Monday, February 29, 2016

Spring Arrives (#SmallWonder Link-up)

Dead mums staggered
in the flower bed outside 
the kitchen window 
and rattled their bones 
at me all winter long.

Today, under a
warming sun, 
I bent and broke 
their brown branches
at the base where new
green leaves spoke 
spring's surprise.

Then I walked around
the house, surveying 
winter's damages.
Like the disciples
returning to the tomb,
I found in death's bed
signs of life.  

This never fails to  
astonish me, 
like Christ popping 
through locked doors, 
bright with light,
a daffodil.     

*   *   *

We finally have a #SmallWonder button!  If you want to use it, simply copy the image, then add it to your post or sidebar with a link to www.afieldofwildflowers.blogspot.com.  



Are you or do you have writer friends local to the PA, Maryland, New Jersey area?  If so, would you consider attending or sharing the information about the upcoming writing retreat to be held here at the farm house?  You can find more details under the Writing Retreat tab.


Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.  

What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God? 

That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.  

You're invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder.  Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are.  

While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.   


   

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Return Again: The Blessing of Being a Prodigal (#SmallWonder Link-Up)


After the meeting I feel depleted, empty.

I return home to the house, the woodstove, the dog and cats, the gerbils tucked together into a tight ball in their plastic tunnel.  This internal absence follows me and I try to open my hands, my heart to it.  I feel lost and far from home, not the physical concrete place with the smell of animals and the constant tumbleweeds of shed hair, but the place inside of me. 

I pile wood on the fire in the wood stove and reheat old coffee which I forget to drink before trading Chuck Taylor’s and jeans for wool socks and leggings.  I roll out the yoga mats and cue up a fifteen minute video, hoping to find a pathway home through the stretching out long of legs and limbs and torso.  The little cat winds between my legs, leaving a trail of fur in her wake, then throws herself at my feet, purring.  Bent, with my palms to the mat, I rub her ears, her neck, and her eyes close in pleasure. 

I follow the routine.  Opening, bending, breathing, moving as I am led until, at last, I’m seated on the mat, the video complete.  The practice fails to work its magic this time.  I’m closer to home, but still carrying a distance within.

It’s then I think of the prodigal son, his leaving and the dissolution that precedes his staggering return.  

Every day, I think, that’s me. 

In the parable, the younger son traveled to a distant land and “squandered his property in dissolute living.”  I used to think the point of the parable was how the prodigal son lost himself, but now I see the heart of the matter isn’t how he’s lost, but that he is lost.  Like the older brother who imagines his brother “devoured” the father’s property with “prostitutes,” I imagined dissolute living referred to carnal sins, hedonism in all its various forms. 

And maybe it does. 

But a quick look at an online dictionary tells me “dissolute” comes from the Latin root for the word “dissolve.”  We know the son’s inheritance has been squandered and dissolved, but the prodigal’s turning point has little to do with money lost or sins committed and everything to do with identity. 

“But when he came to himself,” the story goes. 

A Jewish boy, feeding pigs in a foreign land – these external characteristics serve to communicate how very lost this boy has become.  And what identity is it that he’s lost?  It’s not his identity as one who does or does not sin, but rather his identity as one who has a place of belonging.  The boy’s return to himself is intertwined with a return to his father or – as Parker Palmer puts it, the question (or realization) of “who am I” leads, inevitably to the question (or realization) of “whose I am.”

It’s not so much that the prodigal sins, but that he spends his very soul, allowing himself to be dissolved of identity or, more clearly, this is the way in which he sins.  It’s not that his carnal sins don’t matter, but that they merely reflect an inward dissipation. 

And if this is the case, then yes, I am so very much like that prodigal.  

Every day I wander dispensing my gifts as though through their service I might gain some intangible thing – identity, respect, belonging, maybe even also love.  And sometimes in that process I come dangerously close to losing the one thing Jesus says is most valuable of all – soul, spirit, identity or true self.  Richard Rohr refers to it as the “Immortal Diamond.”  A diamond never meant to be spent, traded or squandered, no matter how great the reward.

The good thing about realizing you are in fact the prodigal is in that very moment of recognition lies the invitation to return.  The very awareness of lostness carries within it, like a seed, the memory of belonging. 

Here is where the spiritual disciplines begin, practices which over centuries have been affirmed to help us find the path toward home.  The prodigal is not only one who is lost, but one who returns. 

The most blessed thing about being a prodigal over and over again, which is the case for each and every one of us – is the opportunity it affords us to become experts in the journey toward home.

