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art Nature Seasons

Pennsylvania Spring

Pennsylvania Spring

The final week of May in Pennsylvania

Photos from my early morning walk.

Rhododendrum  is a STAR at this time of year.

Look for it in shady places, forests and woodlands.

 

 

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Delicate PHLOX is now SHOWING in the woods and fields all around Western Pennsylvania.

Don’t miss the show!

 

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art Christianity Journal Lynda McKinney Lambert Memoir Nature Poetry Seasons Writing

Kaleidoscope: Collecting Patterns of Light and Dreams

“Kaleidoscope: Collecting Patterns of Light and Dreams”

by Lynda McKinney Lambert, 2015

Blog15_April_Violets

Note:  The first version of this essay was first published on “Amy’s Adventures Blog, by Amy Bovaird,

April 24, 2015.  Thank you, Amy, for inviting me to create a guest blog for you.

You can VISIT me at Amy’s Blog by clicking here:

 http://amybovaird.com/friday-friends-spotlight-on-lynda-lambert/

**********

 

“For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come,

and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

Song of Solomon 2:11-12 ~

**********

Patti and I walked down the old, narrow stone path on an April afternoon in the 1950s. Our pastel plaid dresses fluttered slightly in the soft afternoon breeze.  We removed our cotton sweaters, draped them carelessly over our arm for the journey back home. Like most days in April in western Pennsylvania it had been raining in the morning that day. A few hours later, the day took a turn and now it had warmed up significantly since our early morning walk to school. We felt happy because there was not a rain cloud in sight as we took our time walking along our familiar path. Now we meandered at an easy pace in the opposite direction.  School was over for the day and there was no reason to walk faster.   We walked a short distance and then we were standing beside a large field.  The aroma coming from the thick blanket of woods violets slowed us down even more as we scanned the field. In a moment, without speaking to each other, we stepped lightly between the moistened deep green leaves that flourished in thick patches of weeds and flowers. We were absorbed at the moment, bent over the deep blue-violet blossoms and reached out to gather some dainty flowers.  One by one, we snapped the fragile, slender stems of the violets.  While we picked our violets with our right hand, we placed each one in the grasp of our left hand.  Our bear arms were hot as the late afternoon sunshine turned our pale skin bright pink. When our left had could hold no more violets, we stepped away from the field and continued our walk home where our Mother was waiting for us to return   we came into the 1920s frame house through the back door with our fists full of violets, she was delighted with our small gifts.  She went to her cupboard, got out two small glass jelly jars and put the bouquets in water to keep them fresh. Our floral  gifts remained on the windowsill in our kitchen.

***

This year I set my intentions on observing small details in nature.  The landscape is changing continuously.

I see crystal  drops of dew on tender new leaves in the meadow.  They are sprinkled with transparent silvery diamonds.   Another turn, and I am walking beside a field of dewy dark green leaves with little periwinkle flowers peeking through the moisture.

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I felt the velvet softness of Sumac branches. I looked at layers of last autumn’s leaves intermingled with shoots of new grass, and budding Hyacinths   Along the stone walk, I observed the red stalks of Peony bushes forging upwards through the moist earth.   Oh, Yes!  It’s Spring!

 ***

All these thoughts bring me to think about the beauty I have seen in a kaleidoscope. The word “kaleidoscope” has Greek roots.  It means “a form beautiful to see.”  I am compelled to ask you…

“When is the last time you have had a kaleidoscope in your hands with one eye focused through the small round window?”

“Do you recall the vivid colors, ever-changing shapes, as you slightly moved your hand around the barrel of the kaleidoscope?”

You give it a small twist and all the shapes fall into new pictures.  Hidden fragments inside the instrument create  numerous symmetrical, abstract  pictures.   Envision the world such as you have seen in a kaleidoscope!

 

Could you describe what you feel as the colors dance and flow over the mirror images inside? And did you know that inside the kaleidoscope are tiny, ordinary objects such as buttons, stones, chips and fragments – every illusion you enjoyed viewing is merely a collection of ordinary little things someone gathered and put inside with mirrors set at 60 degree angles

***

It has been over six decades since I picked wild violets with my sister in a rural farmer’s field.  I realize my faith in God still works in the same way it did when I was a child gathering God’s little presents.  Just a small twist takes us to a new landscape.

