Time Really Does Fly

SavedPicture(62) (1) It is no trite saying when older folks tell young parents “Enjoy them while they are little, it goes by so fast!”  That is the truth, plain and simple.  This is my baby girl, Sophia, who today celebrates her 24th Birthday!  Yesterday I was holding HER baby girl smiling at her just like this, amazed and mesmerized by the miracle and beauty of babies.  Who knew when I held this happy, sweet baby that the years would indeed fly by and soon I’d be holding my granddaughter?

I don’t know why it is so hard for me to believe until I come across a picture like this that brings back so many good memories of our family.  It wasn’t perfect mind you.  I mean look at that bonnet I put on her!  I was so young and didn’t know how much learning was ahead of me.  I worried too much about the bad things that could happen to these tiny miracles entrusted to our care or the mistakes I’d make but it helped me learn to pray.  I came to appreciate my parents more when I became one too. Now that I am a grandma I am reliving so many moments I cherished but that time had faded by holding not just one but two granddaughters born this year, the other born to my eldest son and daughter-in-law this summer.  Jason and his brother, Corey, will soon celebrate their 28th and 26th birthdays…will I ever get accustomed to the fact that my babies are grown and yet I still think of them as my babies?

All the tough stuff of parenting and babyhood blurs into a glimpse like this one that is full of love and gratitude for life’s blessings.  Parenting and grand-parenting are experiences that happens to millions but when it happens to you it is a game changer in the best way possible.  A new perspective, deep contentment, and indescribable joy are the everlasting gifts that surpass the dirty diapers, the sleepless nights, the depleted energy from chasing a toddler around all day.  One of the surprising joys of grand-parenting, however, is that you get to give them back to their mamas so you can get some much needed rest!

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Many years ago I drew a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe for a Catholic women’s group. The image was an introduction to Mary the Mother of Jesus in a way this Protestant never knew and led me to hang a print of Her by my bed. Recently, I felt moved to draw Her again and honor Her with my pen from my heart.  Our Lady

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Tiger Lily

I love the hearty beauty of the tiger lily. They grow free and strong in wild places yet are fragile, soft, orange starbursts along the pathways of life. These tiger lilies were growing along a river bank in Valley Forge, Pa. on our trip to Philly in June for our son’s graduation from seminary. Then in two more northern treks this summer for my nephew’s wedding in Va. and the birth of our second granddaughter in Philly in July, I saw them everywhere along the highways north and south. Maybe I was paying attention to them more than before, noticing them since having taken this picture, but I was amazed at how they survive the scorching sun. I am not much of a gardener but I would love to have these blooming all over my yard. Tiger Lilies2

Hear me, Lord, I humbly pray…

For strength to face the dawning day, that from my weakness I’ll be freed;
For truth to guide me lest I stray, and guard me from envy and greed…
Hear me, Lord, I humbly pray.

For love to give along the way, to help another soul in need;
With faith in You that near I’ll stay, and by Your grace I’ll plant a seed…
Hear me, Lord, I humbly pray.

Your Light dispels darkness away, O,that I follow where You lead;
For peace to hear the words You say, and form in me a holy creed…
Hear me, Lord, I humbly pray.

For a cheerful heart to let me play, and see beauty in a simple weed;
take me mold mesprouttree as the potter’s clay, with Your hands turn me as You knead…
Hear me, Lord, I humbly pray.

The Potter’s Clay

Of the many studio art classes I took in college, way back when, one of my favorites and the one I sometimes miss the most was ceramics class.  I recall the many late nights spent in the quiet, messy ceramics house working on clay pieces on the wheel or hand-building them with coils.  Learning to center clay on the wheel was not an easy task but like learning to ride a bike, once I got it, there was no stopping me.  Not much of anything resulted from that class, nothing spectacular anyway, just a bunch of little cups and bowls that have disappeared through the years.  But it is the process of working with clay that I remember so fondly; that feeling of connecting with the earth that was heightened to a spiritual experience as I learned to center the clay on the potter’s wheel.

Recently, what brought this memory back so vividly was, oddly enough, weeding the weed beds in the front yard.  With my hands in the dirt, yanking out weeds by the roots, I thought about how much I’d rather be bent over a wheel with my hands in wet clay than in the hot sun fighting a losing battle with the weeds.  Somehow the feeling of my gloved hands in the dirt stirred up the feeling of connection with the earth that I first experienced in ceramics class.  I had a glimpse of why some people have a passion for pottery or gardening but it passed quickly as the sun slipped behind a cloud and cooled me off.  I am no potter nor am I a gardener.  I like the idea of both passions yet somehow neither one has absorbed me for very long.  Instead I admire the artistry of others in both realms…some teapots I’ve collected and my retired neighbor’s manicured flowerbeds across the street.  To aspire to excellence in either art form requires on a daily basis much more stamina than I have for dirt under my nails and chronic back pain.

