Resurrections

“God is what he is;
Yahweh is who he is.”

Alec Motyer

The first thing the Cross does is cross out the world’s word by a Wholly-Other Word,
a Word that the world does not want to hear at any price.
For the world wants to live and rise again before it dies,
while the love of Christ wants to die in order to rise again in the form of God on the
other side of death, indeed, IN death.”

― Hans Urs von Balthasar


(a surprise resurrection blooming peony / Julie Cook /2017)

Late last Spring, early summer, I found myself wandering through the garden center of Lowes.
Whenever I’m feeling ‘less then’, blah or downright sad I often find myself wandering
the garden center.
Rows and rows of color, vibrancy and simply life…
abundant in the scents and sights of fullness, always seems to lift my spirits.

I either wander aimlessly, seeking some hidden sense of solace…
or I wander with a purpose…as in I come with the intent of purchasing something
to plant…
as in, there is a reason and a need for the wandering.

Last planting season I was seeking a few shrubs that were deer resistant but plants
that had more umph than some sort of boxwood or holly.
Something that could survive the full relentless Georgia sun.
A summer either baking and dry or sticky and humid…
Last summer it was hot and dry with a long lasting and oh so deadly drought.

I am a fan of the old fashioned sort of plants found in gardens that harken
to another time…a lovely sort of English cottage garden…
Those gardens that call to mind the thoughts and memories of those who have gone before.

So imagine my piqued interest when I spied a potted peony.
Peonies remind me of old world stateliness…soft while elegant.
Not flashy, not cutting edge, not loud nor garish.
A very southern old-time staple.

I am not a green thumb queen like our friend Natalie over on Sacred Touches
(https://sacredtouches.com)
I do however enjoy planting and working in the yard,
as it is extremely therapeutic for me…
It’s just that I don’t always have success and I don’t always know what I’m doing.

After checking out the price tag on the peony, I had a bit of sticker shock.
It was very expensive.
I asked one of the garden center folks if the peony could survive full sun.
She told me yes and that that was the last peony for the season…that she had already bought
one of the others despite it being a big splurge…she was just excited to get one.

Seeing that I was in the midst of the growing difficult life with Dad’s declining health
and the beginnings of his increasing needs as the life I had known had ceased…
I wanted, no I needed, something to bring me a bit of joy…
I figured a blooming peony could do just that.
So I too splurged and bought the potted peony.

Long story short.
I planted it.
I cared for it.
But we had a deadly drought.
Baking heat and a drought…

This is what the peony looked like come early Fall…

Dejected and sad I text Natalie the pictures.
Knowing her to be the queen of flowers, I shared my loss with her.
Natalie does indeed know a thing or two about flowers and plants
as well as a thing or two about heat and drought as she hails from Texas…
She told me not to dig up the plant…
“Just leave it, because come Spring, you might just be surprised.”
“Peonies are of a hardy stock.”
I suppose a Texas southerner knows a thing or two about hardy stock.

So as the winter came and my life grew more grey and difficult, I forgot all about the peony.

Fast forward to now…as I wander about in the wake of losing Dad,
going through the motions these last couple of weeks while trying to pick up the pieces of
what all he’s left behind,
I’ve been working slowly to bring some semblance of order back into my world.

Wandering about the yard, seeking newness and fullness, I caught my breath when I noticed
a little tuft of fresh greenery emerging from the recently replaced pine straw.
Cautiously over the past week, I’ve watched the little tuft get fuller and taller.
Then Sunday afternoon I couldn’t believe my eyes, there was a bloom.

A real resurrection of sorts….

And how timely that this garden resurrection should manifest itself during this most
Holy of weeks…

The weightiness and heaviness of this world…with its pain and overwhelming sorrow…
It is both frightening while at the same time complacent as it lulls us into feeling
that it is our home, our only home.
Dirty and broken, hot and dry…it clutches us, smothering us as it holds our
face in it’s grip convincing us that this world is all we could ever want or need.

