Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Nature’s Beauty

the mouth of a labyrinth | Simone Weil

Labyrinth mosaic, pintrestcom, bf2fc531911eaeff68e36f2a566bd032

Today a visitor read this post from June 2015. The quote below is from philosopher Simone Weil.  I reformatted her words for easier reading and used feminine pronouns. I think this could be about me. Right now. Maybe about you? My comments follow, lightly edited.

The beauty of the world is the mouth of a labyrinth.
The unwary individual who on entering takes a few steps
is soon unable to find the opening.
Worn out, with nothing to eat or drink, in the dark,
separated from her dear ones,
and from everything she loves and is accustomed to,
she walks on without knowing anything or hoping anything,
incapable even of discovering whether she is really going forward
or merely turning round on the same spot. 

But this affliction is as nothing
compared with the danger threatening her.
For if she does not lose courage,
if she goes on walking,
it is absolutely certain that
she will finally arrive at the center of the labyrinth.
And there God is waiting to eat her.
Later she will go out again,
but she will be changed,
she will have become different,
after being eaten and digested by God.
Afterward she will stay near the entrance so that
she can gently push all those who come near into the opening.

 –Simone Weil, Waiting for God

*  *  *

During a visit to Longwood Gardens, we started down the formal flower walk. The colors were spectacular. However, the odor was so strong that one family member said it was giving him a headache.

The odor persisted along the flower walk. Was it from a strange flower? No. It came from mulch in the flower beds!

Somehow this reminded me of Simone Weil’s words.

The beauty of the world is the mouth of the labyrinth….
at the center of the labyrinth….
God is waiting to eat her.

The world’s beauty includes nature’s beauty, here described as the mouth of a labyrinth that draws me in, unaware of what lies ahead.  Once drawn in, I find myself following the labyrinth to its center, and experiencing at least the following dis-ease:

  • temporary separation from familiar life outside the labyrinth
  • ignorance about where I am and where I’m going
  • fear of going in circles that lead nowhere

The center of the labyrinth is even more disquieting, if not dangerous. The mouth of God waits at the center. It waits to eat me alive, along with any other unsuspecting traveler.

So God eats and digests me. Turns me into mulch or compost, full of life-generating potential. Like compost baking in the sun. A form of death. Everything broken down, turned into solid and liquid gold that feeds the next generation.

Though nature isn’t God, it reflects something about the way God works. It helps me understand why life sometimes feels like a journey to another planet. A messy, smelly, sometimes terrifying journey of dying in order to be reborn as something truly valuable. Something that doesn’t look at all like the image I hope to see in my mirror.

My spiritual formation isn’t about getting all cleaned up. Nor is it about being destroyed by God or anyone else. It’s about being changed, transformed. It won’t happen unless I’m willing to be risk getting lost—helpless and unable to get myself out of my situation, much less understand where I’m going and why.

The journey itself can be terrifying; so can God’s role. It seems alien to all I might expect God to be. Thankfully, I have a choice to enter the labyrinth or not.

Or do I? There’s Simone Weil, standing at the mouth of the labyrinth, gently pushing unsuspecting travelers into the open mouth. In which case, I will emerge transformed by God if I keep moving along, one disorienting turn after another.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 12 June 2015; reposted 15 January 2022
Mosaic Labyrinth Image from pintrest.com

Photo Therapy for My Heart

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I first published this on 3 February 2016, a few weeks after Mr. Trump became President. The post features several photos I find calm and reassuring no matter what’s happening around or in me. Today Mr. Biden is our President, and there is still much to lament, and not much certainty about our tomorrows. I hope you enjoy the photos and find some peace slipping into your heart.

That’s a mature Dawn Redwood at the top. We’re in Longwood Gardens in their large-tree arboretum. It’s a scorching hot day. The tree’s inviting limbs offer rest in the shade. No entrance fee. No time limit. And no requirements except that I step into the shade. Into the relaxing and reassuring freedom of our Creator’s care for me, no matter my age or my health.

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Here’s a tiny flower of the field in the Longwood Meadow Garden. Fragile, delicate, one-of-a-kind, like a snowflake. Here today, gone tomorrow. Yet known to God who delights in the beauty of this world. I can’t help thinking about human life, and the One who creates and fully understands our fragile mortal beauty.

As a parent has compassion for his or her children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear God.
For God knows how we were made,
and remembers that we are dust.
As for mortals, their days are like grass;
they flourish like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of God
is from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear God….

