Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gardening Thoughts

The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. ~George Bernard Shaw

Spring has arrived, and I couldn't be happier. I'm spotting hints of new growth at the base of perennials in my backyard, where I replaced lawn with flowerbeds a couple of years ago. It was a big step, doing away with all that grass, but one I've never regretted.

The new version of my backyard requires more work, though. That part is inescapable. There's an endless supply of weeds to pull, which requires that I know the difference between true flowers and sneaky plants like binding weed, which produce pretty pink flowers everywhere. At first, I didn't recognize it as a weed, and by the time it had criss-crossed half my yard, it was well-rooted and energetic, taking over areas where I didn't expect to find it.

I do a lot of thinking in my garden. There's something about busy hands and sunshine-on-the-neck that flips my brain switch to a low, steady hum. It's relaxing. Fulfilling. Some of my best photography work has taken place between my back door and the back fence, too.

After every gardening session, I come away feeling that I've spent my time doing much more than weed-pulling and flower-feeding. Gardening criss-crosses my life and grows me in new directions. I can't think of a better place to untangle stress and solve problems. This quote says it best:

In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful. ~Abram L. Urban


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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Life's a Revolving Door

A revolving door in Turkey (counter-clockwise ...

Picture a classic scene at a busy airport. Travelers being dumped off curbside, hurrying inside with their bags so they could stand in line and wait. I was heading to Florida for a conference, where my publisher had scheduled a booksigning.

Where's everybody going? I wondered. I imagined them traveling to reunions, business conferences, or home to visit a sick parent, as I'd done countless times. I spotted a few who were dressed for fun. But one traveler was late--a grouchy-looking guy with permanent frown lines whose wife and young son were trying their best to keep up with his long stride.

Suddenly, a giggle broke loose midway up the line. Then another. And another. Heads turned right to take in a hilarious scene, one that most parents had probably experienced themselves at one time or another. That little boy had fallen in love with the revolving door and would not leave it. His dad had marched on in total oblivion. Mom was trying her best tricks to get Kid out of the door.

Finally, she waves a big red notepad at him. "We will NOT draw pictures on the plane if you don't come out of that door THIS INSTANT!"

As far as I know, that kid is still stuck in the door, deliriously lost in childhood while the world marches on. Life sometimes feels like a revolving door, but how sweet it is to stop everything now and then, to simply live in the moment.

Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.
- Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel)


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Monday, March 9, 2009

Life in Measured Steps

The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph... I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow. - Thomas Paine

I was coming out of Joanne's Fabrics, where I buy my polymer clay to make beads for jewelry that will eventually end up in a shop at Etsy. I should have stayed put that day, but I needed a certain shade of brown to complete a project. So, I ignored a nagging headache and headed out in the wind and rain.

The store was crowded, and everyone seemed to be trying to beat the next storm. Good! They had several shades of brown, plus lots of other light Spring colors, all on sale. I grabbed a handful of clay blocks and headed for the checkout, where six or seven people waited their turn in line.

Nobody talked. Nobody made eye contact. The store was eerily quiet, except for the approaching tap-tap-tap of an elderly man's cane. He walked in measured steps, holding his wife's arm, gently guiding her to the door.

They walked as one, like a couple who knew their place in this world, and loved the rhythm of their dance together. I'm not ordinarily a gawker, but I couldn't look away. He reminded me of my grandpa, who passed away when I was 19. The way he wore his tweed hat, the way his eyes crinkled at the corners. I hoped he would glance up, and he did - just in time for me to catch the upturn of a radiant smile. This was a face that smiled from chin to forehead. That smile is unforgettable; tatooed in the silver lining of my memory.

Life is walked out in measured steps. I hope when I'm their age, I'll remember to walk in gratitude and to pause long enough to give away smiles to strangers. I hope I never forget the blessing of being able to move about, even with a cane, and to share moments like that with people I'll most likely never see again.


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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Keep Hope Alive

We live in interesting times.

I overheard a clerk telling a customer that she could hardly drag herself out of bed in the morning. "Not much to get up for except for this crappy job," she muttered. "Stupid place, stupid people. Pay scale's in the toilet, too."

A few days later, a young father of two told me he'd given up his dream of flying helicopters. "I was ten hours away from getting my pilot's license, when my managerial job folded." No longer able to afford the flight school, he dropped out and was happy when a clerking position opened up at Wal-Mart. He smiled, and quickly added, "This isn't my dream job, but I figure I can always finish flight school later. Right now my family needs an income."

Two people, both struggling, yet I came away feeling different after each conversation.

Emily Dickinson got it right when she penned,

Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.

To everyone who struggles today, I wish for you peace in the midst of your storm, and a hope that will carry you through whatever tomorrow brings.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5


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