What Nature Brings

Humility… comes with what Nature brings.  Beautiful sunshine gently kisses my eyes open seconds before my alarm.  Momentarily stunned by the “lots to do” bug, I pause. Just for the moment… breathe deeply and hear the music of the outside day beginning out to watch the sun fill in the shadows of our quiet room.  God’s immense plan will fill up with Beauty that day…despite the disappearing thoughts of “must do” plans that await.  

As I stir, a rippling cascade follows…Rascal lands 17 lbs. of loving terrier on my stomach and licks me right on the mouth til I opened my eyes, husband Roger snorts, (a cute snort😊) and cat leaps over everyone bounding to the floor. Nature calls…Walking down the hallway I step on something squishy. Afraid to look down, I hear a soft confirming purr right behind me.  Yep. Blake, our 16-year-old cat had left a message and follows the purr with a sharp nip to the leg. Breakfast, please. ME-Ow. Now.

As I dodge the cat under my feet, I glance into my office. Well laid out plans now lie wet under the cat’s new play toy…the tipped over once yummy banana smoothie drips onto my rolltop desk. The cat must have been hungry to go after that. Okay. This is what You’ve got in mind. Reminding me once again Who is in control, I see God’s wonderful sense of humor starting to shape the day.  Fun… I have to laugh. This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Our patriotic red, white and blue beta Fred sulks in his house located on top of the file cabinet by the office desk. Somehow, inside his tank, he knows he is the last to be fed. Our life sometimes seems like that fish tank… As I reach inside to put in his food, Fred makes a beeline for my hand. I get the strangest feeling this little beta would just love to chomp on my hand for being a little tardy. Agendas are made, but God has Work for us to do through our day, and we don’t stop to see nourishing life-giving Beauty hidden inside the endless things to do in the tank, uh, Life. That is, until we are given a Nudge. The Sun shines its rays of Beauty.

While my boys eat, I visit our backyard to enjoy Solitude of prayer. I turn on the bubbling rock fountain, settle in the comfy deck chair, and close my eyes to hear to Grand Nature’s music rise in my heart. The sweet song from our new “renters” of our old wren house fills my ears. Freshly mowed grass and soft breezes tickling the wind chimes rest in my senses. All Nature is flowing together…rabbits “social distance” from each other chowing on the fresh clover…squirrels fill up on leftovers from the birds, sun flowing through all the yard resting on the garden yet to be weeded…a tomato plant hints at birth of a green fruit on its lower limbs. I close my eyes to be with the Maker of this amazing day to come.

All is well. All will be well. God is in control. Awaken to the light, weeds co-exist with the roses. Our plans are not His. Praise God.

Today: listen quietly to the joyous music of the awakening day. Be still. Remember that whatever is in your world from child to grandparent, rock to planet, every bit of existence has the Christ in it. God created it. You can enjoy each and every bit of each moment.

© 2020 Bonnie L Smith-Davis

Tale of Twin Trees

The lemonade quenches my thirst after a hard day.  A squirrel catches my eye while gracefully jumping across the chasm between neighboring trees in our backyard. I strain to focus on the little acrobat as the Sun radiantly peers down between our dear old trees which struggle to thrive.

Their leafy branches protect me and contain the strong fire of the Sun while a deep gurgling reminds me of the “swamp” sump pump runoff that saps away some of their strength.  The Sun slides down into the honey locust as the yellow fireball steadily moves across the yard. My eyes travel down its trunk as a glint of Light gently caresses its rough bark scorched with dryness from lack of nourishment to its roots.

To the left of my chair, its roots reach up to the surface of the grass, as if pleading for nourishment from the Earth. More than once I have mowed over one of the roots as it reaches out to get something, anything to grow. Its very life threatened by the sandy soil it was growing in and the swamp tearing away life-giving nourishment.