***

Big things make headline news, are celebrated and sought after. There is no mention of the ache we have in our inner being and the feeling that something is just not right.  Oh, I know that yearning that whispers from deep inside my body.  Could it be that once again I have walked on that familiar pathway that led me to places where I was not called by God to be?  There is always a sense of discomfort and painful stumbling blocks to be experienced when we are outside of his will or his calling, for our life. Fortunately, we can turn around, retrace our steps back to where we need to be and get our direction going once again. That is the good news – we can change direction!

***

Sitting in silence, being calm, listening for God’s still, small voice takes us to his glory.   Small treasures surround us   When I sit down and spend time alone with him, in silence, I experience transformation.  I turn another bend, there is a shift in perspective, and those little gifts are reflected by the mirrored light of his countenance. I am transformed yet again, by small gifts.

***

God works just like that!

The longer we look at him, the more our faith grows.  Each turn we take towards him opens up a new landscape that shows us insight into his character. I approach quietly.   Slowly, I realized the rain has stopped. I tilted my head towards the sky, listened for the songs of the circling birds as they hover above the tall trees; it is happening again.  Something new.  My feet are damp from the spring shower. Just another small turn of the kaleidoscope – yes! I can see it now.

Transformation.

***

Copyright, 2015. Lynda McKinney Lambert. May 9, 2015. All rights reserved.

Written for publication by Amy Bovaird. April 24, 2015. With much gratitude for the kind invitation to write for Amy’s Adventures Blog. Thank you!

 http://amybovaird.com/friday-friends-spotlight-on-lynda-lambert/

Categories
art Christianity Journal Nature Writing

Little Steps…Part 1 Begin the Journey to Discover, Recover, Revise

Little Steps, Part 1 – Begin the Journey

Part 1 of 7 Part Series

~When April whispers to us, “Move on!”~

Discover the Past

Recover the Present

Revise the Future

Blog_2014_Dec_PhotoRoseCenterBright spring flowers flourish all around us by mid April.  I bought a little pot of yellow tulips recently when I was shopping.  They brightened up our dining room table and made me feel happy every time I glanced at them. I am not a gardener so I enjoy buying potted plants and floral bouquets throughout the year with the changing seasons.  Each season brings a new array of colors.  April’s flowers sparkle with brilliance in dazzling yellow daffodils, tulips in a range from vivid red and coral, to  soft pink and white. By the end of April, Pennsylvania’s grassy meadows will be covered with blankets of brilliant purple-blue violets.

 ***

Our walk home from grade school took a bit longer when I was a little girl. Our rural home was nearly a mile from the school and unless the snow was too deep, or a storm was brewing, we walked along a meandering path morning and afternoon. By mid-April we found the delightful blooming violets in the fields.  The small, fragrant blooms beckoned my sister and me to come closer!

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We forgot that we were supposed to walk directly home after school on those long-ago  spring days as we stooped down  low, extended our eager hands, and began picking violets to take back home with us.  The hot afternoon  sun beat down on us as we gathered a fist full of the fragile delights.  Once home with our treasured flowers, we put them in our mother’s little jelly jars.  Our bouquets remained in a special space on  our kitchen windowsill. To this day, many decades later, I still remember the joy of small wildflowers in the house. From now through the fall season, my home will have wildflowers  and weeds from the woods in little vases and jars as the months move towards winter.

***

 April signals that it is now the  beginnings of new life surging in Nature.  On mornings like this one, I take leisurely walks with the dogs. I became conscious of the subtle changes today, wanted to focus on them.  After a long lasting winter this year, each new spring day seems especially precious as it brings  warmth, sunshine, budding bushes and trees, and colorful flowers to my little part of the world.

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***

I considered my different senses and how I experienced them as I walked my usual path around the neighborhood  today.

“Sometimes, we get too caught up with the visuals all around us,” I reflected.

We forget we have other important  senses giving us information if we dwell primarily on the visual stimulation and distractions.   I am legally blind and the entire world is a diffusion of shadowy forms and distorted, foggy impressions.  The positive aspect  of sight loss is that I am more aware now about the things I missed out on when I was fully sighted.  I was too focused on looking and learning only through my eyes.  Really, my excellent vision in my earlier, sighted, years, prevented me from discovering many aspects of the world that I appreciate now.

