Our Little Battles

 

July 4 is our day to party. We grill out, drink and eat too much, then look for the best place to watch the excitement in the sky. Even our National Anthem glorifies the “rockets’ red glare.”

Our view of war is that of Major Battles, usually taking place “out there.” Yet we have battles “in here” as well. Those Little Battles consume most of our time and energy.

How do we handle differences, diversity and conflicts? We can say we are for peace, but not live in it! When my daily actions are made up of anger, or when I view my life in terms of winning or losing, as a victor or a victim, I will have war.

What Little Battles do you and I overcome?

Mahalo!

Aloha!
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After the Rain

 

My family loved to backpack in the high Sierras. One year, after a refreshing afternoon rain, my youngest child, about seven at the time, looked down at his feet and picked up something shiny. It was a perfectly formed arrowhead of black obsidian. Evidently the rain had washed it out from an ancient hiding place. What a treasure the rain revealed!

In Hawai`i, we have the saying “no rain, no rainbows.” Too often we concentrate on the rain and neglect an openness to the treasures afterward. What riches or inner resources have you discovered after the rains in your life?

Mahalo!

Old Recipes

 

From time to time, for as long as my emotional stamina can handle it, I go through boxes of stuff left over from my parents, primarily my mother. Such was the case this morning.

I found an old Sunset cookbook I’d given her years ago when I first moved to California. She had transformed a hardback book one-inch thick to an eight-inch thick scrapbook of old recipes from people from churches where my dad had been the pastor, from other relatives and especially from my grandmother, who had also gleaned recipes from parishioners in my grandfather’s churches. They were scribbled on the back of old bulletins, on the side of business cards, on napkins, on whatever was at hand.

In this cook/scrapbook I found love notes from my father to her, handmade cards to them from my brother and me when we were children, clippings from newspapers telling about all of our accomplishments, and so much more.

I was surprised at the number of recipes for making your own sweetened condensed milk, for example, or making your own sour cream to stretch dollars at the store. On reflection, I realize these ideas came from World War II and before that, the Great Depression. She also kept labels from products that she used regularly, but that may no longer be in existence today.

Mother and Daddy were in the process of trying to put together a cookbook, using many of these recipes. I started thinking what fun they would have had writing a blog if they’d had access to something like the internet.

I may try a few of these recipes and let you know how they turn out.

A hui hou!

Glimpses of Arizona

 

During my career as a pastor, I spent 14 years living in Arizona. Someday, in future posts, I will focus on different areas and aspects of that diverse state. With all the negative press around Arizona right now, I began to remember the Arizona I loved. Today’s post shows only a few of my favorite scenes.

I took the above photo on the ranch of a dear friend in Elgin, AZ. Here she is with the big guys – their draft horses. I do miss my own horses!

 

Other friends in Tucson sent this shot of the mountains in winter.

 

For a few of those years, I lived in the old barrio section of Tucson. My home was one of those that had been renovated, still keeping to the flavor of old Mexico. At the corner of my street was this wonderful remembrance of a time past. My dream was to buy it and bring it back to life.

 

When I can dig out other photos of my beautiful Arizona and convert them to .jpg files, I will share them with you.

Hasta la vista!

It’s Time to Relax!

 

It’s been a long week! I needed to get grades completed and posted. Then yesterday was graduation, and you’ll hear more about that later this week.

One spot where I love to sit with a cup of coffee or tea is this old ohia log my kids placed here a few years ago. It’s at a good height for a bench and there’s a little table nearby.

This next week will be spent in finally planting seeds and trying to get my vegetable gardening in some sort of repair.

Today, the ohio is in bloom, the bees are buzzing, my agapanthus is starting to open up, all the geraniums are in full brilliance. Do I really need an excuse to sit, relax and catch up with myself before the work begins?

A hui hou!

Lake Powell Sunset

 

Another meaning for “look up” comes to mind with the beauty around us. I took this particular picture of a sunset on Lake Powell in Arizona several years ago when I led a group of high school students on a “boating camp.”