As the Sun moves across the yard, its light holds for a moment where the honey oak’s branches seem to grasp its neighboring ash tree gently with its leafy limbs as if for help…as they seem to be giving strength to each other. The ash has required a lot of love this year, but it refuses to give in and reaches up to the sky with fresh new leaves. I admire its strength and will to focus on surviving. The borer will not claim this one despite years of damaging storms tearing its limbs and insects crawling all over it … all wounds that our arborist said could eventually kill it. Yet, they both hold on. They remain strong fed by the Love that have helped them grow to magnificent height.

Gentle reader, how do we get fed? Do we reach out as these magnificent trees? Each form of life has its own needs, just like each person. All interconnected to the rest of the world and universe, dependent on each other – overcoming, surviving the cracking, hurting, being fed. When we look at each being, do we see Christ’s face?  Do we reach out to assist or turn away? Do we shine the Love indwelling in us?

A simple takeaway: find one thing in this moment you are grateful for in your life and reach out with Joy and Love to someone or something else. Perhaps share a smile or an encouragement to a dear one, a stranger, a struggling friend, or just someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Or, volunteer to help victims of a storm when headlines disappear, while hurt and destruction remain. Listen quietly to the Spirit inside and be there as the One who is always there for you. Love will return to you as surely as the Sun consistently rises and sets each day.

Reach out to quench the thirst with Love.

© Bonnie L. Smith-Davis 2020

Who are you? Mary or Martha…or both?

My head tries to keep filling up with “stuff”, dreams and lists of what to do. Does yours?  If you make a list, won’t your day go better?

Whether it be in the garden or the house, plan ahead…then execute…in the office or in school…plan, plan, plan like Martha. Jesus was at the home of Martha and Mary in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 10:38-42). Martha kept herself busy doing so many things, but did not make time to rest. To sit and be. When all else fails, do you reach for more information, from the internet? Or, do you sit and just be with the Lord in the world? I have been told I am a little of both.

During this past week, Midwesterners had a really disastrous storm, a derecho much like a hurricane, hit our cities. Once more, God caught our attention by saying…stop. Take notice of what is important here. Stop the attention on the material world… fighting, the internet, zooming, the business of the day…I was forced along with the rest of the Midwest to notice my world. At first, I was irked when the power went out during our Rotary meeting….it was a great program on how Scouts are adapting in the zoom world when the screen went blank and sound stopped.

Poor me. I had all this planned to do that day when all at once, in the blink of an eye, things changed. Oh, well. I needed to check the plants outside, perhaps move some things indoors. As I kept busy, I watched my neighbors to see what was going on with them. Thoughts ran through my brain. Was their power out too? Call the power company. Check with husband…on and on.

As the evening came, power did not come back and my heart started to beat faster. Plans for tomorrow, what about the zoom meeting tomorrow? Oh, man. More changes. Then I started hearing stories about how the storm wasn’t just an ordinary storm.  The August storm was turning into a derecho. Ripping and tearing through Nebraska, central Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

I felt a shock run through my body and sat down in my porch chair to calm my mind in prayer. I realized how caught up I had been in that day…With Martha, it took a reminder from Jesus to see what is important. With Martha, she wanted everything to be just right for Jesus. .What was getting our attention? As the day ended and days passed, I started to slow down again like I had during a 10-day silent retreat in March. No internet there either. We didn’t know what was happening to others. Lost without communication.  I awakened to possibility that perhaps, we were each being forced to awaken to God’s world again, as we were forced to do during earlier months of the pandemic. Paying attention to each other, the world around us, the electronic world of zoom had burgeoned to sweep us into it. Zoom is a wonderful way for people to meet when they can’t meet in person, but you can become numbed into its’ world…focused on it, too. Now, the beautiful quiet world seemed to engulf the cozy electronic nest some had built.

God swept us up in his arms again as if to say, Come together, my children, and awaken to what is important in life. Be together, rest. Sit at Jesus’ feet. Have faith that things that need to be done, will be done. In My time.

Endless plans, viruses, disasters, and myriads of other “stuff” will be a part of human life. But Beauty and Love is infinitely stronger and will prevail. Let the Light infuse you, warm you, hold onto Jesus’ strong right hand and listen to the Holy Spirit in your heart in the midst of the storm. Jesus will get you through. Mary knew it…Do you?

