Tuesday, 20 June 2017

WORM WOUNDS

Each morning as we leave our home, I admire the beauty of our property. The huge, decades-old, leafy poplars that flank the east and south sides of our home are host to many songbirds who begin and end our days with joyful sounds.

On the western edge of our property, which is the street-facing side, are about 9 young saplings nobody planted. Really - nobody. When the first one sprung up out of the cinder block, we assumed it was an alder bush...so we weed-whacked it. Two years in a row. And then it began to grow for spite; the tree is now taller than I am, in the center of 8 mini-mysteries just like it.



As I behold our property, shrouded in shade, I am deeply grateful for divine favor. You see, we live in a prairie region which is currently enduring its second year of infestation with tent caterpillars. These worms are offensive to both the eyes and ears, and they devour trees. Well, not the trees exactly ... but all their leaves. Much of our neighborhood has been stripped bare by these pests.


Next door to us is an elementary school, where my kindergartener enjoys spending time on the playground equipment. Sitting there with him this weekend, I noticed the unusual condition of the schoolyard trees. 

My husband has taken great care to band our trees with carboard, duct tape and chainsaw oil. This has prevented the dreaded tent caterpillars from climbing and feasting on our trees; however, no such care has been given to the schoolyard poplars. Defenseless, they have become patchy with what I like to call "worm wounds."

"Worm wounds" are bald spots in a tree which testify to the evidence of pests being present. Sure, some branches are still leafy enough to house a home for a pair of hummingbirds or a family of robins. Other branches, though, are like a window to the heart of the tree - its trunk, which is clearly visible, exposed for temporary lack of the standard leafy veil.

That's the key. These worm wounds are, in fact, temporary. I witnessed these trees last July, stripped as naked as though it were mid-December. I also witnessed them blossom in spring, and I see their branches - even in their current state of duress - attempting to bud after each fresh rainfall.

I am humbled as I observe nature reflect my life. There are "worm wounds" in my story which seem to strip parts of me naked and raw with each season of newness and growth. They leave my core exposed: afraid that my past will thunder into my present, that the scorching rejection of yesteryear will char my very soul, and that I will never be complete in my purpose. What if I'm never more than blotched?

As clear as the call of the pigeon from the school rooftop, I hear it. The whisper to my soul from its Creator: "To every thing, there is a season." There is a time for feeling a little naked and on display; there is also a time the soul-sucking worms move on. The key is to keep bending with the breeze, soaking up the sun, and welcoming the rain.



The trees do not refuse the birds a nesting place simply because they are momentarily less bountiful. Rather, they allow the birds to build and turn those exposed areas into arenas for amplified, unfiltered music. Robins, hummingbirds, sparrows and finches - all project their voices to fill the world with song.

Oh, that my heart would do the same! Focus on the thriving branches of life! Become a shelter for others -  a strong, safe place from which to sing their songs. Unafraid of those who may injure hearts but cannot destroy the soul. Realizing that no season lasts forever, and those who sing with joy, are capable of eliminating any worms who attack. 


Friday, 16 June 2017

SPRING RAINS

I have always had a love/hate relationship with spring. On the one hand, I enjoy watching Mother Nature come alive in all her glory: green grass, budding trees, violets, lilacs, and a chorus of birds. Sweet soul food!

On the other hand, however, spring typically means a season of rain. I have never handled this season well. For me, the gray skies bear down with a heavy depression and an urge to sleep until forever. My bones ache, my heart weeps for reasons completely unknown, and my whole being is so disgusted with all. that. mud!

Becoming a mother emphasized the emotional conflict of this annual season for me. As soon as it is warm enough, children want to be outside. As soon as it was warm enough, I wanted to be inside: windows open, kettle simmering, coffee mug handy, up to my elbows in cleaning supplies! A house through which spring breezes blow is a house in which no dust bunnies grow, right? Wrong.

The mother in me was compelled to trade dancing with the mop for ring-around-the-rosy every. single. time. And how is cleaning cobwebs ever more fun than blowing dandelion seeds in the wind? Until the fair-skined became the sunburned, the insect-bitten became the allergy-stricken, and the puddle jumping became mountains of laundry. UGH! Where is this work/life balance you speak of?

I am entirely uncertain what is making the difference these days: the prairie lifestyle or my middle age. For whatever reason, I am finding myself drawn to rainy days. I love to open the window at my desk and breathe in the smell of fresh rainfall. I love the sound of the wind, skies the color of a warm, wool blanket ... and the coffee that warms from the inside out.

I find myself doing a different sort of cleaning this spring. It's a soul cleansing of sorts. A long look at the people in my life and the purpose of my life. I am discovering how to shed unnecessary layers, such as  guilt and shame and unforgiving gossips: I am growing into a more comfortable coat of self-acceptance. I am soaking up times of refreshing, and then - similar to a sponge - able to pour out love on those around me.

For the first time, I look forward to the rainy days. They smell of change and hope. Finally. ♡

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

MY RED DRESS

It was a getaway weekend of epic proportions in our world! We had purchased concert tickets a little more than 7 months in advance. We had arranged babysitting for the mini monster and booked a hotel 5 hours away from home. This would be an anniversary to remember!

It was the day before we were to leave town when I realized: I had never been to a secular concert before, and had no idea what to wear! A co-worker advised that I would see every dress code imaginable there, so anything I would wear to work would be appropriate. My oldest daughter recommended something casual, in keeping with country music. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought for the amount of time and money and planning invested, it might just be worthy of my best red dress and my fake pearl necklace.

I did, in fact, see every dress code upon arrival. There were short shorts paired with crop tops and flip-flops, jeans with tank tops and cowboy boots, leggings with flowy tank tops and ballet flats ... and a ton of maxi dresses. Worn by tall, slender girls with long, thick hair. And there I sat: a middle-aged fat lady in my long, red dress.

The concert was amazing. My husband was great company! Stepping outside, the breeze was refreshing as we lined up for the shuttle bus to return us to our hotel. True to my people-watcher self, I listened and observed the people around us in conversation. The one lady in particular who caught my eye was a middle-aged mother who was clearly older than she appeared, based on the age of her husband and her adult son. I noticed her perfect makeup, her frilly shirt, her wavy hair, her tanned skin and the twinkle in her eyes. And there I stood: a frumpy middle-aged mom in a plain red dress.

We boarded the bus, chatted about the show, and exchanged Snapchats with the kids back home. Arriving at our dropoff point, we walked across a parking lot and hit the walk light that would allow us to cross the street to our hotel. It seemed to take forever for the light to change! I cracked a joke about standing on the corner for a little too long while wearing a red dress.

That's when he rocked my world. My husband laughed, slipped his arm around my waist and drew me close. He told me how great I looked and how much he had enjoyed our evening together. He wished me a Happy Anniversary. And I soaked it all in, standing there in my best. red. dress.