This was not a good week. I was ready to throw in the towel by Wednesday morning, but I got up, dressed, pushed through the rest of the week, and kept Philippians 4:13 on repeat.
I’m taking a mental health day tomorrow.
In the last couple of days, I was told twice–in so many words–that I was being negative. Me? The person who always finds the rainbow and gives [almost] everyone the benefit of the doubt? The individuals who commented were right. The heaviness of unexpressed grief, of holding it together, and of having to navigate all of life despite my feelings was seeping out in unpleasant ways.
Each time, I went back to my office and asked God for forgiveness and a little more of His grace. He didn’t give the scolding I deserved. Instead, He gave empathy, reminded me of my humanness, and affirmed my decision to take some time away from the usual maddening routine.
Normally, when I’m in an icky place internally, my camera and a slow walk with the trees work together to adjust my mood. Not so this week. I walked almost daily, spent time with the trees, looked for unique perspectives to photograph and…nothing. My mood was unchanged. I realized, sadly, considering the trees isn’t always an effective panacea.
Today is #ThursdayTreeLove and I was so sure I’d write a post about the lovely trees I’d considered all week. I’m not fond of the idea of sharing this week’s photos, so I decided to share some from a happier moment–photos from a walk through City Park in New Orleans with my mom, one of my older brothers, and my baby sister.
We captured loads of photos on that walk, but today, we’ll take a look at one of the gorgeous Oak Trees in the park:
My photos aren’t great, but I’m sharing them anyway because I love the structure of the tree, the network of branches, and the way the tree seems to reach across the park toward the other trees.
You can somewhat see the massive size of the tree if you note my “tiny” brother in the lower right corner of the photo.
Trees and buildings in the background are puny by comparison.
The 1300-acre City Park of New Orleans is home to 30,000 trees, and proudly boasts “the oldest grove of mature live oaks in the world, including the magnificent Anseman Oak and McDonogh Oak, which are between 750 and 900 years old” [See Trees in City Park].
My guys and I spent so much time in the Park when we lived in New Orleans that we captured hundreds of tree photos. We were (and still are) especially fond of the Oak Trees. The trees are simply breathtaking. One day, I’ll go through my collection and select a few to share on the blog. For now, enjoy a little extra #ThursdayTreeLove with a few more City Park Oak photos on my hubby’s blog. I think you’ll enjoy “The Root of It All.”
I read somewhere that trees are self-healing. I don’t remember all the details of the process, and I certainly don’t expect to do the healing work alone, but there’s wisdom in turning inward, taking care, and doing my part. I coped a bit better last week because I was intentional about spending some time daily, allowing myself to feel and write and think. I did none of that this week and it showed.
Moving forward, I’ll put into practice the lesson of the trees.
The sight of this beautiful fallen tree in Brechtel Park in New Orleans used to sadden me. I saw it as another victim of Hurricane Katrina. Then, one day, I discovered that fallen trees offer many benefits to the forest and to creatures–seen and unseen. It’s heartening to know that there is still some usefulness in the fallen.
About the image: I shot the photo above at Brechtel Park in Algiers (Westbank New Orleans). According to the information available on the image, it was shot in 2011. For some reason, I thought it was earlier.
There is a long narrow table that spans the large window in my home office, made by my hubby, of course. This is where I sit in the early morning, as the sun rises, to spend time with God. As I study and meditate, I witness nature awakening, and I enjoy the brief encounters with birds, butterflies, and bumblebees that apparently love the zinnias growing just outside the window.
We see many different types of birds in our neighborhood, but I rarely see hummingbirds. I’ve seen them only twice in the six years we’ve lived here, and both times were at my window.
My second visit with a hummingbird was this morning, as I was meditating over Psalm 27. I had just read about the psalmist’s desire “to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple” (Psalm 27:4) and was praying the same for myself when the bird dropped by. How apropos! This was no coincidence. It was a subtle affirmation of the beauty of the holiness of the Most High and affirmation of His presence. A gift for today.
Note about today’s image: The photo was captured by Larry Keller who has an amazing Flickr feed filled with birds, deer, and other aspects of nature. Since there were still two more posts to complete “Sunflower Week,” I wanted an image for today that spoke to sunflowers and my early morning visitor. Larry graciously allowed use of his photo for today’s post. There are so many beautiful messages in nature, and I’m grateful for the many photographers who expertly capture what we miss or can’t experience for ourselves. Thank you, Larry, for your art and for your heart. Your photo is another gift for today!