No radios, cell phones, no blow dryers – nothing that would distract from the beauty of nature was allowed. Oh, they complained, but when we watched the beautiful sunsets and sunrises from our camping spot, they didn’t seem to miss the artificial noises.

When I lived in other beautiful states, I would get so caught up in my daily activities that too often, I forgot to “look up” at the mountains around me. Then sometimes I would make myself deliberately pull over and admire the sun setting behind a mountain, or watch the lightning flare in canyons, or watch the snow fall on a distant hill.

Don’t forget to “look up” at what is around you every day! What do you see there today?

A hui hou!

The Gardener Within


Remember the old saying: “April showers bring May flowers?” It takes more than just showers to have beautiful flowers in May – or June or July or any month. It also takes digging and planting, nurturing and patience, faith and prayer.

My maternal grandfather was a strong typical “type A” personality, but when he worked in his garden, he was calm, happy and peaceful. His special joy was in finding many varieties of iris. He would drive all over Southern Illinois in search of new iris plants. Studies have shown that in a similar way, Alzheimer’s patients who are placed in a garden all day are no longer violent.

I don’t plan on collecting iris, but I’ve thought about the many varieties of daylily or hibiscus available. I’m trying a little of each to see which ones grow best here. It’s hard to decide – so maybe I’ll collect both!

Even when I lived on my sailboat for five years, I had hanging baskets of cherry tomatoes and pots of aloe plants for sunburn and wounds. I needed that bit of plant material to make me feel like I had a garden. Various cultures around the world have special tales about the healing power of plants on all levels.

Some of my favorite times as a small girl were spent in a special cherry tree in the back yard of a parsonage. We only lived there a couple years, but as long as we did, I would climb up onto a high limb and read. As a lonely child, it was my way to escape. Many of us have had spiritual experiences with trees, but we don’t discuss them for fear of sounding silly. We rarely talk about the spiritual aspects of gardening, until someone of like mind brings up the subject.

Maybe I’m a little strange, but I talk to my plants. I haven’t really heard them talk back, although they do respond by growing and producing. I used to think people who talked to their animal pets were weird, too!

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Today, I live on an acre of a’a in Hawai`i. A`a is lumpy, rocky lava that blew out of the depths of our volcano. The only way to plant something is to move aside the rocks and dump in a bag of soil, which filters down after a rain or watering and I need to add more soil. Still, there are nutrients in the greedy porous lava. Plants do grow, with a lot of prayer and patience.

Peter and Eileen Caddy were founders of the Findhorn Community in Scotland. They moved to a barren plot on the northernmost tip of Scotland, a place where nothing should have grown. Yet they made it work, through meditation and conversations with the nature spirits and “devas” – the angels of each plant. They claimed to receive gardening advice from those beings.

No matter what we may believe about all that, their results were incredible. I hope for the same results in my lava. Here in this little corner of the Big Island, I suppose it takes calling on Madam Pele, our volcano goddess – or maybe calling on the menehune.

I believe that if you are open to it, the process of gardening will tell you everything you need to know about life. There is a definite spirit of cooperation and communication between plants and humans. It is easy to see how we cultivate ourselves when we cultivate a garden. The idea is to relate to all living things as if they can understand, because they can! It is a living prayer.

Saint Fiacre is the patron saint of gardens and gardeners. He carries a shovel in one hand and a book in the other. He gave up his life as a prince of Ireland to live as a monk on the edge of a forest in France. Many people came to him for his healing through herbs and flowers. His reputation grew and ultimately, he built his own monastery that featured his healing plants.

Being There with Peter Sellars is a wonderful old movie. It is the story of a man who started out as sort of an idiot child who learned to garden, and could speak of nothing but gardening. Through a minor accident, he was brought into a home where he gradually worked his way up to international significance with only his gardening remarks. Everyone thought that his words were profound, and they became metaphors for everything from politics to world finance to love.

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Please leave a comment and tell me what spiritual experiences have you had with plants.