Saturday, March 29, 2008

a very God day ...

Exuberance I - Greetje Feenstra

Today is one of those days where I find myself pausing from time to time - stilling myself in order to be fully present to the moment.

The day has a shimmer on it, a joyful, energetic vibration permeating deeply into every sense - sight, sound, taste, touch, smell.

The birdsong seems especially joyful today, happy little chirps dancing in the air as I came out of yoga this morning.

The hot mocha I had afterward was delicious, not too thick nor sweet, a light, refreshing taste that had to be savored slowly.

The soft rumbly whirr of a small airplane passing overhead brings my eyes up to the soft gray clouds that are starting to gather.

Lightly kissing my skin, the ocean breeze makes me sigh with pleasure.

I feel like throwing arms wide - ha!ha! - and doing a happy, utterly carefree dance. And I will; as soon as I finish this, I'll put on some music and happily dance in my living room. And then I plan to play piano for awhile, fingering the keys, stretching my hands, enjoying the ease of interpreting the music as my mood suits me.
(One of the pure and simple joys of living alone is that I can do what I want, when I want - totally unrestrained and without a thought about what anyone else might think. No judgement or criticism lives here! Joyful unrestraint is cheerfully accepted and expected!)

I should be working on my taxes, cleaning house and running errands, but I simply cannot scurry through this day, missing out on the magical glow filling each moment, not valuing each breath I take, each beat of my heart, each sound, smell, taste, touch, sight. How can I squander this day? That would seem to be an affront to God and His gift.

The day seems to be filled with the essence of God, making me pause and humbly give thanks. At times, I wonder why I was born into these pleasurable circumstances and wonderful opportunities, rather than in a less-joyful time and place. But I am exactly where God wants me to be and I am filled with gratitude.

"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad."
Oh, thank you, God!

Friday, March 21, 2008


Alleluia! He is risen!

My Lord and my God ... Hosanna!

Easter Vigil - the church filled with light from just our candles as Mass begins ... faces lit with the flame's glow ... Old Testament readings ... the Creation story ... ancient prayers and glorious song ... the ceremony and celebration - and the privilege - of witnessing the baptisms of several children, teens and adults ... the smell of the chrism oil ... the smoky incense ...

The rituals, sounds and smells of Easter Vigil touch some ancient memory that lives within me. My Lord and my God ...


The photo above is from Jesus Christ Superstar, one of my favorites. The story is grittier than many Easter movies. It is filled with metaphor. It explores the context of the times and the places of the historical Jesus. It reflects both natures of Jesus - human and Divine - and gives us a pained perspective and understanding of one interpretation of Judas. It is a movie that I find powerfully compelling and drives me to prayer and reflection.

The photo above shows only part of the Resurrection scene from the movie. In the movie, as the sun's light blazes into the viewer's eyes, one can discern the faint image in the foreground of a shepherd as he lovingly herds a flock of sheep down the hill. Tears fill my eyes as my heart fills with love. Allelluia! He is Risen!

As you watch the Hosanna clip, listen carefully to the words the people ask of Jesus ...

Monday, March 17, 2008

my happy little courtyard

I know there are gardeners who adore cactus gardens and others who carefully cultivate various foliage plants, mixing in different leaf colors and textures to create lush, green landscapes. But for me, flowers make me happy. Happy in that stupid-grin kind of way. Dumb happy. Doing a little spin happy.

My soul starts to stir with happiness as soon as I see the Indian Hawthorne starting to blossom, forming masses of pink clouds along the side of the streets or in garden plantings.

And who can resist a smile when spying the
sweetness of a pretty yellow ranunculus?
My little courtyard* garden had gotten pretty neglected and the grewia and jasmine were too high for me to trim, so I hired the local nursery to come and trim, clean up and add some color. Happy shots of Easter color. Neon-bright ranunculus ... sweetpeas ready to climb up on their supports ... velvety pansies.

