Our memories are, at best, so limited, so finite, that it is impossible for us to envisage an unlimited, infinite memory, the memory of God. It is something I want to believe in: that no atom of creation is ever forgotten by him; always is; cared for; developing; loved. ~Madeleine L’Engle from The Summer of the Great-Grandmother
…a friend told me a story about a little girl who wanted time alone with her infant brother. Her parents were suspicious of her motives. What if she did something to harm the baby? The big sister was so persistent that her mom and dad finally decided to allow her ten minutes alone with him in his room. After they closed the door, they listened quietly. They felt chills when they heard their daughter say, “Baby tell me what heaven is like. I’m starting to forget.” ~Sue Shanahan from “Fresh from Heaven”
He of strength and hope, of infinite memory and everlasting love: He knows us down to our very atoms ~~ even we who are weak, broken, and undeserving. He causes us to burst into bloom in remembrance of having been in His presence.
my heart panics not to be, as I long to be, the empty, waiting, pure, speechless receptacle. ~Mary Oliver from “Blue Iris”
Thou art the Iris, fair among the fairest, Who, armed with golden rod And winged with the celestial azure, bearest The message of some God. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow from Flower-de-Luce
May your blooms be floriferous and in good form, Distinctive, with good substance, flare, and airborne, With standards and falls that endure, never torn. May you display many buds and blooms sublime, In graceful proportion on strong stalks each day, Gently floating above the fans and the fray. May you too reach toward the moon and stars, Bloom after bloom, many seasons in the sun, Enjoying your life, health, and each loved one, Until your ‘living days are artfully done. ~Georgia Gudykunst “Iris Blessing”
Whenever I allow my eye to peer into an iris, I need a flotation device and depth finder as I’m likely to get lost, sweeping and swooning through inner space of tunnels, canyons and corners, coming up for air and diving in again to journey into exotic locales draped in silken hues ~this fairy land on a stem~ so immersed in the possibilities of such an impossible blossom.
Lined with light the twigs are stubby arrows. A gilded trunk writhes Upward from the roots, from the pit of the black tentacles.
In the book of spring a bare-limbed torso is the first illustration.
Light teaches the tree to beget leaves, to embroider itself all over with green reality, until summer becomes its steady portrait and birds bring their lifetime to the boughs.
Then even the corpse light copies from below may shimmer, dreaming it feels the cheeks of blossom. ~May Swenson “April Light”
In April we wait for the corpse light~ a mysterious illumination which comes alive on a bright Sabbath Easter morning, taking bare stubs of people, hardly alive, begetting them green, bursting them into blossom, their cheeks pink with life, in promise of faithful fruitfulness.
I lift mine eyes, but dimm’d with grief No everlasting hills I see; My life is in the fallen leaf: O Jesus, quicken me.
My life is like a frozen thing, No bud nor greenness can I see: Yet rise it shall–the sap of Spring; O Jesus, rise in me. ~Christina Rossetti from “A Better Resurrection”
I remember panicking as a small child when my mother would help me put on or take off a sweater with a particularly tight turtleneck opening, as my head would get “stuck” momentarily until she could free me. It caused an intense feeling of being unable to breathe or see – literally shrouded. I was trapped and held captive by something as innocuous as a piece of clothing.
That same feeling still overwhelms me at times when I’m frozen in a winter of my flaws and deficiencies, bruised and fallen in my struggles to be freed.
My only hope for salvage is a new life quickening within me. There is no freedom without spring sap flowing, His life blood rising in what is left of my dried husk.
And rise it shall — the confining shroud of discouragement discarded and cast aside.
Now that it is spring once again, I can breathe free, quickened.
With wide-embracing love Thy spirit animates eternal years Pervades and broods above, Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates and rears
Though earth and moon were gone And suns and universes ceased to be And Thou wert left alone Every Existence would exist in thee
There is not room for Death Nor atom that his might could render void Since thou art Being and Breath And what thou art may never be destroyed. ~Emily Bronte from “No Coward Soul is Mine”The Complete Poems of Emily Jane Bronte
There is nothing apart from God, There is nothing apart from His breath and being.
Not even death sets us apart in the already, but not yet.
Why then do we struggle to know Him and to be known?
Our DNA pulses with His image~ our very atoms designed to celebrate and worship Him.
So let us listen, for a change, to our atoms and blossom richly with His spirit.
This World is not Conclusion. A Species stands beyond – Invisible, as Music – But positive, as Sound – It beckons, and it baffles – Philosophy, don’t know – And through a Riddle, at the last – Sagacity, must go – To guess it, puzzles scholars – To gain it, Men have borne Contempt of Generations And Crucifixion, shown – Faith slips – and laughs, and rallies – Blushes, if any see – Plucks at a twig of Evidence – And asks a Vane, the way – Much Gesture, from the Pulpit – Strong Hallelujahs roll – Narcotics cannot still the Tooth That nibbles at the soul – ~Emily Dickinson
Doubt can feel like the bare branches of winter – plenty of bleak bark, and nothing that feels alive or real or even meaningful.
Yet spring ushers in such profound intervention that doubt is ushered out with little ceremony. What was mere potential is now bud and bloom. What was mere twig is now glorious.
What word informs the world, and moves the worm along in his blind tunnel?
What secret purple wisdom tells the iris edges to unfold in frills? What juiced and emerald thrill
urges the sap until the bud resolves its tight riddle? What irresistible command
unfurls this cloud above this greening hill, or one more wave — its spreading foam and foil —
across the flats of sand? What minor thrust of energy issues up from humus in a froth
of ferns? Delicate as a laser, it filigrees the snow, the stars. Listen close — What silver sound
thaws winter into spring? Speaks clamor into singing? Gives love for loneliness? It is this
un-terrestrial pulse, deep as heaven, that folds you in its tingling embrace, gongs in your echo heart. ~Luci Shaw “What Secret Purple Wisdom” from The Green Earth: Poems of Creation ~
The road that took Him from wooden manger to wooden cross is one we walk in joy and terror through His Word.
He is given to us; He gives Himself to bring joy to our miserable and dark existence;
He dies for us; He rises to give us eternal hope of salvation; He calls us by name and we recognize Him.
This mystery is too much for too many unwilling to accept that such sacrifice is possible. His sacrifice and many parts of His body continue to be oppressed and persecuted every day. We are blind-hearted to the possibility that this Spirit that cannot be measured, touched, weighed or tracked can stir and overwhelm darkness. We prefer the safety of remaining tight in the bud, hid in the little room of our hearts rather than risk the joy and terror of full blossom and fruitfulness.
Lord, give us grace in our blindness, having given us Yourself. Prepare us for embracing your mystery.
Prepare us for joy. Prepare us to bloom.
What is the crying at Jordan? Who hears, O God, the prophecy? Dark is the season, dark our hearts and shut to mystery.
Who then shall stir in this darkness prepare for joy in the winter night? Mortal in darkness we lie down, blind-hearted, seeing no light.
Lord, give us grace to awake us, to see the branch that begins to bloom; in great humility is hid all heaven in a little room.
Now comes the day of salvation, in joy and terror the Word is born! God gives himself into our lives; Oh, let salvation dawn! ~Carol Christopher Drake