In the gardens of my friends, week 3

For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
To spring up before all the nations.
— Isaiah 61:11

I’m more than a little bit addicted to the Olympics right now (you, too?). Perhaps this post will encourage you to take a few moments away from the games’ coverage to walk through a garden. Today marks week three in the series of tours through some of my California friend’s gardens.

My friend whose garden I feature today loves sharing goodies from her garden. When I was going through a rough patch this spring, we met for coffee, and she showed up with a bouquet of camellias from her garden. They cheered me for days.

She’s one of my writing group friends, and invariably, she brings herbs from her garden to share. The last time we gathered, she had mint by the bag full for us.

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Tons of delicious mint

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Praying through Lent

Today marks the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday. You may have eaten pancakes for dinner last night. You may have declared yourself off Facebook for the season (several Facebook friends bid us all adieu in posts yesterday evening).

In last week’s post, I mentioned that instead of giving up something for Lent this year, I’d be adding something in: prayer. Specifically, I would like to lift up your prayer requests each day.

Some of you have already sent requests to me, and I lifted those up in holy, quiet moments earlier today.

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My prayer journal

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Winter roses

We’ve had a recent cold snap, and though last week I may have poked gentle fun at rainy day behaviors out here in California, I have to make fun of myself this week. I am quickly losing my tolerance for cold.

Monday’s cold weather brought a bitter wind, and all I wanted to do was hide inside—after a morning run, of course. I have to dust off the winter running clothes every now and then, right?

It was cold here over Christmas, too, and when I returned from balmy North Carolina after the holidays, I knew I had to tackle a winter gardening chore: pruning the roses. (Not my favorite gardening activity, I’ll confess.) I left three stems taller than the rest because small buds graced them, and I hoped they might bloom, despite freezing temperatures in December.

One bud finally began to open within the last week. So I cut all three buds to bring inside and finished the pruning chores.

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To me, this is the exact color of dusty rose

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Prayer and galoshes

“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” —Mark 11:24

I’ve spent the last year praying harder for rain than any other time in my life. We experienced drought years in North Carolina but nothing like the drought here in California.

I know it won’t rain every time I pray for it (we’d be in trouble if it did). But I also believe the drought here will end. If it were up to me, it would end this year. God may have other plans. In the meantime, I’ll keep praying and believing.

As a result of God’s answers to my rain prayers lately, I’ve had a lot of rejoicing to do. We have gotten almost five inches of rain this month already. I’ll be honest: I’ve had a few days where I had to remind myself that I needed to rejoice and not mumble even a little about the timing of particular deluges (like the one at that half marathon I was just a few minutes into last fall).

Yesterday was one of those days. The last thing I wanted to do was take the dog out for a walk in the cold downpour. I waited as long as I could and finally reminded myself that I don’t mind being out in the rain. I also take some small pride that my dog is no sissy when it comes to weather. Plus, the rain gave me an excuse to pull out my galoshes, unused in more than a year. Continue reading

Flourishing Trees

I walked along the greenway with my dog, both of us banished from the house in the middle of the afternoon so strangers could walk through and decide if this would become their new home. I tried to make myself at home with my thoughts, as we crunched leaves underfoot, the dog and I.

I picked up one of the biggest leaves I’ve seen this season—a perfect fall blend of red, yellow and green—and looked up to find the towering tree that shed it. Through the canopy of smaller trees, I spied it, the old giant. I decided to take its leaf home and see if, along the way, I could find its tiniest counterparts. It became a game, and my dog relished the extra stops (more nose-to-the-ground time).

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Fall leaves … giant and small

I’ve finally found the tree that sheds a different sort of huge leaf into my yard every year. It eluded me all these years, shedding its leaves before the shorter, smaller trees shed theirs and therefore making it impossible for me to know which tree dropped the large, brown leaves. The tree lives in a neighbor’s yard and freely shares its leaves with us all.

Frost said, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” and this tree is one of those somethings, caring not one whit for fences or boundary lines or yards that have been freshly raked.

You may not think of trees shedding their leaves this time of year as flourishing trees, but that’s exactly what they are. They’ve learned that to survive the cold and dark of winter, they cannot fight nature. So they shed what they don’t need for a season.

One by one, with a gentle letting go, they drop away burdens they no longer need to hold, should no longer cling to if they want to flourish in the year ahead.

Ah, to be as wise as these trees—beautiful and trusting—as they let go of what is no longer their own. As they prepare for winter, they are also preparing for the coming spring.

Dear God: Please help me be more like these flourishing trees in their season of change. Amen.

I fling up this prayer in hopes of laying down some worries and fears of the season ahead for me … so that after the winter, I will be flourishing, too.

Is there something you’re holding on to that you could let slip gently away? A concern or burden that is no longer yours to carry? Will you let these things drop away from you like so many fall leaves?

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An especially flourishing tree that has covered my recently clean driveway with a golden leaf pile

Drop me a line in the comments below to let me know if you’re able to let go of any worries troubling you. And drop by next week, when I hope to share an exciting announcement about a different sort of flourishing tree.