Psalm 103:13-17a

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Here I’m  standing in a square pavilion that circles this magnificent eye of water. We’re in the oriental area of the Arboretum at Longwood Gardens. The sound is stunning. A steady flow of water wells up in the ‘pupil’ of the eye and gently cascades down into the pool.

The small dots around the edge are pennies–wishes tossed in by visitors. For me, this is one of the most calming sites in the gardens. Usually there aren’t many visitors here. The benches around the border invite meditation and relaxation, accompanied by the steady sound of water falling. That’s my back to the camera. I’m looking out at the stream that flows downhill from the eye of water before the water is recycled back to the top to overflow yet again.

Finally, one of my favorites. It isn’t spectacularly beautiful like many other Longwood Gardens photos. This is right next to a path, not hidden away in the woods. We’re near the meadow and the water ponds. This mama is doing what our Creator wants to do for each of us. She’s taking her chicks under wings. Keeping them safe, warm, dry and calm. Just where my heart wants to be right now!

Nesting at Longwood

Thanks for coming along!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 3 February 2016, lightly edited and reposted 24 July 2021
Photo credit: DAFraser, Longwood Gardens

Chasing Spring at Longwood | Photos

This morning I woke up wishing I were in Longwood Gardens. So here’s a quick tour of my first visit to the Gardens nearly one year after breaking my jaw in April 2016. Our daughter and her husband were visiting from Portland, Oregon. 

Two days ago we took a chance on the weather. D and I, our daughter and her husband piled into the car and drove to Longwood Gardens. My first visit since April 2016. The forecast promised breaks of sun during the day, and temperatures above 60 degrees F. Here are choice photos from our great adventure. Enjoy!

The garrulous catbird in the top photo greeted us in the parking lot.
Never missed a beat.

Here’s a first glimpse of Spring 2017 at Longwood Gardens,
just outside the visitor’s center.

These giant copper beech are across the field,
a first gorgeous sight as we leave the visitor’s center.
Note tiny people on the left side of the tree walk.

Heading toward the flower walk, we’re walking into
the small desert garden of sun-lovers.
No trees overhead.

Turning right, we start down the ‘cool’ color end of the flower walk.
Imagine masses of flowers that look like a living
patch-work quilt that changes each season and every year.

Just to the right of the center fountain in the flower walk
is a beautiful sunken garden
with a serpent fountain overlooking a water pot.
Imagine the sound of water almost everywhere in the gardens.

Now we move into ‘warm’ colors, followed at the end
by a patch of cool green foliage and flowering whites.


Finally, gorgeous blooming wisteria in a shady space
just downhill, beside the flower walk.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 May 2017, reposted 5 May 2021

Photo credit: DAFraser
Longwood Gardens in Kennet Square, Philadelphia

Longwood on the cheap and an update

I know. It isn’t quite the same as being there in person. But it’s the closest I’ve gotten to Longwood Gardens since last fall. Be sure to turn up the volume so you can hear the birds!

This morning I walked in our neighborhood and saw a few friends from years back. The humidity was atrocious. The birdsong, however, plus all the lovely green leaves were to die for. And yes, I wore my face mask.

I haven’t been out for any great adventures since the first Sunday of March. I’m grateful D is doing all our grocery shopping. Our ages put both of us in the high risk category for Covid-19. My health issues make me a higher risk than D. So I’m here at home virtually every day. I write, walk in the neighborhood, talk to family members on the phone, and keep in touch with our neighbors.

Speaking of family, our daughter turned 50 today! She and her husband live in Portland, Oregon. Our son, his wife and three children live about an hour away. But it might as well be Portland, given Covid-19 restrictions.

Even introverts don’t like being caged. Well….not exactly caged, but I’ve definitely had my wings clipped. I don’t foresee being out and about anytime in the near future.

I felt great relief after I wrote my most recent piece, It feels so good. Resisting Mr. Trump isn’t directly about resisting him personally. It’s about how I choose to spend my time. So I’ve made some choices, and will see how it goes.

I hear people talking about ‘getting back to normal.’ From my perspective, there is no going back to ‘normal.’ Instead, our country has a looming crisis on its hands. It didn’t begin with the current administration. It began centuries ago and has continued unabated ever since. Ignorance about our country’s history is rampant. So is ignorance about science and the way we’ve ignored and put off questions about the planet and our responsibility to look after it and the people who inhabit it.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the privilege of blogging. When I look back at my beginning posts, I’m stunned by how much you’ve contributed to my life. Some by reading faithfully; others by visiting from time to time; all a great encouragement to me.

