Advent—The writing below is from a 2011 post on a previous blog that I wrote when I was newly worshipping with the liturgical calendar in “the Anglican way”…

Photo of our Jessamine farm front yard on the first snow of 2020

Hule and I have decided to do more this year for Advent. That’s new for me. Lent had been new for me the last few years: not the concept of Lent—just the idea that it’s more than the horrific prospect of no chocolate for 40 days! In a similar way, the concept of Advent is not new to me, it has just mostly been a time for slick purple and pink candles in crunchy Styrofoam wreaths, opening little calendar doors each day, a countdown of shopping days ‘till presents, cookie baking and tree decorating. So, being a virtual “nubie” at Advent and an information junkie—I went to the stacks. (Thank you Richland County Public Library.)

I checked out about a dozen books on Advent and have been reading the Advent Lessons and Carols Scriptures for this year: Genesis 2 & 3, Isaiah 7 & 53, Luke 1 & 2, Hebrews 1 and John 1. I’m finding that Advent is a time of waiting for the Messiah—the fruition of all of the Messianic promises. Wait, Prepare, Rejoice, Love are the 4 “watchwords”.[1] This week is about waiting. Ireton informed me that: “In Hebrew, the word for wait is also the word for hope.” (Ireton 2008, 22)

Hope has been one of my special words lately–one I’ve thought about a lot. Hope=Esperanza in Spanish; the name I would give myself if I could rename me. It seems there are two kinds of hope. One is a hope in people: fallible humans. This hope is less sure. This hope has the capability of disappointing. “I hope he will do what he said.” “I hope she will make it.” It implies some sort of trust, some kind of vulnerability, but the open-endedness of not being certain. Secondly there is hope in God. If we cannot hope in God, in whom can we hope? This is a more certain hope—a hope that does not disappoint. Here, once one believes God is true and good and all-powerful, then hope feels more like waiting, and our hope is in that we heard his promise correctly, discerned rightly, what he meant when he said in Isaiah (about 735 years before Christ came[2]): Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. In Isaiah 7:14b Immanuel means God with us. God doesn’t mind making us hope a long time—wait for many years. Just as we wait now for Christ’s second coming! And so, part of Advent is to put myself back in that time between 735 B.C. and C.

C=Christ is here!!! Christmas!! Wahoo!!!

I’ll have to admit that it takes a little pretending to wait—hope—for the Messiah when I know he has already come. It’s like Good Friday when we mourn for Christ’s death but we really know he will rise again. I guess it’s also like watching a really sad movie the 2nd time around: crying, hoping, fingernail biting is not the same when you know it will end well.

And so this week, I wait… I hope… for GOD WITH US!!!


[1]Ireton, Kimberlee Conway. The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2008.
[2] Thank you ESV Study Bible footnotes

Happy Mother’s Day!

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I was born into motherhood nearly 39 years ago. It is one of the highest privileges and deepest mysteries I’ve ever encountered. Birthing and Mothering allows women to participate in Sacrament—in unconditional Love, Creation, Christ-mas, Baptism, and Communion.

I’ve written a poem for all mothers and their children, for my daughters, granddaughter, and for my mother. It only scratches the surface of this unfathomable mystery. I share it with you here:

I am Mother

by Loretta Goddard

I lie down and surrender to love and risk.

Protection withdrawn, my womb opens to receive another.

My fertile bed prepared by God opens its lips to the seed.

The race is on—unpredictable and exciting—one possibility meets thousands and chooses one.

A match is made

A fire strikes

Burning and burrowing beneath the soil of blood and mystery.

I wait. I look to stars.

I con-sider. I lie still.

Selah

 

We test “waste” to know your presence. We listen and peer in with sound waves.

I lie down once again and look to screen and risk seeing you and falling madly,

deeply,

forever in love.

I carry you around in my purse and pouch and put you on my refrigerator and marvel at the blurry, fuzzy jelly bean sized person in me,

Who is you.

I wait. I look to stars.

I con-sider. I lie still.

Selah

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I begin to pant and feel squeezing—tightness

Yes—pain

Intense—severe

I risk death with joy and moaning, for you.

