Saturday, May 9, 2009

Spring 2009

Spring in Western Washington ebbs & flows before it settles in. We had a huge rain- & windstorm early this week, and water leaked into the basement of our house. Not a big deal, but a little surprising in May. At the end of the day, this rainbow appeared in front of our house.

Nowadays, when I go out for a walk, I see signs of spring everywhere.

This rhododendron (our state flower) grows by the side of our road, and it is about 20 feet tall! It's a marvel. Every spring, it's one of the things we look forward to watching as its blossoms open. They get very full; each one is like an individual bouquet.

During the past week, Gregg & I were wondering if some of our plants had died during the winter, due to the unusual amount of snow that fell this winter. They showed no signs of life. Just as we were discussing replacing a few plants, leaves started to bud, and then open. Flower blossoms began to appear, and then their color started to peek out.
It lifts my spirits to see these simple, natural beauties.
I feel as if a paradox is taking place within me; an over-simplified way to put it is to say, I am sadder, yet I am also happier, than I used to be.
I am sadder, because every day that I live, I am deprived of Katie's physical presence, and I know that this is not going to change; she is not coming back here. This is now part of the fabric of my life. I live with a hole inside of me, every day...and some days, it seems as if I fall into that hole. On those days, life seems very dark indeed.
Yet, I am happier, because I no longer believe that things that cannot make me happy or fulfilled, will make me happy and fulfilled. I have a new outlook on life. I KNOW that I am going to die; I have seen it happen -- to my own child, as I lay next to her on her bed. I know I'm going to experience the same thing, someday; I just don't know what day it will occur, or how. That doesn't matter; for some reason,
the knowledge is kind of freeing. It's as if fearing death makes no sense anymore, now that I know it's really going to happen to me, and that it's built into human life. Since I was born here, I will also die here.

There is a beautiful brass work of art, embedded in the sidewalk at the Pike Place Market, that states this with perfect simplicity; I used to see it often on my way to work. It is a tree branch, and a quote by the poet Narihira, and it says:
"I have always known that at last I would take this road,
but yesterday, I did not know it would be today."
When my grandmother died suddenly in January of the year 2000, it took on new meaning for me. It has even more meaning for me now.
I am happier because I expect less. I don't know why this is the case; it just IS. Perhaps it is because of moving to a one-room abode for several months, and living in a hospital, in the midst of all sorts of suffering that I had never witnessed before, without all of the comforts that I was accustomed to enjoying. I still love pretty things, beautiful furniture, art, clothes, good food, wine, travel, music, stories, physical pleasures, etc.; I still want to have enough money to not have to worry about money. I'm not the least bit saintly (just ask my husband). But I am happier with less...I get satisfaction out of a house that I've cleaned myself, at least as much as I used to get from a house that was cleaned for me. I get pleasure from watching the daily progress of spring, with leaves unfurling and buds gradually revealing their colors, butterflies flitting past me and birds singing. I enjoy animals and children even more than I used to; I enjoy "table fellowship" more. I notice and enjoy simple pleasures with greater frequency and depth than I used to do. I feel richer and more fulfilled by less (notable exceptions: red wine and chocolate). It's a kind of freedom, I suppose.
There is some parallel here to spring, and to resurrection. It feels as if God is breathing some kind of life into the dead, parched, "old" me, and making a new creation out of me. As Father Rohr writes:
"When he [Jesus] breathes on the disciples he makes us all into new innocent Adam’s (and Eve’s!) and continues God’s eternal breathing into the “dust of the earth” (Genesis 2:7) as he did at the very beginning." From Hope Against Darkness, p. 27
I feel as if I have been that "dust" for these months since Katie passed away, and perhaps now, a bit of new life is beginning to be seen & felt, through that breath of God.

"When all nature is at rest, not a leaf moving, then at evening the dew comes down -- no eye to see the pearly drops descending, no ear to hear them falling on the verdant grass -- so does the Spirit come to you who believe. When the heart is at rest in Jesus -- unseen, unheard by the world -- the Spirit comes, and softly fills the believing soul, quickening all, renewing all within." - Robert Murray M'Cheyne, from A Daily Spiritual Seed newsletter
I realized today that it's important to remember that this is a gift, that is done for me, to me, by One Who loves me (and every one of us). I am thankful for it.


Elizabeth said...

I've always thought it wondrous that when spring comes (especially in places where winter is particularly harsh), it's as if it's for the first time.

This post is so beautiful, truly touched not only by your spirit but by God's as well. Thank you and bless you.

Busy Bee Suz said...

What a touching and thoughtful post Karen. You always get my brain to see things differently and to feel things in a new way. Thank you.
Blessings to you...
I hope you enjoy your Mother's Day with your family. You deserve a nice day filled with love and good table fellowship.

Lakeland Jo said...

what a beautiful post

Karla W. said...

Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos and the beautiful perspective. Every day IS a gift. :)

Kay said...

What a wonderful post! Spring is such a beautiful time... the smells... everything waking up from winter and springing forth with life!

Hoping your heart can truly find His rest during the days to come. Hugs to you, my friend!


Dawn~^i^Brandon^i^, Jordan, and Seth's mom said...

I loved your post and your photo's. Your words made me think of this scripture.

How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can't even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me.
Psalm 139:17-18

Keep enjoying your spring, and breaths from God!

Erica said...

Absolutely beautiful. . .

Diane said...

I am so glad to hear you're feeling a bit of spring inside. Hope that continues to blossom and unfurl...

hdbl said...

wow. i have no more to say.