The culture is in its annual Ramping Up Season frenzy: Fantasy Football, Blessing of the Backpacks, Back to School Sales, Homecoming Sunday, recipes for Fall (now that the season or berries, cherries and peaches is over). None of those seasons shape my life currently. Nor does the weather in Southern California; the textbook seasons seem to elude us here. It could just as well be winter in August on certain days as summer. It’s clear that seasons for me cannot be determined by the calendars or marketplaces. I am helped on my journey of Spirit to pay attention to the liturgical season, from Advent through the Reign of Christ, focusing on different aspects of my relationship with the Holy One. But this month I see that there are other factors that demarcate my seasons more profoundly than those that are generic or ideal. In spite of obstacles, I have been trying to practice what Christine Valters Paintner offers in her Eyes of the Heart; I have been paying attention to the image I have been receiving in these past week. I ask myself what I have seen consistently, as I have been trying to cooperate with the healing that is taking place in my body. I have been surrounded by morning glories! It is morning glory season for me right now.
The morning glories lace the fence of the elementary school that takes up at least a third of the block across the street. It is almost as if they have been anticipating the return of all those K-through-6 children after their summer vacation. At the other end of the block, those gorgeous flowers of my birth month adorn the retaining wall between the newish and older apartment buildings, as if to create a beautiful boundary for the neighbors, living in close proximity. Other neighbors have them running through trees and up utility poles. My husband found a red one to adorn the post of our patio, and it is blossoming to beat the band. My favorite plant in the neighborhood to which I am mostly confined is the one I pass on the way to my physical therapy, somehow shaped like a morning-glory ice cream cone!
The presence of morning glories reminds me of three things, first, that God’s mercies are new every morning! I always find it stunning that some of the most open-hearted, open-eyed praise of the Holy One are found smack in the middle of a book of the Bible called Lamentations!
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, God’s mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lam. 3: 22-23)
The morning glories are a witness to me that every day I can count on the faithful, new and beautiful Presence of the Holy One in my life, work and loving.
They also speak to me in the later hours of the day when the flowers feel free to curl up a little and rest up for tomorrow morning’s task. I don’t need to be vigilant and shining 24/7 in my life of Spirit; there a time for rest and refurbishing. In these days of my own participation in my healing, that pattern gives me comfort and peace. When I have bloomed as brightly as I can for the day, I am given permission to come apart and rest awhile, until tomorrow’s wake-up call.
I also am reminded that morning glories are a community affair; one blossom is beautiful, but it blooms in connected vines. It is the congregation of blossoms that magnifies the glory of God. Together they transform a fence, a wall, a utility pole, and together they bear witness that that the One who continually blooms the lilies of the field is continually creating, healing and growing wholeness and beauty in the gathering of faithful ones, whether they are suffering or thriving, struggling or succeeding, weeping or laughing. In whatever shape I am, I am part of the vine of beauty that God has clothed for my neighborhood, my congregation, my family and my world.
I love the haiku by the 17th C. Japanese poet, Basho:
I am one who eats breakfast gazing at morning glories.
May it be so for me…and for you!