The planting season

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson

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(a newly planted petunia / Julie Cook / 2015)

Many years ago when I was a mere wide-eyed impetuous young fire cracker,
I spent a great deal of energy wishing I was 10 years further down the road.
I believed I had much to do and I was chomping at the bit to do it.
Anxious,
Anticipatory,
Impatient.

Could God not see my energy, my enthusiasm, my willingness.
I was ready.
Why was He not?

College was frustrating me.
I didn’t know how best to direct my path.
I was more than willing to chuck it all out the window, if God would just point the way.
I knew I had much to do, it’s just that I wasn’t exactly sure that I actually knew what it was,
I was to be doing.
I was in a bit of a desert, or actually stuck on some lone island–languishing and unnoticed.

I wrote countless letters to my poor godpoppa, lamenting my seemingly unproductive position.
I was the anxious kid on the bench with hand jutting up and down,
waving wildly high, “put me in coach”
I was ready, willing and more than sick and tired of waiting.
What in the heck was the hold up??!!

As I’m sure all those letters upon letters from an angst ridden college freshman, sporting rose colored lenses, whose time truly had not yet come as the body may have been willing but, in blessed hindsight, the mind was truly not yet fully developed. . .must have driven him crazy.

He was a wise man.
He was a learned man.
He was a busy man.
He was an important man.
And yet, he would always take time from his most consuming day, stopping all his important things long enough to appease an unripe fruit whose mantra was over and over. . .
When
Where
Why. . .

Found within one of the loving letters written in return was a single key sentence. . .
“There is one thing you need to do, bloom where you are planted, do that one thing you don’t want to do—but do it for me.”

I can remember anxiously finding his letter sitting in my little mail box. I was so excited hurrying back to my dorm room clutching the most wonderfully official looking letter. I just knew within the envelope the key to my future was ready and waiting. His words were always truth personified in my book, if he said it, it was so.
Reading feverishly I came to that single sentence.
“Bloom where I was planted”. . .hummmmmm. . .
But as he added, “do this one thing you don’t much want to do, but do it for me”
I shrugged and resigned myself to holding tight.

And now all these many many years later. . .
an entire lifetime later, I still consider that simple little phrase. . .
Bloom where you are planted

God knows where we are.
He puts us where He wants us.
Often frustratingly to Him, we usually take it upon ourselves to move and relocate–most often prematurely.
However, no matter where we wend up, we must remember God originally planted the seed.
He planted the seed long before we were even born.
The seed has to be watered, fertilized, nurtured, and allowed to grow.
Sometimes the seedling is moved and transplanted. . .no matter, as He continues
Watching
Tending,
Pruning,
Warding off insects and disease.
Without warning and miraculously one magical day,
seemingly out of the blue, a bloom bursts forth.
Hopeful,
Beautiful,
Joyful,
Stately. . .
We are planted and we will in turn bloom—
It’s all just a matter of God’s good timing. . .

Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.
1 Corinthians 7:17

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(forsythia / Julie Cook / 2015)

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(tulip magnolia blooms / Julie Cook / 2015)

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)

Brown, dried up and barren

“It was cold and barren. It was no longer the view that I remembered. The sunshine of her presence was far from me. The charm of her voice no longer murmured in my ear.”
Wilkie Collins

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Yep, that pretty much sums up my world this time of year—brown, dried up and barren–no longer the view I remember, much less like or care for. I don’t think I’ve realized how bad things really looked until today. There were a few things hanging on, a few herbs, even the mint—that was until the ominous Polar Vortex. A deep freeze is a sure way to go from green to brown in the blink of an eye.

Today however the sun actually decided to offer a brilliant display of bright light and the temperature, dare I say it, almost Spring like. Sadly snow flurries are predicted for in the morning–however be that as it may, today the warm sun actually drew me outside and I was not to be denied.

I hung the bird feeders back up, the ones that are up each day only to be oddly knocked down each night by the bear I keep telling my husband is lurking out in the woods. Never mind that no one has ever spotted a bear in our area— I, on the other hand, believe in the mystical bear of the feeders. At least I’m not like that nutty lady who swears a big foot lives in this area, but I digress.

As I ventured out into the warming light of day, the thought of running errands seemed to be a good choice of time. I opted to head to our local Lowes in order to buy some light bulbs.
Real light bulbs–while there are still a few normal ones remaining on the shelves. All this before the Government says we can’t have any more normal light bulbs—like they know what’s good for me regarding my light bulbs. . . hummmm
Those stupid squiggly bulbs, the ones we are suppose to now purchase verses the formerly real bulbs, are currently making my life miserable. Does anyone look good in fluorescent light?

NO!

And let’s not talk about the lack of brightness these squiggly things offer or how in the heck one is to dispose of the blasted things once their time is up ruining my life.
What was wrong with the regular light bulbs?
They were bright and complete with a little glass, a few little filaments, a little conducive base—
They didn’t make me look as if I had a skin disease, jaundice or as a sick vampire. I could read with them. I was happy.
Now the Government is telling me I can’t have my light bulbs anymore. Digress, digress, digress.

Despite this latest conspiracy, I did not come here today to talk about light bulbs. We’re suppose to be talking about brown, dried up, barren stuff. . .as in the pots and containers that are now empty and void of any and all forms of lush green life. . .as in my sad looking blueberry bushes that are now simply a jumble of twiggy brown sticks. . .

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During my little jaunt to Lowes, in order buy my new stupid squiggly light bulbs, something wonderfully exciting caught my eye. Something that made me stop in the middle of the aisle as if it was screaming at me.
WARM WEATHER OUT IN THE GARDEN screaming.
There in the middle of the aisle leading to the outdoor plants, I spy a brightly colored, brimming over the top, seed packet display. Rows upon rows of little seed packets for every kind of vegetable known to man—even a few I’ve not eaten before, all ready for Spring planting.
Joy residing in a packet!
Seeds— the beginnings of my “vegetative” life outside. Tiny miracles in a bag.
Oh the wonderful joy!!

May I just say that I went for light bulbs but I left with seed packets and fun looking miniature little growing greenhouses, some nice bags of potting mixture, as well as a renewed spring in my cold, light deprived, brown, dried up, barren step. Tis the season to get planting, and I can’t wait. Now what was that about snow in the morning??!!

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