You have kicked in me, punched my ribs, rolled like a bowling ball inside me.

How I have longed to see you and touch you and now it is immanent and I am scared.

As you emerge I am born.

I am mother.

I hold you.

I wait. I look to stars.

I con-sider. I lie still.

Selah

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I give my days and nights to you.

I give my body once again—my rest and food, vitamins and drink all churn inside me until milk comes flowing through my chest to nourish you…sustain you.

My hours are yours, my body is given—scarred, stretched, engorged.

This is my body, broken for you. Take and eat.

You snort and grunt, draw near to suckle, your hands knead like a cat on a blanket, like a baker with his dough.

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I wait. I look to stars.

I con-sider. We lie still.

Selah

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Stay at Home Orders

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I slept late this morning.  Night before last I barely slept.  During this time of Covid-19 and “Stay at Home” orders all structure has been thrown out the window.

Actually what I have now is what I long for often–long periods of time alone to read and pray and journal…and drink coffee; less biddings to go and do, less social necessities, a monk-like/nun-like existence: Ora et Labora, Ora et Labora.  That is it mostly.

My evangelical Christian worldview brings guilt that I need to be out there spreading the word, helping people.  Indeed that is what Jesus and the disciples did.  They didn’t hole up and stay in caves praying–quarantining.  They didn’t even stay in one place like the desert mothers and fathers, or in a monastery or Christian commune, and let others come to them (except maybe some like John who was exiled to Patmos and Paul in prison).

But I am not Jesus nor His first century disciple.  The early church had a mix of calls for each person according to their gifts–according to what “body part” they were, according to their unique vocation.  And this pandemic time is a unique, likely, temporal time too.

My very good friend, Jan Kaneft, is the Archdeacon at Church of the Apostles in Columbia, SC.  She wrote a devotional during this time that really spoke to me.  I include it below:

SCRIPTURE: The LORD your God is in your midst, a Mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)
THOUGHT: Last week we ZOOMED with dear friends in North Carolina. Almost immediately, the conversation centered upon our grandchildren, a common occurrence with grandparents. Bill, our friend, laughingly described his new garden apprentice-his three-year-old grandson.
He loves to help me feed the birds. We end up with more seeds on the ground than in the feeder. It’s always messy. It would be easier and much quicker to do it myself, but I just love being with him.
He went on to say, Time spent with my grandson reminds me of what our relationship with Jesus is all about-He doesn’t need us; He wants us.
The prophet, Zephaniah, proclaims a similar message to the Israelites in Judah. God, the covenant keeper, initiates with His people a call back to relationship. He is faithful even when His children are making messes of their lives. He blesses with His presence because He delights in His people. Pure and simple, He just loves being with us.
Locked in the constraints of COVID-19, much of our activity has been curtailed. Has this restraint unveiled a fear inside that busyness has kept buried: does God really love me? Many of us believe that we are required to achieve something to prove to God and to the world that we are worth loving. In other words, what we do engages His love. The doing can become a lifeline to our significance, affirmation, security, acceptance—our value. It is difficult for us to believe that He just wants us. If this is your struggle, let the words of Zephaniah remind and encourage you today: God rejoices over you with gladness. God quiets you with His love. God exults over you with loud singing. Friends, He doesn’t need us; He wants us.

First, this includes one of my favorite Scriptures–Zechariah 3:17. This reminds me–We are/I am not socially distanced from God!  He’s in my midst.  He’s here.

And, as Jan reminded me, He loves me more than I love my grandchildren, Hazel and Julian, from whom we’ve been “socially distancing”.  And He wants to be with me more than Hule and I long to be with Hazel and Julian.  Wow!  That’s a lot.  Being around them, distancing 6 feet away and outside, and not getting to hold them was excruciating.  So I’m asking myself:

Do I distance myself from You, God?

Not going all the way to embrace You and sit on Your lap and be quieted by Your love?

Receive Your cheek kisses?

Hear Your ho-ho-ho; Your songs and shouts of joy and gladness over me?

