From my backyard came the dull whir of a machine.

It was the crew from Droege Tree Care sculpting a hole in the ground to accommodate the root system for the ‘Edith Bogue’ southern magnolia tree I had ordered. No longer would there be that empty space left by last year’s removal of the overgrow cypress shrubs. It was mid-morning.

Strong of body and spirit, the workers lugged the burlap bulb over the grass and slowly lowered it into the hole, then stood back. Long minutes passed as they circled the tree, scrutinizing the best angle for its planting. The decision made, they knelt and removed the burlap wrappings, worked the soil from the roots, fed them, then scooped shovels of more soil into the cavity. Mulch and watering completed the transplant of this seven-year-old tree, grown from a sapling at the Pea Ridge Nursery in Hermann, Missouri.

All of this left me with deep thoughts—to nurture the tree with welcome, to acknowledge its spirit with gladness, and to water its roots until established. Known to be a fast-growing tree, its glossy leaves and fragrant ivory-cupped blossoms will give delight to all who pass.

On a deeper level the southern magnolia tree resonances the on-going touch of the Creator at work in our world: beauty, color, luster, symmetry, and vibrancy. This display, so ordinary we often miss it, also mirrors the creative depths in our psyches.

Who can wrap words around our Creator’s unconditional love?






A solitary cardinal alighted on the plank fence in my back yard, then zoomed down upon the winter-ravaged grass; its redness quickened my heart, plunged me into stillness. I continued watching. Like a wise professor attired in scarlet robes, it discerned the next step and took it boldly. Then it was gone. I had been visited and I knew it. Rather than resume my work in the kitchen, I savored this intrusion.

The cardinal’s fiery presence recalled images of Christ Pantocrator (the Lawgiver), rendered in mosaics or frescoes, which still adorn domes and apses of medieval Eastern Orthodox churches. The dark outlines of Christ’s iconic eyes, his red tunic, his left hand holding the jeweled book of the New Testament, his right hand raised in blessing—Such was the demonstrable power that had inflamed the imaginations of worshipers, huddled below in the nave, whispering their prayers. Such moments sustained their lives of hardship until the next Mass.

Such still has the holding power to thwart evil, with its allure of dark power. Willingness to follow its sway freshens us with loving care and protection.


Seems to me that our hearts were fashioned to sing.

Consider the harmonics of the spheres throughout the universe. Consider the strains of a spirited melody, whether in a concert hall or a sports venue that catches our breath. Consider, also, how a ditty will seize our imagination and seed our energy with fresh purpose.

My sister Martha put me up with one that still works: “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A” – Such are the opening lyrics in this 1947 Academy Award for the Best Original Song from Song of the South. Uncle Remus, the film’s storyteller/handyman employed on a plantation in Reconstructionist Georgia, sings this ditty while interacting with animated creatures during a summer walk. Such gyrations start the feet a-tapping—and much more.

“Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A” trips off the tongue and opens the psyche to the realm of play. Here, nothing is taken seriously because of unflagging trust in God, source for the “… wonderful day!” and “…the warming sunshine…heading my way!” Even Mister Bluebird on his shoulder concurs: “It’s the truth. It’s actual. Everything is satisfactual!”

And such it is, no matter what happens. It’s all about trust in God’s protection and care, disguised, this time, as a bluebird.

The challenge is to find our own bluebird and listen to its song.


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