Thursday, March 24, 2016


Baby peonies...on their way!
One of my favorite emails (there aren’t many, sad to say) is the one whose subject line reads: “Your order has shipped!”

In the days of long ago, an order was made out on the form provided in a catalog, put in an envelope, stamped, addressed, and mailed. No one acknowledged it had been received, but after waiting, sometimes impatiently, for a few weeks, suddenly a package appeared on the front porch, courtesy of the letter carrier. (Those days we called him the mail man.)

I don’t know which is better—a long wait, letting the anticipation of the coming items grow into a Big Thing. Or, with the click of a mouse button, letting the nice folks at L. L. Bean or Amazon or some other big chain know that I want my stuff ASAP. They always acknowledge that I’ve contacted them (“Thank you for your order!”). And they sometimes let me know the order is being processed. Okay. Great. Then comes the magic message, “Your order has shipped!” Sometimes this is only one day after I ordered. That’s service.

I thought about the ordering process while I was working in the back yard yesterday. After several days of feeling under the weather (allergies, sinus problems—the usual annual annoyances), I discovered the trees had deposited another great load of little sticks, big sticks, long limbs, and a couple of chunks of dead wood (not sure about those) all over the yard. It was time to don mask and gloves, haul out the biggest bin for sticks, and pick up (changed to raking when I saw how many there actually were) as much as possible.

Lily leaves...overachievers perhaps?
Now the clean-up didn’t actually trigger thoughts on the ordering process. But as I finished I went around the yard and looked at various bushes, plants, and other growing things.

Lo and behold! The hostas were coming up, the peonies were 4 inches above ground, and the Resurrection lilies--! They’re way ahead of schedule.

I knew Spring had sprung when the neighbor-across-the-street’s daffodils blinded me one morning with their near-neon yellow mass. They live in a flower bed between the houses—just the right place for the sunlight to fall and get trapped for several hours, making an effective hothouse. Those bulbs bloom first of anything in our whole neighborhood.

So Spring isn’t coming soon . . . She’s already arrived. If you live in middle Indiana or farther south, this is old news. But for us up here in the northeast corner, Spring’s arrival lifted many a flagging spirit. And we didn’t have to search online to order!

Though Spring officially arrived last Sunday, March 20th, we’d been having warmer days for some time before that. And my highly unofficial records of daylight hours show that the Equinox occurred at approximately midnight on March 16.

In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours. --Mark Twain
(Mr. Twain is sometimes given to embroidery.)
Besides beauty and longer hours of daylight, Spring is Renewal.

Renewal of Nature—we see this all around us, smell it when the blossoms open, hear it in the birdsong, feel it with the waft of a warmer breeze, even taste it (have you ever tried dandelion greens, or wild asparagus?).

Now, go deeper—how about Renewal of ourselves?

An overwhelming job, you say? Well, might be. It is for me. But if we break it down into do-able tasks, like anything we tackle, it may become less overwhelming.

So here goes: I’d like to renew myself in thought, word, and deed.

Thoughts can determine our attitudes. Being wound up in a tangle of ideas that never seem to resolve themselves creates in my little self-universe an attitude of “what’s the use?” Why bother? Someone else will clean up the world. Why fret over someone else’s “wrong” way of thinking? I’ll never change them. (See how it works? Not a pretty sight, is it?) If, instead of letting those thoughts veer toward the negative side of life, I keep them firmly in hand and head toward the sunny side, I find my attitudes smooth out. Maybe I can’t clean up the confounded world, but I can work on my own little corner of it. (I know, I’ve said that before. Still true.) And I can pray for the other person--not to change to what I want, but for whatever healing he or she needs.

Renewing myself in word turns out to be easier. That is, so long as I have control of my tongue and my fingers. No matter what technology has done for us, there is no DELETE button on our tongues, no UNDO icon to click just in time. If I’ve said it, then I’ve said it. And if it was hurtful, my best efforts are pretty wimpy—“I’m sorry” helps, but the words said . . . . 

The DELETE button does work when we write letters, emails, or comments on blogs. Always a good idea to reread what we’ve written—did it really come across as I meant it to?

The renewal of deeds—actions—is a whole other ball game. Now we're in the big leagues. What we say, what we think, are important, and can have lasting effects, good or bad. But what we do—that’s what people, complete strangers, see and experience of us. What do my actions tell about me? (This is scary, folks—like looking in a mirror and seeing an image you don’t recognize.)

One of my hardest actions to change is forgiveness. Not that I carry a grudge forever—these are the everyday little annoyances that seem to simmer and stew and affect my attitude (yup, back to that). Can I let go of the irritation I feel when someone cuts me off in traffic? Is there any reason to resent a curt voice on the phone telling me to wait? (This part of renewal is on my permanent Today List.)

Using Nature as a guide, we can do our personal renewal step by step. Nature doesn’t fling out grass, flowers, fruit tree blossoms, high temps, rain and sun, all at once. There’s a logical progression—warmer days, plants emerging on their inherent timetable, rain; grass in its own time. Birds return in waves, not all at once.

So much is happening every day we tend to think it all came at once. But it didn’t. We, like Nature, need to take time for renewal. A cheerful note, a helping hand, a prayer for someone’s healing—seeking forgiveness from someone we’ve hurt—offering forgiveness to one who has hurt us.

Take it a day at a time, one step at a time. If we fall back, get up and begin again.

As my tortoise friends say: “Forward is forward.”

In our competitive society we think so much about standards, about keeping up, or passing, other competitors, about reaching a goal, about winning.

With Renewal, there are only winners. We have our favorite flowers, birds, type of weather, but that’s only our own opinions. In self-renewal, there is only success, if you truly want to renew. That success may be incremental, almost non-existent; but consider—a seed looks mighty insignificant when compared to its full-grown plant.

Try a little renewal—you may surprise yourself at how you’ll blossom.

And while you’re at it, Celebrate Spring! Celebrate the season of hope, of new growth, and celebrate another chance at renewal.

Wonderful sight to greet the weary winter eye!

1 comment:

  1. As I read this, the rain went from a drizzle to a downpour...spring at its mightiest!