Blessed are those whom God allows 
to wander near and far, for they 
are the seekers, the finders 
who travel over stream and mountain 
hunting out the paths that lead toward 
home.  Blessed are the lost for they 
shall be found.  Blessed are those who
walk the path toward home.  Toward them
the loving father runs.  


*   *   *

We finally have a #SmallWonder button!  If you want to use it, simply copy the image, then add it to your post or sidebar with a link to www.afieldofwildflowers.blogspot.com.  



Are you or do you have writer friends local to the PA, Maryland, New Jersey area?  If so, would you consider attending or sharing the information about the upcoming writing retreat to be held here at the farm house?  You can find more details under the Writing Retreat tab.


Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.  

What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God? 

That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.  

You're invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder.  Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are.  

While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.   


   

Friday, February 19, 2016

Not Where, but With


I never envisioned
being the kind of woman
who drives around with a dog
sitting sentinel in the passenger seat - 
I’m a cat person, after all. 

But she loves to go, so I let her.

On straight stretches I reach over
and bury my hand in her fur 
and she keeps my seat warm 
while I’m in the store. 

For her, it isn’t about where,
but with.  The excitement of a car
ride is no more tantalizing than following
me to the Little House where she curls
in a chair and I sit, still in the driver’s seat,
pecking away on a keyboard.  

It isn’t about where, but with.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Gerbil (#SmallWonder Link-up)



Tiny nose,
bulging eyes,
whir of white
whiskers. 

Pin-prick
precision fingers
carry bedding,
clutch seeds. 

Nest,
burrow,
run
‘round
the wheel. 

The cat,
obsessed,
incensed,
broods
on top of
her cage
sniffing,
spying,
swatting.

*   *   *

Guess what?  We finally have a #SmallWonder button!  If you want to use it, simply copy the image, then add it to your post or sidebar with a link to www.afieldofwildflowers.blogspot.com.  


Are you or do you have writer friends local to the PA, Maryland, New Jersey area?  If so, would you consider attending or sharing the information about the upcoming writing retreat to be held here at the farm house?  You can find more details under the Writing Retreat tab.



Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.  

What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God? 

That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.  

You're invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder.  Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are.  

While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.   




Friday, February 12, 2016

Winter Blues: I Want to Seek, I Want to Find

Christ in the Wilderness - Consider the Lilies by Stanley Spencer

The trees hold tufts of snow, cold, white, cotton balls lifted toward a pale blue winter sky.  Yesterday I painted three canvases.  I have no idea what I’m doing, paint-wise, but bold strokes of citrus green and bright magenta seem to help with these mid-winter blues. 

I could spend all day playing hide and seek with the black clumps of pet hair scattered across the floors of this old house, all day washing cups and bowls, corralling books into baskets and bins.  And in the end, someone with a stroke of genius will scatter paper, pens and tape across the carpet, we will read more and more and books will fall across the furniture like snow, the dog will shed endlessly.   

But whatever I paint green today will be green tomorrow, that much I know for sure.

//

It feels as though I missed the train for Lent this year.  No bold post proclaiming my intent, no quiet reflection inviting deeper reflection yet.  Fat Tuesday came and went and the only ashes I saw on Wednesday were the ones I spread across the iron stove's belly, the ones I sweep daily from the hearth.  

I heard some murmurings online this year, from various quarters, about the practice of lent - certain groups reminding themselves, "We don't do Lent, that's for Catholics."  Someone else pointed out that Lent, in French, means "slow" and another focused on the Lenten call to wilderness living, the motion of removal and return modeled in the life of Christ.  

That's a lot to ponder and I could add my own unformed thoughts to the crowd, but instead this morning I'm leaning over a brown canvas outlining flowers first in pencil lead, then acrylic.  A voice on one shoulder reminds me I don't know how to paint, but in front of my eyes my hands create stroke by stroke a bright pink zinnia.  As I work another voice whispers about the flowers, how their beauty is enough, how their impermanence does nothing to denigrate the gift of being.  

//

This morning I'll take our black tom cat to the vet.  He's been acting strange this week and his breath could knock a giant flat.  I don't know if there's anything really wrong with him, but he's been jumpy and bossing the dog around in a way none of us appreciates. 

Do cats get cabin fever?  

I don't know, but the other day, with a plate full of bright magenta paint and that big, black cat standing nearby I was tempted to dip his paws in.  I stopped myself just in time.  

