5 Things of Beauty for Today

Image by Rory Gunderson, for Wilder Quarterly

Image by Rory Gunderson, for Wilder Quarterly

There is a great need for beauty of late, especially with so much ugliness in our world. The balance is off kilter, the joy in life is blurred.  When darkness seems to overwhelm I seek  five things that delight. I thought you might enjoy what I’ve found today.



Image via Design Sponge.

Image via Design Sponge.

String Gardens: Are also known as kokedama, or moss balls. They are airy and lovely to look at. They are relatively easy to make, but require soaking in fertilized water twice a week. Here is a wonderful tutorial to make your own from Good Magazine blog.








These were found at Pearls of Joy web site.

Carved Pearls: I found these fresh water pearls carved with patterns of seeds delightful in the connection of earth of sea. It is believed in Tahitian culture that

…a carved pearl which is worn with respect or given and received with love, takes on part of the spirit of those who wear or handle it. In this way it becomes a spiritual link between people spanning time and distance.



Words from a Hermit:

Like a bee that secretly fashions its comb in the hive so also grace secretly forms in hearts its own love. It changes to sweetness what is bitter, what is rough into that which is smooth.  ~Pseudo-Macariusfile0001318067946




Velvet PetuniasPurple Velvet Petunias: A dear friend, Elizabeth, loves elegant well designed dresses and fanciful cloths. This purple velvet skirt of a petunia might delight her as well.






Neighborhood Helpers: And the most beautiful thing today? The two neighborhood boys, John-the-Tall and Gavin-the-Loud, insisting I needed help with my yard. And I do so they did!Neighborhood Helpers


Devouring Christ

lamb and cakeWhen preparing a meal I find it to be more than just about sustenance; it is a creative and prayerful time.

I am blessed to be living a life where good food can be bought—organic eggs and milk, fresh produce in abundance, and Amish chickens at the market (if I arrive early enough!). This hasn’t always been true in my life or yet so for many friends.

Taking the time to fix a simple meal and set the table for one, or making a kettle of soup to share, offers opportunities to pray. For the grace of food, and enough to share, with gratitude I give thanks to God.

With eagerness I approach making meals, especially this time of year when produce is abundant and often picked fresh from the garden. Consuming flavorful and healthy food daily is a delight. It doesn’t need to be a gourmet feast.

The other morning I read a piece in Magnificat by Fr. Robert Barron about consuming the Eucharist.

Given every opportunity therefore to soften his words, or to give them a metaphorical interpretation, Jesus in fact intensifies his language: Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. The Greek term translated by “eat” here is trogein, rather than phagein. The latter is the word customarily used to designate the way human beings eat; whereas the former is the word employed to signal the way animals eat, something along the lines of “gnaw” or “munch.” In short, he scandalously underscored the very realism to which his audience was objecting.”(Magnificat, August 2015, Vol. 17, No. 6, Page 244.)

Not being familiar with that discourse I went searching the Internet and found there to be a considerable amount of discussion about the terminology. None of which particularly moved me spiritually.

What struck me was the aggressive nature of consuming the Body and Blood of Christ.

With awe and some level of primal fear we’ve all watched National Geographic shows of wild beast chasing down, killing and consuming their prey. The beasts have a singular intensity of focus on the food, a thorough intent at devouring all that is there to be had. They tear into bone and sinew, leaving nothing behind to the point of even licking the ground for the last bits of flesh and blood.

I shudder at the imagery.

Reading the words of Fr. Barron, I am disturbed by the intensity by which our Lord indicated that we are to consume him Eucharistically. With intent and full knowledge that this is indeed his body and blood, we are to have a singular focus of devouring him, gnawing into every morsel of spiritual tissue. To seek every bit of nourishment being offered to keep our souls from starvation.

I shudder at the demands of such conviction.

May the good Lord save and guide those of us who prefer tea-cakes to the whole of a slaughtered Lamb.

Image public domain, courtesy Wikimedia commons.


Assumption Lilies for Your Mary Garden

Assumption Daylily WhiteThe solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary on August 15 commemorates her death and bodily assumption into eternal life. This took place before her physical body could begin to decay.

But did you know that Mary’s tomb was not found empty? In 451 A.D. it was noted by St. Juvenal, Bishop of Jerusalem, at the Council of Chalcedon that the apostle, St. Thomas, was said to have found beautiful roses and lilies where her body once laid.