***

I listened carefully, became aware of the low sounds of an owl singing its final notes this  morning as the  sunshine brought  strong light to this new day. I thought about the owl and imagined it must be celebrating the end of a fruitful night of hunting for food to eat, and flights in the comfort of the darkness where it can be free.  For the owl, I thought about how the rising morning sun marked the end of its cycle of hunting and searching for food as it flies over the treetops and settles onto high, dense pine  branches.

While the owl can settle down and relax in the dense tree branches to have a nice sleep for the day, I am just beginning my day.  I breathe deeply and feel the coldness on my face and hands.  My nose is moist and I take out a tissue to wipe the droplets of moisture that come from breathing in the wetness of the early morning atmosphere.  My face tingles with the cold breeze and my hands remind me they are exposed and I have not brought along a pair of gloves to warm them up on this hour-long walk.

But, I am not so concerned with the coolness of the morning today. Instead, my thoughts move on to the meaning of spring and how each day is bringing changes to the world around me.  It feels good, the cold air, and my lighter jacket is just right for this new day.  I reach down occasionally to tell my dog, “Good Girl!  Heel.  Good Heel.  Good Girl!  She glances up at me, and quickly looks back at the path before her and sniffs the air.  When we come to a wooded place, near an abandoned mill, I relax her leash and allow her to enjoy tramping in the winter packed leaves that lay all around the trees.  She digs down into them in places, and pushes the leaves aside, seeking a direct passage to the scent that caught her attention. Eventually, I pull her back to heel position and we continue on for the second half of our morning travels, and we had back towards home together.

 ***

I know that we often think of January as a time of new beginnings. After all, it marks the New Year.  Perhaps we might rethink this idea when we find ourselves walking in the early morning in April, with the warming of spring sunshine on our bodies.  April truly is the time of new beginnings.

While it is true, January urged us to begin anew, set our intentions for the New Year.  Like most of you, I did carefully think about my intentions and weighed them out while considering my own talents, skills, and passions. Now, April urges us to move on.  I recognize I need to look back to DISCOVER anything that will keep me from reaching the heights I’d like to find this year.

*** 

My definition of a successful person is an individual who knows the will of God for her life, recognizes it, and chooses to do God’s will as she walks her unique God-given path in life.~ Lynda McKinney Lambert

***

I don’t want “just enough” or “good enough.” I want a life of personal integrity and excellence.  That does not mean I want perfection – no, just the opposite of that! Perfection is unrealistic; we could chase after perfection forever and we would never reach it for it is an illusion. But, integrity and excellence are  attainable because we have the promise of new life, renewal, and rejuvenation each spring.  Life is bursting out all around us in every direction. We can fully participate in it.  We are creatures who have the gift of choice. We can CHOOSE to have integrity and to be excellent in everything we do.  I have witnessed so many people running after the myth of perfectionism.  I see it in just about every magazine I pick up – perfect homes, perfect neighborhoods, perfect careers, perfect lawns, perfect cars, and perfect lies.

***

April asks this question:

Is there anything that will hold us back and take away our joy of life?

 ***

April affirms life and growth, just like all of nature, we can DISCOVER, RECOVER, and REVISE our life.

***

Here in Pennsylvania, we have “stink bugs” that slip unseen into our homes in the late fall, just before winter sets in.  They are hiding in drawers, closets, attics, and basements where they will sleep, hidden away, through the winter months. When the April sunshine comes into our homes, it wakes up the stink bugs who begin to come alive. We will find them to be annoying as they zip through the house, wake us up in the morning light, or buzz around light sources at night and disturb our sleep.

***

One important FIRST STEP is to DISCOVER hidden, sleeping, secret forces inside of us that may be holding us back. Just sit quietly for awhile and think about your past and the hurts that may still be haunting you. We all have them. We have all experienced  rejection, suffering, failures, disappointments, and personal disasters.

***

 In April, begin to DISCOVER the past hurts that will prevent us from living a life of peace, joy, creativity, excellence and purpose.  We cannot hold on to those feelings for unforgiveness will always hold us back. We will actually find that we are stuck in the past – our minds will go back again and again and relive the hurt. From this day forward, vow to never again speak of this hurt but to give it over to God today. Refuse to relive it or speak of the hurt or demean the person who has hurt you. This will set you free from the hurtful past so you can come alive again and experience the eternal forces of spring inside your own spirit.  Be assured, the words we speak are living forces. If we continually drag up the ugliness of a situation or personal hurt, we are creating our present and our future unhappiness.  Our words are LIFE.  Speak what is good, nourishing, and excellent.

