Sunday, February 10, 2013

Of Daffodils, a Concrete Bench, Courage and Grace

Early daffodils, most likely "Ice Follies"

In the last week or so, the early daffodils have been blooming. Daffodils look rather fragile, with their delicate nodding petals and soft spears of green leaves. But one week in January, I discovered a secret. 

Note part of concrete bench at top right.
My husband and I moved the concrete bench (see top right in the photo above). This bench is so heavy that both of us can barely lift the top for a few seconds, so we moved it in stages. Lift top slab. Lean against tree. Move one concrete pedestal. Move other concrete pedestal.

To my astonishment, under the second pedestal, yellow growing tips of daffodil leaves were poking through the soil.

Daffodils that were under the bench.  
Weeks later, I keep returning to reflect on the life force of these daffodils, at the energy with which they grew up through the earth. They could not feel the sun's warmth or see the light as they grew, but instinctively, blindly, courageously the plants grew, cell by cell. Their desire to be in the sun, to become the flowers they were meant to be, overcame the weight of a concrete bench.

I seek the courage of these daffodils, the energy, the love and the trust with which they grew despite heavy odds against them. How wonderful in this case to be the witness - and the accidental agent - of a small miracle. I think now of God's grace as the removal of an unmovable bench. My job is to keep growing without fear. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Gift of Robins

The days are getting longer and the morning's birdsong louder. I am returning to myself after months of clouded overwork. Today I saw the most beautiful sight I've seen for quite some time. Dozens of robins flew in and out of the hollies just outside the window, eating berries, perching on bare branches and drinking from the birdbath. I took photos, then put aside the camera and watched for a long time.

I've been praying for the grace of inner silence, to stop the endless videotape of thoughts about what happened yesterday and speculations about what's going to happen tomorrow. The robins, shimmering in the hollies as they fluttered their wings to balance while reaching for berries and flew from branch to branch, brought that silence.

As I continued to contemplate the robins, a bird with a black mask and yellow-tipped tail appeared out of nowhere. A cedar waxwing! I haven't seen one since childhood in Michigan, I think. The red markings on the wings match the holly berries. 

At work at the church this fall and early winter, I became lost in administration and words. Paper words, electronic words. For months, I failed even to fill the feeder outside my office window. I also failed to feed myself, with time in nature and the garden, time in stillness and observation of the life around me. But the days are getting longer,  and I am returning to the feast.