A simple word of wisdom from Carl Jung to carry into your day: Who looks outside dreams. who looks inside, awakens. All is well and all will be well.

© Bonnie L Smith-Davis 2020

The Weed Cross

Weed Cross

Life emerges, struggling up through the cracks in your Pathway toward the sunlight and nourishment into a new life. You stand at the ready with your pruning tool ready to get rid of this overgrowing body of plants. Then, the light catches your eye and you perceive something special about it…lying within its shape. You pause.

As you bend down onto your knees deciding about what to do, you close your eyes and open your heart to try to “see” what is in front of you. You have seen ants that crawl over this shape, seemingly disrespecting its struggle. The mailman tramples it as he moves from house to house. Can’t they see it is trying to grow? This shape has no meaning to them. But perhaps there is more to it …on the inside counts so much more.

I feel Sunlight warm on my face and down my body as the Light reach out on its journey to caress the horizontal arms of this trampled weed cross which resolutely reached the small, lonely bright yellow dandelions struggle on each side. They barely had any life left, but they hung on for dear life reaching for nourishment … struggling so hard, yet hopeful that there would be a way for the water to find them. The nearby Gardener lovingly cares for what He understands lies deep down inside.

Life-giving, cold water seeps into my senses and opens my eyes to see. The overflowing water ripples and shimmers on driveway nourishing the outside and the roots deep within. As we face storms of life in your boat, waves washing high up by us, do we reach out and grasp Jesus’ hand? Help me, strengthen me, nourish me. . Do you respond with Hope? To reach for Help invisible, yet visible to in faith. When you or your neighbors face catastrophes, or just need a helping hand do you respond with Hope…we will get through this…together…joining heartbeats?

Are you attune to the heartbeats of your neighbors and world? Do you look to the Hope that will get you through? As storms hit southern Iowa, many have been affected. How do you see life…as devastation or a challenge you can face together.  With surrounding chaos, new bills to pay, yes, hurts digging into hearts so deeply, can you see the One walking down the trampled lives on the streets, whose Light is bringing order to your lives…working together. Do you see how beautiful life is…when the cool water just seeps in and you are become slowly, more clearly aware.

From where I am on my knees, this plain, trampled weed cross is a reminder to me. I touch its growing leaves and give it some water. There is hope. Reach out to help together. All is well and all will be well.

© 2020 Bonnie L Smith-Davis

Trust In Me

The gate swung wide into the backyard as sweat rolled off my face which flushed as I took a break to survey the back yard. Drat! Weeds were overgrown and twigs had fallen from the last night’s storm. Clearly might give the finicky lawnmower indigestion. So, with a tired sigh, I moved the mower into the yard and the steel gate clanged shut behind me. As I started the cleanup work, I heard a soft but very clear and firm voice from the other side of the gate. “I will mow for you, now.” It was not a question.

I looked up to find my quiet, young Burmese neighbor on the other side of our gate looking in my direction. I cocked my head toward the mower. “You want to help me mow?”  She nodded.

Time paused as her nearby children approached her and Lucy (not real name) turned to give them directions. I remembered how over the fence our families had been slowly, quietly learning a little of each other. My dog, Rascal was almost always the center of attraction. She had watched from a distance as we played simple American games with her children through the fence. But this wasn’t over the fence. Lucy had stepped forward.

But why now. Clearly God has always put people I need to have in my life, and I am sure Lucy was no exception. I continue to feel truly blessed. …Now a still small voice inside of me said trust in Me. Lean not on your own understanding. Clearly, I found myself seeing the Light awakening more ways to recognize compassion and grow trust. 

She and I had common bonds of being shy, liking children, and caring for our yards…mowing our lawns and taking care of magazine worthy vegetable garden. Clearly, Lucy knew how to teach a somewhat past middle-aged gardener (me) a thing or two.

In this uncertain world, I sensed caring, beauty and harmony, not isolation. In her reaching out to help an older albeit plucky older person, me… “What ifs weeds” that had jumped into my head dissolved into my heart. Whatever questions arose, we would work it out. All was well and would be well. So, I trusted, nodded and stepped aside.

