Friday, April 17, 2015

A glory of magnolias!

April is that month in Ohio where everything starts to sprout, and when it happens, it seems to happen de la noche a la mañana, or overnight. You go to bed and there's nothing above ground and you wake up and there's all these little signs of life edging themselves up toward the sun. When you live in these parts, where nature dies over the winter, it's revealing to see that the first color of life isn't green--it's red. The first buds, when they appear about mid-April, are reddish in color and later they turn green. It gives everything this crimson aura that signals the pulsing of life within, itching to come out.

The magnolia tree in front of our house in the small city is always a glory. It hits its peak right about now and when the sun salutes it in the afternoons it looks like a radiant, blushing bride, opening herself to a new life. It is simply a perfect tree. Last year, we had a frost in late April that killed the blooms (thankfully, not the tree) and I wept for days when I saw the pretty-pink petals drooping and burned brown by the frost. Thankfully, there doesn't appear to be any cold spell coming over the next few weeks so maybe we will be spared that suffering this April. We can only hope.

The gloriousness of the magnolia tree is rather ephemeral. Probably by next week, when its green leaves come out, it'll lose its blooms and drop them, like a bird molting its feathers.

But, by then, we'll have the tulips in full bloom and my beloved bleeding hearts, which have just started to show their tiny heart-shaped flowers, will bring it on. Without a doubt, spring is really a marvelous time of the year here.

It reminds me that, despite any frustrations or setbacks or doubts, life reinvents itself every year about this time. Life, despite death, is unstoppable. That's a good thing to always remember.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Practicing resurrection

"Holy Week" was always a big deal when I was growing up in Puerto Rico. I remember that it was a long week off when we'd often stay with my great-aunt at her Santurce ground-floor apartment, and binge on movies about The Passion that wouldn't show Christ's face because it was disrespectful. A lot has changed since then.

I'm no longer in the island of my childhood, and my beloved great-aunt has disappeared into the living, breathing void that is Alzheimer's. But Easter is still an important date for me. Though I'm not particularly religious, I make the point to attend Easter service. I now prefer the Episcopalian church near our house in the small city, especially because I love the ability to follow the service carefully through the handouts and The Book of Common Prayer. Last year, I went to Mass with my brother and nephew when they visited, and remember that feeling of being "lost" in the Catholic liturgy, unless you have it memorized. Nowadays, there's very little I can/have memorized so I appreciate the Episcopalian helpfulness.

Today, I got up early (funny how I can't manage that as blithely when it's time to walk the dog or go to the gym) and made the 8 a.m. service, which was lovely. The woman rector (another thing I like about the Episcopalian Church) gave a sermon about resurrection, one that echoed my sentiments this morning about why this day is so symbolically important to me (I'm very familiar with the practice of resurrection).

My husband and I had also invited some good, close friends for a potluck and we had a feast. I made shrimp and grits for the first time, with the grits that my brother and nephew had given me as a present last time I saw them (they know of my late passion for S&G, acquired two years ago when I visited Savannah). The dish came out rather good, if I may say so myself, and the rest of the dishes that our friends brought were delicious. The conversation and the company were great and we enjoyed some time outside, basking in the sunny day.

Yesterday, my husband and I went to Turtle Pond, one of our favorite city parks, with Lizzy and enjoyed a nice, long stroll, albeit in much cooler temperatures.

It's been a perfect weekend, though, some of it devoted to R&R, to spending time with my husband and furry children, to cooking up a storm (which I love doing), and to friends. Investing the same effort I put into my work into my personal life is a very important part of the practice of resurrection.