvage the stalks– propping them back up and repacking bases. Hoping for the best–that my bent and blown stalks will straighten back up and will not have suffered too terribly.

Moments such as these, as I spend hours in 90 degree heat, bent over, scrapping up fresh soil to pack around the bases of a multitude of corn stalks, gives me great pause.
A humbling pause.

I am reminded of the fragility of life and strangely of my simple place in this massive universe we call home.

I am reminded of those individuals, living in the heartland of this Nation, who are currently recovering from the deadly destructive and ferocious winds of tornados from this past week. Imagine those midwestern corn fields if a mere afternoon thunderstorm could lay waste to my own corn stalks! Not to mention the homes and business now totally destroyed or even gone. . .

I am reminded of the hardships of those first settles who originally claimed this Nation of ours as a new home. The sweat and toiled labor of clearing land, building communities from the ground up with only simple tools and determination, growing food for basic survival. . .
They did not have the luxury of, if the home garden failed, of running to the Farmer’s Market or grocery store to supplement disaster and failure. Their’s was truly a feast or famine existence.

I am reminded of a time in this Nation when the word “dustbowl” was one of the most frightening and destructive words known to a farmer. Faded black and white images capture a snapshot in time of the barren wasteland known as the Midwest– as the Nation fell into a grave time of hardship. Collapse of crops coupled with the collapse of financial institutions delivered a one two punch to the entire Country. How ignorantly smug we’ve grown today with our technology, global resources and imagined infallibility. Do we think we are immune to widespread disaster?

I am made most mindful of the small, yet important, lessons rendered from time spent working and reworking in a garden. Not merely from the reaping of the literal fruits of one’s labors but more importantly the reaping of the more intrinsic fruits of a life lived with reflection and intent.

1. Patience—as in “have they sprouted yet, bloomed yet, turned the right color yet?
Are they ready yet??!?
The answer for the longest time will be NO—
not until suddenly, on one single day, it’s all ready at once.

2. Perseverance—as in when the varmints sneak in when no one is looking,
and in one single dinning experience, can wipe out months of work and tending.

3. Awareness—as in if it looks cute, pretty, or odd it is either poisonous,
hungry or both. Don’t touch.

4. Preparedness—as in if you walk through the tall clover and grass
before the yard is cut wearing chacos (sandals),
a bee will sting you or fire ants will attack you.

5. Sharing—as in “we can’t eat all of this, who wants some or needs some??”

6. Timeliness, as well as, “there is no time like the present”–
as in it’s too bad if it’s hot, if it’s wet, if the bugs are out–
one must may hay while the sun shines–
as in get busy now!

7. Establishing and maintaining the importance of a good Work ethic–
as in working with ones’ hands, as in dirty manual labor is not beneath anyone
and is good for the soul—
plus you’ve got to “get at it” despite soreness, heat, and not feeling like it. . .

8. Life is cyclical—as in things wither and die, but in turn things sprout and grow

9. Frugality, Innovation, Thankfulness—as in “do not be wasteful and that water is essential to life”—be prepared to preserve and care for the bigger picture of our environment–as this is critical because nothing is guaranteed to last forever–make use of what you have and sometimes you must be innovative

10.Mystery and Awe—as in life, as well as death, there remains awe and mystery. As I am always reminded every day that I am the created and not the Creator. I am a steward of what has been given to me–I must care for it as the precious gift that it is and be thankful for the small as well as the large blessings helping those who may be hurting now, as we will all need help at some point in our lives.

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
John 12:24