//

The bible doesn't tell us exactly why Jesus went into the wilderness, only that the "Spirit drove him out."  For forty days he watched the birds, the flowers, the trees and streams.  The stars unfolded their blanket across the sky before him each night, while the mother birds tucked their chicks into bed.  

That's the Christ I'm looking for these days - the one who watched the flowers bloom and fade, who baked fresh caught fish over coals turning to ash.  Christ who bent to draw in the dust with his finger, who saw the word of God in the way a tree grows and watched the foxes tumble from their dens as evening fell.  

This is the Christ I journey with this year, my canvases and brushes tucked under one arm, my cat and his vile breath under the other.  I want to seek and find the wonder of this world like Christ did, the wonder that both is and is waiting to be, like strokes of paint on the tip of the brush, like the quiet seeds sleeping beneath this melting snow.  

I want to seek.  I want to find. 

       

Monday, February 8, 2016

This is Four (#SmallWonder Link-Up)


Almost to the library's exit, he stops and leans in the office window.  He’s Dennis the Menace with a buzz cut.  His puffy red winter coat hangs unzipped and flapping, bright blue rain boots peak out from under brown fleecy pants.  Two library books travel tucked under an arm. 

“You organizing things?” he asks.  The hand he talks with flaps along with his words.  I hang back, watching to see whether the librarian will untangle his garbled words without my intervention. 

She does, and a short conversation ensues.  He’s all charm and delight and she’s grateful for an interruption. 

Then, “Mom?” he asks, in his overly loud serious voice, “What’s that heart shaped thing?” 

It’s a whiteout dispenser, not exactly heart shaped, but close enough.  The librarian demonstrates its abilities before the twins who peer in wonder. 

“Mom?!,” he shouts again though I’m standing only a few feet behind.  He’s done with casual conversation and pushing through the door.  “Can you get me one of those?  I can use it in my office.”

He has an office he built himself, under the laundry table and, naturally, he keeps it well-stocked with office supplies.  These he keeps separate from his tools which are stored in a wide variety of tool boxes ranging from metal to cardboard to plastic.   And the tools and office supplies are never mingled with his “weapons,” which he keeps in stashes in the living room and his bedroom. 

He’s my little “worker man,” the one who casually announces how he will split his time as an adult, between working and helping me out at home.

Before the brief window conversation he stood exploring the library’s vestibule while I checked out a tower of books. “What’s this?  What’s that?  Where’s the light switch?” he yells.  “Where’s the light switch?!  I found a light!”  Like some little grand inquisitor, he surveys every new environment, hunting out any unknown gadget or machine. 

In the children’s section, he hovers near the board books.  He chooses a bible story book, because it has a handle, a Dora book (because of its flaps) among others.  His selections baffle me.  I don’t want to bring home board books, they’re boring and so small they’re too easily lost.  In a compromise, I sort through the pile, paring it down to a manageable mole hill and suggest we sit for a few minutes to read the ones we aren’t bringing home.

For once, they accept my suggested deal without negotiation.  We pile together in a big, red armchair forming a mountain of people, boots and coats.  The twins rest, one on each leg, leaning back against me as I lean back into the chair.  The weight of their bodies on me is a welcome comfort, the heat and pressure of presence like I would imagine a hot stone massage might feel. 

Their weight in my lap feels like coming home, always, and in the midst of its joy and comfort, I'm aware of this season's ending. 

We wander through a sparkly princess book about friends and then two more picture books snatched from a nearby windowsill.  The boys bake on top of me, zipped up fully in their winter coats.  They grow still under the soothing waves of words and I feel first one then another yawn expand and then deflate Levi’s barrel chest. 

I'm caught here in this time between where one moment my lap is filled with drowsy little boy and the next he's amicably chatting up the librarian and collecting resources for the next time he needs to "work for awhile" in his office.  

This is four, this moment between inhale and exhale that lasts only as long as you can hold your breath. 

But the truth is, it never lasts, nothing does. 

Rather than holding my breath, I’m learning to breathe deep, to lean-in to the blessing of each moment as we move along together, these boys, these blessings and I. 

*   *   *

Guess what?  We finally have a #SmallWonder button!  If you want to use it, simply copy the image, then add it to your post or sidebar with a link to www.afieldofwildflowers.blogspot.com.  



Are you or do you have writer friends local to the PA, Maryland, New Jersey area?  If so, would you consider attending or sharing the information about the upcoming writing retreat to be held here at the farm house?  You can find more details under the Writing Retreat tab.




Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.  

What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God? 

That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.  

You're invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder.  Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are.  

While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.