Posts Tagged ‘Creation’

It’s Holy Week, which means Maundy Thursday foot-washings, Good Friday extinguishing of candles, and just before Easter… Earth Day.  I love that Earth Day gets to be in this mix this year, which helps us to think about new life in so many ways.  This is my offering for this month’s issue of PeaceSigns:

Once upon a time (but seriously, this really happened) I stepped out of my office to walk to the corner café for a cup of tea. Then I remembered the mug sitting on my desk that I meant to take with me to save a paper cup. I went back and got the mug and, puffed full of virtuous feelings, headed toward the café.

At that time I had been experiencing a sort of environmental enlightenment and was becoming aware of how so many of my lifestyle choices contribute to the decay of our world. Honestly, there were times when it was quite paralyzing; I agonized over things like flipping on the light switch.

{Click here to read the rest of the story…}


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You’re probably getting tired of hearing about my hibiscus — the one I found in a dumpster, the one that limped through the winter, the one that is my mascot for Lent.  (Yes, those would all be the same plant.)  I’m sorry.  I just can’t help it.


I’ve been watching these tiny leaves emerging on the plant for weeks, and it’s been a slow process, like watching – er — grass grow…  And then finally there were a few little buds. I’m still dying to know what color the flowers are.  But looking at the plant from a distance a few days ago I suddenly realized that it was top-heavy, with big leaves at the end of almost spindly branches.  And I knew.  I knew I had to prune it.


Why hadn’t I seen it sooner?  I was raised by a father with not one, but two whole green thumbs.  It was a tradition for us to prune back the roses every New Year’s Day to a third of their size.  Come spring they were bursting with new growth, and by summer the whole plant was sturdy, healthy, and full of perfect blooms.  I know well the power of pruning, and yet I couldn’t stand the thought of taking a pair of shears to my beloved hibiscus.


After a few days I conceded to myself that there was no way around it.  I was going to have to do it.  Those buds that held the unknown petal color?  Lopped.  Gone.  Nada mas.  It was probably only six inches all around that I trimmed off.  All the old leaves save one or two were nixed.  In the end, the plant looked like some sticks in a pot with a few green polka dots on them.  It was a bit pitiful looking, but I knew it was the right thing to do.


Only a few days later, and all those little green dots are actual leaves – and that’s even with it having spent a good chunk of time indoors due to all the thunderstorms we’ve been having.  There are even more buds now than there were before and it is much more balanced.  I wonder what it will look like next week.


Don’t fear the shears.



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When I go out for a walk I am often arrested.


Struck by some sight.


Sometimes my jaw even drops.


Two trees, growing close together.


One with a branch around the other.


This is how we should grow.




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He and my husband are not on speaking terms; they only hiss at each other.  He is convinced that Cyrus is going to pounce on him at any moment.  Okay, maybe he did one time, but that’s not the point.


My sister Andi likes to ask him (Cyrus, not my husband) why he always wears white pants and a black jacket.


He bats at the spikey balls that have fallen on the balcony, and then runs away.  He does the same thing with bugs.


I first met Cyrus at the animal shelter in Martinez, California, in January of 2002.  Most of the other animals had signs on their cages that said things like “destroys furniture” or “attacks children”.  His said “found in field” and his “expiration date” was six days away.  When I picked him up he clung to me with no intention of letting go.  So I asked him if he wanted to come home with me.


I named him after Cyrus the Great of Persia, and because I like names like that.  He has moved with me six times, and lived in three states across the country.  He’s an indoor cat that likes to go outside sometimes as long as the door is left open so he can dash back inside if he sees his own shadow.  My husband says he’s a scaredy cat.  Most of our friends have never seen him.


He doesn’t have a real meow, but makes a sound more along the lines of a bird chirp.


He mostly behaves and is not allowed on counters or tables.  Before we moved into our current abode I used to cover the furniture with sheets at night so he wouldn’t get cat hair all over everything.  Now we have a sunroom and that’s where his litter box, cat carrier/grotto, and the playhouse and kitty couch that I made out of cardboard boxes are.  At night, and when we’re not home, I just close the door.


For several days after I brought him home from the shelter I thought something was wrong with his back legs.  He didn’t walk upright, but rather slinked.  When he finally did walk upright it was as though a miracle had happened.


When he wasn’t slinking around he was on my lap, which seemed to be normal, cat-like behavior.  But that hasn’t happened since that first week.  Mostly he likes to sit somewhere near me, but not be touched.


Did I mention he had worms and kennel cough?


Cyrus loves to lie in the sun like a lizard and will follow its rays as they move across the room.  If he catches me watching him he sits up straight and tall, waits for a moment, and then comes running to me, whether I’ve called him or not.


When I leave the apartment and ask him to go in the sunroom he usually gives me a chirp or two, then gets up lazily and walks into the sunroom.  Don’t tell me he doesn’t understand me.


I’ve left him by himself for up to ten days at a time with massive bowls of food and water.  I’m never worried about him when I leave.  But the whole way home I can’t stop thinking, “I hope he’s not dead”.


Cyrus may be more than a little skittish, but I love to watch him observe the world around him.  His ears finely tuned to every rustle of leaves, every flap of a wing, with his eyes wide, catching every flash of movement.  Not that he’d actually pounce on anything other than a dried leaf (and my husband that one time).


But he’s my gato and I love him.




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Sometimes there’s a silver lining where you wouldn’t expect it.




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Hahn Woods, Atlanta



It is coming.





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Like a Barb in the Soul



I’ve been thinking about this tree for months.  The first time I saw it I was shocked and horrified, and yet, I found something beautiful and inspiring about it as well.  It has part of a barbed wire fence running right through the middle of its trunk.


There’s a spot on one side of a pond that I like to walk around where there is a barbed wire fence.  The trees that grow along it remind me of the Ents who go to war against Isengard and the machine of industry, marching on the front lines to their “doom”. There is even one tree that seems to have actually broken part of the barbed wire, but still has it hanging out the other side.


For a long time I thought about the way that barb entered right into the heart of that tree: slowly, dully, imperceptibly.  And then one day it’s just there, it’s part of the tree.  Like so many of the wounds that we carry around, they’re just there, and we wonder in vain where they came from.


I wanted so badly for those trees to be whole.  I had the urge to yank that barbed wire right out, to tug at it with all my might.  In my frenzy, I could imagine even chiseling at the tree itself, performing a sort of hack-job surgery.


It wasn’t until much later that I realized that any effort to relieve the tree of those barbs would surely kill it.  It had learned to grow around and live with the barbs that had intruded on its life.  And it still sprouted branches and leaves and for all the world was still doing exactly what it should, still able to be a tree in all its tree-ness.




(My friend Erin and I paid a visit to these trees the other day.  For another perspective – and a profound one at that – read her blog post here.)




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