Yet in that brokeness and loneliness of our empty hearts and souls…we yearn
for more.
While we shrink in the dryness…
we are spent…

So on that hot dry day of loss…
as a head drops to the chest and the last breath is released…
while the sky darkens and all hope leaves with that drying…

A promise is not forgotten…
and soon our world will change forever…
for the better…..

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you:
Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses,
the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Luke 24:44

More than

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
― Augustine of Hippo

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts,
there can be no more hurt, only more love.

Mother Teresa

“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
― C.S. Lewis

“The harder the conflict,
the more glorious the triumph.”

Thomas Paine

DSCN1586
(remnants of Cong Abbey , County Mayo, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

It whispers across a cool morning breeze…

Do you hear it?

It’s the sound of a thousand and one voices drifting endlessly across the ages.
It’s the mournful cry of a dove at dawn.
It’s the melodic symphony of an unseen orchestra of crickets on a warm summer’s night.

It rides along the ocean’s waves…

Do you see it?

It’s the wonderment you feel as you gaze upon the night sky awash in a million twinkling lights.
It’s the brilliance of color bathed endlessly across a skylit canvas as the sun offers a joyful good morning.
It’s the overwhelming eruption and dazzling display of a myriad of blooming wildflowers in a quiet hidden meadow…

It’s a familiar scent wafting upwards from somewhere unexpectedly…

Do you smell it?

It’s the fresh scent of grass from a newly mowed lawn
It’s the heavy smell of rain riding in on the winds before a storm.
It’s a long lost memory catching you off guard as you suddenly capture a whiff of your grandmother’s home

It races from touch to touch…

Do you feel it?

It’s caught up in the soothing memories from a now distant childhood.
It’s the sudden chill you feel as the sun dips out of sight on a cool fall’s night.
It’s the welcoming comfort found in an offered smile.

It’s much more than ancient history or the crumbling bits of mortar and stone now abandoned and long forgotten…

DSCN0374
(crumbling remains hidden away deep within Kevin’s Monastery, Glendalough National Park, County Wicklow, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

It’s really more like the bits of sand found in your shoe after a walk along the beach…small and tiny, yet largely distracting,
rather uncomfortable and most difficult to ignore

The curious and the tourist alike each pick their way through the labyrinth of time long past, as they wander about pondering and musing what it all meant and wondering where it all went.

Yet you know don’t you….?

You know it never went anywhere.

It’s been here all along.

Buried deep within your heart.

But it was never meant to stay buried or forgotten.

Never meant to be for tourists or the curious to gawk and pick.

It was never meant to crumble nor decay

For it is living and breathing and yearns to be shared

It’s the gnawing ache felt in each beating heart.

It’s that nagging feeling of being out of sorts as your spirit seems lost in the fray.

It’s in the melancholy and sorrow that shadows a seemingly empty day

It’s the longing for home when you’re already there.

A Spirit most holy yet hidden, longs to hide no more.

A Spirit Loving yet concealed, longs to be revealed.

A Spirit Mighty and Great, longs to be proclaimed

You know It don’t you….?

Because It knows you….

When the scuppernongs hang heavy

“We are homesick most for the places we have never known.”
― Carson McCullers

“The winter will be short, the summer long,
The autumn amber-hued, sunny and hot,
Tasting of cider and of scuppernong.”

Elinor Wylie

DSC02510
(wild growing scuppernongs after a morning rain / Troup Co, Ga / Julie Cook / 2015)

DSC02515
(wild scuppernongs hang high in the trees / Troup Co, Ga / Julie Cook / 2015)

What is your trigger—that certain thing, person or place. . .
when seen, heard or tasted. . .transports you to a different time, a different place?
That single something that magically erases the years and lightens your step?

Is it a smell, a perfume, a scent. . .
Perhaps the sound of bells ringing, children laughing or birds singing. . .
Maybe it’s the sight of a balloon, a leaf gently blowing in the breeze. . .
or maybe, just maybe. . .
it’s the sight of the scuppernongs hanging heavy on the vine. . .

