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From within summer’s treasures bloom Asiatic lilies: crimsons, salmons, whites, yellows, and golds; their profusion enhances ash pits, garage doors, backyards, as well as formal gardens. Atop stalks, sometimes over five feet tall, stamens and pistils strut their stuff within six-petelled blossoms—their blatant sexuality preening under the sun. Unlike other flowering shrubs and plants, their showing lasts for weeks.

I’m always stunned by the perfection of Asiatic lilies: the symmetry of their waxy petals, their unified whole, their coloring, and especially their pulsating energy. Never can I walk past a cluster of them without touching and smelling. Joy wells from my depths.

Such vibrant beauty recalls the aesthetics of John Ruskin, a British art critic and watercolorist. He experienced God’s love in the wonders of nature as he traveled around Europe and later developed his findings in five volumes of Modern Painters (1885), seventeen years in their composition. Such findings also fueled his passion for environmental reform caused by smog from factories during the Industrial Revolution. Hazed over was God’s unitive presence in nature—its connection, minimized, snuffed out.

Unfortunately, similar smog still persists. At best, we can keep it at bay through listening, in stillness, to clusters of Asiatic lilies. Be open to their gifts and be renewed.

 

 

 

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After grueling days of work, the brawny crew from Certified, operated locally since 1888, reset the ornamental pavers of my patio in the backyard, designed by a previous owner. First came digging up the pavers, cleaning them off, then stacking them in tall piles upon the grass. The ground beneath gaped in woundedness, a mixture of dirt, discolored mounds of sand, tangled roots of grasses and weeds that had already seeped through the cracks of the wave-like pavers. And there were hundreds. Next came more grunt work: the removal of rotting railroad ties, teeming with ants, enclosing the patio, and lugging them off.

Still more grunt work followed: raking and leveling the ground, covering it with sand, then pounding each paver into place with strokes from a blunt hammer. More sand sealed the cracks of the pavers. Like a jigsaw puzzle, my patio slowly emerged, newly encased in plastic vinyl logs with a green metal border hedging off the grass.

As the crew cleaned up, a profound lesson began to emerge from the depth psychology of C. G. Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist.

I likened the paver’s grainy surface to the persona or mask we wear in the outer world; the dank ground, to our unconscious, source of teeming life that fuels our motive, attitudes, and behaviors. To relate gracefully to others in this world, whether as a welder, a mother, an executive, or whatever, it helps to tend this earthiness through prayer, journaling, dreams, or some artistic endeavor. At times, we have to dig deep to root out disorders therein, and for this, we ask for help. It always comes.

Thus maintenance is critical, both for our pavered-patio as well and for our unconscious.

 

 

 

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