Crocus Strong

12 04 2013


crocus-2Spring is having trouble booting in the midwest this year. My bulbs came up in sunshine and warmth only to be covered in ice twice and snow three times.

The little golden patch of crocus keeps trying. When the sun comes the buds are glorious and open, petals outstretched as arms embracing the hope of newness. When covered in ice or snow (or both), the buds are shut tight. Patient. Protected.

My crocus (or is it crocuses, or croci?) are resilient. Even after every type of weather dumped on them from confused clouds, they endure.

My little gold-buds contain wisdom. The perfect time for blooming is built into their bulbs and they obey the instructions without complaint or frustration.

My spring heralds are hope-harbingers. They are pretty, however the joy they deliver is also due to the promise of the new life they signal– spring returning after death and harsh barren cold.

My returning friends are delicate as butterfly wings and as strong as sub-zero ice. Their beauty is powerful and their strength is radiant.

My tiny droplets of colorful hope lead the entire garden community, sleepers still, waiting for safer days. The others are not strong enough to be a crocus.

I wonder if I am.


Tree Flowers

4 04 2011













There are flowers on the trees.  Not brilliant splashes of color like the crocus in my garden, but deep red bunches, each individual bloom the size of a small pea, covering the ends of every small twig of these trees.  From a distance they might be mistaken for last year’s berries, not fresh growth announcing the birth of a new season after the death of winter.

Their under-stated beauty appeals to me.  While contributing to the cycle of life by eventually producing scads of those twirling helicopter seeds, each one is delicately radiant.  The rich red color that originally attracted me, covers the surface of a solid green base-every one a mini-powerhouse of activity adding to the high pollen count this week no doubt!

There are no showy petals like the tulips will soon wear in order to cajole bees to visit and provide transport for their pollen.  How are the tree-flowers pollinated?  I didn’t see bees on the branches or hear the steady hum that will soon surround our crabapple tree when every branch bursts into bloom.  I wonder if the wind does the work?

Spring winds, full of new warmth when the earth is still cool, blow life back into my soul while touching my cheeks with roses.  They blow away the soggy wetness from the melting snow and spring rains that washed off the filmy dust-dirt of winter, allowing the earth to be new again.

Soon the tree flowers will fall making rusty puddles on the path.  But today they are brilliant against the infinitely blue sky-simple, full of life, and beautiful.

Originally published on my old blogger site, April 2009

(not) so ordinary

26 07 2010

Tall.  Gande.  Venti.  Super-size.  Grande Supremo.  Caf-Pow.  Ginormous.

Superlative is in.  Understatement is out.

American consumers have given up small for tall, and large for the latest compound maximum.

The Gong Show super-sized into American Idol.  The GMC Jimmy was upgraded to a leather interior SUV.  My 1-pound walkman has been dwarfed by a 1.28-ounce 16GB iPod nano.

Faster.  Bigger.  Better.  Smaller.  Newer.


My life is overly endowed with super-caffeinated over-the-tallest-top.  I don’t want more.  I want less.  More time to do nothing.  More opportunity to sit and wonder.  More ordinariness. defines ordinary as: commonplace, plain, customary, regular, usual, and simple.  In a word:  Ahhh.

The Middle English ordinarie literally meant: regular, of the usual order, and was used to delineate special readings from the ordinary daily parts of the Christian liturgy.

The ordinary was the unchangeable dependableness between festivals and celebrations.  The Valley Ahhh between the twin peaks Christmas Craziness and Mardi Gras.

While my life has lots of crazy high peaks accompanied by a fair amount of stress, in all but the extreme-crazies, the overwhelming majority of my days would be considered ordinary and business-as-usual.  An occasional GNO (Girls’ Night Out) and coffeehouse performance punctuate the vast fields of routine email, laundry, general conversation, and running errands.  Although the super-sized parts of life rise from the horizon overshadowing the common, ordinary Plains of Everyday in the Valley of Ahhh, the lowland makes up for its lack of altitude in square miles.

So, at the risk of talking in circles, I want to maximize the everyday moments.  Not super-size them.  Just value, and even revel in them instead of marking life by its peaks and living for the mountaintop high.  I won’t pretend that seeing each of my sons for the first time immediately after his birth compares to watching a common chickadee on the bird feeder outside my window or noticing the happy colors of a row of condos during a commute.  But I am making the case for embracing the usual, enjoying the little events, and savoring the moments embedded in the ordinariness of life.

I wonder.  Is this some of what is meant in Isaiah 40:4-5?

Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all mankind together will see it.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (NIV)


19 07 2010


.   Speaking into being


.   Daily wonder seeing

.      Fresh beauty springing up



.   Word transforming


.   Begins morning

.      And evening every day



.   New day born from night


.   Sky above in light

.      Land rising washed in dew


Green growing

.   Trees, seed-bearing

Life flowing

.   Fruit-laden, sharing

.      Cherry, lemon, tangerine



.   Separating

Days and times

.   Delineating

.      Cycled order into years



.   Lavish beauty springing


.   Falling, goodness singing

.      Every rock and stone cries out


(The dots are my way of formatting the poem without having to know HTML.  If you know a better way to indent text and skip lines, let me know!)

Windows wide open

13 05 2010

Spring came early this year with brilliant sunshine and temps that infused my achy bones with radiant heat.  Flowers burst into bloom; I moved my office outside and threw our windows wide open.

But on the way to summer, nature turned back into winter like Lot’s wife and got stuck looking in the wrong direction.  Temperatures slipped as the sun went into hiding; I closed the windows and turned the furnace back on.