***

 You can move on, and April is the perfect time to do it. Join me on this FIRST LITTLE STEP of our life’s purpose and journey to wholeness.

Yes, forgiveness is a choice, and it has nothing to do with the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is the choice to hand your hurts over to God and let Him make up the difference. When we choose to extend forgiveness, that’s when we choose to receive His forgiveness! ~Joel Osteen

***

I am DISCOVERING the prickly thorns in my own past that have prevented my growth to excellence. One by one, I am giving them up, allowing God to take them away, as I RECOVER from the hurts.  I won’t be talking about them any longer. I won’t be going back to feel the pain again.

***

The good news today, in mid-April, is that after we DISCOVER and RECOVER from past hurts, we can REVISE our own future.  As I take the higher path of forgiveness, I find the days are growing brighter and brighter still, with each new day!

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Listen to Lynda McKinney Lambert, interview on April 17, 2015_ Purpose Talk Radio.

Discover your CALLING in LIFE by examining your own Life’s Timeline.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/purposetalkradio/2015/04/17/7-little-steps-discover-the-landmarks-in-your-life-timeline

Categories
Music Poetry Writing

On When My Daughter Cuts the Roses

The Advent Candle for Week ONE:  Hope 

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 I sat quietly in my living room as I watched a Christmas program on television. The focus of the program was on Advent since this day marked the first day of Advent in the Christian calendar.  A priest lit the first candle.  “This first candle stands for hope,” he said.  Traditionally, one candle will be lighted for each of the four Sundays preceding Christmas Day.  There will be one candle that is different in color than the other four. That one candle will be lit last – it will symbolize the arrival of Christmas.

***

We know that the German Lutheran’s were using a wreath with candles to celebrate each day of Advent at least 300 years ago.  However, in northern Germany, long before the Christians began using this symbol, the early northern Germanic people thought of the ring, wheel, and evergreens as part of rituals that signified the love of God.   The circle or wheel has no beginning and no end.  This is a cyclical world view embraced by pre-Christian people.  In this way, they symbolized their HOPE of survival through the long, difficult and dark winter months.  This hope pointed their attention to the coming of Spring, life, and light. And, even before this time, the Greco-Romans celebrated this season as well, looking forward to the light of spring. It was a reminder that life is fleeting and flows by quickly and so  they marked  the passing seasons.

Blog_2014_Rose_AdventCandlesWreath***

On the  weekend of the first day of Advent, our youngest daughter, Ilsa, arrived in the late afternoon. She and her husband drove the 6 hour trip from Kentucky to Pennsylvania for a short holiday visit.    This visit was just for one day because   she had to be at her job on Monday morning.

The old, round table in the dining room has listened in on family conversations and provided a comfortable,  familiar gathering place for talking and eating. The warm, spicy aroma of fresh coffee drifted from the kitchen. As the late autumn light outside the northern window was nearing its lowest indigo hue, we drank coffee from sturdy pottery mugs.  Our hands clasped around the steaming cups and we forgot about anything beyond the room we were in as we laughed   together and shared family gossip and our passing thoughts.

I gave Ilsa a small present. It was  two new chapbooks of poetry, wrapped carefully in thin white translucent paper.  Ilsa unwrapped the books, looked them over and she began turning the pages slowly.   She read a few poems from each book. She read them aloud to me, and we enjoyed them together – we spoke about some images in the poems.  we discovered unexpected humor and profound sadness; the poems held life and death on the pages.  How good it felt to negotiate the poems together!  We both love literature and books and have enjoyable conversations about the things we love.

***

When the first Christians wanted to depict faith and hope in the next world, Paradise, they chose to use the symbol of flowers; the most depicted flower was the rose, and, sometimes lilies. A rose has been a symbol that leads us to think about love.

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The rose is an elegant flower, so soft to the touch, ;ike the most delicate velvet and exquisite  symmetry. Rose petals form around a center, in a tight bud. As it grows, a rose bud expands and opens eventually to expose a halo of tiny, delicate flowers that encircle a center ring. When one looks deeply into the center of a rose, mystery is there to be found – like  a hidden treasure.  The most precious and spectacular part of the rose, lies in the center.

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A rose has sparked the imagination of poets, writers, artists, and lovers. In 1913, the avantgarde poet, Gertrude Stein wrote this sentence,  “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.”The line appears in her 1922 book Mention of a Rose.

