Archive | July 2014

food for thought

PCT flowertiny flower along the Pacific Crest Trail

(picture taken by daughter Karla as she hiked the PCT)

***

I have come to realize that the radiance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the fragrance of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy.  Perfection consists in being what God wants us to be.

(Therese of Lisieux 1873-1897)

Lilies for Our Mad, Mad World

S-lilies(picture taken by my friend Sigrid Brooks, in her garden)

Carol Myers' lilies - Copy(picture taken by my friend Carol Myers-Lessa, in her garden)

They’ll never build tall towers,

twin or otherwise; never erect

a monument to tell the

world the import of their

lives; never patch a quilt of

memories to warm the future’s

cold; never pen a verse of

rhyme to laud their loveliness.

S-lilies

They simply “are,” stars of

stillness glowing in our lives,

radiant against the mud and

weeds of brutal war and hatred

spread across the grasses and the

flowered peoples of our world, from

Gaza to Ukraine, our southern

border to the deserts of Iraq.

Never toiling, never spinning,

serenely shine their pastel joy; and

when their life is spent, they

quiet fade into the ground, their

destiny majestically fulfilled.

 

Carol Myers' lilies - Copy

I’d like to send a lily prayer to

all who paint our world in black,

scarring lives and landscapes in their

carelessness and greed; perhaps they’d

hush their frenzied work, breathe

deep the pungent scent; listen close to

flowers that so gently sing what

living life is really all about.

Crowded with God

moon-2

(moon over our neighborhood last week)

“We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God.  The world is crowded

with him.  He walks everywhere incognito.  And the incognito is not always hard to

penetrate.  The real labour is to remember, to attend.  In fact, to come awake.  Still more,

to remain awake.”

C.S. Lewis in Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer

Lantana Lament for a Missionary Kid

lantana

“Oh, Mom! Not again! We’ll never get where we’re going. I’ve stopped this car a dozen times already so you could take pictures of yet another flower.”

My daughter was right, of course. She usually is. We were driving on one of the busy California thoroughfares—4-lanes with fast-moving traffic. No shoulder for stopping; no strip for parking. Stopping would mean we’d have to turn off the road to park and then walk back to the spot where I’d seen this latest flower.

But this wasn’t just any flower! This was a flower I hadn’t seen since my childhood in Vietnam and Cambodia. It was a flower I had always loved, a flower I remembered as somehow comforting, but one I had begun to think I had just imagined, as I hadn’t seen it for some 60 years. But there it was! So beautiful with its small, multi-colored blossoms—clusters of bright orange around the perimeter, yellow in the center, and here and there a hint of pink and red as well.

I remembered one plant from my childhood in particular. It grew low to the ground on the hillside just outside the girls’ dormitory where I spent much of my elementary school years. My parents were missionaries in Cambodia, and I, like all the other MK’s (missionary kids) of the area, had been sent off to the missionary boarding school in Dalat, Vietnam, where I would be cared for and schooled while my parents were busy with their missionary work.

It was a lonely time. Yes, there were lots of other children there, and we all put on a brave face each morning as we dressed and went off to class, each evening when the “Auntie” of the school would come to lead us in our bedtime prayers, tuck us into our mosquito-netted beds, and then turn out the lights. We certainly had our fun times—Capture the Flag was always a favorite; Red Rover, Red Rover was another, and now and then there would be a fun night with skits and music.

But the undertow of loneliness pulled through all our days. I missed my Mom and Dad. I wanted to hear their voices. Wanted to feel their hugs. Never wanted to leave Phnom Penh after I had been home for Christmas vacation. But of course I always had to leave and go back to Dalat. After all, this was what God wanted, wasn’t it?

The God I knew back then did not seem to be a very friendly God. The God I knew back then seemed to be a God who asked much of me but did not seem to give me much in return, except for the promise of a heaven someday when this life would be over. I tried very hard to please this God, but I never sensed God smiling in my life.

That plant on the hillside, however, did seem to smile. I remember sitting alone beside her and feeling a quiet calm in her bright presence. She seemed to welcome me. Seemed to like having me look at her. Seemed to offer her comfort through those tiny little trumpets of color that formed her clustered brightness.

“Okay, Mom. This one last time.” Bless my daughter. We stopped, and I snapped several pictures. As I did, I found myself not just seeing that beloved little flower from my Dalat days, but I felt that I was actually hearing her quiet voice. A still, small voice that had whispered to a frightened, lonely little girl on that faraway hillside. A voice that had reassured and embraced that little girl. A voice that had helped to wipe away some of her tears.

Back then I didn’t believe that God spoke through anything but the Holy Bible of my faith. But I know differently now. And as I stood by the side of that California road, snapping picture after picture, I breathed a sigh of thanks for that Presence that had sat with me on that hillside. That Voice that had softened those difficult early years.

Not long after I had snapped pictures of “my” flower that day, I discovered its name and discovered, as well, that “lantana” grows in a profusion of other colors. God’s voice in a brilliant array of joy in blues and yellows, pinks and lavenders!  My neighbor is growing some lantana this summer. A dear friend has gifted me with a basket of lantana for my deck. I love hearing God’s voice in all of them.  

But always, for me, the lantana voice that echoes in my soul most clearly is the lantana voice that speaks in orange and yellow hues. When I see these lantana, once again I am back on that lonely hill by the dormitory in Dalat. Once again, I feel the loneliness of those days. But once again, I also feel the comfort of those tiny blooms. And once again I thank the God who spoke through the flowers, the God who speaks yet today through flowers, through God’s Word, through a multitude of voices, the God who says again and again, “Carol, you are not alone.”