You are both God of tempest storm and peaceful calm

My heart is in anguish within me,
And the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
And horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
“Behold, I would wander far away,
I would lodge in the wilderness. Selah.
“I would hasten to my place of refuge
From the stormy wind and tempest.”

(Psalm 55 5-8)

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(the native azalea survived Winter’s fury / Julie Cook / 2014)

For you are the God of both tempest storm and peaceful calm.
You see us and know of the terror caused by a blackened sky
We neither sleep nor rest as the winds howl all around us
Our nights are filled with anguish and dread, for in the darkness hides an unforgiving twisting wind.
The rains cause the creeks and rivers to flow from their banks, taking away what is ours
The hail assaults our dwelling place and causes damage to all things exposed

When we emerge from the shelter of the pit,
Our eyes stare in disbelief at the destruction.
Lives now scattered like fallen leaves.
No identifying markers reamin.
We are helpless to stop the storm
It chooses neither rich nor poor, young nor old.
It discriminates not as it sets a random course.

Our eyes are swollen with dried up tears
As our tongues stick to a dry and tasteless mouth
Missing now are pets, friends, neighbors, schools, homes, cars, businesses.
Nothing remains
Neither grass nor leaf, flower nor bird.

And yet You hear our cries.
You know of our broken lives.
You are not absent in the wind
You know of each lightening strike as you count each and every drop of rain.
We cry out to You and You are there.

As skies darken for a third straight day, draw close to us as we look up in fear
Bring peace to the raging storm
Quiet the fierce winds
Spare us oh God, for you are merciful and You alone know of our distress.

And should the storms descend upon our lives, scattering all that we cherish,
Be with us as we pick up the debris of our lives.
Help us to rebuild and make new what was taken.
Grant us strength in the face of our weakness.
We need not fear for it is only in You that we have already overcome Death.

Thought to be lost. . .

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud became more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
Anais Nin

The first step toward finding God, Who is Truth, is to discover the truth about myself: and if I have been in error, this first step to truth is the discovery of my error.
Thomas Merton

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(current azalea bud and tiny new leaves after the devastating winter)

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(this is the azalea in bloom last spring)

The tiny buds and gently unfurling leaves of this native azalea are a most welcomed site! Currently this bush should be in full bloom. However so many of the shrubs and bushes in this area of our state suffered grievously during the unprecedented bitterly cold winter coupled by the devastating ice storm.

I was certain the azalea was lost.

As this is the time of year for Georgia to come into full flower, it is a bit unsettling that currently all things are actually quite behind schedule—with my yard being no exception. I had resigned myself to the fact that some of my beloved flowering plants would be total losses. That is until today.

Upon further inspection, those crunchy dry gray leaves are now giving way to, can it actually be true, new life.
That which was considered to be lost, is thankfully now found to be full of life. The first little buds and tiny leaves, those lost to cold and ice and having shriveled away, have given way to an entirely new set of tiny new leaves and buds.

An amazing recovery by dear ol Mother Nature.

The concept of loss, and then that of ultimately being found, is a most timely concept.

I do not believe it is mere coincidence that this Spring of ours, a season for new growth and new life, which follows the season of emptiness and void, mirrors the most sacred season of Christendom—the church’s Season of Easter.

Perhaps it is having the ability to actually visualize the concept, that of a seemingly certain death which miraculously gives way to life, as carried out within nature, is what helps to make the spiritual concept much more concrete. It’s one thing to read about this most unbelievable phenomenon, it is entirely something different to be able to actually witness it taking place.

I have witnessed this first hand in my unsuspecting azalea–a plant that I was pretty certain was dead and gone. I held the crumbling gray buds and leaves in my hands as proof to its loss of life. I had even decided to dig up the small tree-like shrub in order to move it on to the compost pile, yet opting to wait just a little longer— as I tend to be lean toward the hopeful side of life.

What was by all signs dead, is now offering new growth and new life.

A beaten and bruised man, bleeding profusely is nailed to a tree and left to suffer unto death. After a certain length of time, and by all intent purposes, he is clearly dead. No pulse, no breath, no movement, no warmth—now cold, stiff and certainly lifeless. The body taken from the tree, prepared for burial, anointed with oil and wrapped in a shroud.
Quite dead.
Very dead.
Only emptiness and nothingness remains.
He is buried and left to decay.

And yet. . .

The new creation, the new Adam, the new life is raised from the depths of hell and death to step forth in radiant light to a newness of Life. What was full of loss is suddenly found full of life.
Tiny miracles in Nature.
A tremendous miracle for man.

Where there was loss and death, now gives way to hope and life
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia

(***may it be noted that during the season of Lent, which is a time of deep reflection, penitence and fasting, the Church is striped of the seasonal colors and non essential materials. It is as if the Church herself is spending the 40 days of Lent in deep mourning, veiled as a widow in mourning and loss. Words such as “alleluia” or “Hallelujah” are not spoken in service as Lent is not a time of joy—it is not until the triumph of Easter that she, the Church, is again clothed in Light and Triumphant Joy)

O South, my South!


O magnet-South! O glistening perfumed South! my South! O quick mettle, rich blood, impulse and love! Good and evil! O all dear to me!”–Walt Whitman

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Finally the native azaleas are blooming!! These plants are native to our state (and the southeast)– they so different from the standard more squatty compact azalea we see planted everywhere (that being especially at the Masters in Augusta) and filling the shelves at Home Depot and Lowes. They have a woodsy quality and a flower that resembles a large honeysuckle on steroids.

I was afraid that the late cold weather had zapped all of the blooms and that the late last freeze took away all chances of the brilliant rusty orange flowers gracing my yard. I planted this particular plant several years ago and decided I wanted to find some more to add to the yard, as they are “native”—but believe it or not, they are not prevalent at local nurseries…but I’m still looking….