I watched yesterday as Hule previewed a new video just sent of the grandkids.  Hule’s face was priceless–rejoicing over, smiling deep, deep face furrows of joy watching their every move.

God, if You indeed, rejoice over us–over me–in that way, it is an amazing privilege.  I want to acknowledge and soak it in.  I want to live seated in Your lap, in Your embrace, surrounded and covered with Your love and never let the wetness of Your kisses on my cheek evaporate.

Once again I’m reminded of another of my life Scriptures: Romans 8:38 & 39.

What can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus?

Not coronavirus

Not social distancing

Not job insecurity

Not economic catastrophe

Not sickness or even death

Nothing

This incomprehensible, unbelievable, ever-present love of God is the eternal foundation of life!

Covid-19 from the farm

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I began the morning while it was still dark–6:30ish a.m.

A quiet house

Heating blanket on

Furnace catching up from nighttime turn down to morning turn up

67 to 72 degrees

No coffee yet

Papers shuffled

Nest made

Bible at side…waiting

Candle lit

A week ahead

The new way…

Last week I was “off” from babysitting because it was my daughter’s spring break; but the whole world is shuttering now for the novel coronavirus–isolation, lockdown, shelter in place….  On Wilmore Anglican Church’s Sunday morning sermon Facebook feed, Hule echoed musings by Andy Crouch who was referencing Osterholm, an infectious disease specialist, asking:  Is this a blizzard? a winter? or an ice age? We went into this thinking–a blizzard–just a few weeks.  Now it’s apparent it will be at least a winter.  But with political stalemates and the tenacity of those numbers and climbing curve, and the falling stock market, we are all wondering if it’s ushering in a new metaphorical ice age.

Lord, You are in control and You are good!  Hule’s quote of “Granny Rene” is right:

“God is God.  God is good.  And God loves us!”  This is what we know.

But God, what are you up to?

I am reading the Old Testament book of Job.  What God was up to in Job was not apparent to Job’s children, his employees, his country, his wife, his friends–not even to Job; but from heaven’s perspective it was made clear.  In human eyes we might say, “That’s not fair!”  “I don’t get it!”  But God is God.  His ways don’t have to be explained or justified.  He is sovereign.  We are not equipped to push back the works of God, or meant to question them.  God allows Satan, with limits, to seemingly wreak havoc at times for His own purposes.  Jesus himself experienced that:

His corona–His crown–His thorny, blood-stained crown, because God loves us;

His isolation and His own body shut-up, quarantined–in a cave, a tomb,

While hell was harrowed.

And Job lost it all:  his livelihood; his house and farm; his children and his wealth.  When he faced the sudden calamity, the sudden blizzard, he said:

Naked came I from the womb

Naked shall I return.

The Lord it is who gives

and the Lord takes away.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

And “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”  God is good.

Then entered winter.

Satan was given even more permission and Job’s body was ravaged.  Was it a novel virus that was unleashed on him?  His wife told him to “curse God and die.”  And Job said, “Shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil?”  “And in all this Job did not sin with his lips.”  When we never acknowledged that it was the Lord who gave and it was the Lord who provided good all along–when we think it was our own goodness that brought it about—besides being extremely blind and arrogant–we don’t know what we don’t know.

How is it that we believe so often that we create the good but it is God who brings the bad?  And how is it that we believe it’s all about us?  That our purposes are at the center instead of God’s purposes?  Do we fault God for acting like God?  …for putting His purposes above our own?

The suddenness of Job’s losses brought on a stunning: a sitting together on the ground in silence together for 7 days before a word was uttered.  A 7 day silence.  7 days of ground-sitting together before a word was spoken.  Something gigantic is there–something absent from our culture; a language few of us speak!  A practice foreign to our list of possibilities: sitting together 7 days in utter silence.

Be still and know that I am God

Be still and know that I am

Be still and know that I

Be still and know that

Be still and know

Be still and

Be still

Be…

It’s that empty, wordless nothingness–

Silence

Stillness

No raging

No questioning

No figuring out

No philosophizing

No doctoring

No leading

No consulting

No data collecting

But sitting still with the circumstance together with a few friends in wordlessness–on the ground:

We are but dust and to dust we will return.

