☕️ Hope is a thing with leaves

A Saturday Caesura

It’s been cold here lately. Cold enough that all school buses were cancelled one day, several buses refused to start on other days, and most days my truck tires thump thumped squarish for a few kilometres before they softened to round again. Cold enough that the number of layers I had to wear outside and the number of times I had to refill the bird feeder in a day were roughly the same. Cold enough to earn the ranking of Extreme Cold by those who are officially tasked with determining such rankings.

It is an extreme act of hope to think about gardens and flowers and seeds and greenery when it is February and bitterly cold and there is not a patch of rich brown earth visible anywhere. Thanks to the recently repaired greenhouse that is attached to the science wing of our school, the hopeful thinking has turned into hope-in-action for a few of us who are particularly fond of gardens and flowers and green growing things.

So, in the middle of the day, after teaching writing craft and grammar and literary analysis, after supervising my portion of the lunch break, after processing emails and recording attendance, I escape to the greenhouse, incubator of summer, oasis from the cold and the flurry of the day.

First, the planting: tomatoes, peppers, herbs, rudbeckia, lupin, soapwort, geranium. I hold the seeds, tiny shades of brown, in my hands and taste sun-warm sweetness, see splashes of blossoming colour. I smell moist soil, feel its earthy coarseness, watch as bitter winds shove pale drifts of snow against the glass window-walls.

Then, the watering — a careful and faithful misting done with far more anticipation than a simple daily routine usually merits. And then on a particularly cold day, there is sprouting and green and jubilation. A cadre of icicles clings outside, peering in and perhaps wishing they could have contributed to the party, while we possess the evidence of our planting and watering as if the resulting growth is our doing alone: “My tomatoes are up! Look at my herbs! My lupins!!”

But of course, every sprout is the miracle it has always been, and we are blessed to be part of nurturing a life we can in no way create.

This week’s lunch caesuras in the greenhouse have been devoted to transplanting — moving seedlings from tiny pots into bigger ones where they can grow deep and tall and strong. It is gentle work, this handling of tender shoots and tentative roots. One more step in the patient acting out of a hope for what can yet be in a month, two months, a summer, next year.

I return to class with dirt under my fingernails. The weak afternoon sun slants through the classroom windows, slips across the desks where even more tender shoots with tentative roots sit, ready, needing all my hope-in-action efforts, too.

☀️ Blessings Keep Flowing

A Sunday Doxology

Praise God from whom

all blessings flow:

A warm home during

Extreme Cold Warning weather

lasting for days on end

Birds that flit and fly and sing

even in Extreme Cold Warning cold

Untouched snow and cloudless skies

Sunrises and sunsets and sun dogs

Bowls of chili and cups of hot tea

Conversation, laughter, prayer

with my husband of forty

Valentine’s Days

A day of Sabbath rest

days of goodness

weeks of hope

years of grace

Praise Father, Son, Spirit.

Amen.

☀️ Time

A Sunday Doxology

I am not a physicist.

I am not capable of even an attempt

at reducing time into complex formulas

and many fellow non-physicists

would scoff when I acknowledge you,

Creator God

for separating light from dark,

for ordering time into units you called

day and night

for establishing their rhythms into

seasons and years.

Time, after all,

belongs to the realm of physics

as something difficult to define

less difficult to measure as

we mark seconds minutes hours weeks

organize into zones

readjust to ‘save’ daylight

worry over waste

fret over scarcity

wish for speed or slowness

according to our whim and fancy,

seeking control when

time is ultimately

yours.

You are the one who has taken eternity,

difficult to define and measure,

taken it in your hand

and set it in the human heart

and even with its tug, its longing, its hope,

we cannot begin to fathom all

you have done

from ancient times to what is still to come.

From everlasting to everlasting,

You are God.

Fine.

☕️ On Walking

A Saturday Caesura

While out on a walk one evening this week, I saw a little girl and her dad at the street corner ahead. She was learning about stop-look-listen before crossing. When they began walking, the dad’s stride was relaxed and casual, solid and sure compared to the skip-bounce tiptoe half-run of the daughter’s effort to keep up. He held her hand, providing an anchor that kept them together even though her child pace could never match his adult one.

As I watched them, I tried to remember if as a child I had ever felt the need to always be half-running just to keep up with the adult world. Even if I didn’t then, I think I do now. . . and it is exhausting.

I had another walking experience this week. It was a long walk, one that generally gets labelled as a hike, but at its core, it was still walking. Once we bushwhacked (a particularly challenging kind of walking) our way into the alpine, we could clearly see the final route to the summit. Striped of their cloak of trees and shrubs, naked mountain ridges can be deceiving, looking either easier or harder than they actually are. To one member of our group, this route looked daunting. She stopped, looked . . . and stayed stopped. Anxiety set in. Then doubt. In the end, the thought of not reaching the summit after working so hard to get this far loosened the fear enough to get her feet moving again.

So we encouraged her and we walked. No skip-bouncing half-running, just steady and sure walking even when the wind whipped around and through us. Look-step. Look-step. I walked and she walked right behind me, not looking left or right or up ahead– just looking at my feet. When I took a step forward on the slope, she stepped right behind me. Anchored this way to possibility rather than fear, she made it to the summit one step at a time across all the space that felt too steep, too rocky, too impossible.

So I’ve been thinking about how we walk through life and who needs us to be steady and sure. About who needs an anchor when the pace is beyond reach and the way seems too much of everything scary and daunting and impossible. The truth? Maybe there is the odd occasion where I am somehow able to be those things for someone else, but mostly (always) I’m the needy one.

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:23-24

☀️ Rest

A Sunday Doxology

To the God who offers rest
from the weary weight
  of doing striving becoming,
from the surprising burden
            of emptiness—
Your invitation to come,
    to come
        to come
            to find
rest for our souls,
lingers
with a lengthening sweetness,
with a compelling hope,
with the undeserving promise
of your gentle, humble presence.

🌿 Wind

I worked to the rush of wind today;

it was steady and unrelenting in ways

I was not.

Does the wind ever wish it could just

pause,

know the singularity of a particular

place?

Or must it always be a wanderer on its

way somewhere

reminding us that change

is both unrelenting and inevitable,

never impossible.

That there is a way from west to east

from here to there,

from this to that,

from now to then.