Saturday, April 25, 2015


"You can count on blackberry winters to make the berries good," a Tennessee native told me recently. Well, the berries should be good this year, for since my return to Sewanee, TN, we have experienced either a blackberry winter or a dogwood winter. Both plants survived well in the midst of unexpected "cold snaps," as we call them in New Iberia. Temps have dipped into the 40's, and most natives, who have shucked off their winter woolies, are still wearing jackets and warm socks these chilly mornings.

I love to see the dogwoods flowering and the butterflies and moths visiting the two trees in my yard, despite the winter-like cold. I don't know who would cut down these beauties, but I've read that dogwood is often used for cutting boards, golf clubs, tool handles, and mountain dulcimers. Blasphemy!

 "Spring has returned. The earth is like a child that knows poems," the poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote. And every morning, I tune in to the weather channel, hoping that the almanac predictions of more cold for May 9, 10, and 11 will not come about while I chant "Spring has returned." It's time for fireflies to emerge, for the chigger season to begin, and for seasonal allergies to kick in. Lil Pulitzer says that despite the forecasts, we should "live like its spring."

So, I went down to the Valley to purchase herb seedlings and plants for the small bed in our backyard. Dianthus, mint, rosemary, yarrow, and sage weathered the bitter cold of a hard winter here, and the Dianthus plants bloom apace. I planted more Dianthus, sage, rosemary, tarragon, and oregano. However, on the heels of the cold temps, heavy rain fell on my new plantings, and I pray that they will withstand the rain and the possibility of more dogwood winter weather in May.

My good friend Brenda Lowry of New Iberia, Louisiana, who writes, sings, and records music, sent me copies of Psalms for the 21st Century she's presently composing, and I think that one entitled "Rise" belongs in this rhapsodizing about spring. The Psalm writing is a new venture for Brenda, who was recently on the road with Bubba Murrell, performing "Women at the Well," a collection of songs for which they wrote both lyrics and music to honor my ordination as a deacon sixteen years ago. Their road tour took them as far afield as Baltimore, Maryland where they performed at Episcopal and Unity churches before spring arrived.

Here are excerpts from Brenda's Psalm entitled "Rise:"

Rise up, oh life, from ashes thought to be dust
turned into newness as the seasons turn.
Drawn within the darkness, silent sleep
recreated from the essence of before...

Breaking out and breaking through as does a seed
or a winged creature from cocoon
whatever was before is forever changed;
disillusion washed away in renewal...

Rise again, oh Joy, rise again!
Greet the dawn with anticipation
for in the fullness of all that is all
rise, new life, and fill the world anew.
Antiphon.: Rise anew, and bring new hope into the world.

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