Welcome Spring

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I am re-entering this place gently, feeling something inside me awakening with the spring. This morning, while the house still slept, I stared long into the meadow beyond the backyard. I remembered when this land was clear and freshly mowed, when Mrs. Casto would ride her lawnmower over to our fence to say hello as my boys played on their swingset. Now, it is a wild thing, fruit trees spilling out over brambly earth.

As I looked on, the robins sang their morning songs and I thought what a gift that brambly meadow must be to them. I wondered what it feels like to peer at the world between branches lit with the light of a thousand white blossoms. And then I thought, why not find out?

So I hopped the fence with my camera, braved the sticker bushes and pokey weeds, and found the place where the deer bed down beneath the trees. I sat on a cushion of wild violets, reclined my head on a pillow of moss. And overhead? A white-blossomed canopy framed up against blue sky. The sun broke through the branchy chuppah all at once and I was held in warm hands. The breeze stirred the trees as I lay, cupped and happy, and a shower of petals fell over me—white mingled with purple on my bed and I breathed the fragrance of beauty.

Life used to be more fresh-cut grass and orderly meadows, but I am finding there is beauty in the wild-brambly. How about you?

Happy spring, Beloveds. Where will you find beauty today?

West Virginia Morning: Light Comes Early

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When I take Bonnie out this morning, the blue light of night still lingers. The stars still haven’t shut their eyes and I wave at Orion as we wind around the house. At the edge of the dome, light striations are only just beginning. To me, they look like layers of phyllo, layers of light, and the goodness of the earth’s rotation rouses a slight lift in my spirit.

The light comes earlier each morning and the days grow longer. I’m still trying to find a rhythm since returning to work at the hospital every day at the start of the new year. I miss my slow mornings, reading poetry out loud to God and Bonnie, sipping my coffee and underlining words. Yesterday, the sun warmed the winterstruck and Jeff and went walking for the first time in a while. The sparrows were singing their sweet-sad song and I could smell new grass, the earth melting from the outside in. I felt a holy whisper in my ear, grow, it seemed to purr.

As I drove to work this morning, I noticed a new level of comfort—my heart settling in to a new routine. Time. I’m always telling my patients that some things just take time. But it’s the way we take the time that makes all the difference. I’m still learning how to slow in the midst of all this busy, how to notice the kairos in the chronos. I think it will be a life-long lesson.

And I’m okay with that.

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The winner of Dawn Camp’s new book The Gift of Friendship is Maryleigh from Blue Cotton Memory. Congratulations, Maryleigh! I’ll send you a private message soon.

31 Days of the Almost Empty Nest: Touch the Sky

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The mornings are dark and trimmed with frost of late. On Tuesday I stood out back and watched my breath tendril up into the slow approaching dawn. The Hunter’s moon was on the wane, but still gave the appearance of being full and I could smell the light slowly undoing the night. The wind is beginning to loosen the leaves a little more each day and the hillsides lush with color are beginning to undress. Yesterday at work, I spoke with a patient’s family member who had driven up from Lewisburg to visit.

“How are the leaves down there?” I asked.

With a sad smile she said, “They are gone.” Then she spoke to her loved one about the blazing glory the Maples made in the back yard.

Grief pooled at the corners of his eyes as she gave to him her word pictures. This is what the deep ones mourn—not the loss of limb or weakness of body, but the theft of time. They grieve the sudden pulling of their lives out from under them; how they must abandon all that gives joy to tend to their physical needs for a season.

I try to return these moments to them, point out the beauty available right here, right now. The pulse of life still beats strongly under the roof of the hospital. The losses they have suffered seem to tender their heart and open its door wide to all the losses over the course of life. A rare few recognize the gift in their tears—this drawing near to the holy, to the things that matter most.

I learn from their bravery, how best to view the moments of my days. In autumn, the longing looms large, just as C.S. Lewis said. I cry when I see the birds flock across the sky, the sudden lift of their wings birthing anew within me the awareness of my feet of clay—I am earthbound.

In my reading this morning, Diane Ackerman tells me, “One of the first words we think humans spoke, recorded in Indo-European as pleu, meant: It flies! It is an ancient longing.”

I long for flight of many kinds but mostly, I want to touch the sky, to scoop her blue in my cupped hands and carry it home. Is there a way to carry the sky inside of me? In his poem “Two Stranger Birds in Our Feathers,” Mahmoud Darwish says, “ … spread over me an endless blue wing … “

This is what I want too—to be lost in the ecstasy of a love so great I lose all sense of self but become one with earth and sky and sun and star. Overshadowed by mystery.

This is Love. This is Faith. I let these longings lead me deeper into the heart of God.

