Lilacs and the Spirit

In deep vibrant purples with fragrance as strong as their apparent will to grow, my 7-year-old lilac bush thrives virulently in our backyard. Why are these plants, or any life so special? Just like their owner, this baby cutting has grown despite the sometimes hidden, sometimes overgrown challenges in its life. Snow, rain, cuttingly cold winds. My most recent example is a medical diagnosis of my ADHD that until very recently had gone “unpruned” for over 40 years. Racing thoughts, lack of apparent focus, impetuosity, self-esteem, organization and more, I have with God’s help made it through to where I am, my will trying to shadowbox in ways difficult to win… bending, flowing, doing the best I can. Like my lilac, I continue to grow, sometimes seemingly hurt by reactions of myself and others, sometimes aware that God was guiding me, pruning me to make my life more beautiful, a difference for others. Nonetheless, praying for guidance, love and support with needed wind, nutrients, water.

Whatever you need pruned in your life, in you, the Master Gardener knows what you need and how to guide you there. I have been slowly opening and becoming receptive to following practices to meditate, to face the day, to be open to the hurt. Letting go in such Contemplative practices of praying without words, just sitting with God, with practices as centering prayer and lectio divina of the daily Scriptures and mindfulness (all prayer is good) daily, following my heart in playing piano and writing, dancing, deepening my connection with Nature, with photography, journaling, exercising and my dog and I training for and doing Pet Pals As I have opened, like the lilac blooms, the Gardener moves in my heart. In the stillness, there are answers through listening.

In John 15:1-17 Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the Gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. With each “pruning” I learn more about the wonder of being present, rusting the process, not determining the result. Let it come. Wonder.

Whoever looks on the outside dreams, whoever looks on the inside, awakens…Carol Jung. The Flow of Love, Life. Christ is in all. Are you willing to be still to perceive Him?

What do you see? An unruly child getting messy with paint on her hands and clothes or a work of unjudged, loving creation springing forward. Paint on the face, with a giggle and joy of look what I did, Mom! Just for you! Curls tangled with a bow tilted at a cockeyed angle. We progress in our seeing with the joy deep inside your heart. Only one Being will judge.

Notes from a page or a piano solo expressing gentle, wordless joy of harmonies from the soul? A photograph of almost perfectly correct. The right composition or the capturing of an unjudged image of God’s love across the sky. Is it in the doing or in the process of being in faith? Becoming? A poem flowing from the heart of God’s love creating the world or a series of syllables flowing in exactly correct measure?

My constant fight with trying to fit in, to match up, struggles in life may be partly, but not completely over. Racing thoughts, self-judging, lack of focus lessened with less pressure to be that dependent on others person, that was part of the struggle I have faced. Understand that no one way is right for everyone, and I have found solace in guidance from those who have training to guide me. But I have had to be ready to listen. Are you ready to listen?

The Light in my heart is slowly showing me how to trust, like my lilacs trust their Creator. To be receptive. For example, to see the Gardener in loving friends who have not judged but love, meditation, caring words from the Scripture come to life, and yes, finally try medical intervention as food for the body, nutrients, wind under sails, water. My world may be a little different now. There is much value in knowledge, facts and figures in this world. But it isn’t the only way to gain understanding. Words are only what you allow them to be. Do you take steps to see past the words?

Friends, we all have the opportunity to grow, like the lilacs, giving Glory to the One tending us and with trust in our Master Gardener. Our own pressures created in this world can serve us helping us grow in love with our God. There is a Way to turn that negative hurt with fear of change into an acceptance of Grace from the Father who will give you all that you need if you just take time to see the world as it is. Will you take the time to see, accept it? To reach out in prayer, in Nature, in Scripture, to ministers, trusted friends, family, for example.

As the birds sing out on rainy days and the squirrels scurry along precarious fences, dandelions bloom in the sidewalk cracks, trees naturally bend not questioning the flow of the nutrients. All grow, all accept and move into the flow of being a part of that growing Creation, patience in seeing, accepting yourself and others just to be a part of the whole.

Open, receptive and loving. The fruits of the spirit are the pruning tools. Will you grow as my lilac grows, giving and accepting with love.

Reference also: Guardians of Being by Eckhart Tolle.

© 2023 Bonnie L Smith-Davis

Perception Matters And How It Changes Everything

Kayla Becker loves to serve and inspire others as a friend, school teacher, yoga instructor, success coach and more. I have known Kayla as a contemplative friend for quite awhile now and truly love the beauty of her heart. The wisdom in her article about truth versus perception in seeing can easily be applied to how to see God and His children with an awakened heart. Thank you Kayla for your service to God and His creations! Blessings, Bonnie

Kayla Becker, guest blogger

One of my first mentors always talked about beach balls

As a metaphor

For how people see a situation.