About a week ago, my guys and I encountered sunflower fields during an early evening drive. I’m sure you can imagine my reaction. I was giddy. Seriously. I almost jumped out the car while it was moving.
The fields are part of a farm that was closed for the day. We parked. I swooned for a few minutes, zoomed in as much as I could, took a dozen shots, and made a note to start carrying the 300 mm lens.
Fortunately, the farm is only a few minutes away from home, so I plan to visit later this week for a closer look.
“Who’d a thunk it?” Sunflower fields in Northern Alabama. A beautiful surprise.
Get your shades ready. We’re going to have another brilliant week of sunflowers. 🙂
Today’s Kindness Prompt: Take care of Mother Earth.
The first job given to mankind–after populating the earth–was to take care of it. As we’ve advanced, we’ve found more ways to damage the earth than to maintain it. Let’s do our part to change that.
One of the things I absolutely loved about my son’s Montessori School is that the school focused on the development of the whole person as a citizen of the world. The children were taught how to care about all people and how to care for the earth. Ziploc bags, disposable utensils and containers were not allowed. Lunches, including yogurt, milk and juice, had to be placed in reusable containers. There was a no waste policy. The director and teachers taught the children to conserve water when washing their hands and brushing their teeth and many other tips for saving the environment. The children learned that the little things we do as individuals add up to a world of difference.
Through my son’s early education, I became more intentional about my role in taking care of the earth. The idea of single-handedly conquering the varied “earth” issues is absurd, but there are many little things we can do to preserve our planet for future generations.
Starting today, let’s be kind to the earth. If you don’t know where to begin, here are a few simple suggestions:
- Use reusable containers, including water bottles and coffee cups
- Unplug small appliances and phone chargers when they are not in use
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or lathering up
- Use reusable grocery bags for shopping
- Keep a trash bag in your car, so when you see litter you can pick it up. This also minimizes the temptation to toss the “beer can” out the window
- Recycle and upcycle
- Plant a tree, a shrub, flowers
If you already do these things, kudos! Now, it’s time to step up your game. There’s always more that can be done.
Note about today’s image: The gorgeous painting above was created by Lori-Anne C, one of my Love Notes pals. She created this for the latest Global heART Exchange. The theme was “Nature Quotes.” The back of the painting is just as beautiful as the front.
Just joining Kindness Week? Be sure to check out the previous posts:
Today’s quote–All good things are wild and free–comes from “Walking,” an extensive essay written for The Atlantic by Henry David Thoreau, the American essayist, philosopher, and naturalist best known for Walden and “Civil Disobedience.” The essay, published after his death, was a combination of two lectures, “Walking” (1851) and “The Wild” (1852), which Thoreau combined, separated, and combined again for publication (1862).
The opening of the essay provides a clear snapshot of the content:
I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil— to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.
When I shot the photo above (last year, late spring), my “real” camera was out of commission, but I was determined to still take advantage of photo opportunities. As a friend and I were leaving a bookstore late one morning, a mini-daisy field caught my eye. How odd it seemed in the middle of all the commerce! Neither the magazine purchased nor the hot beverage consumed could evoke the good feelings that a moment with the daisies yielded.
The one sentence from Thoreau’s essay captured my feelings–“all good things are wild and free.”
The full quote sums up preceding paragraphs in which he valorizes the “untamed” or natural over the “civilized” and cultivated.
In short, all good things are wild and free. There is something in a strain of music, whether produced by an instrument or by the human voice—take the sound of a bugle in a summer night, for instance-which by its wildness, to speak without satire, reminds me of the cries emitted by wild beasts in their native forests. It is so much of their wildness as I can understand.
Take a moment to read the entire essay. If you want to know more about Thoreau, see the Walden Woods Project. There’s a series of links near the end of the Thoreau background information page that you will find useful.
“The Spirit of Sauntering,” a Brain Pickings article published a few years ago, offers an analysis of Thoreau’s “Walking.” You might want to check that out too–or instead, if Thoreau’s writing style does not appeal to you.
Today’s challenge nominees (see previous post for rules):
It’s almost the weekend! Be sure to tune in tomorrow for my final quote of the challenge.