She smiled and stepped confidently in, reached down to start the mower and got to work. My mind refocused on the garden. I reached down to pluck out nearby colorful weeds, but hesitated. They were really quite pretty. At the risk of more overgrown gardens, I just stood up and reached for my lemonade. I thought that if I had had a daughter, I would have hoped she might have the compassion and determination of this young wife.

So, it went on …for the entire backyard. As Lucy worked on the mowing, I did do some pulling of weeds, and thought how God reaches for us, do we notice…are we aware? I need to reach out myself, listen deeply and put my hand in the Master Gardener’s hand…And as a parent might, Jesus always stays close, waiting for us to call on His Love. The warmth of the sun combined with an intense joy I felt in my heart. Halfway through I asked if she wanted to stop or take a break. With an understanding smile, she shook her head no. As if saying give yourself a break. Just be. I got this covered. The lawn never looked better.

Something simple, but very beautiful happened to nourish seeds of friendship. Lighting paths to show how to be there when needed…language and other barriers dissolving. Her younger children stood on their side of the fence, fascinated with watching their mom, their faces pressed into the opening of the linked fence. They saw how she was helping…They tugged at my shirt and said, why is she helping? I said she saw I needed help and wanted to help me. They nodded and smiled. When the job was done, I thanked Lucy, and she smiled and nodded. Back through the gate she went to her waiting family to continue picking up limbs and tending to the children and garden.

It had come as a whisper – a simple, but totally courageous offer to care for someone else. Then, we reached out and walked together with compassion. Gentle reader, every action has an equally powerful reaction. How can you walk God’s Love out into this world today?

* I decided to learn more about how to communicate with Lucy. So, I called on our local Embarc how to best respond, not overwhelm or overdo, and did as they suggested. Her husband was appreciative of what I brought to them. Even though it wasn’t necessary, I was told it was acceptable to do. We accept each other as we are as good neighbors who care about each other. (The Embarc program helps families in need of assistance in very specific ways).

© Copyright 2020, Bonnie Smith-Davis

The Dandelion, the Rose and the Watering Can

Beautiful.  As I reached down to pluck another dandelion this July day from my garden, I thought about why am I taking this bright, happily colored life form and putting it into the blue yard waste can? My intention is to make my garden “look good” and to “give space” for the “beautiful” to grow. 

As water spurts out, partly on me giving me an early shower, into the banana plant which seems to try to die daily, I persevere in my “wisdom” to reach out and water it to give it life. Several leaves are drooping. Why save one and not the other?

As I look through the yard, rabbits busily munch on the clover, birds have a family “discussion” about something important. As I move down the garden, they take their business of life elsewhere. Life continues. Other birds don’t seem unconcerned with the two-legged watering can walking down the row, but just dip their beaks into the flower-petal fountain that is well out of the reach of Ralph the squirrel.

Life continues through the commitment of the dandelion population to push up through the cement, its sister and brother weed plants finding a home in my bushes, trying to claim new territory.  Reflections on how we plant our feet and make decisions affecting other living things comes to mind.

The sun plants a kiss on my cheek and makes me look up. The Power that controls what we do comes from beyond our senses, yet reminds us that we are all equal under the Son. We choose to nourish or rip another out of the ground at will. Jesus will always love dandelions and roses. He perceives the good in each of us, listens for our call, ready to help us in our struggles with our imperfections to grow and flourish with Love.

Both, as all of us, perceive our place and grow with God’s grace to produce in this imperfect world.  Once there was nothing. Now, can we see commitment flowing and entwining one with the other? Do all the seeds have “our approval” to be what they were created to be in harmony with the other? Think where your intention lies. Does it depend on to-do lists, the newest self-help plan? Does the dandelion need a plan?

Each life growing and occupying its place has a purpose. What is your place in the flow of life?  Where does the harmony come from in our lives?  Each and every creature in Nature flows in harmony with another. Where a Child sees a beautiful yellow flower, what do you see? What does a dandelion look like? Are they all yellow? Are they green? How do I judge? Or should I?

