Tag Archives: faith

seeds in your life just waiting to bloom

EI3C0941-copy1In May, people stop and stare at my garden. Pedestrians ask questions, cars often slow and take photos. And if you’re in the neighborhood, feel free to cut some roses for a bouquet– I have plenty.

I love tending my garden, calling my plants by both their common and Latin names, pulling weeds, adding compost, moving plants from one spot to the other. And while I’m almost drunk with beauty during those May blooms, I love my garden most in those first days of Spring when what was dead comes to life.

EI3C6860 copyPeony shoots literally break the soil, pushing toward the sun, sticklike trees with sprout new buds. Every day, every hour, I watch the world transform. Hope. Life.

EI3C6877 copy

Maybe you heard about the Superbloom in Death Valley last month? The hottest, driest place on the North American continent, Death Valley usually sports an impressive dirt patch. But every ten years or so the perfect combination of sun and rain produces a superbloom where the desert bursts into life.

jjcrtyuxw5hahcz6ekmq

As one ranger said, “It’s interesting to see all the seeds that have been waiting beneath this dry, dusty valley just waiting for a chance to bloom.”

Maybe you’re just coming out of a hard winter, a ten-year drought or even a 40 year trudge through the desert, but I promise there are seeds, wonders, beauties just beneath the surface waiting to bloom.

In my garden last week I surveyed an old rose bush– dry, brown, canes full thorns. I was ready to rip it out of the ground when I spied one slender green shoot.

Through the light of Christ, the gift of the Atonement even the most dry, dusty, thorny life will burst forth into fields of blossoms, armfuls of bouquets. Maybe, probably, not until Christ comes again. But keep planting the seeds, nurturing the soil, praying for rain.

Christ will come.

Have you seen blooms after a barren season in your life?

How can we maintain faith when we don’t see results?

 

 

weightlifter

Do You Strive?

I heard the word “strive” six times at church on Sunday. The idea of striving — of trying, of struggling — is a bulwark tradition of our faith. We are an industrious bunch, like bees in a beehive (except for those worthless drones.) Some of you will recognize one of the temple recommend questions in the words Do you strive . . .? I always cringe at the question. Because I know the “right” answer is Yes. But I can’t say Yes. I say, “No. I don’t really “strive”. It’s counterproductive for me. I simply nurture my divine desires and then I surrender to God the best I can.”

Continue reading Do You Strive?

Seasons: The Death of Easter

FF767RP7D0

Middle of nowhere, the Snowy Mountains, Australia, 1980s: The incense wallows out of the rocking censer, curling heavenwards with our Hail Marys and sneezes. My priest loves Easter, eyes practically closed in adoration and prayer, his saggy cheeks rocking in time with his slow cloudy shuffle around the altar.

“Reckon he’ll hit the corner again?” my brother asks, hopeful and bright eyed amid the pious and bored faces. “SHHHhh” I hiss, trying to convince God that I do believe, that He can do many glorious things, and I’m not even asking for wine or someone back from the dead, I just want to go to a boarding school.  Father Caston presses ashes to my forehead in the sign of the cross, and within the hour mass is done and we’re home again. My brother’s ashes didn’t last ten seconds after application, my sister tasting hers and shoving me when I raised my judging teenage eyebrows. My ashes stay on until I shower the next day, hoping that my outward devotion will be extra credit to my prayers, to my utter, desperate hope that my will is His will. It’s not.

Another Easter, this one wrapped in an early, hungry autumn. I walk in fog to and from church, the tip of my nose thawing in time to drip during communion. All the talk of new life and light seems callous when we’re descending into the loss of heat, a whiny wet winter, wearing coughs as scarves and give up walking around puddles.  Easter is more about autumn, about death, the aching cold of the grave, a time of tears and fog it seems; the promise of an early spring, an eventual scorching summer, a glorious rebirth and resurrection are too far distant to be anything but useless, more a slap on a sunburnt shoulder than a soothing relief.

I look to God for answers, for relief, and find…. Nothing. Nothing for years, until two guys named Elder knocked on my door one freezing winter night, dripping rain onto my carpet and flooding God’s light into my life. It’s been nearly 20 years since that storm, with countless smashings, leakings, gluts and refillings of my meagre store of testimony oil. I’ve burned fiercest at my most desolate moments, sputtered through average weeks with not a catastrophe in sight, still always reaching out for answers, relief, and comfort from a God I have mostly learnt loves me for me, in a very personal way.

But every Easter I struggle.  The gorgeous earth I live on is going dormant, the beauty fading, the weeds and prickles cantankerous under foot, and the light is going to fade. The flowers have died and despite over three decades of experience showing the daffodils and heat will return, (“Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again” says the faithful, Catholic, covenant-heavy refrain) but what if this time, not? Continue reading Seasons: The Death of Easter

The Power of No

finger-924109_640I learned this valuable lesson from my business mentor, Dean Graziosi. I was frustrated at my lack of progress in growing my business. When I shared this with him, he counseled me:

“You’ve gotten this far by saying Yes. Yes to new contacts, new opportunities, new ideas and strategies. Now you are at the point where saying No is more valuable than saying Yes. You need to focus your efforts. That means saying No to opportunities that do not further your goals. It means turning down invitations you don’t really want to accept. It requires you to develop the ability to stay clear about what you want and the courage to say No to people who would derail you, even unwittingly. Some people may feel slighted by your refusal to join in their projects and agendas, but in the end, they will respect your strength and clarity.” Continue reading The Power of No

Assembly Required

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 11.20.00 PM

Two days after I told my boss I would be working somewhere else the next school year, the first school I taught at had a wrecking ball rock through the walls.

The building was across the street from my current school, and as I walked from the copy center or library, I could look out the window and see the different stages of rubble.

There was something sad about that pile to me. People would always stand and stare. Occasionally there would be echoing booms where you could almost hear the dust roll and find a place to land. It was a spectacle for a few weeks, but then people stopped talking about it.

But I thought of those bricks and walls. Old chalkboards and the ghostly wonderful bits of age-old buildings. The walls and bricks saw thousands of students, where leaned against, drawn on, and witnessed the sacred, unholy, joy-filled, awkward moments of teen age school days.

Yards away, the shiny new school began to take shape adjacent to the old school. All the times I viewed people looking, they were staring at the old. The rubble.

There are moments when I feel the shiny new building. In progress, not complete, but hopeful with some potential.  But mostly I relate to the rough bricks and smell of crayons and mysterious cleaner in plastic spray bottles. It’s familiar. They hold memories.

The great tear down reminds me of all the parables of the refiner’s fire, and tearing down walls, and letting Christ build us up, by sometimes tearing parts away and cleaning out wounds.

I look at the rumble and think it’s sad and beautiful and C.S. Lewis’ words ticker taped through my mind, “He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominable and does not seem to make any sense” That’s the thing with construction sometimes. “You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace He intents to come live in.”

And He is living in all the stages and seasons. I think it’s important to remember we are building, assembling along side though. It’s not just simply old or new, even right or wrong sometimes, but the process of creation with the master builder present and aware through all the ruins, rebuilds, and shiny new buildings.