I can, however, appreciate the metaphor of the potter and the clay that has a deeper meaning for me in one of my favorite scripture verses: “Now, O Lord, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand.”  Isaiah lxiv:8.  The verse was followed by a devotion which in spite of the thees, thys, and thous, I could appreciate after my morning spent in the weeds wishing I was sitting at a potter’s wheel instead:

“He who hath appointed thee thy task, will proportion it to thy strength, and thy strength to the burden which He lays upon thee.  He who maketh the seed grow thou knowest not how, and seest not, will, thou knowest not how, ripen the seed which He hath sown in thy heart, and leaven thee by the secret workings of His good Spirit.  Thou mayest not see the change thyself, but He will gradually change thee, make thee another man (or woman as the case may be!).  Only yield thyself to His moulding hand, as clay to the potter, having no wishes of thy own, but seeking in sincerity, however faint, to have His will fulfilled in thee, and He will teach thee what to pray for, and will give thee what He teacheth thee.  He will retrace His own image on thee line by line, effacing by His grace and gracious discipline the marks and spots of sin which have defaced it.” Edward B. Pusey from Joy and Strength by Mary Tileston

10 Reasons to Bring the Kids to next year’s North Charleston Arts Festival!

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Hope Springs Eternal

DSC01044copy2I imagined a tree where hope springs eternal in its life giving boughs.  Where the morning light streams through newborn leafbuds and blossoms color the dreary wintry world anew.  I imagined the same rebirth in the depths of my dreary soul where the Light of God dispels the deadness and sparks new life in me, just not the baby kind, please.  But to new ideas, creativity, love, and the patience to finish the inspirations of the past, yes!   To my current level of insight and understanding this is what the painting of the tree expresses.  I would like to walk in such a world and rest under an ethereal tree to be rejuvenated, filled with peace and the spiritual power that comes from “Christ in me, the hope of glory.”  Lately, when dealing with difficult people, I find that verse from the Bible bubbling up in me and I insert the name of the person troubling me as a prayer:  “Christ in _____, the hope of glory!”  It really helps to soothe anger rising up and keeps stress at bay.  No one is beyond hope, not ever!

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;

Man never Is, but always to be blest:

The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,

Rests and expatiates in a life to come.”   

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man

For Those Tears I Died

This pen and ink I drew way back when (late 90’s) is inspired by a song called For Those Tears I Died by Marsha Stevens, written in the early 70’s.  I was becoming a teenager in that decade and that song was my lifesaver from the waves of angst that washed over me.  It is the only song I ever memorized on the piano and can play it to this day.  I am not much of a pianist, not like my mom and oldest sister who can play anything.  The refrain of the song is stuck in my head this Holy Saturday, along with the image of God’s Hand holding life’s teardrops, especially the death of Jesus on the Cross: “And Jesus said, ‘Come to the water, stand by my side, I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied; I felt ev’ry teardrop when in darkn???????????????????????????????ess you cried, and I strove to remind you that for those tears I died.'”

Waiting for Rebirth

A long time ago I watched the movie Fly Away Home with my kids.  It is about a little girl who lost her mother and comes to live with her father, an artist that her mother had long ago divorced because of the financial instability of their lifestyle and also because she herself was an unfulfilled artist needing to follow her own path.  The girl is grieving her mother and at first hates being at her father’s, though it is in very beautiful Canadian farmland.  The adjustment is difficult and painful to watch.

One day the girl goes out exploring and discovers a nest of goose eggs that had been abandoned by their mother when bulldozers encroached upon their riverside sanctuary.  The girl carefully moves the eggs into a bureau drawer inside the barn and nestles them in a bed of colorful scarves with lights attached to keep them warm.  Every time she opened the drawer to check on the eggs, waiting impatiently for them to hatch, I was moved by the image of the secret drawer filled with the hope of new life.  It was a silent beauty to behold and I felt the deeper symbolism of the egg being the womb and of this girl who lost her mother was now becoming a mother to the unborn life waiting to be born, guarding them, warming them, waiting in hope for the miracle of life.  I also associate the eggs as the birth of ideas, dreams, and creativity.  At some point, I set up a still life and painted the scene of eggs nestled in some of my own colorful scarves.  I didn’t try to hatch them,  I just painted them.

As the movie progresses, the girl is successful in bringing forth the baby geese  from the eggs and she soon has a gaggle of wild Canadian geese following her around. The imprint of her face peering in the drawer at them instantly made her their mother upon their birth.  A new purpose is born in her and it will heal her broken heart.  Eventually, the drama unfolds to the problem of how to get these growing geese to migrate south since their goose mother can’t lead them.  The story ends happily, thank goodness, with their triumphant journey south led by the girl and her eccentric but genius father in flying contraptions he invented.

I watched the movie again with my husband the other day, our own nest empty, our own small gaggle of geese children having migrated to near and far away places.  Yes, I know, a sad time in one sense, but also joyful beyond words because as any parent can attest, the meaning of contentment is seeing your children take flight and find their happiness.  Hopefully, they will always remember the way home and come visit.

Another level to the meaning of contentment is when the grandchildren arrive and the joy of watching them become parents is multiplied exponentially!  Watching our grandaughter’s dedication ceremony the other day and awaiting the birth of another grandchild in the summer fills our hearts with unspeakable joy.  Yes, they will struggle raising their babies, as we did, but if they are steady, faithful, trusting in the grace and mercy of God, they will reap the rewards of their labor of love.  Three guiding principles I believe helped us regain our lost footing and be steady on that journey after many mistakes??????????????????????????????? are “There is no fear in love” (that one is in the Bible somewhere), “Each child is a gift from God” and “Give me humor or give me death.”

Waiting for rebirth has many layers of meaning and, hopefully, many cycles of springtime to cherish the miraculous moments of new life being born in our hearts and souls.  Maybe it takes a lifetime to find the true meaning of an individual’s life, watching and nurturing a dream incubate, give birth, guard it from harm, raise it with love and watch it take flight.  I have other eggs in my drawer, the stories I’ve written, the artwork I’ve created and hope will one day take flight.  For me, the question is not the one from American Express, ‘What’s in your wallet?” but instead “What’s in your drawer?”  May it one day be a dream fulfilled!

Discover the World Anew

I wish to journey through Lent as this little girl, open to new discoveries and walking through secret gardens guarded by the prayers of saints. And so it began a few weeks ago and so it continues until Easter. I am trying to be more quiet, less distracted by the world and in doing so I hope to discover my world anew.

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