Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pottery lures

Pottery pieces made by students in the Parks & Rec "Pottery in the Park" class I'm teaching the next two weeks are drying along two wooden benches on the front porch. Sculptural pieces, mugs, serving dishes, leaf bowls, and even a few hand-thrown pieces are at various stages of the drying process - some were already dry enough for the first firing.

A warm breeze blowing the wind chimes nearby, I surveyed the pottery pieces. As I lifted the driest works of art to carry them to the kiln, I noticed movement on the support of the cedar bench. Hard-at-work, two potter wasps were constructing a complex of pot-shaped mud nests for the little ones soon-to-be housed. How delightful and amusing to find their presence at just such a moment!

And yet, I have not always been delighted or amused by the presence of their cousins in the family Vespidae. While cutting transects across a heavily wooded (and poison-oak/ivy/sumac infested) site many summers ago, when I worked for an archaeology firm, I dug my shovel into not one, but three different yellow jacket nests. My shovel became an over-sized swatter and the crazy dance I did would have made anyone laugh. I also recall the year I pumped breast milk for my stubborn newborn, who split my nipples trying to nurse and was hard to keep awake while feeding. That summer, after plenty of months to get a routine for pumping, our house was invaded by ever-appearing paper wasps. I kept the vacuum at the ready until we saved enough to call an exterminator, whose vicious spray somehow deterred their appearance after that.

At the time, experiencing painful moments is not fun. I'm certain you, friend, have noticed the same thing. And yet, often, with time's steady roll, we can more easily see the strength or courage we've gained through such an experience - learning to harbor hope in even the most uncertain of situations.

May you feel a wave of hope today in whatever difficult situation that tramples through your life's journey.  And may the unknown positive possibilities in that situation present themselves, too.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Love abounding

In "The Cloister Walk," Kathleen Norris shares, "in matters of the heart... there is no right or wrong way to do it, but only the way of your life." I recall meandering through desert roads in Joshua Tree National Park - experiencing the expanse of dry sands and scrubby brush, only to find sprouts of lovely yellow flowers here and there. Even in an environment that exudes harsh reality, there is such beauty and life abounding.

It makes me wonder how love percolates in my life; and perhaps posing for you the same preponderance. For me, I often focus so much on my shortcomings and failings that I forget there are more ways in which my life reveals love than a realize. During a recent shopping trip, a familiar store clerk exclaimed, "The boys are such a delight!  I love to hear them sing." She then went on to praise me on how well I interacted with them and harbored such patience with them. While I thanked her for such kind compliments, my inner-self could not help but protest. I would put patience on a long list of characteristics I am in constant need of learning and re-learning.

Do you have such a list, friend? Does it seem to grow daily? Perhaps if we focused more on what unique ways we touch others' hearts and provide for their needs, we'll be able to experience more love for ourselves and for others, too. It's difficult to love when we don't know how we'll be received - but that is precisely why it's so important to love. So, let's put aside our insecurities and smile, looking forward to the next person God plants in our lives.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Open Window

I'm often amazed by the quick, cool breeze that sets the curtains soaring like kites through the open window. Although corners of the room fill with warm air, a comfortable stream flutters tablecloths and dangling runner-ends. But, it doesn't just bring a delectable chill that sometimes sends me wrapping up in a shawl. Sounds and smells (at least most of them) are just as comforting.

Bagpipe drones and swift jigs filter through the screen, along with tinkling metal chimes and thudding wooden ones too. A multitude of tunes from chirping birds add dazzle to the day. And, then there're the softest sounds: leaves waving wildly as if to bid adieu to day and the swiftest beat of hummingbird wings, whose beaks dip nectar from delphinium.

Lavender's purple tufts sit nearby - so my nose detects. And, have you smelled the puffy mimosa flowers, ripe and cheery fuchsia-pink? Occasionally mock orange drifts through the window - though most the blossoms are spent by now. And even honeysuckle's heady scent is more memory than reality. Tomato greens send my tastebuds to dancing as they imagine the sweet, ripe heirlooms that I'll soon hold in hand, along with the yellow squash, zucchini, and cucumbers we're currently harvesting.

I'm more amazed at how I would miss these natural beauties upon going inside if the window was not open. Do you often wonder what you're missing, friend, as I do? Let's both hold on to the hope that we don't take too much for granted. Let's savor the sweet breeze inside, as much as outside.