so much is in bud

so-much-is-in-bud

Beginnings

“From too much love of living,
Hope and desire set free,
Even the weariest river
Winds somewhere to the sea -“

But we have only begun
To love the earth.

We have only begun
To imagine the fullness of life.

How could we tire of hope?
– so much is in bud.

How can desire fail?
– we have only begun

to imagine justice and mercy,
only begun to envision

how it might be
to live as siblings with beast and flower,
not as oppressors.

Surely our river cannot
already be hastening
into the sea of nonbeing?

Surely it cannot
drag, in the silt,
all that is innocent?

Not yet, not yet-
there is too much broken
that must be mended,

too much hurt that we have done to each other
that cannot yet be forgiven.

We have only begun to know
the power that is in us if we would join
our solitudes in the communion of struggle.

So much is unfolding that must
complete its gesture,

so much is in bud.

~Denise Levertov, (1923 – 1997)

Love’s in need of love today

Love's in need of love today

Good morn or evening friends
Here’s your friendly announcer
I have serious news to pass on to everybody
What I’m about to say
Could be the world’s disaster
Could change your joy and laughter
To tears and pain

It’s that
Love’s in need of love today
Don’t delay
Send yours in right away
Hate’s going round
Breaking many hearts
Stop it please
Before it’s gone too far. . .

~Stevie Wonder

only love

only love

Returning violence for violence
multiplies violence,
adding a deeper darkness
to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only love can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate:
only love can do that.

~Martin Luther King, (1929 – 1968)

love gathered softly to place in her hands

love gathered softly to place in her hands

It’s spring again, miraculous spring. Every street in town is lined with flowering dogwood, crab, pear – everywhere, boughs are in riotous bloom. In my gardens, something new unfurls daily. The woods are awash with wildflowers, and all along the driveway, violets gem the grass…

For me each year, the first violets of spring bear on fragile stems the weight of perennial tenderness. I stoop down to hook a finger beneath a bowed purple head. As I study the contour of this familiar face, I’m amazed by the power one simple flower wields over my heart and mind…

From the time I was old enough to toddle off to woods’ edge, I kept my mother in fresh-picked wildflowers. The first bouquets I carried home to her each spring always included several long-stemmed wood violets. One year, when I was seven or eight, Momma sent me off to the woods on a special mission to select only the choicest violets. I returned with dozens of flawless specimens. Together, we washed the flowers, a delicate task. We shook them gently dry and arranged them on clean white dish towels, taking care not to bend or bruise any petals. We snipped blossoms from stems. Then, after using tiny brushes to paint the flowers with a wash of egg whites and water, we sprinkled each one with a shower of sugar crystals.

Later, the house filled with the aroma of angel food cake pulled fresh from the oven. When it cooled, Momma frosted it with a white sugar glaze into which she pressed a pattern of sweet sugared violets. It was simply a vision, that cake, and young though I was, I was limp with the romance of a cake covered in violets…. (Alas, no photos were snapped of that eye-popping confection, but in my heart’s album, it glistens on a page all its own.)

Twenty years of violets bloomed and faded…

Then came a day like no other, a day I could never have imagined when I was a child wandering among the wildflowers – the day I held a newborn flower in my arms, a blossom fresh-plucked from heaven: our first child, our sweet Margaret, a precious baby girl newly home from the hospital, bathed and swaddled and dressed in a long white hand-smocked gown Momma had made for her. Margaret was just a day or two old when I looked from her face into Momma’s eyes and said, “I so look forward to all her firsts – her first smile, her first words, her first steps…”

My gentle mother had more poetic firsts in mind for her granddaughter. She said softly, so softly I barely could hear, “Imagine showing Margaret her first violet, her first star. . .” Momma looked at me, yet somehow right through me as the words fell from her lips. For a heartbeat or two, time stood still for me, just as it does when I chance to read a line of perfect poetry: the words ring and resonate – beautiful, mysterious, fleeting, bells in the wind…

When the snows of winter melted away to reveal Margaret’s first spring, I showed her her first violet with deep emotion. I showed her her first star. Sang her every beautiful song I knew, read her every good book I could find, pointed her toward every lovely thing I could think of, filled her days with as much beauty and poetry and joy and mystery as I could – love gathered softly to place in her hands, like the wildflowers I carried to Momma so many years ago…

As Mother’s Day nears, I have asked myself, what does it mean to mother another soul, to nurture another life? I believe it is to pluck from one’s surroundings the good things, the beautiful, the eternal, the true, and place them in another heart, like a bouquet of violets.