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June is proving to be a busy month, full of gardening chores, birthdays and other events in the midst of a kitchen remodel.

My main projects this month are 2 quilts in memory of my great-grandnephew baby Savior who died in a house fire almost a year ago. I have taken bits & pieces of his salvaged clothing, added some new materials and joined them with leftover cloth from monks robes to make the quilts for his parents. It is slow going, but I’m honored to have been entrusted to do this. I hope Savior’s parents find some comfort in the quilts.

Things to celebrate …
Summer, warm weather, long days… so many blessings..

Our oldest granddaughter turned 14, and then our oldest grandson turned 19, they grow up so fast!

Distracted by my project I completely forgot the Summer Solstice labyrinth walk held at a nearby church. I try to go every year. I became a benedictine oblate on summer solstice and it is between the ‘grands’ birthdays so one would think I wouldn’t forget.

Today, it is my son-in-law’s birthday and we will be going to celebrate with him in a bit. But, it is also the 3rd anniversary of the Stepping Stones monastery group. Hard to believe we are starting our 4th year of weekly gatherings.

A photo shows some of the bits and pieces I’ve fused onto fabric squares cut the size of the squares cut from clothing. Although the pieces have been fused, I’m tacking down the edges by hand so they don’t fray.

I’ve taken my work outside and sitting where if I look to my right I can see people fishing and kayaking down the river and where if I look to my left, I can see the hummingbirds and orioles taking turns at the feeder. It makes stitching bits and pieces together just a little bit easier.

In a previous post, one about the Key retreat in May, I mentioned dedicating the retreat to Robert Genn, an artist who taught me a lot about words.

I learned of Robert’s passing the day after I learned of Maya Angelou’s passing. Two teachers, different in so many ways but also similar in many ways. They created art that spoke to everyone who experienced it. But more than anything, they shared their knowledge with others, guiding others, helping them to grow. I watched a video of Maya recently and I laughed right along with her. I love her sassiness as she recites something with a bit of attitude. And every day I use Robert’s gift, the gift of key words. Both remind me that sharing our emotions, and our willingness to be vulnerable can be a gift to others. And I’m also reminded to watch my words, what I say to others.

I was thinking of Robert Genn and Maya Angelou yesterday as I walked around my partially demolished kitchen. We are in the middle of renovating it and we had to move the refrigerator. On one side of it I have hundreds of magnetic poetry words needing to be removed and moved to the other side of the fridge. I wrote about these words in 2010 when we were preparing to move.

Just like before I’m having a hard time removing sentences and poems left by others, expressions of love, deep grief, spirit, and also silly sentences. I’ve given grandson Connor the job of moving each tile, but found myself reading and moving some of the sentences intact. Our family experienced a deep loss almost a year ago with the death of baby Saviour and I believe deep loss often calls for deep grieving. Some of the words are not ready to be put away just yet.

While the weather has been perfect for spending time outdoors, my deck was less than perfect for entertaining due to dirt from trees, critters and weather. Yesterday I recruited family and friends to help me scrub the deck by bribing them with food, specifically fajitas served in roasted peppers. Here are a couple of helpers hard at work. No photo of the food because we were too busy savoring it and enjoying the newly scrubbed deck.

Today I enjoyed time out there alone while weaving a mail basket. I made one as a birthday gift for a friend on Friday and liked the shape enough that I decided to make one for myself.

Although it is basically a half basket, it took me 3 hours to complete, maybe because I kept stopping to watch the kayaks and canoes making their way down the river.

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s Heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on Earth.
“God’s Garden” lines 13–16, Poems, by Dorothy Frances Gurney (London: Country Life, 1913)

Yesterday I received the news of a scholarship for Benedictine leadership training. My joy at being chosen was dampened by the thought of all those who had applied and were receiving the news they had not been chosen. And I felt the burden of it all. Would I be able to devote the time needed for this training? Would I be able to do the work? Where would this training take me? I needed to respond. Would I accept this scholarship or decline and let it be offered to someone else? I asked for some words of wisdom from a few people and then did what I do when something weighs heavy on me, I went out into the garden. As the poem above states, I feel closer to God in a garden than anywhere else on earth.

And so I finished filling in the small pots I started the previous day. In them I planted herbs and tomato plants that won’t grow very large. The pots fit into a rack which was originally a dime store display and which cost me all of $3.00 at a yard sale. My thought is that I can bring these plants indoors at the end of the season and continue to enjoy them a bit longer, with some of the herbs flourishing through the winter. The strawberries plants surrounding the rack all came from just one strawberry plant with runners. I set the pot down in that bed until I decided where to plant it. I watered it daily and when I went to move it found the runners had rooted, that was 2 years ago and look at them now.

Then I added pepper plants, eggplant and more to the kitchen garden, worked until the sun, heat and humidity convinced me to take a break. I still have a few things to get in the ground and then finish up the seed sowing.

By the time I was done with my gardening I had sorted out some of what I’d been feeling. A brother monk’s comment to me pretty mirrored my thoughts.
“… important to not let our fear of failure have more power over our faith to move
forward in our life journey…… Enjoy the blessing and gift from God through the
scholarship.” And so I accepted.

This morning I’m headed back outdoors to get a bit more done. My goal is to have it all done by Thursday. But, I think I’ll sit here in my sunroom a little bit longer with my coffee and watch the hummingbird buzzing around the feeder before I do.


A few more photos.

View from the skylight in my studio before I curtained it yesterday for the summer. While the sunlight is welcomed during the cold months, it is just too much during the warm months.

This clematis brought from my previous home 4 years ago has really struggled, nothing more than a twig.  I had some new structures made for me recently out of repurposed wood, I placed one near the clematis vine. A month later and the vine seems to love this support, it is growing wildly, now beginning to bloom.

And from the table where I’m sitting in my sunroom. In one photo are the seed packets waiting for me. In the other, the grill can be seen. I have offered bribes in the way of food to friends and family willing to come and help me scrub my large deck while we enjoy watching the 100s of kayakers participate in the RiverFest on Saturday. On the menu: fajitas in roasted red pepper shells..

Speaking of food, a resident chipmunk is sitting on the deck rail, looking this way and chattering, he wants his breakfast. Time to go out in the garden…. to be still and listen for a while…

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