Depending on which side of a beach ball you are standing

You will see different colors –

If you are standing on one side of the beach ball,

You’ll see the colors green, orange, and white

And if you are standing on the other side of the beach ball,

You’ll see the colors yellow, blue, and red.

And as my mentor told me,

Each person is right

Regardless of what they see –

Because they can only see what is in front of them.

And it’s what we currently know

That is guiding our reality.

Whatever side of the situation – of the ball – we are seeing

Is our truth.

I think about this analogy often when I am working with my clients

Because it is often our perception, our truth,

That is impacting us –

For better or for worse.

Sometimes it’s our perception of ourselves –

“I’m not good enough”

“I’m not where I want to be”

“I always mess up”

“I’m going to fail”

“I don’t know how to get over this”

“I don’t fit in”

“No one understands me”

“I can’t figure out how to change (fill in the blank)”

“I’m such a (loser, screw up, disappointment, hot mess, black sheep…)

And it is these perceptions –

These “truths” –

We have about ourselves

That keeps us stuck.

And other times,

It’s these big, looming thoughts we have about being





Being all alone

That frightens us the most

Because of past experiences

And memories

That holds us hostage

In our own lives.

And when this happens,

We need to pick up the beach ball

And examine it.

We need to turn it to the other side,

Flip it around,

Turn it upside down

And see what we see …

And that’s one of my roles with my clients –

To help them see and explore something different,

So, they can decide for themselves.

Because sometimes seeing something different is really hard

Especially when we’ve believed something about ourselves, or others, or a situation,

For so long.

Because many times

Those are the ones that are causing us the most anguish

Because they are so ingrained in who we are,

And how we see ourselves…

And when we’ve believed something for so long

It becomes a “truth”

Rather than a perception.

If you’re seeing only one side of the beach ball,

You aren’t seeing the whole thing clearly

And that’s a problem.

© 2023 Kayla Becker

Write to Kayla Becker

My Child…Awakening

My child,

Do you know who I am?
Listen deeply and be filled as I enfold you.

Delicately graceful birds floating gently

Silver scaled fish glimmering as one
Soft purring cats rubbing those they own
Yipping dogs rolling over for best friends

Life force surging within all beings
Tender, glowing sunsets kissing all they touch

Life-giving air filling and enlivening
Eternal stars burning radiantly above

Yearning children hugging mothers
Gentle mothers cuddling babies
Elderly parents facing transitions

Brokenhearted mothers losing children

Virulent dandelions flourishing through the rocky soil
Strong oak branches budding
Deep, sunshine searing, warming
Powerful water flowing into depths unknown

Encrusted moistness, constantly nourishing Mother Earth

Deep eruptions changing the face of the Universe

Star-filled darkness exploding Earth with encompassing Light

Minuscule darting atoms swirling, connecting life

Ancient wisdom revealing all Truth
Wholehearted belly laughter awakening twinkling eyes

Deep seated Essence of all that live, move and have their being

I am the Body. One with the All in All.
I exist only because of the One.
Now and forever.

Who am I? I am You. I am Love.

© Bonnie Smith-Davis May 2022

Lenten Retreat Reflections

John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Sometimes when I go walking, I feel so attune with Nature, hugging a tree, letting my fingers caress the rough bark weathered by the seasons. So, longing to be bubbling inside feeling God sparkle in every moment everywhere I look. I remember how much I long to just be in His Presence.

Today I start my day standing in my yard, listening to the wind on a cold Lenten March day. I feel the chill of the day precluding a coming storm. The cold tears my eyes and my heart bleeds for my once beautiful trees with infestations eating away at their core.

Remnants of a ripped apart limb broken off during a high wind show me how this strong tree has stayed with us throughout the winter months. No matter what, it stands tall hoping to see another spring. It sheds small teardrops of twigs at its base.

My ash still embraces the squirrels that climb its limbs enjoying each moment with these little ones. Enjoy your run, your home may be gone before you know it. Like the squirrels I climb upward, jumping from one limb of life to another with faith that there will be a branch that will hold me, food to feed me. Positive energy surges through me, the seed of faith planted early in life still grows facing adversity.

My dying ash seems to have compassion for me. As I hug it, its strong base just holds steady. Why is it that those most hurt seem to share the most love? Rough bark seems to like my touch.

Love is like that, holding onto you, enfolding you, enlivening you as it reaches out in its own joyfully proclaiming every moment. Do I share this aliveness so clearly embedded in creation?

Filled with years of systems, plans, hurts, last chances, I urgently wish to see beneath the exterior/facade of busyness…

The more that life tears at what I think is real, the more I see layers of “truth” fall away. I bow in quiet prayer to open my mind to the wisdom and truth plugging into the beautiful source generating flooding light.

