Precious Seeds

The sunflower is looking better. This is no ordinary plant. It grew from the seeds my mother gave me one bright summer day a few weeks before she died. She moved precariously that day, but with the stability of a walker we navigated safely through the large automatic door of her nursing village. We both squinted in the bright sunlight. And then began a tour of her outdoor world: raised bed gardens that residents could reach, bird houses and feeders gathered near large windows, neatly mulched beds by the porch filled with colorful zinnias and all kinds of hosta. Bright white-painted rocking chairs moved in the breeze. A pretty wooden bench beckoned to us, so we sat and rested a bit. I loved those times with my mother.
Then we moved along further and found the sunflowers. It was already late summer and several of the plate-like bursts of color had faded and presented seeds. She ceremoniously reached out to pluck off a few and gave them to me. “Here. You take these. You can plant them in your garden.” She was reaching right into my heart but only later did I fully understand. You see, my mother and I shared a love of gardens, beautiful flowers and herbs, and the practice of cultivating something lovely.
I have never forgotten that day. With time, sadness came as she became ill and eventually left us. But I kept those seeds in a little baggie, a few brown pods that she had gently pressed into my hand from hers, for the day when I would plant them. The time came; the seeds found their way into my little “Secret Garden” and one robust leafy sunflower plant emerged weeks later. Before long it produced tiny buds that grew and grew.
Then one morning as I visited the garden the buds were missing! A deer from the woods nearby had likely smelled the scent of those luscious young morsels and had himself a delicious dinner during the night. My first order of the day was a stop at the garden shop. Before long, a fine spray to safely deter deer and other critters became part of the daily garden routine.
Thankfully, the precious plant has produced more buds. This lovely reminder of my dear mother speaks to me of her courage and resilience, her beauty and strength. The sunflower will live on, along with the memories, and I will guard it with greatest affection. She too lives on in her Heavenly home, where she is surely enveloped in the brilliance of a magnificent field of sunflowers.

Christmas News

“I bring you good news……” from Luke chapter 2

Christmas is a wonderful time of year.  Many people fill their days to the brim with festive, joyful activities—fragrant times in the kitchen with spices, cookie cutters, and sweet sprinkles scattered about;  bustling times in shops where fresh garlands welcome us at the doorway and holiday tunes float in the air; creative times spent wrapping gifts with colorful paper or fabric and ribbon, yarn, miniature bells or holly sprigs. There are quiet times for writing Christmas cards and reading the sweet messages of friends and family that arrive from afar.

Christmas events in churches are for me the most marvelous celebrations! These begin with Advent wreath making and hanging of the greens and lead to joyful choir concerts and kids’ musicals, collections of food for those in need, caroling at nursing homes, and live nativity scenes. This year I will attend a bereavement service for those who have experienced loss. Together with candle-lighting, scripture, and lovely melodies of the ancient Taize tradition we will celebrate Christ’s birth. There may be tears but also comfort and healing. Indeed, Christ came to bring us joy and peace.

Christmas is a wonderful time of year in every season of life. May it be so for you!

“And an angel of the Lord appeared to them (the shepherds), and the glory of the Lord shone around them,  and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them ‘Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’ ”      Luke 2: 9 – 11