This post is part of my 31 Days of the Almost Empty Nest series.  I’m writing in community with the thirty-one dayers. Women all over the world are joining together in the month of October to write every day about something they’re passionate about. Check out some of the other writers here. So much good stuff. To read my first post, with links to all the days, go here. Don’t forget to stop by this post for a chance to win some signed copies of S.D. Smith’s children’s books. And stop by this post for a chance to win The Girlfriend’s Short Stack. 

Almost Empty

31 Days of the Almost Empty Nest: Unlocking Time

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This morning, the sky looks like a giant canvas of sand art—grainy clouds sweep across a blooming horizon and I rise before the sun. I set my alarm early, to do this writing thing, but my body would rather stay in bed, my mind is sleepy. It’s cold outside. I try not to think about my pepper plants as I stare out the window at the sinking moon. We’re supposed to have another warm spell this week. Hold on, little ones, I whisper against the glass.

Yesterday, we had new French doors installed in the back of our house, a project long overdue. I may have mentioned before, I don’t like to let go of things. As the workers carried our old doors away I had to fight the urge to ask them to leave them behind. Wouldn’t they make a nice rustic table? Maybe some kind of outdoor project, with flowering vines? But I know better. If left, the doors would languish in the garage with all the other left-behinds: old laminate flooring, boxes of tile, half-empty cans of paint, forgotten homebrew equipment, all the neglected bicycles, and the boys’ old radio flyer. No, best to let them go.

When we ordered our door, the salesman neglected to tell us we had to buy our own doorknob and dead bolt. As a placeholder, the installers put the old one back in—the one that never locked properly, the one with the ugly corroded brass. So, when Jeff came home from work, we went for a quick walk and then over to The Home Depot. Who knew there were so many different kinds of doorknobs? We found a set that seemed perfect and were getting ready to make our way to the register when the one other person in the doorknob aisle approached us.

“If you all want a secure lock, you should buy Schlage instead of that one.”

He pointed to the package he was holding. “I’m a locksmith. I just learned from a guy in the CIA that the lock you are holding can be picked in eleven seconds.”

Jeff and I looked at each other and moved over to the Schlage section. The man went on to give several pointers about secure locks and what we should purchase. “If it says ‘G1,’ that’s what you want. That’s the most secure.” We found our G1 Schlage knob and dead bolt set, thanked the man, and left.

It seemed like a stroke of luck to be in the aisle the same time as a locksmith evangelist. I couldn’t help feeling well cared for as we drove on home. But the thing I noticed most was how the entire interaction felt so … spacious. Before the almost-empty nest, these kinds of errands were always cutthroat, get in/get out kinds of things. No time to talk with a locksmith evangelist in the doorknob aisle. What’s more, they were usually a divide and conquer episode. Rarely would Jeff and I go together to purchase something like a doorknob.

As we drove home from The Home Depot and night began to fall softly over our little valley, I whispered a prayer of thanks for changing seasons. And the way time seems to expand in this almost-empty nest.

This post is part of my 31 Days of the Almost Empty Nest series. I’m writing in community with the thirty-one dayers. Women all over the world are joining together in the month of October to write every day about something they’re passionate about. Check out some of the other writers here. So much good stuff. To read my first post, with links to all the days, go here. 

Almost Empty

Playdates with God: Fireflies

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When we walk down to the creek now, the air is sweet with the scent of honeysuckle. The boys still have a few more days of school left but already the spinning earth whispers, freedom in our ears. Every day weighs heavy with anticipation.

We sit out back at dusk, toes touching under the table…letting the slow coming on of night drip cool into these last hours. The wind is whispering over the meadow, stirring bushes and bending low the trees. It skims my skin, lifting with it the remnants of a tired day and for a moment I think I’m dreaming. But then, he sees it too—from the Maple—this faint winking.

It’s the first fireflies of the season and this quiet return always creates a celebration in my heart. After the initial welcome, we sit still and enjoy the show.

Isn’t it something how everything old is new again and we can greet the familiar like royalty in those first moments of recognition? Each winking light lifts the heavy and my body remembers how these critters usher in the summer—the way the sun lingers longer on the hills, the steady music of the peepers, and the later bedtime as we chased the lights.

I sit and wiggle my toes over my man’s…think about the amazing way the world is designed…how the Almighty gives us seasons so we’ll remember the beauty that we so easily forget when we face it every day.

I look at him from under my lashes and the beauty of our life enters quiet into my heart, like the slow turning of the seasons on a dewy night in late spring.

Every Monday I share one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find God and know joy. Click on the button below to add your link. I try to visit a few of your stories every week, so if you are a new visitor, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can welcome you. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us.

Laura Boggess