Naked came we–Naked shall we return–Blessed be the name of the Lord!

This is part of practicing Lent.

And what we always know is:

God is God.

God is good.

God loves us.

 

 

Contemplating Lent

Contemplating Lent

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Something about the liturgical seasons bring me into contemplation and make my pen long for paper.  In this Garden season of planting seeds, tending, waiting, watching and expecting, Lent, literally meaning Spring, I focus my attention on the church calendar’s observation of Lent–a season of a 40-day focus on Jesus’ coming, suffering, and dying for us.  During this time I have chosen to fast from certain foods (including sugar), from excessive screen time (tv, phone surfing, etc.), and from a life of distraction and distance from God.

Two days ago I was questioning the relevance of fasting from foods during Lent, likely with the intention of a justification for modifying my commitment.  “Shrove Tuesday” (another name for Mardi Gras) is intended to precede our Lenten fasts.  It’s a time to clear out our pantries of sugar and sweets and the things we’re likely to be fasting from beginning Ash Wednesday–the first day of Lent.  Apparently, I did not adequately ‘shrive’ my pantry and I found myself drooling over the pecan sticky bun on my counter on this, my first day of fasting from sugar.  Yikes!  And, so, seriously, unlike myself, I “woke up” after a pounce upon the prey, and a quick devour, with dripped pecan pieces on my sweater and a cat-that-just-ate-the-canary expression when my husband walked through the door a little while later.  Yes, I confessed…after a few hours…and started the fast again.

How does this relate to Lent?

Humankind’s journey toward this Lenten season began with a Garden of planting seeds, tending, waiting, watching, and expecting and with eating something that was not good for us.  Genesis relates that Adam and Eve were invited to eat every tree in Eden except one–the tree of the Knowledge Of Good And Evil–I call it the KOGAE tree.  But when Eve saw the fruit from this one tree that was to be avoided, fasted from, she pounced on and devoured it and then suggested Adam do the same.  They both had metaphorical pecan drippings all over their ‘sweaters’ when God walked up, and their cat-that-ate-the-canary expression started it all.

In this season of life, I have a new lens for contemplating everything.  Four days a week I have the privilege of helping to watch my two precious grandchildren–ages 1 1/2 and 3 1/2.  Now, my grandkids love sugar and sweets about as much as their Grandma does (please, no judgement!), and it’s hard not to pull out the goods just to be in the bask of the delight in their eyes and the baited breath of expectation when I offer them some.  But, discipline says, reason says, health says, this cannot be all that I eat, nor all that they eat.

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And so, the other day, when I found my little grandchild with her hand literally in the sugar jar, crystals all over her cheeks, and a cat-that-ate-the-canary look on her face–it helped me connect more dots, and take these 40 days of Lent to pray:

Thank you, kind Father,
Gardener, Provider, and Caregiver,
all-knowing Creator,
for making a way, through Jesus’ life, suffering and death,
His own 40-day fast from food,
to erase the pecan drippings off my sweater,
the white crystals off my granddaughter’s cheeks,
and the “KOGAE” crumbs from Adam and Eve,
and from all of humankind.
Amen

 

A Good Friday Reflection

As the rain comes down today and I see my packages of seeds awaiting the earth of my garden, being prepared for the death of a seed in the soil, to bring up the resurrection of something new and green–with the un-watering of the sky above; I see the correlation of Jesus’ death on the cross–to bring about a resurrection of hope and redemption offered to us all.

Today our church had a good Friday service in which we contemplate the last 7 words of Christ from the cross. I was asked to participate and I chose Jesus’ words “I thirst” as the focus of my sharing:

I Thirst

By Loretta Goddard, Good Friday 2019

“Jesus, seeing that everything had been completed so that the Scripture record might also be complete, then said, ‘I’m thirsty.’ A jug of sour wine was standing by, someone put a sponge soaked with wine on a javelin and lifted it to his mouth.” John 19:28, 29 (The Msg)

I have been with three people as they died. One, we were trying to keep alive. I gave CPR to him as we awaited an ambulance. The other two were in hospice—one a friend, the other, my father. There were distinct differences in the death we were fighting and the others we were resigned to accept—even welcome.

