Wild Honey

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As I’ve been backing up my online photo archives, I’ve been stumbling upon many images that deserve longer lingering than I can offer right here and right now. This week I’ve been doing and thinking of too many different things. The result has been the least sleep I’ve gotten in a while. The photos pull me into moments from the past yet in the present I am torn over where to focus my efforts.

It’s like I’ve fallen into an alternate reality that’s akin to grocery shopping with a bare list that I’ve forgotten to fish out of my pocket until I get home and find that I have nothing to show for the trip but junk food, pop, three pounds of meat and taco fixings (which, unfortunately, happens to be exactly what I bought at the store today). Should I focus more on photography or blogging? Should I start a new blog on my spirituality or continue to incorporate that content here? Are these hobbies worth my time or do they just put distance between me and more immediate concerns, like my family and my job?

I used to live in this scattered mental state all the time. I’ve stress myself out to the point I felt unable to start any of the dozen things I’d thought of doing that day, and then I’d stay up late into the night. Then I’d try to calm myself by listening to loud music on headphones and chain smoking until the birds would start singing outside.

I think the photo archive project collided with PMS to revive a mood I’d rather never returned. That’s one of the unpleasant surprises of perimenopause. Every cycle has the potential for dark variants of PMS. Maybe next month I’ll have a more benign cycle and just become briefly preoccupied with learning more about the rise and fall of avocado-colored appliances.

Anyway, the above picture hails from a more pleasant day, an afternoon in June of 2008 when I met up with my now-husband for a photo walk at a local park. I used a Fuji Finepix S5700 back then. It was a point-and-shoot camera but a real workhouse. I wish I still had it. I think I dropped it and broke the display screen not long after that day.

When I think of that hot June day and the newness of my relationship with my husband, the song “Wild Honey” by U2 comes to mind. From the beginning, he seemed to be someone I’d known for a very long time. On that day in the park, I mentioned for the first time where my family lived during the 80s, and he said to me, “You lived there for a long time, didn’t you?”

I hadn’t yet mentioned to him how long we lived there.

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This Year’s Lilac, a Survivor

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I’m pleasantly surprised that the lilac bush in our ditch bloomed at all this year. The 12-foot-deep ditch has flooded to the brim twice this year already. One morning it was full long enough that several mallard ducks swam through it.

This evening the ditch was dry enough to get some photos of the lilac bush. I think the lack of sky in the background and the fuzzy focus make it seem as if it’s still submerged. If only that fly on the upper leaf hadn’t insisted on being part of the picture . . .

Late Spring Photo Walk, May 28

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Yesterday Lima was lucky to have missed the tornadoes that struck south of us. The grass around the frogs above show the toll the weather has taken this spring in this county. We’ve had too much rain, so much so that farm fields are full of puddles and last year’s harvest stubble.

This morning I dropped off my library books and walked through the Children’s Garden next door. This garden is a true treasure for all ages in this area. It’s staffed by master gardener and student volunteers. In all of my years visiting this place, I’ve yet to see a planting that isn’t pitch perfect, if I may stretch a term from music to landscaping.

I love to see the peonies in bloom here. This year I did not miss them. They remind me of the best part of a time long gone that I described in my post about houses with asphalt siding. During our five years in one of those crumbling, asphalt-sides houses, we enjoyed a massive classic lilac bush in the back yard, in whose wake a few peony bushes bloomed. The scent of those peonies was both light and dusky. We found newspapers from 1917-8 beneath the flooring in one of the rooms of that house. I imagined that the peonies had been planted by a woman with massive hair piled atop her head as was the fashion in those days. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she smelled just like the peonies in bloom.

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Garden, May 18

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Since parts of our yard have already flooded twice this season, I’m thinking this is a year to let most of the garden lie fallow. So far I have five annual plantings plus our perennials, and that is likely all we’ll have this year unless I spot a few more garden center plants that are too enticing to avoid taking home.

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May 5

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Both the crabapple and redbud trees are in bloom, but good light for capturing their beauty has been elusive. We had nearly six inches of rain in April, and May could prove to be just as soggy.

By the way, while I was away from this blog, we had a day-long flood in our neighborhood:

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That was the second time our street has been flooded in the past three years. When the waters rise, I am grateful that we have neither a basement nor a crawl space and that we live on top of a hill.

The renewal of my faith that began back in December continues to deepen. Looking back, I feel there was a long prelude to this personal “revival.” The more I learned to cope with chronic pain, the more I felt the urgency of trying to purge myself of ill-will, grudges and envy. I knew that my negative feelings increased my stress, poisoned my relationships and aggravated my pain.

I suppose I was unwittingly preparing for an event I didn’t see coming, or I was too busy worrying about the past, present and future simultaneously to notice that deep changes were afoot. I was no stranger to that ineffable feeling of the Holy Spirit making his presence known within me, but I did not know how to sustain that radical serenity. The first time it happened was about 25 years ago, at a time when I felt lost yet stuck in place, when I was a college dropout doing time in retail purgatory. I had a dream so filled with bliss that I cried upon awakening because the feeling ended when the dream stopped. In the intervening years, that deep peace would return for a few minutes at a time while I was awake, yet I still didn’t know how to call upon that feeling.

Back in December when I first went to the Methodist church down the street, I was overwhelmed with that abiding feeling of peace, bliss and serenity. As soon as I moved into this neighborhood five years ago, I knew I should visit that church. I put off doing so for a very long time, with mental questions/excuses like: Why would a lapsed Catholic join a Methodist church? Do they dress up in the sort of clothes I can’t stand wearing? Will I look like one of the great unwashed to them? Is this an enclave of Trumpists?

Now that I’ve joined that church, I know that the concerns that stalled my first visit to the church were unwarranted. I’ve yet to hear anyone talk about politics before or after Sunday service. The congregation is fairly small and the majority are elderly. Some are accustomed to dressing up for church, others dress for comfort.

I feel a strong presence of the Holy Spirit during Sunday worship service. The sermons are thought provoking and encourage study of Scripture. I so wish I had devoted time to independent study of the Bible before I reached the ripe age of 46, for I can feel the Spirit’s presence when I take time to read the Word, too. Instead of regret, I feel comfort in understanding that God knows each of us well enough to foresee the choices we will make, and he knew that my spiritual adolescence would last for decades.

I’m eager to dig into the Prophets more, though I will admit that some of their metaphors are hard to digest. Speaking of digestion, I like the references to how some of the prophets ate scrolls containing some of God’s revelations to them (e.g. Ezekiel 3:3 and Revelation 10:10). The imagery is so elemental it’s like something out of a vision that’s endured for as long as God has willed people to exist.

I so adore God’s words to Jeremiah when he worries that he won’t know what to say, “Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.” (Jeremiah 1:9 KJV).

I pray that I will know what to say when I write or speak about my faith. May God touch my lips and give me the words.

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Spring Photo Walk, April 22

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I had the day off from work. I tried to resist the urge to document the unfolding of the season in favor of catching up on housework, but I failed, as those who know me best could have predicted.

As I cropped these pictures at home, I decided that some Air Supply songs would be the ideal soundtrack for that task. The name “Russell Hitchcock” floated to my mind, and I considered that it may possible that I have problems retaining new information because of the trivial old bits that have clogged my memory. Wherever Russell Hitchcock is these days, I wish him well and hope he can still hit the high notes in his songs and fit into those Sergio Valente jeans.

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