Monday, March 24, 2008

signs of spring

This afternoon I got home and discovered we are raising free range ants in our kitchen. Life is filled with colorful variety, I'd say.

Speaking of color, this particular winter jasmine plant grows out of a stone wall in my back yard constructed of Hudson Palisades basalt. It blooms exuberantly long before the rest of the local trees and shrubs get going.

There's something about the intersection between the stone and the flower blossoms that strikes me today... a parable that lies somewhere in between fine-grained crystalline material over sixty five million years old, and a contemporary plant that blooms in the first cold days of spring. But I can't quite discern it... it is a juxtaposition whose truth seems to lie at the tip of my tongue... at the back of the neck... on the delicate edge of my inner experience, like a whiff of perfume... but it won't come out any further, lest too much definition damage its integrity.

These yellow flowers seem ephemeral, impermanent: yet they have a subtle, undeniable, and invisible staying power conferred by billions of years of organic evolution--and as to being ephemeral, well, even the stone itself has that quality. Just yesterday we were down at the base of the palisades on the Hudson and one could see the stone walls of that ancient magma flow tumbling down in a stately, slow collapse into the riverbed. It may take millions of years, but they too will eventually cease to exist in their present form.

Pondering this impermanence humbles me; and once again, that question of humility continues to be the heart of my own questions as I go forward into this spring season.

Early this morning, before I sat, I was reading Paul's letter to the Phillippians, which seems to offer a most excellent advice:

"Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death-
even death upon a cross.

(Phillippians 2:5-8, New Oxford Annotated Bible.)

I think the point about obedience is telling: how much obedience must we agree to within the process of submission? Apparently it calls for everything.

And then there's this:

"...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you to both will and to work for His good pleasure.
Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world." (Philippians 2:13-14)

May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.
And may we all shine like stars.

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