Sunday, May 15, 2011
Sunday Afternoon Tea
The re-reading took place mostly curled up on the living room sofa but also in the doctor's office... as well as at a table in Einstein's bagels (when I felt seriously low blood sugar coming on and had to stop for a carb before driving the rest of the way home)... which really was the truth but also an excellent excuse for snacking on a walnut strudel and good coffee.
Edith reminds us that if anyone should create beauty in their surroundings, it is one who is a follower of Christ... He who is the Creator of beauty. We are made in the image of the creative God and having been originally born of the garden's soil find ourselves drawn to that which is lovely.
We may live in the most humble of neighborhoods but our home is an oasis of beauty in the neighborhood. Our home will be free of fast food wrappers on the ground, weeds growing taller than the grass, broken toys thrown about and left for weeks on end, and windows left unwashed... we can do something rather than nothing at all.
I remember the town house we lived in for a couple of years when circumstances left us with few options for housing. We dwelled in the middle of the four unit building with neighbors such as drunks, a woman we seriously believed was practicing the world's oldest profession, and a group of young people whom we suspected of having a meth lab in their basement (and the police raid indicated it could be true).
I must admit, I cried the first week we lived there but I soon found myself doing what I could with what there was to work with... and overlooking what could not be changed such as the huge trash container sitting beside each front door.
I washed my front window and placed a thrifted garden bench below it, which was all the front "yard" we had. Flowers in pots were soon sitting on the bench and a wreath placed on the front door. The result was astonishing and cost nothing... our place definitely stood out as a little garden in the midst of depravity and dirt.
These memories came back this week as I pulled weeds in the side yard, cleaned the front porch of its' winter dirt, planted the garden, and admired how nice the front yard looked after hubby mowed the lawn. I will never stop thanking God for our house at the edge of the forest.
I've waxed poetic about the reading so where does the watching come in? Here...
When looking out my kitchen window early one morning, the outside world appeared all dark and rainy and gloomy. As I looked around, however, I realized my favorite tree was standing out in the darkness as if one had sprinkled florescent fairy dust on its' leaves... literally light in the darkness.
I must admit these pictures cannot even begin to show the brightness of the dogwood on a rainy day but trust me when I say... it is gorgeous. Each spring since we've lived here, the blooming of the dogwood tree has been met with great rejoicing, not only for its' beauty but that brightness it brings in the season of rain.
As I was standing at my kitchen sink, staring at the way the dogwood tree lit up the dreary surroundings... I thought of Edith's words in the book I was reading. We are to be like the dogwood tree in a gloomy and dark world as we brighten all around us just by bringing His presence to our own little part of the world.
The dogwood doesn't have to do anything special, it just as to be itself... that for which it was created and blooming in just the right season.
Which is what we do as we plant the seeds and hang the ivy and sweep the sidewalk and paint the front door. For some all that can be done is plant morning glories at the base of the porch and look forward to the vines wrapping around the lattice or grow red geraniums in the window box. I have spent grocery money for a hanging plant on the front porch but the flowers made my heart sing the entire summer. :)
As Edith would say, if one dreams of the English cottage (or the posh condo, or the house in the gorgeous neighborhood) and does nothing with what they have at the moment... they are wasting precious days when something is better than that which would be perfect... and they brighten their lives and their surroundings.
I think living in that townhouse was much like being the dogwood tree in spring as other neighbors set flowers out and hung a vine and swept away the trash left by those who didn't care. Children were invited in to the small kitchen and would comment on that which was pretty as they ate homemade cookies. An easy-to-understand version of the Bible was given to the drunk next door (along with a birthday cake) and one of the young men in the "meth apartment" was encouraged to return home to his worried parents.
I was still able to walk two or three miles a day during those years and my favorite route took me through one of the posh neighborhoods with gorgeous yards and beautiful surroundings. I must admit there were times I walked back to the ugly apartments and town houses with great sadness but knowing that was where God had planted us for that time and that moment to touch those lives... and to bring beauty in the midst of that darkness.
The dogwood is now losing its' blossoms and very soon all traces of pastel colors will be replaced by the vibrant flowers of summer. Even the tall trees in the forest are becoming thick with leaves and my world is once again shades of green... and all my surroundings remind me there is a Creator.