Clearly, Gertrude Stein realized there  is simply no other word that can describe a rose, except that it is a rose. Everything else fails miserably in our attempts to portray  the most recognized flower in the world, and it carries a universal message to people of all cultures. Research will disclose that the garden variety of roses  have been cultivated  for over 5,000 years.  One can  find roses in the gardens that were tended by the people who lived in the Roman Empire. Today, visitors to Italy can walk in  glorious rose gardens that were created during the days of the Empire.

 ***

Every year  my sister, Patti, tends her flower gardens from early spring  to the first frosts of late autumn.  As she took me on a tour of her flower beds  one afternoon, she grinned with pride when she pointed out her roses.  Every flower gardener I have ever known has loved their rose bushes and each one has shown tremendous pride in the beauty of the flowers on a rose bush. Last  August, Patti  brought me a birthday bouquet she had created from her flower beds – and the prize flower in the bouquet was a very stunning pink  rose! I think no matter how much a gardener loves all the flowers they have blooming, it is the rose bushes that seem to elicit the most pride and happiness to them.  Roses are the dazzling queens of the flower bids.  They  seems to be the proverbial “icing on the cake.”

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***

Ah, yes, I contend that the rose is Queen of all Flowers! I am certain of it! As you begin doing some research on the “rose” as an iconic image,  you will soon   find references to Mary, the Queen of Heaven and Earth. She is often depicted with a rose in her hand, or surrounded by roses.  Roses are used as garlands in art and sculpture and roses are used to encircle  the Queen of Heaven. Roses are a halo at times in Christian lore as well as in pre-Christian mythology.   Mary’s  son, Jesus Christ, is  symbolized as a rose.  King Solomon described Jesus  as  “the rose of Sharon.” You can find this particular reference in The Song of Solomon, 2:1. There are many other such references as well.

***

 In a popular  German Christmas song, these  words are from an Eighteenth Century  poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe;  “es ist ein Ros entsprungen.”  This can be translated in English to “A Rose has sprung.”

You may recognize this Christmas song as “Lo, How a Rose E’er  Blooming”  or “A Spotless Rose.”  This song is a Protestant  Christmas  Carol and a Catholic Marian hymn that originated in Germany.  I remember it from my childhood  when we all stood to sing carols together at the small  Methodist Church  in my village.

Cllick here to listen to this song in English:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyuOIYCERc

Click here to hear the song in German:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xA4pBDNZDx0

I sat down to consider the pleasure of a visit with my daughter. Below you will read a  poem about her visit and something we did together. Sometimes, it is unusual when we think of a child teaching a parent a lesson of some sort.  But, here in my poem, a daughter teaches  me a lesson  in a unique way.

This poem, “When My Daughter Cuts the Roses,”  marks the beginning of Advent in our home.  The bouquet of flowers on my dining room table today  reminds me  that now is the Season of Hope.  As I listen to the latest news from around the world, it feels like the  whole world is longing for hope right now – Oh, I know! It does appear the the entire planet is in deep distress.   The EARTH could be laboring  for the birth of HOPE.  Perhaps there is a longing for hope   in the souls of Earth’s people and all of NATURE.

On this First Week of Advent we can choose to keep our thoughts  and our  eyes focused on HOPE as we light that first candle.  There is great beauty in the  symbols  of the weekly lighting of the Advent candles.   This week,  we pause to embrace the message  of the ROSE  and the  coming of the LIGHT, who  is promised from ancient times.   Ah, yes!  As  I complete the writing of this essay, I am hearing a tune in my mind.

” This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.” (Final stanza of “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”

***

  “When my Daughter Cuts the Roses”

My daughter looked

At the bouquet of fresh roses

noticed two of them were drooping.

“Let me show you how to trim the roses

so they stay fresh and strong.” she said.

Her hands held the roses firmly

one-by-one, trimmed off extra leaves

“These will make the water stink,” she said.

She found scissors in the drawer

put the roses in a bowl of tepid water

held each stem under water

sliced them all, diagonally –

“As I cut the rose under the water,

little bubbles of air come to the surface.

Now, when the rose inhales

it will only breathe water into it,

it won’t fill up with air.

The living water inside the stems

gives longer life to each rose.”

She carried the freshened flowers

In the tall glass vase

back to the center of the dining room table

darkest crimson buds, sunny yellow petals,

deep green fern leaves

and a frilly white carnation.

 ***

Lynda McKinney Lambert. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.