This morning I’ve been at working with my desk light and several layers on- my winter modus operandi against the cold, dark, and damp.  After finishing up a contract, I opened the front door and stepped outside to take the outgoing mail to our box.  Windy warmth encircled me, making my hair swirl around my face in a mini tornado.  The sun even threw a couple of rays across the grass.

Back inside I laughed.  All morning I’d been shivering with windows closed and the thermostat set for 68, assuming the weather hadn’t changed.

Now every window is wide open.


29 12 2009

His silhouette flew into my peripheral vision, climbing a long, wide spiral until I could barely see him—just a black dot against a hint of cloud.  Two other hawks caught my attention the same way earlier in the day as I drove into the gentle hills of southern Michigan from the flat Indiana fields.

“So what’s up with that God?  Why all the hawks??”

He often gets my attention with His creation, especially with there’s repetition.  But weeks went by, each with another hawk or two soaring above me, catching the wind this way, then that, without explanation.

“I’m listening God.  What are you saying?”

Nothing.  So instead of looking for more hawks, I forgot about them.  For over a year.


The sun covered me with delicious waves of warmth on an early winter afternoon while I waited in the passenger side of our van in the mall parking lot.  My head rested on the back of the seat giving me a total view of a perfect sky—deep blue with clouds so white they sparkled on the edges.

And there were hawks!  A pair, followed by three more, and another wound in slow circles across the clouds and into blue like a flock of tiny pendulums arcing in time to some distant music.  Time stood still.  Or at least it slowed down a bit as I inhaled slower and more deeply imagining myself soaring with them over the parking lot, a white graph partially filled with neatly parked autos.  The adjacent field, newly sheared of its corn crop—a rectangle of lush corduroy draped over the rises fell into the valleys, fringed with leafless branches.

I fly in my dreams, so I have an easy time imagining the hawks’ view.  Seeing everything at once—a road’s gradual curve almost undetectable on the ground becomes obvious at the height.  Lowlands, though difficult to discern dimensionally, defined by the darker earth spreading alongside a creek’s journey beyond the horizon, exposed in contour.

“I understand, Father.  That’s it, isn’t it?”

One of the hawks dove deeply in a divine Nod.

Perspective from a distance reveals things unnoticeable from the ground where reality bends to distortions like looking through a short camera lens.  Distance, the ability to step back is a key to perspective.


To my far distant ancestors, the Celts, the hawk was the symbol for perspective.  The prudent and wise when hearing the cry of a hawk during a journey would become alert to what might lie ahead in order to face the unknown with boldness and decisiveness instead of being thrown off balance.  Flying with the sun shining through its feathers, the hawk was considered noble and able to inspire progress.


Four years have gone by since God’s messages using the hawks began, and I’m just beginning to understand what He has been saying to me through them.  Appropriate since perspective is built through time!  I am more resilient than I was four years ago as I can look back and have His perspective on where I’ve been.  The road has curved, imperceptibly from the ground view, but obviously closer to His heart when seen from a distance.  The hawks continue to soar above me reminding me to step back and look at the road, then continue in His boldness and in the confidence I have learned.  And ultimately they inspire me to fly.

(For more info on choosing a one-word New Year’s Resolution go to

Leaf Music

2 12 2009

Swish, swish.  Swish, swish.  The leaves woke up, flying knee-high, while I walked through the overflowing sidewalk under a flaming pear tree as the sun snuck over the horizon.  December 1st.  Even though Thanksgiving leftovers are still in the fridge and Christmas lights are already strung along rooflines, autumn continues here in Indiana.  The leaves’ wonderfully acrid claim on                    the crisp morning air confirms it.

Sidewalk leaves

Their pungent scent and the swish, swish around my ankles always remind me of fall when I was young walking on hidden sidewalks in need of raking after school, and running across the blanketed yard toward my dad’s leaf mountain.  Swishy, swishy, swishy, swish!  In one jump his hard-earned mountain exploded leaving an ill-defined molehill.

The penalty for destroying his work?  Helping rake.  Our yard seemed to be the size of Tiger Stadium with every bit of the field concealed under the leaves from first base (a giant poplar), to third base (a small maple), and all the way ’round to home plate (one of two shag-bark hickories, which provided hickory nut snacks for baseball players and leaf rakers alike).

Swish, swish.  Swish, swish.

“Dad, do you hear the music?” I asked, raking my portion of the infield.

“Huh? What’re you talking about?”

I stopped to face him, my head cocked to one side with my rakeless hand on one hip.  “The music!  Can’t you hear it?  Listen.”  I started raking again, this time singing so he couldn’t miss the obvious tune of “The Happy Wanderer” in the rhythm of my strokes.

Single leaf

Such beauty!

This morning an early-raking gentleman already had a waist-high leaf-mountain during my early morning walk through our neighborhood.  We each smiled, nodded a “Good morning,” both enjoying the newness of the day with its invigorating air as we got in some exercise before breakfast.

I heard the music in his raking.  Swish, swish.  And in my long strides through the fallen leaves.  Swish, swish.  Swish, swish.

Approaching the corner at the end of the block, a young lady pulled her car up to the intersection, and my music stopped.  Her music carried well through the still morning air, and mine faded like the mist each breath made as I continued toward her.  She looked happy, bouncing to the beat, singing herself into a new day, her voice lost in the bassy thump-thumping.

My music gradually came back.  Swish, swish.  And I liked it better.  Swish, swish.  Swish, swish.

“Hark, the Herald Angels Sing???”  But it’s still fall!  Where did that come from??

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