Monthly Archives: June 2015

saturday morning in the garden

Garden 4

The girls were out late last night at the movies with us. We were all so tired from the week that we fell asleep reading in their beds – M in F’s bed, and me in E’s. Sometime around 2:30am we came to, and everyone was sorted out into their own beds. So when the alarm went off at six, I tiptoed around and left the others sleeping.

It was a nice morning to spend alone in the garden. It was still misting lightly on the drive over, although the rain had stopped by the time I arrived. It was overcast and cool, and I ordered a coffee at the counter before I headed outside. The same woman works on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and she has my cup out before I walk in the door. She waits to ring it up to see if I’ll be adding an apple to the order; today she noticed my apple eater wasn’t there, and she smiled and told me to enjoy my own company on my walk today. I feel like I’ve already been so present inside my head this week, but her reminder to me to enjoy that was just what I needed to hear. I consciously turned off the chatter and let the silence in.

Garden 7 Garden 3 Garden 8 Garden 16 Garden 17 Garden 18 Garden 9 Garden 15 Garden 13 Garden 14 Garden 21

I wandered every single path in the place for an hour, encountering less than a dozen people along the way. (Most were photographing the water lilies – I had to take this photo below!)

Garden 12

There was a whistler in the English Woodland Garden – I could hear his song as I wandered around the maze like paths in there. I climbed up the observatory, something that the girls always do, and I rarely do. There was no one in the maze below.

Garden 10

Purples, whites, greens, everywhere, in flowers and vegetables and fruits. I said hello to Henry for the girls, and to Carver. I startled birds and bunnies wherever I walked, even though I tried not to.

Garden 19 Garden 2 Garden 6 Garden 1 Garden 5 Garden 11 Garden 22 Garden 23
I carry my camera with me, and I always think my photos will be redundant, but they never are. In three days time you can see the evolution of a bud to flower; in a week’s time nothing is the same as it was before.

Don’t we know this to be true this week? I look for markers of newness and find orange lanterns among the green.

Garden 20

i have no title for this

Yesterday morning I got up early, sat down at the computer, and thought about what to post for the day – an amazing recipe for popcorn tacos I had tried over the weekend, our latest garden photos, a recap of our event packed weekend, what the girls have been reading this summer, a nice juicy update on the dining room / stair hall progress. It was not to be. I took one look at the headlines yesterday morning about the shootings at Emanuel AME in Charleston and then I shut the computer off and walked away.

The whole day was surreal. I talked to M about it briefly in the morning, before waking the girls and getting them off to camp. I texted briefly with my father mid-morning, because I can speak freely with him about whatever I need to say. The two people in my office that I would generally open up to about what I’m thinking are not currently at work, and so I sat at my desk, listening to NPR, checking in for updates occasionally.

I let this sit in me for a day and a night, and this morning my words are not measured or eloquent. But I will not let that stop me from saying something. I worried that sharing the ways in which this affected me would sound hollow and contrived. Let me carefully break down the word “affect” here – there is no attachment of victimhood to me, there is no defensiveness, I am not being attacked, my religion is not being attacked, this is not about me. I use the word “affect” to describe the way this sits in my head and my heart and the pit of my stomach – the way it should rest in every single one of us.

When I saw the images of Mother Emanuel church I saw my own church, Grace United Methodist Church, another grand, historic church that straddles one of the starkest demarcation lines of race in our city, a north-south dividing line that anyone living here can call by name. On Sundays we worship a congregation that is very diverse, drawing from all over the region, equally black and white, as well as drawing a number of international students and professors from the neighboring university. Our pastor is African-American, as well as some of our church staff. As the victims’ identities were released yesterday my heart broke into a million pieces. I sit with these men and women each week, just as I sit next to lone college students that wander in with a backpack. The motto of the Methodist Church is “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.” I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit that my anxiety level is raised as I anticipate what this Sunday holds, and how we must now dig deeper to overcome our fears and misgivings and still be open, and welcoming, and free.

But I cannot tolerate the call to arms in defense of religious freedom. Christianity was not attacked on Wednesday. Black men and women were targeted for being black. We can allow ourselves to ache for the disruption of life in the peaceful setting of a church sanctuary, just as we attach the same feelings of safety and sanctuary to a kindergarten class that explodes into gunfire or the finish line of a marathon that is pierced with flying shrapnel. But we cannot use this idea of sanctuary to detach this incident from any others, to detach it from our neighborhoods, our sidewalks, our parks, our swimming pools. We cannot use the word “Loner”, as was used in the headline on the copy of The Washington Post I saw this morning, to isolate this event from an unending series of events. This is not a stand alone event. We cannot feign shock at the idea that friends and family of this man knew of his beliefs and intentions for months and said nothing without seriously examining the infinite number of times we’ve let racist comments from family members or co-workers or friends slide, unchecked. We cannot call an event like this “unbelieveable” when we’ve allowed our obsession with arming ourselves cloud any sense of rational thought about the idea of what the word “sanctuary” really means. We cannot ignore the history of this country, and the unspeakable violence that is continually perpetrated by the powerful on the powerless.

I come to this writing place as a form of sanctuary. I describe our walks in the garden, the food on our counter, the roof over our head as places of sanctuary. Although I draw from the spiritual roots of my family and call myself a Christian, I practice a quieter kind of faith, and I seek out sanctuary in many places, inside and outside the walls of my church. I believe in the practice of being open, and I think of it as a lifelong practice. Although we’ve consciously rooted ourselves in places where we are in the minority, I acknowledge my privilege in being able to craft my world as a sanctuary, and my ability to move freely within it. I lose absolutely nothing in this acknowledgement, but my responsibility does not end there. The shootings in Charleston have been called  “unspeakable”, but they are anything but. Please speak up on the issue of racism (and terrorism), loudly and clearly, and call it what it is.

are you going? lindsey stirling at the fox


I know a lot of you are strings players, and so I wanted to mention that Lindsey Stirling is playing at the Fox. I just got tickets for M and E to attend next Wednesday night – there are still some balcony seats available. She is going to flip out when she sees her live.

As the girls have gotten older, we find ourselves giving them tickets to events more than things for special occasions. We also make an effort to take them individually to some of these special nights out. I can still list every single show I’ve ever seen with E, and I know M can do the same. Last year all four of us saw The Wizard of Oz on nearly the front row of the theatre. It was the best splurge of the year. I will never, ever forget for as long as I live, watching F at the end of the play, eyes brimming with tears, watching Dorothy say goodbye to her new friends. She whispered “I think I might cry,” and so the rest of us did. E’s getting some pretty spectacular tickets for her twelfth birthday later this summer, of the more pop variety. Top secret for now. (!!!!!!!!)

I think Roald Dahl’s Matilda is perfect for F – thinking about giving her tickets as a birthday present. And I know the four of us would love to see The Sound of Music in the spring – sounds like a good holiday gift for everyone. If you have any other recommendations around town – really, at any time of the year – please pop in to share.