Jesus’ death was one of acceptance at this point. Those who had eyes to see would even have welcomed it—for it was bringing about their way to redemption! To the Romans and most Jews at the crucifixion, Jesus was the “Dead Man Walking”* —the death row inmate already in the electric chair. To the disciples, the dismayed disciples, it was a horror they were resigned to accept. To Jesus it was the completion of something that began in the garden of Eden when Love, Who wouldn’t let go, began to formulate this plan. Moses wrote about it—the serpent’s head crushed by this woman’s seed* ; as did David, in Psalm 69*, prophesying of this very moment when Jesus would thirst and be offered sour wine.

When I sat with my friend and my father, as they lay dying, I observed that death is:
• an un-breath-ing and
• an un-water-ing.

When we fight death, we start IV lines and push fluids—we know that dehydration is part of dying. When we receive death, ice chips only are offered—or very small sips. Every breath “un-waters.” We offer moistened cotton swabs to cracked lips.

So here on the cross, Living Water was being poured out.

Just a few years prior to this, Jesus sat near a well and told a Samaritan woman: “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.” He said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”*

So now, on the cross, the Giver of Living Water Himself is thirsting. He is dry—parched—poured out—in order to quench our thirst. To bring us the living, gushing waters of saving grace, He is being un-watered with every breath.

Since this “Rock of Ages” gave water for the Israelites in the wilderness* —
Since this God-baby was birthed from amniotic fluid in a stable—
Since coming up from the waters of His baptism* —
Since that day with the woman at the watering well—
Since the dehydrated, un-watered, bleeding woman’s touch of the hem of His garment*-Since the moisture of a kiss of betrayal from Judas to His cheek—
Living, Loving, Water was being poured out.

This Word of God who formed the earth “out of water and through water,”* now allowed Himself, to be un-watered.
Life Himself became “Dead Man Walking.”
The Healer, the Great Physician, was passive. This is the “passion” of the Christ*:                 He became a patient—a hospice patient—submitting to death —
Allowing the un-breath-ing, the un-water-ing, of His death;
to bring us—
to offer us—
fresh living water.

Jesus said, “I thirst” so that we, can be filled with poured out Living Water, and “will never thirst—not ever.”

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*Footnotes:
1. Dead man walking definition: a condemned man walking from his prison cell to a place of execution. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/dead-man-walking
2. Gen 3:15
3. “They gave me poison for food and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” Ps. 69:2
4. John 4:10 Message, John 4:13/14 Message, italics mine
5. “and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them and the Rock was Christ.” 1 Cor. 10:4
6. Matthew 3:16
7. Matthew 9:20
8. “…the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God….” 2 Peter 3:5b.
9. “The English word passion takes it root in the Latin, passio, meaning passivity, and that’s its real connotation here. The word “patient” also derives from this. Hence what the Passion narratives describe is Jesus’ passivity, his becoming a “patient”. He gives his death to us through his passivity, just as he had previously given his life to us through his activity.” http://ronrolheiser.com/the-passion-of-jesus/

Bonsai

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Yesterday I bought a bonsai.  I’ve been waiting years to have one–nearly since I have heard of them.  My bonsai is not one long cultivated by a master gardener and sold for hundreds of dollars.  Mine came in a little porcelain dish from my local Lowe’s store for $22.98.  The 20-something woman watering all the plants said she had always wanted one too.  The checkout lady admired it thinking it was a gift.

“No,” I said.  “It is for me.”

Like the genuine and respectable Enneagram 5 personality type that I am, the Investigator or Analyzer, over time I’ve studied the art of bonsai thoroughly.  I’ve checked out books from the library, visited several Japanese gardens, drooled over these intricate shapes at numerous horticultural events and landscape stores.  I even took a bonsai class and purchased bonsai pruning shears–but alas–no bonsai for me…until yesterday.

