Monday, May 7, 2012

Patience and perspective

This painting by Townsend DavidsonTownsend Davidson hangs in Ashley River Tower at MUSC. 
I like how it plays with perspective the way supermoons do. 

Lost in space

     We watched a full moon rise Saturday night, with thin clouds bisecting it. I turned off the car radio to a chorus of complaints from the three kids jamming to the music so we could watch it in silence.
     “Why can’t we leave the radio on?” asks my teenager. “We can still see it rise.”
     Another child pipes in, “Are you even watching it or playing electronics?”
     “Uhh, yeah, where is it?”
     Explaining that this is a supermoon, bigger and brighter than ever for just this one night because of its closer passage to the Earth, I insist on a moment of silence to honor it. There’s a pause. “Oh my gosh, that’s incredible. It looks so big,” says the teenager who finally has looked.
     I’m pleased we can share this moment of a rising supermoon.  The moon gives me chills, dwarfing the horizon as it does, dwarfing me, reminding me of the celestial spin we’re on - of how we’re not the center of our own universe. I get the same feeling when I journal or serve at the family shelter or help a friend or watch one of my children sleep. It’s that being part of something bigger, that both shrinks and expands me at the same time.
      I start to comment on perspective, how important it is to switch gears for the celestial view sometimes, but I get interrupted.
     “Are we going to be there in time for the movie’s start?”
      I shake my head and smile, responding yes. I turn up the radio and flip on my turn signal. Moment over. But there, for an instance, I felt the Earth move.


     I am learning patience from my garden. It has been weeks now since I planted tomato, squash, and pepper plants (not to mention strawberries, but the birds take the fruit from those before I even have a chance to admire it), and finally there are signs that my care
for the plants has not been in vain. After all the watering, fertilizing, weeding, and checking on them every day, at last there are vegetables at different stages of development on all the plants.
      The first little tomatoes appeared a couple of weeks ago, and many more have joined them since. I even ate two red ripe fruits from the plant this week. The squash began coming in a bit later. I was amazed as I watched the large orange-yellow flowers seemingly turn inside out and become recognizable squash-shapes. Some of them should be ready to pick any day now (if the dreaded squash borer bugs my friend Carrie
told me about don't get to them first). 
     I had nearly given up on the green peppers. That plant was the last to flower, and having never watched vegetables grow (I'm embarrassed to admit), I was not even
sure which part would turn into the edible bell peppers like the ones I bought in stores. Just a few days ago, I finally saw that one little pepper-shape had formed, as if by magic, overnight. But it won't be ready to pick for awhile. It will need sunshine, rain, my continuing care, and time. I will just have to be patient.

Graduation at Furman University,  May 2012

     Graduation.  A time of endings and new beginnings.  For us, it's the end of an era of moving daughters in and out of Furman University each year. Savannah graduated on Saturday, moved out of her apartment on Sunday and began a whirlwind week of travel to discover what's next for her.  Graduation is an emotional rollercoaster for both students and their feeling-suddenly-much-older parents.  There's sadness over friends, professors and a beautiful campus left behind along with excitement, apprehension, and uncertainty over what lies ahead.  
     But in the midst is gratitude (at least from this mom's perspective).  Gratitude for great professors who were challenging teachers and good mentors,  for best friends and roommates who pulled each other through long study nights and college drama, and for those late night philosophical/spiritual/political conversations with friends that change and shape an outlook on life.   Gratitude for a beautiful, safe campus here in South Carolina and gratitude for study away programs to England, Scotland, Spain, New Orleans, Mexico and Turkey  which helped my daughters learn and experience more about this new global world in which we all live.
     A good education helps you grow into a person more interested in others than yourself; challenges your own (and your parents!) assumptions and beliefs about the world we live in; takes you places you've never been - both intellectually and physically;  and gives you friends to last a lifetime.
     For all these blessings and many more,  thanks Furman.


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