April showers bring...

April showers bring...

...beautiful changes--the kinds of changes I actually like. Change is a tricky thing for me. There's some change I like and then there are other changes that I really don't like. Spring brings changes I like.

In the spirit of spring-like change, I decided that the blog needed new design that was more in harmony with my website. I've had the pleasure of working for a client on a logo and blog design, and during the course of that design process I realized there were things I wanted to do to my own blog to make it more spiffy. So I did. And to be honest, I really don't mind if no one else likes the change. I like it, and that's what matters. Wow... I'm making progress!
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Periwinkle stars

Periwinkle Stars

When I got done post-processing this photo of the periwinkle (vinca major) that's blooming under the roses right now, I realized this color palette reminds me a lot of Monet's water lily paintings. I guess that's why I love periwinkle blossoms.

Years ago, the Monet paintings were touring away from "home" and were on exhibit in San Francisco for a time. My mother, my siblings and I were thrilled to be tickets and be able to see them in person for the first time.

I walked into the first gallery and was floored at the sheer size of each painting. They are massive! To say the lilies are larger than life is an understatement. In other galleries, there were less imposing sized canvases but all were large nonetheless. For the first time, I was looking at the real works of art instead of reproductions in a textbook or on prints.

As we got close to each canvas, we marveled at how the details of the image would get lost amidst seemingly random brushstrokes of color after color. The closer we got, the harder it was to discern any of the composition. The brushstrokes, the layers of paint, and the many colors were too distracting up close.

Then we would step back. The more we stepped back, the more clear the composition became--the more obvious the flowers were. The larger the painting's dimensions, the farther we had to stand back to really see it the way Monet had intended.

My life and my purpose here in this existence must be an awful lot like those Monet paintings. Up close, it's easy for me to get lost and confused by distractions that seem so overwhelming. The problem is that I'm often not at liberty to step back completely to see everything clearly like I could with the Monet paintings in the galleries.

That's when I have to rely on God's perspective. From His vantage point, He can see how it all fits together into a beautiful composition. Even the slashes of bright pink in the midst of a tranquil field of blue make sense from where He views my life. At the times that I am most distracted and most confused by life's overwhelming details, I have to remember to turn to Him who stands back in "the gallery" and sees my life's canvas from the right perspective. And if I listen carefully and trust what He says, that slash of bright pink will make sense someday.
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Finding ellusive tranquility

Cherry blossom on water 2

I've been learning a lot recently about the illusive state of tranquility that I've always yearned to maintain inside me and around me. I used to think that it was necessary to have everything "just so" in order for me to sit back and finally feel tranquil. And that's the reason why I rarely felt that state of tranquility. Because rarely, if ever, is everything "just so".

Cherry blossom on water

If I step back and look at things in a larger context, all the smaller things that formerly didn't fit into the "just so" category often diminish in importance. Looking at the "big picture" always does that for me. And interestingly, my tranquility levels increase.

Cherry blossom on water 3

I've also learned that in the midst of turmoil, I can find tranquility if I look inward instead of outward.

There will always be opposition on the outside. That's just the way life is set up to be. But there doesn't have to always be opposition inside of me. I am in control of whether it is there or not. My internal state (or level of spiritual awareness) doesn't have to be a reflection of what is happening around me. I have a choice whether it is or not.

I've learned that if I'm more passive in the maintenance of my spiritual self, my internal core becomes a tumultuous mirror of the world of opposition around me. But when I'm more active in the maintenance of my spirituality, that is when I find the calmness and peace. It is always interesting to me that tranquility requires activity and that passivity diminishes tranquility.

Now if I can just continue to remember that, I'll find tranquility more often.
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Miracle of the petunias

Miracle petunias

Even in our lovely climate, petunias are considered an annual. When the crisp frosts of winter come, the South American native usually withers and dies... usually.

For the past several years, there has been at least one petunia that survives the winter and begins blooming very early in the spring. The petunia of the summer of 2007 that survived was a pale lavender shade. Then this white petunia of the summer of 2008 has survived not one, but TWO winters. It defies all reason. Particularly this one, as it is in a flower pot out in the middle of the garden unsheltered and open to the elements.

When I first discovered the "miracle of the petunias" in my garden just before Easter 2008, I wrote:
Every year when spring comes, I find at least one miracle that draws my mind back to the promise of new life. This year it was a petunia that wintered over through numerous frosty nights in a little pot at the base of the birdbath. It never let go of life. It hung on and is now in bloom again. It's exuberance and tenacity have reminded me that despite the bitter times in life, if we are rooted in a good place we will weather life's winters. We will come through alright and be able to bloom again... [T]here is no way that the miracles of my own life and the miracles of humankind's existence in general could happen unless there was a loving Creator that made it so by His powerful hand. Just as the petunia is blooming again and as Christ rose again from the tomb on the third day after being crucified, I can bloom again after each challenge in life and ultimately have the promise of "blooming" one last time to enjoy a resurrected body myself and live for eternity with those I love.
I am thankful that once again, I have the miracle of the petunias in my garden to remind me of the blessings that are and will be mine if I persevere--blessings that come because my Savior gave His life for me and everyone else in the world.
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