It’s likely my Enneagram 4-wing, the Romantic, that draws me to these little miniature windswept masterpieces–kind of in the way that I am fascinated with Tiny Houses, and have spent many hours watching shows on designing and building them…and yet do not own one.

To me, a bonsai is a metaphor for life– the Master Gardener trimming and twisting, pruning and shaping, bending and supporting–hence strengthening,

the plant:

me–

us–

makes us into lovely masterpieces.

I’m going through the Ignatian Exercises for a second time in my life.  I am doing the longer version and one that follows the Liturgical Calendar.  We are headed toward Lent–the time when, like my bonsai, we bend down–to receive ashes and remember that we are dust.  We trust Hands to our roots and branches–even in the valley of the shadow of death.  We know that we are a beautiful creation with the training eyes and touch of our Master Gardener.

To prepare for the exercises, the book I’m following invited me to pray a prayer by Thomas Merton:

My Lord, God, I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think I am following your will

does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always

though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

(The Ignatian Adventure: Experiencing the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius in Daily Life, Kevin O’Brien, SJ, Loyola Press, Chicago, 2011, page 37)

After reading Merton’s prayer, I wrote my own–and my new bonsai reminds me of my prayer during this time of spiritual cultivation and training:

God,

I want to do this for us–

for our relationship to grow.

I feel like a kindergartener*:

I the kinder

You the Teacher;

I the branch

You the Gardener.

I am wild,

and prone to return to the wild

whenever I look away

or leave your training twine.

Handle me.

Touch me, O Gardener.

Apply me to your training espalier.

Help me stay pliable–

not to stiffen up in my “knowing”

but to remain supple;

not to resist your twists

upward and outward.

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*https://www.etymonline.com/word/kindergarten

Our Jessamine Garden

Today I heave a sigh as I see three new ears of corn sitting on the washer.  Like the trophy voles our cat used to leave on our doorstep, my husband has brought in 3 new gifts from the garden.

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Weeks ago we were delighting in our first ears.  I carefully shucked and cleaned them and took pictures of the miraculous cobs.

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Last year we mourned that either the deer, coons, or our neighbors’ wandering pigs had eaten every ear before our first harvest, so I read up on gardening websites and Pinterest about how to keep animals from chowing down on our produce before we could.  I planted my squash vines around the periphery because apparently it is reported that raccoons don’t like to bother themselves with stepping through the vines to get to the dainty nectarous morsels…. Slovenly coons!  I also read about putting out pie tins to toss around in the wind and scare away the critters…. We did that too.  We read about putting duct tape over each ear to keep the varmints from banqueting on our harvest, but that seemed extreme and not very “organic” so I didn’t pursue that option.  My husband made a makeshift scarecrow, which sounds good, but it was a pretty pitiful example of one and when I saw my neighbor’s example down Handys Bend, I felt a ting of scarecrow-envy.  I set an old Ale-8 hat on the freezer and suggested to my husband that it be added to the effigy, but it never was. There was another suggestion which we kind of tried which I don’t care to delineate here, but if you ever saw the movie Never Cry Wolf you might get the idea…. Lastly, I planted tall corn varieties which others said would make it hard for little coon paws to reach.  Part of our strategy was to harvest early, as soon as the kernels seemed ready, so as not to tempt the apparent menagerie out there gathering with drooling tongues every night–but I will admit that we have eaten a few “preemie” ears as a consequence.

Corn is in my blood.  We used to play in the big corn cob bin at Grandpa’s farm from which they fed the pigs.  I’m an Illinois girl raised in a town surrounded by corn and everybody knows that corn fresh from the garden is better than anything bought at the store, so I had motivation enough to try.

Another inspiration for our corn nursery was from Wendell Berry, one of my favorite writers.  He is from Kentucky and is also a gardener and farmer. Our land adjoins the Kentucky River as does his and it is fun to think, in maybe a neighborly way,  if I floated a message in a bottle upstream from our property, since the KY flows north instead of south, he could retrieve my note from the shore outside his “long-legged” writing cabin.    The Mad Farmer Poems are wonderful and  one of those poems, “A Man born to Farming”, was inscribed on my chalkboard as soon as we moved onto our farm.  Below I quote part of the poem:

The grower of trees, the gardener, the man born to farming,

whose hands reach into the ground and sprout,

to him the soil is a divine drug.  He enters into death

yearly, and comes back rejoicing.  He has seen the light lie down

in the dung heap and rise again in the corn.

