Fat buds breaking into flower here and there on an ornamental plum tree are among the first harbingers of spring on our farm. Soon promise will be reality and the tree will be a pink cloud, a profusion of blossoms and spring fragrance.
Then the show will be over.
Thousands of tiny petals will rain down, carpeting the lawn with memories. In a few weeks, no trace of Spring’s extravagance remains, and a visitor to the garden in summer, fall, or winter might not know that the tree ever blooms at all.
Welcome to my wife (and "guest blogger") Melissa!
If you want to read the "other side of the story," if you've ever wondered where beauty is in a life filled with ordinary or even ugly things, this post is for you. —Rob
Half-an-hour behind schedule on my way to a funeral, I scanned the Costco registers—measuring the length of the line against number of items and the checker’s speed. My best guess was the line punctuated at the end by a man in a flannel coat. I absently noticed he looked strangely headless, as if just a plaid coat and jeans shuffled behind his cart.
It was a big cousin sleep out—eleven children stacked side-by-side like logs in a corduroy road. Two rooms of our lower story were transformed into a storm-tossed sea; waves of sleeping bags and pillows and blankets hid children tucked in for a safe voyage through the dark hours.
Sometime in the middle of the night, there was a small sound downstairs. I heard it—like a man underwater, far away and in another world. It had been a long day and Melissa and I were tired. I didn’t give the sound any concentrated thought.
Macaroni and cheese is for many, a quintessential American comfort food. It’s fast (dump into water and stir in the fake-o cheese), it’s colorful (how much food coloring is in that foil packet?), its unoffensive (as a kid, I really liked the stuff), and it’s just down home.
My Mom used to make macaroni and cheese from scratch, a much healthier version than the stuff sold in cardboard boxes in the supermarket. Looking back, I think it was much better tasting, too.
What you see:
Rosemary (my seven-year-old daughter) asleep on the couch with Roughy (the cat) enjoying his nap, too. Pretty cozy!
What you cannot see:
Just over the couch a large picture window frames a gray day, inhospitable and cold. Makes “cozy” cozier still.
What makes a thing really stand out is contrast. What makes light obvious is darkness. What accentuates righteousness is unrighteousness. There is no greater opportunity for the truth than when untruth is lauded in the open square.
Melissa just called me from town. “At the last two stoplights, the van was rocking from side to side,” she told me with concern.
I was concerned, too. On Sunday the “service engine soon” light came on. I’ve been half-forgetting about it, half-not-wanting-to-remember it over the past few days.
Now this. What could make the van rock back and forth at idle?
You know the feeling:
either a 300 pound gorilla is sitting on your chest
or you’re about to have a heart attack
or you’re stressed--
striving but not accomplishing, running but not fast enough.
It isn’t pleasant. And it isn’t uncommon.
followed by another,
each holding hands with the last,
an unbroken chain.
It does not appear in a moment,
sweeping strokes of pen or brush
painting on a canvas-sky
the crystal scepter
of winter’s might.
Just one drop, followed by another . . .
I would hasten the process,
urge the Sculptor on.
“Why the pace,
methodical and slow?--
“I have a race to run,
a course to finish,
a fight to win.”
But He says,
“Wait with Me--
wait and watch and work;
“What I forge,
one breath after another,
is not the act alone,
hot from the furnace of effort--
but the life,
pressed in the crucible of time.”
“Just one breath, followed by another.”
© 2011 by Robert G. Robbins