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What is all this Juice and Joy?

By Catherine Arveseth

 photo IMG_8586_zpsce3a65d6.jpgYesterday I sat on the front lawn with my twin girls and we had a go at making dandelion chains. We twisted the green stems into loose knots, snapped and tugged, soft yellow heads bobbing. I watched my daughter’s fingers hook weeds, fumble and find, fascinated by her determination, comforted by her small body next to mine.

It was finally warm enough to sit outside. We let the sunshine seep into our bones. We didn’t speak. The moment was quiet, pleasant, and I felt mighty grateful for Spring.

I know our seasons differ around the globe, but the long-awaited turn from winter here, where skiers still dig into slopes and peaks are still cloaked in white, is cause to celebrate.

So, for your enjoyment —

Two poems.

A favorite from Hopkins. With his contrasting language, that both floats and anchors the poem, and makes us pause over the word, Christ.


By Gerard Manley Hopkins

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –
   When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
   Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
   The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
   The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
   A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden. – Have, get, before it cloy,
   Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
   Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.
And this from a contemporary Mormon poet, Nancy Hanks Baird, Utah Poet of the Year (1996). I’ve been thinking lately about the healing presence of children. The way they comfort and renew us. Baird calls them “menders of the breach.” Her poem is also rich with contrast, but much more personal and tender.

 photo IMG_8582_zps11ab7b29.jpg

On Dying Young in April (for Ellen)

By Nancy Hanks Baird


One hundred dollars worth of tulips
buried in the fall,
a pittance thrown at death’s rampage
cannot prevent this leaving.
An Easter wind rattles the trees,
thins the pallid sunlight,
cotton seeds collide randomly,
like one hundred peals of laughter.
The earth shudders, opens its clenched fingers
raises up the burning tulips.
If I could take your tired face in my hands,
whisper to the confusion in your eyes,
I would tell you, softer than the April wind,
more gentle than the cotton,
the secret for living and dying
is in the children.
Timid, bawdy, brave as the
first day of Spring,
sturdy as tulips, abandoned as the cotton,
sober and wise as angels,
they wake and sleep in wholeness.
If I could put my child in your arms,
lay her cheek against your breast,
pat your throat with her healing hand,
she could not cure what the disease has stolen,
but she would heal with her purity
the wounds.
So when earth wraps you in gentle arms,
lays you tenderly down in the tulips,
look for the children, menders of the breach.
Go in joy and wholeness
with the children.


Images you loved? Thoughts on Spring? How are children like Spring? How do you feel when Spring comes to you, no matter the season?

About Catherine Arveseth

Catherine Arveseth is mother to five children, including two sets of twins. She is an exercise physiologist by profession, writer by passion, loves hiking with her family, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and the edge of an ocean. She and her husband, Doug, began their family in Virginia but now live in Salt Lake City, Utah. She blogs at wildnprecious.com.

6 thoughts on “What is all this Juice and Joy?”

  1. Love that phrase: menders of the breach!

    From my fervent, temple prayer to improve as the mother to my four growing children came the answer: a new mender sent to our arms.

    She pats my throat with her healing hands and helps my motherhood reach upward.

    From Hopkins, the title of your piece is rich, what is all this juice and all this joy! Wow! Love that image of richness that Spring and its Easter refresher course brings.

  2. Sage – what a beautiful phrase to receive: "mender sent to your arms." Thanks for your comment.

    I've been conscious recently of how sacred children are to Jesus – how he protected them, nurtured them, blessed and gathered them near him. When a group of parents brought their children to Jesus, the apostles turned them away because they thought if children were already pure, they didn't need the Savior's healing touch. But this displeased the Lord (Mark 10:14).

    Children need us. But maybe we need them more.

  3. Sigh. Wasn't expecting to weep. I love words and Easter and spring and fresh starts and I'm not such a big fan of death, though I know its necessity. Thank you for sharing these beautiful poems, Cath.

  4. Spring is a long, long time away here – Autumn's got a firm grip on us now.

    Your poems reminded me of this one, by a well-loved Aussie poet, Dorothea MacKellar:

    (To an unknown correspondent who objects
    that "gardens never sleep.")

    Who said that sleep was death? Not I
    Who never thought that gardens die
    In winter slumber;

    I who have watched them fall asleep,
    With slackened breathing, soft and deep,
    Times without number.

    Even our southern winter slows
    The pulses of the flag and rose,
    Their flames are hidden

    With all the buds that will not break
    Till Spring has kissed them wide awake,
    To bloom unbidden.

    It Is the autumn buds which push
    Last summer's leaves from tree and bush
    For the wind's reaping,

    But till Spring comes, I still aver
    Though some things in the garden stir,
    Most of it's sleeping!

    – – – – – – – – –

    I often think I wasn't fully awake until I had kids, that they pushed away the old, unneeded leaves of my life and made me "bloom unbidden."

  5. I've been thinking about the "healing presence of children" lately as well. It started when a friend wrote on her blog of the healing a newborn baby had brought into their home after a very hard winter. I started looking around me and seeing healing brought to other families by their little ones. And then I realized that my triplets (who are now almost 13) bring healing to me (almost!) every day after the difficult last year of our lives…


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