No one is perfect in this world, but can we see the Beauty? Work with patience and carry the watering can to nourish each other.  I don’t have blinders on, like the old milk wagon horse, I imperfectly try to deeply listen to perceive differences.  “Bloom” or stay stagnant at our own will? Deep inside our souls is the joy of simply being.

There is only one Gardener. I trust His Words and pray. Christ’s hands and feet nourish the world.  Myself, I am an imperfect gardener who makes plenty of mistakes. Witness my tomato plants hidden under the overgrown mint and the unseen need of a dear one hidden in my own heart.  But I have my watering can, the ever flowing still small voice of the Spirit, in my heart and I try to focus on Jesus. I nourish myself daily, through practices and routines to help love grow.

Perhaps be the resilient caterpillar who resides in the unknown, trusting, hoping if he just keeps on growing, he will one day be a beautiful Dandelion? Butterfly?  Just choose to grow.  Resilient with faith, God’s Love in your soul deepens awareness of how to listen and perceive with your heart. Carry your watering can and use it wisely.

© 2020 Bonnie L. Smith Davis

Awareness

Tree and sunlight

My child, do you know who I am?
Be filled and listen deeply as I enfold you.
I am the joy of the bird floating gently on the depth of air
I am the song of the bird that sings its song to the heavens
I am the heart of the fish swimming in the sea searching for food
I am the soft breeze gently moving in the atmosphere
I am the radiant candle flame burning eternally

I am in the hope of a child gazing at his mother
I am in the deep trust of hearts entwined
I am in the heart of the mother gazing at her baby
I am in the heart of the parent nearing eternity
I am in the heart of the mother losing her child

I am within the swirls of air tantalizing and filling all that lives
I am within the ever growing dandelions through the rocky soil
I am within the growing of branches and budding leaves on trees
I am within the deep, searing warmth of the sun
I am within the powerfully life flowing waters of the river
I am within the star-filled darkness that encompasses the Earth

I am embedded in blueness of the sky
I am encrusted in the moist, constant warmth of Mother Earth

I am part of the glowing sunrise encompassing the Earth
I am part of the ever flowing thought that provide wisdom
I am part of the laughter, the smiles, the twinkling eyes
I am part of the soft, purring of the sleeping cat
I am part of the gentle yip of the dog that sees its best friend
I am part of the Essences of all that live, move and have being

I am one with the All in All.
I exist only because the One exists.
Now and forever.
Who am I? I am Love.

(C) 2020 Bonnie Louise Davis

Sacred Valley

Written at Snowmass Retreat looking at Mt. Sopris above St. Benedict’s monastery, Colorado

March 2020

Mountain peak with pillow soft, slow walking clouds walking on their backs

Sacred valley of strong faith!

Heart strings entwine pulses with surge of love, throughout the overlying sky.

Snowy bright diamonds of melting snow glistening cells huddling, meshing, flowing together melting away into the warming ground of Colorado highlands

Earth welcoming the moisture feeds the undergrowth

Like the babies welcoming their mother’s warmth.

Black and white magpies bounce, caw and flit from twisted branches and perch on the arches of support beams on our cozy retreat home.

Cold, purposefully walking hikers dot the grounds going from hermitages to monastery to retreat house.

Vehicles that come by give wide birth to the hikers with climbing poles trudging uphill on their journey…-“real” world meets solitary stillness.

Meanwhile inside the retreat, the savory, kitchen fragrances waft down the long hallway to fill the seekers senses. Our extraordinary chef servants of God finish final preparations for supper.

Seekers gather senses and move quietly down the hall, in anticipation of mixtures conceived delicately making just the rights sparks of joy rewarding our work during prayerful hours.

How many eyes have gazed through out on Mt. Sopris…pondering their spiritual journey …memories etching themselves in our hearts…?

Dear Lord Jesus, how your community of faith functions wordlessly united, pulsing together hearts joined in Love.

An empty chair sits in solitude awaiting its evening seeker to give rest to weary, but spiritually nourished by prayer.

Sunset and tomorrow’s inevitable dawning …a new day awaits.

copyright 2020 Bonnie Louise Davis