Change is constant.

saffron field web

As spring finally settled in this year, I drove down to the arboretum to explore. Each year I remember where I previously captured moments of unexpected delight: a carpet of giant crocus lining the walkway between hedges, Siberian iris and snowdrops merging together with evergreens, fuzzy pastel pasque flowers, tulips glowing like lampshades filled with sunshine.

Could I take a better photo than the one took back then? Could I get a do-over? Will I miss out on a particular bloom because I waited too long to visit?

Wistfulness, anxiety and compulsiveness run on a constant loop.

Then, I actually start my exploration. I revisit places those places of wonder, expecting the same delight. Instead, I’m greeted with change and slight disappointment. Gardens evolve. Change is constant.

I want to go back to the place of beauty, but that place is no longer the same. There’s nothing to recapture or recreate, because the landscape changed with time.

Similarities, yes. Tulips still bloom, as do the lilacs and roses and lilies. And yet, they’re different each year and so is the lighting, the weather and my timing in visits.

Even as I’m disappointed when I cannot revisit the magic that once was, something always surprises me. The air whooshes out from my lungs on a surprised, “Wow!”

This year, cresting a hill, I glimpsed this field of saffron flowers — hundreds of them glowing beneath a giant old tree. Upon closer inspection, I saw that someone carefully planted them in the shape of a giant heart.

Maybe there’s a lesson about openness in all of this garden business. I want to hold on to those spaces of wonder and joy — to recreate things that once were — but those things have faded.

Maybe life just tastes bittersweet. We cannot hold the moments of wonder and joy, however much we try. They slip through our grasping hands.

Even as change inevitably comes, there’s still hope.

Somehow, if we’re open, life catches us by surprise. The past is gone, and something new still awaits. Maybe not where we were expecting it to come — perhaps the unexpected nature of life is part of the miracle.

We didn’t know we would stumble upon the moment. The air whooshes out from our lungs, delight rushes in, and for a brief moment the world seems to pause as we are swept up in the magic in front of our noses. A baby giggles. The sunset fills the sky with streaks of pink and orange. The waves crash against the shore. Laughter echoes round the table as old friends swap stories and good food. The bear hug reminds we’re welcomed and loved just as we are.

We cannot go back to what once was, but life still bubbles up, often unexpectedly. Will I choose to notice? Will I squander the present joy as I compare it with my past expectations?

Everything isn’t always sparkles, with hundreds of crocus dancing in the breeze. But perhaps these wonder-filled moments are like manna in the wilderness.

The book of Numbers tells of Israel’s wandering in the wilderness after their flight from Egypt. As they wandered in the desert, manna — this mysterious form of nourishment — rained down from heaven. It was enough to feed and sustain them. They couldn’t hoard it or save it — even though some tried. Manna was nourishment for the day. Perhaps boring after so many days of eating it, but still enough to carry them through to the next day.

Will I trust God for the manna to make it through the day? Will I acknowledge the wonder and grace that pops up, or will I grumble and bemoan that grace did not appear the way I wanted? I hope I spend more time in the former.

Finding peace in enough

purple-crocus

Crocus are the flowers that beckon me outside with me camera as winter shifts to spring.

Folks content with simple things intrigue me, particularly those content with enough instead of excess. This discipline remains uncomfortable for me like sitting on the floor and reaching to my outstretched toes — beyond my grasp, but I stretch and it burns. Continue reading

Converting old jeans into rugs, or a metaphor for Lenten life.

Ragged jeans

This spring I’ve cleaned out closets. I gathered up the stashes of jeans I’d been hoarding and unwilling to chuck — not the jeans that are simply too big or too small, but the ones with worn-out inseams or missing buttons. The kind not even the thrift store wants, as likely they’d get thrown into the garbage or shipped off to other countries. Tossing the fabric to the curb seemed wasteful. Continue reading

Yours, Mine or Ours?

090216 Gooseberry Falls

Middle Falls at Gooseberry Falls State Park

Recently Dad, J and I spent a few days hiking around what we Minnesotans call the North Shore. I dug out my camera and was excited to experiment with my shutter speed settings as I photographed waterfalls. If done well, slowing the shutter speed captures the flow of the water while keeping a crisp surrounding landscape.

This image taken at Gooseberry Falls seems peaceful and quiet, like I might be the only person there.

But, I was not. There were swarms, like every other time we failed to get there really early in the morning. Continue reading

Photo Friday: Praising yarrow’s charm.

080516 strawberry yarrow

I never understood yarrow’s appeal. A frequent staple in perennial gardens,  it’s a lingering weed in my yard, one left behind from the previous homeowners. It still creeps along in the grass seemingly impossible to kill. And the scruffy foliage and tiny flowers didn’t appeal to me. Just blah. I thought it was ugly. Continue reading

Photo Friday: Growing in Rocky Places

072116 hen and chicks

Trying something new here — Photo Fridays.

In the midst of the politics and the violence all over social media, I am weary, and my shoulders are struggling with the weight of the world’s brokenness. Maybe your shoulders need strengthening, too.

I needed to be reminded of this: beauty is still out there in the world, too. Hope is there, too.

These hen and chicks gave me a burst of courage. In the midst of what seems like an inhospitable environment, on a hot and dry rock, of all places, they hang in and keep growing.

In the face of what seems impossible or unbearable, may you and I find the strength and courage to keep growing and loving instead of giving up in defeat. May we lean into the discomfort we feel because of the world’s brokenness, rather than slinking away and hiding from it.

Even if evil seems like it’s winning, even if the challenge seems too big to tackle,  let’s be stubborn like these hen and chicks.