Cherry blossoms in the time of Coronavirus

Spring is here! Or at least was here briefly for the last few days. Today it’s raining where I live, and a few snowflakes sneak in from time to time. It’s also the first full day of my state’s stay-at-home order.

I wanted to be sure to notice spring happening around me over the past week, to not let the stress and anxiety of such uncertainty take over completely and cause me to miss what I can still enjoy. So I’ve been trying to get out a bit more with my camera.

There’s a beautiful cherry tree in full bloom at a park near my house, and it’s loveliness stopped me mid-dog-walk Sunday morning.

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I never noticed the star in the center of each cherry blossom before.

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Spring’s reawakening always feels miraculous to me, even though I know it will come each year. It’s a lovely reminder of God’s live-giving breath, too. Creation comes back to life, perhaps a necessary reminder for us to hold onto in the time of Coronavirus.

I want to encourage you to notice spring where you are, too. (If you live in the southern hemisphere, notice autumn and its own beauty coming?) Whether it’s from your window, or you’re able to walk outside, what spring gifts can you find?

Revisiting the colors of Christmas: Green

I’m super late this year in getting a tree and other decorations put up, almost to the point that I’m wondering if it’s worth the effort (though I know the answer to that is, “Yes!”).

I originally wrote this post right after the shootings at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn. I needed to read this one again as we reach the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. Perhaps you, too, need to hear the words again?

The color green, especially in winter when so much is gray and brown, reminds us of this jumble of emotions and helps bring us hope that life will bloom again.

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The four redwoods

A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.
—Ecclesiastes 4:12

Four redwood trees grow in my yard: three in one corner, a fourth by itself in another. The three that grow together shelter each other, and each one receives shade from the others at some point during the sun-drenched day.

Three redwood sentinels stand guard at one corner of the yard.

Each summer, right about this time, I start to fret about the fourth one standing alone. Its needles brown, despite the drip hose, evening waterings, and prayers. Continue reading

Studying and fighting for champion trees

I spent last week in a place I love. I love running there like no other place, because running there means I get to enjoy shaded trails under towering trees, and stop to drink in sweeping vistas of mountain ranges covered in hardwoods and pines. I can run longer and breathe easier in this place of magnificent trees. (Well, maybe not physically breathe easier because of the elevation, but there’s an emotional breath that comes more easily to me when I’m there.)

So when I imagine a world without trees, my heart catches, and I think of this beloved mountain place. I cannot let myself imagine it without its crown of trees. You might wonder why I would even try to imagine a world without trees. Well, because a book I recently read, The Man Who Planted Trees by Jim Robbins, asked me to do just that. Continue reading

A hard time of year to stay inside

Fall here is beautiful in its own way, not in a familiar North Carolina way, but in a way that catches my breath nonetheless.

The salmon are beginning their run, and happy fisher people (mostly fishermen) are daily swarming the river, giddy with the prospect of catching a big fish. A happy man popped up from the riverbank just this morning, a large, pink fish swinging from his side.

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Why do you think they fish all together instead of spreading out?

Rain came back in a big way, too, over the weekend. More than two inches over four days. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Continue reading