There are several white daylilies that bloom near this date, and together are known as Assumption Lilies. The late summer blooming varieties to add to your Marian garden are:

HemerocallisSerene Madonna

HemerocallisHeavenly White Lightening

HemerocallisJolly White Giant’

HemerocallisLady Elizabeth

daylily white budDaylilies are one of the easiest plants to grow and maintain, and will grow in most soils though they prefer those high in organic matter. These are sturdy perennials and adapt most any garden. They tolerate a wide range of soil and light conditions, establish themselves quickly, and survive harsh winters. For more information on how to grow these lovely plants, visit the University of Minnesota web site.

The name Hemerocallis is composed of two Greek words, hemera meaning day and kallos meaning beauty. The name is appropriate since each flower lasts only one day, though some of the newer cultivars can last 24 hours—opening in the evening. Each stalk of flowers contains multiple buds developing throughout their specific bloom period. They are not a true lily from the genus Lileaceae, which are the single stemmed Oriental and Asiatic lilies.

This holy feast day is also associated with celebrating the summer’s harvest. The Roman Ritual includes the Assumption Day Blessing of Produce, of fields, gardens, and orchards. It is a beautiful prayer ritual, the whole of it can be found here. There is also a wonderful tradition on this day of giving baskets of fruits and herbs to friends. In this way we can imitate Mother Mary by bringing comfort to others.

For more fun gardening insights for your liturgical gardens, read A Catholic Gardener’s Spiritual Almanac, available from Ave Maria Press.

Images from morguefile.com

Hummingbird at Work and Blessings in Abundance

Hummingbird DSCN0347Throughout the past six weeks I have been blessed in abundance, and for the same six weeks adjusting to a new normal of discomfort from a spine worsening with arthritis. There are episodes, as anyone with arthritis knows, that go on for weeks. Eventually the pain lessens and we go on as best we can, seeking productive days and restful nights. My productivity is down.  Walking is a challenge—me and my little dog did two miles a day four days a week last June—and sitting to write or paint is limited.

So with that lead in, I offer you this blog post written in a past August:

It was mid-morning and the sun had finally dissolved the fog from the cool damp night. I saw that some of the leaves still glistened with dampness.

Making the bed I pulled the white and periwinkle quilt up and over the pillows and glanced out the upstairs window. The blue Rose-of-Sharon grows just below. Moving about the blossoms was a Ruby Throated Hummingbird.

He seemed to be moving a bit slower—maybe the cool night slowed him down. During the summer the hummers tend to dart about the gardens, frenetic in their search for food. On this morning the little guy was more systematic, feeding steadily from one group of blossoms before moving on to the next. I suspected he was laboring to build up reserves for his migratory journey south.

Labor, lavoro, arbeit, labeur, trabajo, no matter what language, it is to toil, to strive towards a goal, to work for gain. Like most people, I associate labor with something tangible. The little hummer was acquiring food.

Lately I have been reflecting on soulful laboring. It too is for gain…of peace in love.

I work daily to accept changes in my life. Aging is normal, premature aging is annoying. What I gain in working to accept, is a drawing closer to Our Lord. In moving nearer I’ve discovered he has blessed me with the gift of blessing others who come to my aid.

We’ve all heard that it is better to give than to receive, and I have adjusted my views of being a recipient. To willingly accept someone’s gift of assistance is to double the blessing for the giver. It kind of goes like this: The essence of kindnessand generosity, which are two Fruits of the Spirit, are expressed through a great desire to do good for others. It is in the fulfilling as well as in the desiring to give that these fruits grow. This virtue runs throughout the Bible and we first read of it in Genesis 18 when Abraham saw three men in the hot sun and “ran from his tent” begging them for the favor to serve them—for them to bless him in his ability to come to their aid. We see this same yearning to assist when Mary “goes in great haste” to the pregnant Elizabeth to assist the aged woman, and Elizabeth blesses her.

What I have found happening in my little corner of the world is that by being blessed with someone’s help—they being first blessed by the Holy Spirit to act—I bless them secondly for their loving deed. They grow in holiness and I grow as well by letting go of self deprecating thoughts. To be generous with myself, as my abilities are redefined, can be a chore. To be kind and gentle applies not only to our words and deeds with others, but to our interior dialog as well.

There are those who unexpectedly assist me—reaching for products over my head, carrying heavy boxes of kitty-litter, lifting cumbersome bags of groceries into the back of the car. Of course I thank them, but I go one step further and ask their name. There are few things sweeter to the soul than to hear one’s name spoken in a blessing or prayer. For a moment in time those words, wrapped safely around someone’s name, infuse peace and the purest joy.

To be acknowledged is to feel purposeful in your work. To be blessed for your blessing of help is to acquire a piece of heaven on earth…and gain nourishment for the journey ahead.