I love kaleidoscopes, from the cardboard cylinders with bits of plastic in the end that were birthday party favors and Christmas stocking leavings when I was small, to the multi-hundred dollar polished wood ones on stands with pieces of colored crystal that mix when the end is turned and fall into place when the twisting stops. My favorites, though, are those with clear prisms in the end that make patterns of whatever it is turned toward.
This is a week of meandering, twisting experiences. Nothing seems to fit together. So much so that yesterday I don't think this post will have a theme. But that is what kaleidoscopes are: every movement changes the picture. Perhaps that is what Lent is about, waiting and watching for whatever comes. Life doesn’t always come together in a nicely wrapped tidy package; the days don't always fall into a theme.
Change is in the air and I feel unsettled, uncertain, unprepared. Fearful. Panicked. I read this on Saturday from Walking in This World,
by Julia Cameron, and it helps: "If you are panicked, tell yourself, ‘Ah! Good sign: I am getting unstuck.'" You have to do some twisting before the glass settles into place; the panic transforming to excitement at the venture.
Here in the south this week, it is full blown spring (and much too warm for me). I observe the twists of the kaleidoscope. Each night it turns, and the next morning the scene is different.
The dogwood blossoms move from barely opening and invisible from the deck at the beginning of the week, to nearly fully busted out with the beginnings of leaves on the branches at the end. The lawn is full of buttercups (well, yellow flowers) and violets and the tiny blue flower of the otherwise despicable carpet weed. Or maybe the carpet weed is the white flower and the blue another creeper. At any rate, the blue and the white are co-conspirators in the plot to take over the garden. (They have already won in the yard. I don't care.) I pull them by the handful, without gloves as usual and with the resulting splinters and dirt under my nails. I love the wild phlox, which pops up everywhere bringing bright spots to areas not yet in bloom.
The Japanese painted fern, the purple heart, and the Jacob's Ladder increase in girth daily. The bleeding heart has teeny half-inch hearts on the new plant; I don't remember seeing them on the immature plant in years past. These plants are clearly loving the warmth more than I am. The Japanese weeping maple and the more ordinary Japanese maples have transformed from bud to wispy emerging leaves to nearly fully open. The feathery loropetalum gets more and more thick with pink.
The banana leaves are climbing all in and over each other to unfurl. I am fascinated by these triplets born together, and struggling now to individuate.
The Rose of Sharon, the one here that I transplanted as a tiny seedling from the other side of the yard, contains the old side-by-side with the new. I ponder that, how even as we change and grow, we keep some parts of who we have been with us always, the new coming out of the old like this year's banana plant; and some pieces of ourselves, like the Rose of Sharon, we shed only as the new crowds it out. Other plants become completely empty, waiting barren through the winter for the new growth to emerge. We are all of these.
There will be many tall red papery poppies this year. Invasive, but so much fun and full of good cheer. This week, though, their beauty is in the holding of raindrops that sparkle like the glass at the end of the kaleidoscope.
I am in the cemetery on Saturday for both the sunrise after the early fog, and the sunset. I am honored to share this special place with my northern-transplant friend who has not been before. There are several rainy nights this week (and a fabulous thunderstorm and pouring rain last night), and I cherish the early morning damp air and the raindrops clinging to the plants.
I sit on the deck with wine and camera and wait for birds at the feeder. I do love cardinals. I Google them for facts and learn that they do not live in the Pacific Northwest (sad), and that they mate for life. Another website puts that last bit in perspective: "Cardinals mate for life; which sound like they spend decades of bliss together until they retire to some Cardinal condo in the [mountains]. Truth is a cardinal’s life expectancy isn't much longer than a year." However, you have to love this: Most female birds are silent, while the males expose themselves and announce their territory to the world. A truly unique thing about cardinals is that both sexes sing and both sound pretty much the same, and claim their joint territory.
Friday I take Smudge, my five-year-diabetic cat, and her three-pounds-lighter svelte body to the vet for a glucose curve, and she is declared in remission. No more insulin for now. I feel like such a good mom. I enjoy her pleasure in the sun and the new bug life in the garden.
There is a new employee at work, and I spend some time with her this week going over the financial details of her job (payroll specifically). She asks a question about sabbatical time that ministerial staff can take after three years. Administrative staff gets no such thing, and it gets me thinking about what I would do with an all expenses paid period of time to look at the world through different eyes. What would I point my kaleidoscope toward; what would I like my twist to settle into? What if I had a whole year?
Julia Cameron: "We cast our dreams and desires ahead of us, and as we move toward them, their content takes on solidity... A symphony moves both through and ahead of a composer. As he [she] moves toward it, it moves toward him [her]... As we commit to our dreams, something benevolent commits back." I am daring to dream.
The thing about kaleidoscopes is they don't work in the dark. If you hold yours up to the light and twist the end, where does the glass settle for you? Or maybe you have the kind without the colored glass; perhaps you need to look at what's already there and see how the pattern can change if you point in a new direction and look with different eyes. I am turning mine this Lent; pointing, dreaming, looking, watching, waiting.