We all will stumble, bearing the bruises and scars of our fall. We all waken to gray days when there seems no point in going on. We all can be sucked into the darkest thoughts, tunneling ever more deeply.
In those moments, those days, those months, may we be wrapped tightly in love’s cloak of invisibility: and darkness swallow us no longer~ we follow a brightening path of light and color, with contentment and encouragement, our failing feet steadied, the gray kaleidoscoped, the way to go illuminated with hope.
May our brokenness be forever covered in such blessings.
The fragility of the flower unbruised penetrates space ~William Carlos Williams from Spring and All (1923)
It is common to look for love only inside the heart of things, pulsing front and center as both showpiece and show off. We think of love reverberating from deep within, loud enough for all the world to hear and know it is so.
But as I advance on life’s road, I have found the love that matters lies quietly waiting at the periphery of our hearts, so fragile and easily torn as a petal, often drenched in tears – clinging to the edges of our lives and barely holding on through storms and trials.
This love remains ever-present , both protects and cherishes, fed by fine little veins which branch out from the center of the universe to the tender margins of infinity.
It is on that delicate edge of forever we dwell, our thirst waiting to be slaked and we stand ready, trembling with anticipation.
“One tree is like another, but not too much. One tulip is like the next tulip, but not altogether. More or less like people–a general outline, then the stunning individual strokes.” ~Mary Oliver from Upstream
We are all built of the same stuff: atoms, amino acids, cellular scaffolding.
Guarded within the old red wall’s embrace, Marshaled like soldiers in gay company, The tulips stand arrayed. Here infantry Wheels out into the sunlight. What bold grace Sets off their tunics, white with crimson lace! Here are platoons of gold-frocked cavalry With scarlet sabres tossing in the eye Of purple batteries, every gun in place. Forward they come, with flaunting colors spread, With torches burning, stepping out in time To some quick, unheard march. Our ears are dead, We cannot catch the tune. In pantomime Parades that army. With our utmost powers We hear the wind stream through a bed of flowers. ~Amy Lowell – 1914 “A Tulip Garden”
April ignites an explosion: Dazzling retinal hues Singed, crying Grateful tears for such as this Array of floral arms- A rainbow on Earth
Transient, incandescent Brilliance hoped for. Remembered in dreams, Promises realized, Housed in crystal before shattering.
Flowers preach to us if we will hear: The rose saith in the dewy morn: I am most fair; Yet all my loveliness is born Upon a thorn. The poppy saith amid the corn: Let but my scarlet head appear And I am held in scorn; Yet juice of subtle virtue lies Within my cup of curious dyes. The lilies say: Behold how we Preach without words of purity. The violets whisper from the shade Which their own leaves have made: Men scent our fragrance on the air, Yet take no heed Of humble lessons we would read. But not alone the fairest flowers: The merest grass Along the roadside where we pass, Lichen and moss and sturdy weed, Tell of His love who sends the dew, The rain and sunshine too, To nourish one small seed. ~Christina Rossetti fromGoblin Market, The Prince’s Progress, and Other Poems
Some sermons are written bold with color, illustrated with powerful gospel stories of righteousness and redemption in the face of our sin.
Some sermon passages are fragrant with the scent of grace and forgiveness, lingering long after the words are spoken.
Some sermon stories remain subtle and hidden, cryptic messages like the blooms that grow close to the ground, barely visible.
We need to hear them all preached, but most of all we need those every day plain-to-the-bone sermons which are trampled and tread upon, springing back up to guide our feet to the best pathway home. No color, no fragrance, no hiding: just celebrating the ubiquitous lichens, mosses and grasses and weeds which exist solely to help cushion our inevitable fall and help us rise up again.
To what purpose, April, do you return again? Beauty is not enough. You can no longer quiet me with the redness Of little leaves opening stickily. I know what I know. The sun is hot on my neck as I observe The spikes of the crocus. The smell of the earth is good. It is apparent that there is no death. But what does that signify? Not only under ground are the brains of men Eaten by maggots. Life in itself Is nothing, An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs. It is not enough that yearly, down this hill, April Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers. ~Edna St. Vincent Millay “Spring”
I know that we cannot depend on the return of Spring to heal us~ it is balm not cure.
I know that none of its beauty can bloom without it dying before~ it is a shroud thrown over to cover our decay.
I know I cannot be transformed by the warmth of the sun~ it is not enough for my skin to sweat when my heart lies still and cold.
I know I must dig deeper in holy ground for the truth~ it does not lie in perfumed blossoms and sweet blue skies.
I know what I know~ life in itself is nothing unless death is overcome yet again and our hearts, once broken, begin to pulse red once more.