His thought passes along the row ends like a mole.

What miraculous seed has he swallowed…

So I buried miraculous seeds with my own hands reaching into our Maury silt loam and sat back awaiting God’s light to rest among the rows and His rain to quench the parch…which they did.  Like a zygote in a woman’s uterus, the kernel with endosperm and an embryo inside of cotyledon, radicle and coleoptile, was implanted.  Then comes the monocot, leaflets unfurled; stalks, leaves, ears with silks, tassels follow.  It’s a slow-motion enchantment to observe.  Finally comes the picking, shucking, de-silking, boiling, buttering, serving, gracing, reaching, biting, tasting. MMMMMMMmmmmmm.

When God made us and put us in the garden as our home, he assigned our primarily given occupation.  It was pre-fall that our hands belonged in the soil:

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15 (NIV)

As the weeks of harvest have rolled on, I’ll admit that I have lessened in my enthusiasm somewhat.  Isn’t this the way of humans?  But my husband came in from a walk out back excited that he had seen a 10 point buck heading toward our field up front where the garden is.  Part of me sighed, but the other part wanted to shout out to our guest,

“Come on ahead, we’ve set the table for you. Feast!”

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Perhaps that’s how Adam and Eve felt in their garden too?

A Healing Place

We disappear in trauma.

Not all of us–the outsides stay whether they want to or not.

The insides stone up, wall up, shut down.

They’re like Addison…”What the…?”  or less sophisticated, “Ouch!”

When or whether we reappear is up for grabs.  Sometimes the healing necessitates, or dictates, staying inside the shell.  Changing routine, changing bandages, changing hope–they all cost and our insides pay a high price–often more than what is in the wallet.

But God is there.  And He has the extra we need.  We need only ask…if we can keep from walling up on Him.

There are places, spaces, where it is easier to open to Him:

walking the woods or pasture,

standing near a mossy log,

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counting dew drops on soft plant leaves,

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revisiting a field full of memories,

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smelling mist, hearing trees, admiring all He has made.

Here He invites our bidding–our reawakening.

Here He brings our healing.

 

A Frost Flower Bouquet

My husband often brings me flowers from his walks back to our pasture.  I don’t expect much from his winter walks, but the other day he surprised me with a bouquet of flowers…not in a vase, but on his iPhone.  They were frost flowers.

Before we moved to our farm I had never seen or heard of frost flowers.  The first winter we walked the land and saw these ice formations dotting the ground.  Since then we’ve learned that they come only with certain plant species and just at particular times of the year–when the unfrozen ground meets the freezing atmosphere and the capillary action of freezing water creates these fleeting frosty blossoms.

It’s kind of a miraculous sight–easy to miss.  If we didn’t walk by those particular flowers at that certain hour on that certain day, we would never see the icy display.  And as soon as it comes it is gone.  Like with the ephemeral trilliums that fill our woods in the spring, we must seize the day…carpe the big fat diem, as I might say…in order to behold this bouquet of icy petals.

So much of life is ephemeral…transitory: a newborn’s first days; the burst of a sunrise; a newlyweds’ honeymoon; a meteor shower; a blustery summer thunderstorm; a glorious sunset.  But because it is short-lived we do not reject it, but cherish it all the more.

At this Christmas season I’m thinking of the sudden short-lived sights that the shepherds saw on their walk back on the pasture land that night–a blaze of heavenly light, a talking angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, a young virgin mother and her husband, a newborn King in a feeding trough.  This was their ephemeral bouquet on that night.

And so at this wintery, frosty season when busyness could take my attention away from the miraculous sights and insights in front of me, I want to be open-eyed, open-handed,  open-hearted, to receive what will only be offered in this fleeting time we have on earth.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  Luke 2:14 ESV