Astronomy Picture of the Day

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Psalm Challenge 101

Psalm Challenge 101


Psalm 101

King James Version (KJV)

101 I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O Lord, will I sing.
2 I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
3 I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.
4 A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person.
5 Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.
6 Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.
7 He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.
8 I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the Lord.


King James Version (KJV) by Public Domain


Mary's notes:

101: The words of David, laying out his ideals, the ideal civilization,
Did not work out as planned,
the Darkness always seeps in amongst the cracks.
This week, posting another story,
about spring,
and death,
and how even when you try very hard,
some things are destined,
no all things are destined,
to die.

    An Apple Year
    by Mary E. Gerdt
    C 2013
    all rights reserved


    When I was in the second grade we went on a field trip to a farm. My childhood world was people, pavement, asphalt, stop lights, buildings, downtown small town US. Animals were squirrels and blue jays and crows nesting for the night before heading out to raid the corn fields of the flatlands of Illinois. But when we got off the bus (riding the bus was a treat for me in and of itself-I always walked to school), and smelled the fresh air and saw the animals and plants and fences, I knew this was the life for me. I wanted to live on a farm.
    My Mom’s cousin Eleanor and Mom’s best friend Sissy, and Sissy’s Mom Dorothy were the other farmers that sealed my resolve to shake off the pavement and move to the peaceful side of life. “Don’t you just love livin’ with nature” Sissy said. “Yes” I said silently to myself as I read her Christmas card.
    Dorothy, Sissy and Eleanor are gone now. I would venture to say their farms may be gone too, with development pressures nipping at what is left of the rural life around Midwestern small towns.
    So when my innocent eyes saw the farm that my husband Fred grew up on, it was love at first sight for me. In a strange way I felt we belonged there even early on, although we would not move there until years later. I imagined all the things that must have happened there and turned out to be wrong about many of them. When I looked from the outside it seemed so simple, so loving, so orderly.
    On our journey on our piece of the family farm, I have learned nothing is as it appears, nothing can be predicted, and nothing worth having is easy. We gave up a fortune for my dream of a farm. We gave up our peace now (then) for peace of the future (now). We flew by the seat of our pants and, along the way, Fred developed high blood pressure and diabetes. My doctor discovered I have had Multiple Sclerosis which I have feared for some years. Stress makes all these conditions thrive.
    Somehow these health problems helped us focus away from the material world. When we look for the good in all these experiences, that is a part of it. It made us ask: what is all this but money and property? Nothing. Where can we go from here? Right through it, a friend suggested. Where else?

    I know this is not the kind of story that recounts how we went on a vacation this year (because we did not), or that our children were successful in school (they are too old), or that we had a great year at work in our dream jobs (come on, is that ever really true anyway?).
    This is the kind of story meant to tell you what really matters in the world.
    When we saw the front yard tulips blooming in the spring, we couldn’t help but think of Ed and Augusta, Fred’s uncle and aunt who lived here. The tulips Augusta planted years ago have bloomed sporadically, usually a pretty sad showing of a tulip here and there, like they do when they finally fade forever. But this spring, the first after Augusta died, we saw more tulips and they were brighter than ever. They seemed to bloom forever. More colors.

