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It was last Sunday, an afternoon of frothy flowering: nubby red-buds interfacing with cobalt skies; branches of apple trees thick-sleeved with blossoms; crab-apples, resembling cones of raspberry sherbet; weeping cherries bowed in supplication; tulips parading their colors like drum majorettes; and creeping moss carpeting rock gardens with lavenders and pinks. Such richness evidenced the synchronicity of warmth, moisture, and rich soil.

The same afternoon also held another kind of frothy flowering, one offered by the Missouri Women’s Chorus under the direction of Scott Schoonover. The rose marble sanctuary of St. Gabriel Catholic Church in St. Louis, Missouri, afforded the singers a protective womb from which to joyfully proclaim the revelations of six mystics: Mary, Mother of Jesus; Cecilia; Margaret Queen of Scotland; Hildegard of Bingen; Julian of Norwich; and Teresa of Avila.

Like the synchronicity occurring outdoors, we experienced the fruit of the Chorus’s four-part harmony; it illumined the sacred texts with ecstasy and opened them to wordless communion with the Sacred—No matter the obvious limits of the notes and words to encompass the Ineffable.

Such robust flowering in spring’s coloration and in the voices of the Missouri Women’s Chorus evidenced a power in our midst that effaces smudges from our “unclean hearts.” Humbled, we rejoiced with the fourteenth-century-mystic Julian of Norwich: “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

 

 

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March’s fickle warmth swells the buds gracing the branches of the decades-old lilac bush, thriving outside my study window. For weeks, I observe this necessary violence, splitting apart the wombs of incipient life. Then for a few days, trenchant rains slow the process. Tension mounts.

Another sun-splashed morning gives the final push to the furled leaves, still moist from their birthing. A similar process continues greening our world, moment by moment.

Such violent emergence of fresh life speaks of casting off the outworn and embracing the new. How does one go about this—certainly not behaviors for the timid? Alignment with the Sacred does embolden hearts to plunge into the vibrant colors of life and relish them before they pass.

“Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”

  • From the poem, Sometimes, composed by Mary Oliver, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award.

 

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One of my Christmas gifts was a pear-shaped bulb of an amaryllis, boxed with a compressed planting disc and its pot. The directions were simple: Add two cups of warm water to the disk resting on the bottom of the pot; then fluff up the mix with a fork. In minutes, it became a nurturing bed for the bulb that I planted, root system down. The directions continued: Set the pot in a warm place and water each week. Blooms will appear in eight to ten weeks.

From my writing table I now beam love toward the plant, its tip resembling an engorged penis, sunning in front of my study window.

Within the scaly bulb are known to be strap-shaped green leaves and a cluster of two to twelve funnel-shaped flowers at their top, usually white with a crimson stripe. So it’s about growth in the dark: slow and imperceptible. Whether this happens, however, depends on my daily tending.

An apt metaphor to carry into the New Year: to be conscious of the life-pulse and fan its flickers, to sacrifice the outworn and step into the untried, and to embrace change: body-mind-spirit. We do not do this alone. Another tends us.

Let us open our hearts to this tending during 2016 and enjoy a New Year filled with surprises!

Perhaps like an amaryllis, become a harbinger of spring’s gladness!

 

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