Pour, Bacchus! the remembering wine;
Retrieve the loss of me and mine!
Vine for vine be antidote,
And the grape requite the lote!
Haste to cure the old despair,—
Reason in Nature’s lotus drenched,
The memory of ages quenched;
Give them again to shine;
Let wine repair what this undid;
And where the infection slid,
A dazzling memory revive;
Refresh the faded tints,
Recut the aged prints,
And write my old adventures with the pen
Which on the first day drew,
Upon the tablets blue,
The dancing Pleiads and eternal men.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Bacchus
line 50-65

DSC02511
(wild scuppernongs / Troup Co, Ga / Julie Cook / 2015)

DSC02513
(wild scuppernongs / Troup Co, Ga / Julie Cook / 2015)

Just happy to be here

I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.
Martha Washington

DSCN4799

DSCN4801
(a fledgling cardinal / Julie Cook / 2014)

I had noticed her hopping about out of the corner of my eye—that is, only after I had heard the distinctive “chirp chirp” alerting me that a cardinal was close at hand.
This, however was not just any run of the mill cardinal. This was a new addition to the yard cardinal. As in a fledgling who still had the moulty little tufts of feathers still adorning her head.

I watched her for a while–chirping and hopping here and there as she continued poking and prodding the ground in search of whatever tasty little morsel and grub she could find. She seemed not to have a care in the world. Even with our cat Peaches lounging about in the grass just a few yards away, each animal oblivious and uncaring that either was within “meeting” distance.

A single moment in time that is a wonderful snapshot of Harmony. Our cat being a bit atypical, caring less about the birds in the yard, more interested in what I may be doing. She is just as happy and content as I am to simply sit and watch, or for her, to rather sit and nap.
The little bird should have felt a threatening danger, but blissfuly did not. Peaches has never given any of the birds any cause for concern—of which I am pleased.

DSCN4662
(Peaches more interested in the camera rather than the little bird / 2014)

These small snippets, vignettes of the microcosms of a world seemingly in slow motion, are the soothing balm to the often jaded and tired souls which manifest themselves, day in and day out; byproducts of the rat race we create in life.

Maybe it’s the weather.
Maybe it’s the warmer days.
Maybe it’s the longer days.
Maybe it’s the lazier and slower way in which the world seems to now turn.
Perhaps it’s all of that and more as to why I enjoy the tranquil day’s of an approaching Summer season.

It’s the time of year in which the World seems to offer a collective sigh–exhaling as it begins to relax, and finally lets go. . .
Here’s to sitting under the canopy of an ancient oak tree.
Here’s to the sounds of harmony buzzing and chirping about the yard.
Here’s to the tell-tale summer scent of a freshly mown lawn.
Here’s to spending more time outside rather than inside.
Here’s to time, which may finally be on your side.
Here’s to being happy that we’re just all simply here, in the moment. . .

DSCN4656

Observance

“Have you noticed how nobody ever looks up? Nobody looks at chimneys, or trees against the sky, or the tops of buildings. Everybody just looks down at the pavement or their shoes. The whole world could pass them by and most people wouldn’t notice.”
― Julie Andrews Edwards

DSCN4566
(stopping to smell the heavenly scent of flowers in the yard I first hear, then see, the army of bees busy at work pollinating and doing their spring things / Julie Cook / 2014)

I certainly agree with Miss Andrews and her observation regarding our lack of observation—
To be one who “observes” seems to be a luxury we no longer feel is important to afford ourselves.
Do we not take time because we have no time?
Is it because our lives are simply too busy?
Too rushed? Too frantic?
Have we just gotten to the point that we don’t really care one way or another?

With the time clock always acting as a hidden enemy, the frivolity of actually “stopping to smell the roses” becomes an unrealistic cloyingly slick idiom and sadly, nothing more.
Who has time to stop?!
We barely have time to visit the loo let alone stopping for some roses!

Yet ask any aged individual who is looking closer to the eternity side of life rather than to the living side of life, or ask any individual presented with a bleak health prognosis. . .and you will hear a great deal about the importance of stopping and smelling roses, or anything else delightfully sweet for that matter.

Yes, time is certainly an enemy.
It seems to rob us of so very much, and sadly, often with our whole hearted consent.

and yet. . .

