Finding the Special Among the Ordinary

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I live in the Sunshine State.  My baby granddaughter and her parents do not.  I want to spend as much time as possible with them which means I am spending a lot of time in what we not so affectionately call the land of perma-cloud.  I raised my son, the baby’s father, 50 miles east of here where the winter sun is just as absent.  When he was young and I was younger, I declared that since we lived in a place with winter, we should make the best of it and find winter things to do that are fun and interesting.  My son learned to love hockey.  He learned to ski.  I learned to appreciate watching him do these things as I discovered that he did not inherit his athletic ability from his mother.

It is 37 degrees today which in this part of the world qualifies as a heat wave.  So in the spirit of that young mother that I once was, I decided to ignore the gray sky and my desire to be on the beach.  Instead I went for a walk and looked for something interesting to photograph.   I walked a few blocks to a nearby park.  In the middle of that park full of ordinary trees with straight trunks and branches, I found these two trees.

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Their trunks are not straight.  Their branches reach for the sky in a way that is different from the other trees in this park.  The branches of the tree in the foreground are curly and spread wide.  I imagine that more than one child has tried to climb this tree and I wonder, what is their story?  Why are these two trees so different from the others?  Were they here before the park was establish and left to grow as they were?  Or were they planted here and changed by winds and rain before they had a chance to become established?

I spent most of the day alone so today I was looking at what makes a particular tree interesting and special.  But I often wonder the same things about the people I encounter.  Some of the most interesting people I know are very different from me and as I get to know their stories, my life is enriched by these differences.  And so I wonder, what’s your story?

 

Transitions

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We are slowly transitioning from winter to spring.  It snowed today but the buds on the trees promise that warmth is not far away. This year, spring has ignored the calendar and is taking its time to arrive.

The new baby in our family is going through her own transition.  According to the calendar, she isn’t supposed to be here yet but she has her own timetable and has left the NICU to go home with her parents. She no longer needs monitors or feeding tubes or other medical devices.  She is awake a little longer and has learned how to cry.  She and her parents are beginning to find their rhythm as a new family.

 

Cherry Blossom Time

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It’s Cherry Blossom time in Washington, DC. Peak Bloom was March 25 this year but if you walk around the District or the Tidal Basin anytime in the next week or two, you will find trees in various stages of bloom.  These pictures were taken during the Cherry Blossom Festival in 2015 – which was in the middle of April that year.

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Cherry Trees aren’t the only ones in bloom.  These trees are in NW DC. Many of the streets in the District are similarly in bloom this week.

 

Spring Begins

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The first day of spring was Sunday.  At the pond behind the hospital that is the temporary home for our newest family member, the trees are beginning to bud.  It is still not warm but the buds are signs of progress from winter into spring and hold the promise of beautiful days to come.

The tiny baby who joined our family almost 3 weeks ago is getting stronger.  She has monitors attached to her chest and foot which are there to alert the nurses to any difficulties she might encounter.  In spite of the electronic monitoring, we watch her very closely.  And in watching her, we are rewarded with new developments each day.  First, she showed us that she was getting stronger and no longer needed assistance with breathing.  Her intake of her mothers’ milk grew large enough that she no longer needed calories to be delivered through IV in order to grow.  And her ability to coordinate her sucking and swallowing reflexes is improving each day so that more of that milk can be fed to her by bottle and less by feeding tube. These are medical milestones that move us closer to the day when the view of this pond is not a daily sight.  But embedded in each of these medical milestones is something more.  As each medical device is removed, the time her parents are able to hold their baby is increased.  As our tiny girl grows stronger, she is awake a bit longer and increasingly aware and alert during those waking moments.  Many more of those waking moments are spent in her mother’s arms.  As I sit nearby and watch this tiny girl look up at her mommy, I see beauty and the promise of even more beautiful days to come.

 

 

Beginnings

Pond on 3-8-15

A new baby was born in my family.  She is a week old today.  Or another way to count her age is 33 weeks.  This is so because she came early and will spend some time developing and growing stronger in a wonderful hospital.  Behind this hospital is a pond with a picnic area, a quiet spot for reflection or spending time in nature.  The other day, I took advantage of this spot and as my mind cleared, I had a thought.  Spring has not yet come to this pond but it is close.  As the beautiful new baby grows and develops and blossoms, so too will this spot transition from the last of winter into spring.  It is not my place to post pictures of our little one – that is for her parents to do or not, as they choose.  But it occurred to me that one way to pictorially document her growth and changes it to also document the pond’s transition from the end of winter to spring.  This is the first of these posts.

 

Gathering

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There was a gathering on our beach yesterday.  The gathering was informal, no invitations were issued.  The beach is about 45 miles north of Kennedy Space Center where a GPS satellite launched  yesterday.  It was a morning launch so it is hard to see very much beyond a small flame and a vapor trail from our location.  The crowd on the beach was small, not like we’ve heard they used to be for shuttle launches.  But those of us who were present on that sunny and chilly morning still felt a sense of excitement and solidarity as we watched the glow become a vapor trail.  It was only visible for about 5 minutes but it was such a beautiful morning, many of us lingered, remembering the glory days of the space program and enjoying the sunshine on a winter’s day.

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One Body with Many Members

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One of the readings in Church this morning came from 1 Corinthians 12:1-31.  It included these verses:  (13) “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” (16) “If the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body.”  (20) “As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” (27) “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

The big news of the weekend has been the Blizzard 2016, Snowzilla, Winter Storm Jonas.  The internet is full of posts about the storm.  Open a major news site and you’ll see photos from space showing thunder snow, a cute video of a panda making snow angels, time lapse video of Times Square filling with snow, and frozen jeans in Minnesota. Most people in the storm’s path are inconvenienced and cold but are trying to make the best of the situation. If you open Facebook, chances are, you’ll see pictures of people shoveling or pictures like this one and stories about people bonding over their shared experience… One Body.

Other people, other members of that One Body, are probably having a different experience this weekend.  I took these pictures last year, while I lived in Washington, DC.  The people in the pictures live in these parks.

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Union Station DC - homeless or needy

Others like them live in tents and camps in Rockville Park, doorways in Chinatown and on streets in all of the cities in the path of this storm.  While there are shelters in most of cities, for reasons most of us don’t know or understand, many people choose not to or are unable to take advantage of the shelters.  The adequacy of the shelters is a question for another day.   According to the Washington Post, there are an estimated 12,000 people who are homeless in the Washington area.  12,000 members of our One Body for whom this weekend has been more about survival than inconvenience and snow days as temperatures dropped, the wind howled and 2 feet of snow fell on these parks.

Other members of our One Body are workers who staff shelters, soup kitchens and emergency warming stations, public safety workers and snow plow drivers.  Each of these members are essential.  We would be incomplete without them.  And we would be incomplete without those they care for.  (12) “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, those many are one body, so it is with Christ.”

 

Gratitude

I am lucky to be in a place with a sky like this.  I know that most of my family and many of my friends shoveled snow today.  In prior years, I would have been doing the same.  But instead, I was able to put on sweats and a light jacket and walk on this beach.

 

I am very grateful for the beauty and warmth God has created.  I’m also grateful for the gift my parents left my brothers and me that enabled me to be in this place.  And I am grateful for the opportunity to share this beauty.