Sunday, September 23, 2012
Recently I was the guest of my son and his family in New Mexico – hopefully a helpful one as I tried to assist with my not-quite eleven year old grandson. My son had some rather serious surgery earlier in the week and my daughter-in-law needed an assist with the routines while he was hospitalized.
Of course I had many precious moments with my grandson while there; I love the hugs and kisses and the revelations of new information he has acquired. What a difference these modern television shows make to a person’s knowledge base! My favorite time of the day, however, is the walk to and from school, which takes a little over ten minutes.
Slow walks must stimulate thought. At least, there are many who feel a good walk stimulates creativity and reflective thought, and I can personally attest to the clearing of the mind, a bit of problem solving, and the development of story ideas while walking in my neighborhood green area. My grandson is already exhibiting the positive benefits of a walk and shares many thoughtful questions and ideas.
I remember our walks last year, when he was exploring the ideas of friendship and loyalty and trying to make sense of “best” friendships. I was so impressed with his ability to reason out some of his ideas and seek genuine answers to his questions. This year he was still wrestling with friendships, but is exploring emotions like anger and jealousy. A typical pre-teen, he wants to know how others see him and how he fits into the social circle.
I treasure the trust he has shared with me as we talk. As a young girl, I didn’t have a trusted person to talk with and was tortured with the very questions my grandson has. That may explain why I was a painfully shy and withdrawn teen. Of course, we also do a bit of simple catching up and chatting. It is just nice to stroll along with my favorite little person having a good conversation.
I can’t help but wonder how often we miss these golden opportunities to interact with a child, a family member, a friend, or even someone we just met in a way that might be helpful. As a practicing teacher, I used to marvel at how many total strangers would walk up to me in a store or park and spill their burden of a current problem. What? Did I have a secret tattoo on my forehead that said “Tell me all!”? No, I just had the habit of looking into a child’s face with a look that told him I was listening and I soon found that message was easily picked up by others.
Walks are a wonderful way to connect to another person. It fills the need to talk about the small things, to share your worries and laugh at things that seemed so critical just hours before.
It is a beautiful fall day today. The sun is shining; there is a fall breeze that carries the musty smell of turning leaves and roasting chili. This must be heaven. This kind of day makes me think of a poem by one of favorite poets – Robert Frost. The Pasture had to have been written on a day just like today as he prepared to walk to the spring and clear the leaves away. I wish we could all issue that warm invitation for a walk that promises quiet companionship and undemanding closeness –
Thursday, September 13, 2012
I spent this afternoon at the farm, a little over five weeks after the fire that destroyed the house. Although there was a light rain, I knew the trees were suffering both from the heat of the fire and the dryness of another year without adequate rainfall. I wanted to give each tree a good drink with the hope that the current rain would be both cleansing and life-giving.
Plants and trees have always amazed me with their resilience. I have seen the aftermath of forest and prairie fires and the resurgence of plant growth is nothing short of miraculous. Although I will lose some trees, those who were only wounded rather than killed are trying to make their comeback, even if terribly confused.
I am most impressed with the catalpa tree from New Mexico that suffered heat so intense that half its branches burned off or were blackened and charred. Two weeks after the fire, new branches sprouted at the base and by today the living half was sending shoots to the area of loss. The cooler weather sent a message of spring to its damaged growth system and it is now in bloom as well.
The year-old maple tree has sent up a shoot in a Hail Mary attempt at life. Resurrection lilies continue to shoot up among new growth of prairie sage. The oak leaf hydrangea, although burned off at the ground, has sprouted a healthy new plant. Spring bulbs are trying to surface in the blackened earth.
Of course, I miss the house terribly (especially in the rain) but I see the farm in a different light now. It will be a few months before we start to build again, but from these surprising signs of life that spring from terrible wounds I draw hope. All of God’s creation is built to fight for life, adapt, and recover.
I am blessed. I am blessed with land that is loaned to my family for a while. It teaches me daily.
Fall and winter have always been my favorite time at the farm. I love to walk the pastures, delight in watching the turkey mating dance in its craziness, and I love watching the he-men enjoy the deer hunt. The combination of farm memories and happy current moments produce in me hope, gratefulness, and trust.
Ann Voskamp, another writer blessed with land, states, “The foremost quality of a trusting disciple is gratefulness.”
I am indeed grateful.
All is grace.