The orchids I already had are truly showing off, with their long stalks filled with flowers the entire length - one a thick-flowered crimson/white, another a delicate, creamy green, a third unknown until the buds open up and proudly show themselves. Freesias in bright golds, red/oranges and purples are scattered throughout the courtyard, many of them volunteers that decided to sign up for this year's show.
It's such a perfect little courtyard for me, a great place to bloom where I am planted, to sit and watch the hummingbirds flit among the grewia's purple blooms or the salvias' cups of nectar.
I'll be having the guys over (my best friends for over 25 years) in a few weeks, and once again, as we have year after year, we'll sit out in the courtyard, laughing and sharing stories together, easily lost in the carefree joy that comes with spring and the delight in living that seems to accompany bursts of colorful flowers.
Happy Spring! Happy Easter!
*I used to call this my patio garden until my friend - sweet, caring Kat - referred to it as a courtyard, a much more romantic and happy term than "patio" and so, it's been a courtyard ever since. Thank you, Kat!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

steamed veggies ...

I love vegetables. I recently found these vegetables in a bag that you just pop in the micro and – voila! – steamed vegetables. I love ‘em. Little baby carrots all sweet and slightly crunchy … broccoli florets crisp, not wilted, deliciously bright-tasting … cauliflower florets – oh, I may love you the most, with your yummy texture and fresh taste. *sigh* Absolutely delicious for lunch and one of my faves during the week.

One of my co-workers mentioned one day that he could smell the cauliflower after I’d nuked a bag of veggies. “Do you like cauliflower?” I asked him. “Not that much,” he smiled. Whenever I bring my veggies to work for lunch now, I wait until he’s left the office for lunch (along with most of the staff) before I steam them. You see, he showed respect by letting me know that he didn’t care for the smell, so I show him respect by trying not to subject him to a smell he finds unpleasant. (Personally, I don’t smell it much, and I also happen to like the way real food smells.)

There are those wouldn’t have said anything to me, who wouldn’t have wanted to offend me by telling me my food stinks. He or she would just endure the unpleasantness in silence, but would also likely harbor some small annoyance at me any time I cooked my lunch or, at the least, wish that I wouldn’t bring them in anymore.

I’m so glad my co-worker brought it up. I’d much rather have someone tell me something and give me the opportunity to make an attempt to fix it, than to not let me know and then just be annoyed at me or think I’m selfish or worse. Tell me something and let me try to fix it. That’s how people should work with one another. Communicate with respect for others’ feelings. Communication avoids a lot of misunderstandings and bad feelings people build up toward one another for no good reason.

I get to enjoy my steamed veggies, knowing that my co-worker doesn’t have to smell them. We both win.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

the first kisses of spring ...

I've lived my entire life in Southern California, specifically, Orange County, where we moved to when I was 5. SoCal weather is all that I've ever really experienced and all that I really know. When folks from snowier climes say we don't have seasons out here, I look out my window in the fall and see the sun lower on the horizon than usual, the sun on my courtyard patio fading away with the summer's rays. In our winter, we have rain from time to time and overcast, gloomy skies that make me long for bright, warming sunshine and days on the beach.

And then in late February, I start to see the first kisses of spring: buds on the barren liquidamber tree in front of my bedroom window starting to leaf out ... tender, green sprouts poking their gentle heads through the ground. And in my courtyard, freesias blooming in happy, bright golds and deep pinks along with orchid stalks arcing out like a fishing pole, tempting me with the bait of their beautiful flowers. I sometimes think that I should research the orchids, find out their names ... pero no es importa. It doesn't matter what their names are, only that I enjoy them and praise God's name for the incredible beauty of His creation. Knowing their names wouldn't alter my delight and pleasure in their amazing blooms.

These photos are especially for anyone in colder climes, a gift of early spring from Mother Nature and me. Enjoy each day, no matter the weather, no matter the season. The gifts of happiness and delight - and the kisses of spring - come from within.