Life is always so much more than what we see sitting merely on the surface.
We will never know any more other than the surface unless we actually stop, taking a tad bit more time to actually lift our face and our eyes. . .
To dig a little deeper.
To listen more intently.
To touch more tenderly
To taste more sweetly

Spring is a wonderful season for observation.
So many vibrant colors.
So many titilating sounds
So many magical scents.

We have been given such a grand gift with this thing we call Nature. An endless treasure chest full of utter wonderment. Now is the time for a flurry of activity with the magic of life merely sitting under our very eyes, ears and feet.

Take time today for a little observation.
Nature is our poetry—take time to savor it’s lyrics.

Savoring an extra hour

Rejoice in the things that are present; all else is beyond thee.
Montaigne

Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.
Cherokee Indian Proverb

DSCN3861

Pictured above are two cute little calamondins, aka kumquats, sitting on a beautiful walnut cutting board made by Michael over on michaelswoodcraft.wordpress.com—he’s just received a new batch of walnut boards that he’s putting to good use–I can’t wait to see his latest project, a walnut step stool.

However step stools and wood aside, let’s take a moment to do a little savoring shall we—
Savor: verb
: to enjoy the taste or smell of (something) for as long as possible
: to enjoy (something) for a long time

Our focus today is to savor.
As Merriam- Webster’s definition points out, the word savor means to enjoy, and to do so for an extended amount of time–for as long as possible.

Therefore our lesson today is for us to take today for what it is, that being, today.
Fretting over yesterday or dreading tomorrow quietly robs us of today–slowly consuming us to where we lose any and all joy offered by today.

My wish for you this Sunday is to seek, to find, to grab then hold on to a moment of peace, joy, contentment or love which is hiding somewhere in the shadows of today in which you may enjoy and savor before the work week begins again tomorrow.
As we’ve added an hour of daylight today (let’s not think of the hour lost of sleep shall we), this tiny bit of extra light just might be the very gift of joy offered to us this March Sunday.

Therefore may we savor this extension of daylight, relishing the sun shinning longer, extending more warmth to the tiny buds and leaves waiting to burst forth providing us with heavenly scents and sights!
Ode to those exuberant colors of Spring which are poised, just around the corner of this waning winter, waiting to burst forth upon our snow and ice weary landscape.

So on this first full day of daylight savings time, may you find that extra hour which is a gift of what else, but time– may you use that hour to find peace, happiness, solitude, joy. Knowing that this new found hour of sunshine is the precursor to not only Spring but those warm long Summer evenings. Ahhhhhh. . .If that isn’t a happy thought, this early cool March Sunday, then I don’t know what is. . .

Here’s to the anticipation of savoring time on a warm Sunday evening, in a rocking chair, on a porch somewhere warm, listening to the whip-poor-wills and cicadas while happily pondering, nothing, nothing at all–that delightful thought is my gift to you this day –may you savor the thought of warmer days ahead.

Scents

DSCN0606

“The rich, sweet smell of the hayricks rose to his chamber window; the hundred perfumes of the little flower-garden beneath scented the air around; the deep-green meadows shone in the morning dew that glistened on every leaf as it trembled in the gentle air: and the birds sang as if every sparkling drop were a fountain of inspiration to them.”
Charles Dickens

DSCN0602

There is nothing as intoxicating or heavenly, to stumble upon when walking in a garden, than that of the scent of a gardenia. The heavy perfume, if the wind is just right, announces the flower long before it ever comes into view.

Perhaps this is why man invented perfume… he wanted to smell as sweet, as sensuous, as delirious as the flowers. When you are in a garden, close your eyes and take a deep breath, holding it slightly, then slowly exhale—it is as if you can taste the scent of the flowers which surround you.

The thick pollen sits in the center of these blooms looking like powdery egg yolk just waiting for that lucky bee to wander by. The blooms are sweet, soft and demure–easily bruised—yet it is the scent that is so captivating. It holds me, making me linger…breathing deeper as if I’m trying to pull in the very last drop of perfume. I feel almost selfish, I want to pull in all of the scent, holding it close.

To some it is the rose, to others wild jasmine—but here, in the silence of this garden, it is the gardenia that beckons and calls me close…..