Along the road at nearby Lake Martin on a warm spring morning, I see a decaying stump spotlighted in a sun beam. Around this old stump, a new creeper vine spirals upward toward the light, grasping tightly to the dead wood where it can for support. I remember my father’s smile. Life rises from death and will not be denied!
“…The Lord is near. 6 Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. 7 Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4: 5-7)
The old man, soon to be 80 years old, awakens on a Tuesday morning as he always does. He lies quietly in bed, listening to his wife’s soft breathing, and thanks God for this new day, her untroubled sleep, and their continuing health. Glancing at the sunlight on the sheer curtains, he sees promise of another typical hot summer day. But he also happily notes that days are finally growing a bit shorter now.
Wincing at a twinge of arthritic hip pain, he silently crawls out of bed, puts on his slippers, and eases down the long hall to the kitchen. The house is soundless as it always is each morning, except for a faint lawnmower. In a few minutes he holds a steaming cup of coffee in his hands, thankful for the modern ingenuity of his trusty K-cup coffee machine. After opening the sunroom and living room drapes, the old man moves to his favorite glider chair and sits to relish his coffee, meditate and pray, and consider the new day ahead.
In the stillness, he becomes aware of the endless ticking of the old wall clock, a sound that has become quite familiar and, perhaps, even friendly for the last six months. It has been that long since the old man and his wife of fifty plus years decided to self-quarantine themselves against the deadly coronavirus mercilessly ravaging the whole world. If it was solitude they wanted, they have it now in abundance! But he also thinks how blessed they and their family have been so far and gratefully thanks God again. Next, reflecting on the day ahead, he accepts the inevitable again: that this day will be much like all the other ‘pandemic’ yesterdays. It is like being in a submarine, he smiles, with the hatch closed and afraid to open it! Reciting the Serenity Prayer, he then takes a savoring sip of coffee, inhales the wafting aroma, and opens his daily haiku notebook…
My wife, Bobbie, and I love the mundane or ‘garden variety’ beauty of mother nature, such as the wildflowers, small creatures, shadows and nuances of colors and textures that the casual observer fails to notice. Even the subtle changes of the beginning or closing day present a trove of moments for haiku and photos.
They say she is a ‘whisperer’ and that she can ‘talk’ to God’s smallest creatures. I saw her today while wandering a nearby woodlands trail with my camera as I looked for that elusive nymph, Serendipity. She was picking wildflowers in a field, wearing a blue and white gingham dress, and carrying a half filled basket. A late summer breeze frolicked across the field and the flowers bobbed their heads at her as if asking to be picked too! Dragonflies and butterflies flitted about her while a pair of doves watched from an old wooden fence. She saw me and smiled sweetly as I walked past on my search for Serendipity.
A quiet walkabout in the woods, along a stream, or even in a garden is a necessity for me. With the stresses and anxieties of our world, seemingly always in constant turmoil, I often search for the grail of inner peace in the solitude of nature. There I feel God’s nearness and sense the warmth of his love as he speaks to me in bird songs, cricket chirps, rustling leaves, whispering breezes, and trickling streams. Wherever the path winds, there is no loneliness…only a feeling of peace, hope and trust that all is well and in accordance with God’s will.
Why it took most of my 79 years of life to fully open God’s gift of faith is a mystery. Why did I waste so much time, especially when he also gave me my most treasured earthly gifts, my precious wife and children? Perhaps it was always his plan, as time and space is irrelevant to God and only how we use His gift of faith is.
Note: Thanks to my good photographer friend, Teresa, for her wonderful photo which inspired this haiku poem.
Many thanks to a good friend and excellent nature photographer, Moura Maun, for her inspirational photo of roseate spoonbills. They seemed to be apprehensive about something… perhaps a young egret trying its shaky wings out, oblivious to a hungry alligator waiting below!
The streets in one of my favorite walkabout areas, a business and professional community called the Oil Center, are lined with upscale cafes and shops. I never know what or who I might see while roaming the landscaped sidewalks. Celebrities often visit too and and don’t hesitate to greet common folk like me!
‘9/11”. What American over the age of twenty-something doesn’t remember this horrific day from some personal perspective? This question is on my mind this morning as I watch our Presidents memorial address at the Pentagon. Through time’s haze, I recall the radio news flashes while I was at my desk reviewing a set of construction drawings, and the simultaneous office buzz rising quickly to a crescendo!
at my office… wife’s urgent phone call 19 years ago
I remember the shock, the horror, and the patriotic indignation sweeping through my fellow employees as someone turns on a small black/white portable TV with ‘rabbit ears’ and we see the ‘snowy’ live feed of the first Twin Tower in flame…then another plane appears on the screen.
May, 2019. My wife and I are headed north on US191 in southeastern Utah toward Moab and Salt Lake City. The two-lane highway leads us over the high plains desert plateau and through gorgeous scenery of red rock, pinyon pines, junipers, purple sage, and blackbrush. Being late spring, the weather is already very sunny, hot and dry. Water is almost non-existent while dry washes only hint at flash floods from rainfalls which rarely happen. In fact, most showers evaporate before ever reaching the ground. Although the land is beautiful, a sensation of ambivalent hostility is hard to avoid.
After several hours of traveling under the blazing sun, we are blessed to finally find cooling ‘shade’ under growing storm clouds. We stop at a roadside park for a little rest and a cold drink. Then, with renewed enthusiasm, we continue our journey through the endless natural beauty unfolding before us. Mile after mile, we seldom see any evidence of human habitation or other vehicles on the highway which fosters a somewhat disconcerting sense of remoteness and loneliness. As evening draws near we finally arrive at civilization. Later, as we setup at an RV park for the night, I find myself being very thankful for the fresh water, air-conditioning, and food we always just take for granted.
Note: Bobbie’s photos that day capture well both the beauty and the harshness of the Colorado desert plateau which the old mid-1800s Santa Fe Trail pioneers had to cross in wagon trains as they plodded their way westward. They were a hardy, tough, self-reliant, and self-sufficient people. Could we do the same today?