These days of quarantine and isolation require focus to capture moments of blessing and beauty. Even without roses in my garden, if I pay attention, I don’t have to look far to be surprised by joy and simple lessons from growing things. My friend hand stamped some concrete blocks with the lines I quote so often from Mary Oliver “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” I think of her hard work, pressing the letters one by one into the hardening blocks. I think of her smile when she brought them to our back yard. No hugs as we once would have enjoyed. No lingering visit with thoughtful conversation. But a sparkling smile and eyes that danced and the gift of her hands needed to be enough, so they were.The blocks are not laid like stepping stones but standing at the edge of roses and touch-me-nots where I see them from my bedroom window.
If you are not familiar with the old fashioned flower called touch-me-not, it is lovely and unusual. When the flowers fade, fat seed pods grow rounder and fuller until they pop open at the slightest touch, scattering seeds. All the flowers behind the stones in the photo below have returned from last year’s seeds. Seeds of hope are nourished right now in what can feel like a hopeless time.
The flowers preach and these stones sing out love and promise.
Consider the Lilies of the Field
Flowers preach to us if we will hear:
The rose saith in the dewy morn:
I am most fair;
Yet all my loveliness is born
Upon a thorn.
The poppy saith amid the corn:
Let but my scarlet head appear
And I am held in scorn;
Yet juice of subtle virtue lies
Within my cup of curious dyes.
The lilies say: Behold how we
Preach without words of purity.
The violets whisper from the shade
Which their own leaves have made:
Men scent our fragrance on the air,
Yet take no heed
Of humble lessons we would read.
But not alone the fairest flowers:
The merest grass
Along the roadside where we pass,
Lichen and moss and sturdy weed,
Tell of His love who sends the dew,
The rain and sunshine too,
To nourish one small seed.
Source: Christina Rosetti , Goblin Market, The Prince’s Progress, and Other Poems