November Maples

November Maples
The leaves of the maples on the corner have fallen down around their waists. Now they wear only golden skirts poked through with branches. Just a week ago the trees evoked glory, their brilliant cadmium yellow and orange foliage gleaming in sunlight. No one knew how long the peak of autumn color would last. Just a week ago he was still with us. An autumn tree not yet stripped, a season lengthening. No one knew how short this autumn would be, how quickly winter could descend. After today’s rain, we’ll see how many leaves remain on those maples. Tomorrow or the next day or perhaps the day after, just...
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October Zinnias

October Zinnias
It is early October, and I’m walking through my mini courtyard garden on a warm afternoon. Suddenly, a bright, red bloom catches my eye. A zinnia? I can hardly believe it. I had planted two packets of zinnia seeds in springtime, but as soon as the tiny leaves began to poke up from the earth, some unseen critter gobbled them up. I’d decided to try again by planting a few small plants already in bloom, but those, too, were eventually eaten.The bright summer months passed without zinnias. And now, suddenly, a giant blossom appears in my garden!There’s a lesson somewhere in this. The obvious one seems to...
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Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Afternoon sun stripes the dark green grass with the rich, golden timbre of September, sending illuminated ribbons into the shadows between the trees that crowd around the creek. A few stems of goldenrod rise like fountains from between the gray rocks along the uphill slope. Not long from now, and almost before dinner, the trees will become silhouettes against the pale evening, all gold drained from the sky and absorbed into the pink surface of cirrostratus clouds. It was the poet Robert Frost who wrote, “Nothing gold can stay.” For all the poems celebrating the substance of autumn splendor, there are...
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The Garden of Prayer

The Garden of Prayer
I’m walking through shady woods on a warm Saturday afternoon, shafts of golden sunlight illuminating the variety of pine, ash, beech and hemlock trees along the trail. Somewhere unseen, water rushes over a rocky creek bed winding its way down the North Carolina mountainside. The aura in these woods is unlike any I’ve ever experienced. Not because of any especially unique landscape or unusual beauty, but because a special peace permeates the atmosphere beyond the typical tranquility of woods. This peace is God’s peace. Along the twists and turns of the trails are wooden benches and inscriptions of...
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On Butterflies and Violins

On Butterflies and Violins
I’m walking the neighborhood on one of the unusually not-as-hot days in July. I love looking at the growing blooms around my neighbors’ houses—the pink notes of shiny begonias, the bright spots of impatiens in shady yards, the unending variants of green in ferns, hostas and coleus. I turn the corner and see the stunning purple of what look like delphiniums, their tall stems swaying in the breeze—and then I notice the gorgeous tiger swallowtail butterflies flickering in between the stalks like candle flames, light on light on a summer’s day. I stop and watch. They latch lightly yet tightly to a bloom....
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Fruit in Season

Fruit in Season
It is a hot Sunday afternoon. My husband and I are having lunch on our covered patio, enjoying the breeze created by a fan whirling above us. The air is sweet like the fresh cherries on our plates, alive with the trickling of our pond and the songs of birds. The plants around our little patio oasis are blooming and bursting with summer greenery: striped hostas, unfurling elephant ears, bright basil and an abundance of mint. But they all need water. I head over to water the two tomato plants first, picking the first ripe tomatoes of the season. One tomato plant expands up and around the cage, multiple...
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Mother’s Day 11 Years Later

Mother’s Day 11 Years Later
My mother and me, perhaps in 2008 It is hard to describe the memories I’ve had of my mother these last 11 years without her. Yes, there are the anecdotal memories, like the time she prayed with me to give my life to Jesus Christ and the Bible verse she read to assure me that I belonged to Him. And the time she carried me from the creek up the incline of our back yard toward the house when something exploded into my knee while we were burning trash. I can almost see her tears as the family car drove away, leaving me in Chicago for my first year of college. Usually, what comes to mind is a mish-mash of...
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At Twilight

At Twilight
honeysuckle a thousand candles burning in memory I savor the cool air of a quiet dusk, the trees still dripping with rain from a downpour earlier in the evening. I walk down my favorite street alongside the leafy banks of the creek,  stop to listen to frogs calling back and forth, and then find myself wandering in the direction of the honeysuckle bushes nestled into the overgrowth of a steep slope where the creek is hidden from view. My mind wanders as well, thinking with sadness of the national and global loss of life over the past month. Irreplaceable sons lost to unjust, hard-to-comprehend...
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spring thirst

spring thirst
my heart awakens like the unfurling petals and leaves around me, brightens like pink and white cherry blossoms splashed over green leaves and blue sky yet hunger lingers in my soul, builds and grows like the neighborhood creek after these spring storms, a thirst for the vigor of its waters: full and flowing, energy bursting through distractions and weariness to follow after and follow through to the oasis of ultimate satisfaction and perfect rest— the kind of thirst that does not stop until I find it: the presence of God it is, vitally, the meaning of Easter the gift of the Resurrection: God’s...
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Sanderlings at Daybreak

Sanderlings at Daybreak
An orange spark appears on the horizon, gently growing, brighter, rounder, until the fully risen sun casts its fire over the ocean. Sanderlings dance on the shoreline, dashing their feet into the edge of the watery universe, then charging with gusto away from it. They make no apology, only thrilling at daybreak, basking in life and breath and fresh ocean air, doing their part, occupying their space with natural beauty, with their own significance. I watch the birds and their breakfast exercise against the magnificent backdrop of sunrise. I am taking a respite from winter and work and routine, savoring...
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Winter Trees

Winter Trees
It is January. I stand alone in the quiet woods on the hilltop, its peace distilling my spirit. Last year I discovered this hidden place, accessible through my own secret path beyond trails that dead-end uphill next to a park. It was one of the unexpected gifts of 2020, and I have come here now for the first time in 2021. I have learned much from the trees over the past year, wandering through the woods alone, in constant contemplation and communication with my Creator, favorite pen and journal stashed in a small bag across my shoulder. Today the trees stand naked in sunshine. Humble and exposed, all...
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