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March’s ire prolonged a soggy grayness that flummoxed root systems timed to fire their greenness above ground. Wetness loosened gumballs from specter branches and hurtled them like grenades toward slick pavements. Solitary patches of fescue, like punk hair, bullied wilted mounds of zoysia on lawns. A squirrel twitched its nose, tossed back its head. A dog shivered, leaned into its leash as it scrambled onto my neighbor’s porch.

Yet, the rains dripped into April. Like those safely ensconced within Noah’s ark we yearned for the sun’s energy to restore dryness and color to our land.

All the while, a happening in my flowerbed gave me pause. The tips of six green blades began to push through the protective mulch—unheard of because of nothing having been planted there. Weeks passed. Like daunting gymnasts strutting their stuff, more blades appeared, not without being pommeled by winds and biting rains. Nothing would stop the growth of these daffodils, not even Easter Sunday’s sleet storm.

Three days later, the sun’s warmth lowered the heads of the tight buds and unraveled them; their yummy yellow still trumpets hope for all to hear.

Such display, in microcosm, reflects the Unseen Hand bestowing life in its full color and symmetry, despite insurmountable obstacles. We have only to observe …

 

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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?

 

 

So exclaimed Mary R Woodard (no period after the letter R), her body broken by decades of washing, ironing, and cleaning for others in St. Louis, Missouri. As a child she hunkered down in a ditch in Christian County, Kentucky, and watched her twenty-year-old uncle lynched for looking at a white woman. Following her move North as part of the Great Migration, her experience of racism morphed into “bitter with sweet meanness.” Psalm 37 protected her gentle spirit from its contagion.

 Into Mary’s life came another outsider, Jane Ellen Ibur, a toddler living in an affluent home with a swimming pool. Screaming battles with her parents led her to seek Mary’s bosom, in their basement where she ironed.

This little girl subsequently became a teacher and a poet who honored her mentor in this poetic memoir, both wings flappin’, still not flyin’ (2014). Their mutual selflessness defies words: Mary’s habitual recourse to God and Jane’s care of her the last eleven years of her life—such reveals the brilliance of the Sacred Feminine.

We learn from them.

 

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