Time and again these moments of quiet prayer hold me. Its cousin Nature renews and lifts me above the seemingly unending timeline onto the dimension of being, knowing somehow all is connected…the heartbeats of trees, birds, pulsing stars, flowing water from the sky and rivers, budding growth on bare branches and me. On a speck of a section of a tiny planet within a smaller solar system within a galaxy of planets.

How can I be important to the absolute, the Source…my development, His wish to see me become more like Himself get out from under your circumstances and get tuned into God shining patience joy filled in the deepening of Love.

Be humble, accept your humanness living in Christ in God. Be grateful for each moment to extend, infuse and live the Love that God so lovingly has for us. We live unaware of how He feeds us with every moment, we must just listen with our hearts.

© 2021 Bonnie L. Smith-Davis

Reflections of Love

Note from Author:  I miss you, my dear readers. My long absence has been due to my recovering from hospitalization and my current healing during a long recovery. Never have I felt so enveloped by prayer and God’s Love as through that experience. To be held. To receive unequivocal, pure Love throughout my being. I will share more on that experience next blog. The current blog is a familiar one…  Being alone, yet how our dear Lord’s Love can enfold us in Nature and ripple through us if we just stop long enough to reflect in each moment and breathe the Joy.

Lake surrounded by trees. Leaves are turning.
Balsam Lake Wisconsin

Would you please put that phone away, Bonnie? I looked up into the descending sunlight on each side of Southern Wisconsin’s highway to our secluded cabin. Deep forested territory lined the hilly landscape. I cracked open a window to get the fragrance of the woods as it started to enfold us into the night sky. The cell phone found its home on the electronic charge pad in between the two seats.

As we found the cabin, a thump of ‘what are we doing here’ took over. We could be in a cozy hotel someplace or in our own home. We were “nowhere” and yet, it seemed warmly familiar. We pulled out our cell flashlights which barely scratched the surface of the dark.

All alone here. We said a prayer and carefully maneuvered along somehow familiar markers to the right pathway by familiar chairs, buildings, and scenery. The moon now lit up the porch area of this pine lodge where we looked for the key. My heart pounded. What if this was someone else’s house and not our rental cabin? We went to the other entrance and, blessed be, we found the hidden entrance key. I said a silent prayer of gratitude as we went in and shut the cold night air behind us.

This welcoming atmosphere soon led us to a cozy bed to collapse. A few days to relax by the lake which we hoped to see for the first time the next morning. Toward morning, I felt a very strange interior “whirlwind” of Peace relax my and fill my soul. Taking deep breathes helped a little, but I felt the restless draw of tranquil water lapping at the shore. So, I reached for my camera and padded quietly down to see the sunrise. Perhaps take a picture or two.

My camera in hand, I carefully made my way in the pre-dawning light to the mid-level deck area where I could pray and await the rising sun fill the lake. Vivid autumn colored trees of yellows, reds, oranges and browns across the lake filled my eyes. God’s beauty. I sat back in the Adirondack chair and closed my eyes and went into prayer for a while. Something pulled me out of prayer, perhaps a squirrel, bird, or the fresh smells of the woodland. As I opened my eyes, a mirroring of color started to extend out into the lake from the far shore. The sun was starting to rise, water rippling from quiet early canoeists, and my camera came off the arm of the chair, seemingly on its own to start reflecting the day into my memory.

As God’s light radiated into the water, I felt this warmth of interior power rise in me as it had earlier. The strength of God’s glory in Nature filled my soul and focused my mind on what was here. Now. In this moment. Time stood still and I with it. Mesmerized by the growing reflection of God’s beauty, I became one with it. Just rising and glowing with the power of the Sun. I remember taking pictures, but the lake drew me in. I padded down to the lake in my slippers, took off my shoes, and walked out onto the dock between the two docked boats, I lay on my stomach at the edge of the water and reached in. Cool, gentle ripples touched me and revived my heart. I pulled my hands back up and put them under my head as I lay there soaking up bird song, quiet rustle of trees, warmth of the radiate beams carries me away.

How can all that electronic noise fill my days? The Spirit touched my heart and brought me back to connections with every other human, rock, and the remaining stars. “See the Beauty in the moment, my Child, I heard in the wind. “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

I thanked the Lord for this moment, and I wondered though if I really needed to be in this place to feel this deep peace. Wasn’t it possible to just belong along with the rest of life in our own yard? God is everywhere. Give Glory to God even when it seems like there is no Earthly reason…wars, diseases, famine, elections, natural disasters, unkindness and cruelty. Because overriding it all is the One true Creator… who proclaimed it all Good. When you get right down to it all is well when you turn the day over to God.

Today:  Try one of these ways to be: Find five reasons to be grateful and write them down in a journal and tell God how much you Love Him because He Loves you without question. Put down your electronic devices for an hour or two. You will survive.  Take a walk around the neighborhood. Call a friend just because you can.

© 2020 Bonnie L. Smith-Davis

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

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