    It was a sign, I had to think, a message from Augusta. After Ed died we have referred to a particular local vulture as Ed. The vultures roost in the maple woods out back and circle all summer on the thermals on this bluff where we live. We imagined after Ed died he would have preferred to be a large bird soaring high overhead freed from the manmade obligations he found so tedious. Now fully at one with nature.
    When Fred and I first moved to the family farm house, we were hopeful of the apple trees. They are large old trees in the yard. We explored restoring them but the neighbor said they never produce apples, they would die if you pruned them, and they were dying now.
    You can’t. You won’t. It doesn’t.
    So, much to our surprise two years later the apple trees bloomed and they produced apples. Was that a miracle? Spite at the neighbor? Or hope?
    My scientist brother explained when apples are left to be wild, meaning not pruned, they produce every other year. He would know that. It made me relieved. We don’t prune and get apples every other year. In 1998, the ice storm pruned them for us. Like a bomb went off, our yard looked completely disturbing to us, a foreign appearance.
    A few days after I turned forty, we were cleaning brush and I fell and broke my arm.  Those apples again. I was seeing my connection to nature, like Sissy said. The apple trees broke and my arm broke: like a twig, my arm snapped.
    Along now I began to wonder: Where did I come from? Why did I always seem at war? Why did I have scars on my face where I had not been cut? What was my former life? How could I be so detached from nature when I know only a few short generations ago I plucked and killed chickens to eat, I scrounged for food in the woods and washed in a creek.
    Everyone did.
    I wondered what my homeland had looked like? What plants did we have to eat? How did they survive the harsh weather? Is that why I am so attracted to Vermont?
    I became sure I was a product of war, destined to reincarnate as warrior. Westphalia, Prussia was listed on the family tree my mother had made. My Internet search told me that Prussia was one of the last strongholds of paganism. Were our family members the pagans? Or the warriors? Or, somehow, a cross, tormented at times by two opposing worlds. I believe I am a product of both.
    This house we live in is like a castle. I now call it Castle Rock. Hard as a rock, built on a stony hill. I imagined us living in such a stony German castle, thinking I had been here before.
    Fred's family came from Prussia too.
    This year, we finally trimmed the loose ends, patched and sewed up the tattered holes in our life and prepared for our new life together, here on what is now, finally, our farm. We were able to smile a little when the apple trees bloomed in such a profusion we worried it would finally be their last year. And when the apples came, they came on stronger than ever. Even our sad out of place zone five red and golden delicious apple trees that the neighbor said we planted too close together, bloomed and produced many scabby but sweet pretty apples.
    In fact, many things about this year were special. The flowers never bloomed so well, the vegetables never tasted so good, and the pain was never quite so deep. The bad with the good. Mother Nature trying to cheer us up, balance the scales, sweeten our sour taste, to show me that nothing comes without a price. Nothing lives without dying.
    The trees do watch us and try to cheer us up when all looks lost.
    Do you believe?
    So, although we have had a rough course to travel these past years, this experience has clarified a few things for us.
    I can see things now from the apple trees’ perspective. We let them live all these years and have not pruned them, nor doubted their ability, nor made them conform. I believe they are grateful to us for that. We delight in watching their flowers in spring, growing apples some years which the deer gobble up during hunting season, the squirrels all year jump from tree to tree chased by our feral cat pride. In the spring, we pick up fallen branches and Fred cuts the bad limbs when he can reach them and his limbs allow him.
    Different birds cycle in all year. Some in the winter eating bugs, cedar waxwings fly though on their migration and eat the blossoms, swallows return from the warm south and play catch with falling blossoms. Chickadees beg for food and follow us throughout the yard.
    We are now “reduced” (or advanced enough) to see signs from nature around us. Were we just looking for a sign anyway? That we belonged? Does it matter? What do the apple trees think?
    If the apple trees could speak, they might say:
    Believe in nature. It is real.
    Believe in love. Love is everything.
    Bloom when you are happy.
    Be who you were meant to be.
    Don’t cry for apples not here this year. Next year you may get more than you dreamed of.
    When someone you love dies and you were not able to express to each other how you really feel, look outside and there may be a flower blooming where there were none last year and let that be a sign to you. What could it hurt?
    Go make friends with an apple tree.
    When you wonder whether you should do this or that, better to at least just do something.
    When you think life is fair, you must have been listening to a fairy tale.
    Think about the poor old apple trees, scarred and old and gnarly and alive, ready to please us like a puppy dog, watching us all these years struggle to be ourselves and find our own way, now rewarding us with flowers and apples like we are the puppy.
    And smiling in their own way.


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