Thank you. And may our Creator bless each of you with renewed vision for what you might do with your one, lovely life.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 May 2020
Longwood Gardens video found on YouTube

An aching void

An aching void
stretches the length of a canyon
through my heart

What would it mean
to inhabit this land
waiting breathless
to learn its fate?

Bones of natives
and explorers
lie dormant
beneath
dead dreams
and living nightmares

Who are the settlers of today –
willing to inhabit the aching truth
of our collective past?

Truth about this country lies in yesterday’s buried news–told and untold. As a nation, we didn’t get here because of an ‘accident’ of history. We got here on the backs, shoulders, hopes, dreams, half-truths, lies and ignored truths of generations before us.

I’m grateful for the true settlers of today–courageous children, women and men unwilling to settle for half-truths, lies or apathy.

I’m also grateful for the weekend. Not as a diversion, but as an opportunity to focus on Sabbath rest. I don’t inhabit this land. I inhabit a tiny corner  of this world God created for sheer love of beauty. This Sabbath I want to rest in some of God’s beauty and truth.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 25 August 2017
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Inhabit

Dear Clouds,

Forgive me for interrupting you
On this sunny, slightly cloudy holiday
When you’re extra busy above the scenes.

I don’t have a speech,
Just a breezy note
In passing:

Thank you!

You show up day and night
Working in earth’s atmosphere
A massive, moving panorama.

Highlighting, lowlighting, hovering,
Dancing, rippling, undulating
Before and around the sun and the moon

Darkening, thickening, showing your muscle,
Announcing impending flashes of lightning
and thunderous torrents of rain.

I wonder, do you feel affirmed and needed?
Or do you dream of sailing off into the sunset
And never returning?

Please know you’re loved and respected the world over
And that every living thing on this planet
Counts on you to show up and do your thing.

Also, if you’re wondering,
Some of us down below are doing what we can
To make sure you live long and prosper.

From a Fan

~~~

All creatures of our God and King,
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!

Refrain:
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong,
Ye clouds that sail in heav’n along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!….

St. Francis of Assisi, ca. 1225

***
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 4 July 2017

Photo found at carlwozniak.com
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Sail

Chasing Spring at Longwood | Photos

Two days ago we took a chance on the weather. D and I, our daughter and her husband piled into the car and drove to Longwood Gardens. My first visit since April 2016. The forecast promised breaks of sun during the day, and temperatures above 60 degrees F. Here are choice photos from our great adventure. Enjoy!

The garrulous catbird in the top photo greeted us in the parking lot.
Never missed a beat.

Here’s a first glimpse of Spring 2017 at Longwood Gardens,
just outside the visitor’s center.

These giant copper beech are across the field,
a first gorgeous sight as we leave the visitor’s center.
Note tiny people on the left side of the tree walk.

Heading toward the flower walk, we’re walking into
the small desert garden of sun-lovers.
No trees overhead.

Turning right, we start down the ‘cool’ color end of the flower walk.
Imagine masses of flowers that look like a living
patch-work quilt that changes each season and every year.

Just to the right of the center fountain in the flower walk
is a beautiful sunken garden
with a serpent fountain overlooking a water pot.
Imagine the sound of water almost everywhere in the gardens.

Now we move into ‘warm’ colors, followed at the end
by a patch of cool green foliage and flowering whites.


Finally, gorgeous blooming wisteria in a shady space
just downhill, beside the flower walk.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 17 May 2017

Photo credit: DAFraser
Longwood Gardens in Kennet Square, Philadelphia
Response to WordPress Daily Prompt: Pursue

Before I got my eye put out

Hummingbird Courtship Display.jpeg

How is your sight? What captures your attention? Despite Emily Dickinson’s opening phrase, I don’t think her poem is a lament for lost eyesight. What do you think? My comments follow her poem. Read the rest of this entry »

Orchid Extravaganza Photos 2016

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Tomorrow’s forecast calls for snow and more snow. Not a ton. Just messy stuff followed by rain. I’m not complaining. The trees and shrubs will be happy. Still, it’s almost spring! So here’s what I’ll feast my eyes on when I wake up tomorrow–photos from Longwood Gardens’ annual Orchid Extravaganza. Read the rest of this entry »

Whose stuff is this anyway? | A Dream

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The photo above isn’t at all connected to my dream. It is, however, a magnificent view of a tiny corner of stuff the good people at Longwood Gardens take care of so I don’t have to take care of it! Isn’t that wonderful? I think so.

Now here’s the dream. Read the rest of this entry »

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