a bit of gardening

ROSEMARYThis past week John and I did a bit of gardening.  We had a rosemary bush being shaded by another bush and I wanted to move it.  So we prepared the new spot where it was to go, dug the new hole and went over to our lovely rosemary bush.  Now you should know I planted this bush 6 or 7 years ago and I haven’t touched it to really prune it in 5 years.  That means it wasn’t a small bush.  For the last 5 years it has been doing a wonderful job of growing as it now stood nearly 5 feet tall and had a spread of closer to 6 feet.  But, we started pruning and pruning, and pruning.  Some of the branches were more than an inch thick and really woody (great in our fireplace though).  After being prickled and rosemary scented by our bush we got down to digging the roots up.  I never knew this about rosemary but it puts down ROOTS, not little roots, big ones and deep.  Also, they extended farther than the drip line of the bush which made finding the ends of the plant actually very difficult.  We ended up cutting a lot of roots because we couldn’t find where they stopped.  But we moved our tenacious plant and got it planted in its new home and it is doing well enjoying all the sun it wants and lots of water.

After we were finished and cleaning up I remembered something about rosemary.  First of all rosemary, in flower language, means remembrance and that sweet, huge, tough bush reminded me of just how persistent our memories are.  Deep within each of us lives a world that was.  Sometimes it surfaces when we least expect it whether we want it to or not.  But our past makes us who we are and embracing the happy, the sad, the good with the bad memories helps balance our present. Learning from my past mistakes and successes provides me with a road map for my way forward.  All of those memories connect me to something greater than just this single moment in time.  It is also the memories of those who modeled the best of their lives which have led me to being a better person in my own life.

It is the memory of my parents and how they loved and cared for me that has taught me to be a more loving and caring wife, friend, and grandmother.  It was my parent’s determination to model a life that included people of all backgrounds, races, genders, and abilities that has given me a passion for my openness to those who are different from me.  It was my father’s love of creation and prayer and silence that has been my model for my spiritual growth throughout my life.  It was a first grade teacher’s kindness to this wounded child that taught me anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

The memories I have of wandering open fields, lying in new mown grass, making storybook figures out clouds, and reading a book while I sat in the crook of an old apple tree gave me a love of open spaces.  I have precious memories of  being awakened at midnight to watch the Aurora Borealis with my father, or going out to our barn to watch as calves or puppies were born that hold a special place in my heart.  It is remembering thunder storms roll across our fields and listening as the rain pummeled the tin roof of our barn, or rushed through the branches of the huge pine tree that was just outside my bedroom window that draws me into a place of contemplation and peace like nothing else can.

It is the memory of pulling a deep fat fryer full of hot grease down on top of me that reminds me that accidents happen but I am not alone even in the worst of times.  It is the memory of a child in the hospital bed next to me who died during the night that taught me that fresh grief is always inconsolable.  It is the memory of uncaring questions by adults and taunts of other children that taught me that sometimes people can be cruel.  The memory of my father’s death from cancer keeps me asking “why” questions of God and doubting the fairness of life the Scripture tells me is good. It was being laid off for a year that taught me to let go of my fears, face them, then hand them over to the all surrounding presence that has always been in my life.  It is the memory of my discovery of how much I have been surrounded by the Spirit that has changed me from who I was into the person I am today. Memories are the soil of our lives; mine goes deep with plenty of memory leaf compost and with each day. With each new memory made the soil gets deeper and richer.

The best part is that each of us has our own bed of memories to draw upon.  Some are wonderful, insightful memories, some are horrid memories we would rather forget entirely, but by facing them we turn those bad memories into rich memory compost.  Even the memories of death and destruction have a place in our lives, just as the memories of our mother’s arms around us does.  Each memory adds to who we are and allows us to see who we were. Memories are the mirrors of our soul and how our soul has grown into who we are.  For the good and bad memories are who we are.  In learning to live with what we remember gives us the skills we need to live in the world we share with all of creation.

Creation, life, isn’t always fair or beautiful to our eyes. But, we don’t see the big picture; we see only our very small portion. Like an ant on a forest floor the view of our individual world of reality is very small.  What we remember of our past helps us see the greater picture. Memories give us a wider view of the life that lies before us and behind us. Our memories connect us to those we have loved, and hated, giving us a past to live from.

Not having a past cuts us off from our life today.  It is the reason those with Alzheimer’s, dementia or traumatic brain injuries that affects memory feel so cut off from the world around them.  They have nothing to compare today with so how do they know what today means; how do they relate to people and the world around them.  The greatest gift we can give those who cannot remember is to give them a piece of their past to ground them in the now moment of their lives and to do it every moment, every hour, every day we are with them.  The joy of someone who discovers their own past is amazing and life giving.

Memories are the soil we stand on, the ground of our lives that allows us to live better lives today and tomorrow.  Rosemary, the plant of remembrance, is tough, strong, and sweet and I want to remember my yesterdays to make my tomorrows tough, strong, and sweet.

Ruth Jewell ©April 30, 2013


I am going to embrace
a new found freedom
to live into the moment,
free of the need to run
from task to task, place to place.

Now is the time to savor
the richness of
the experience of the moment.

So I willingly leave behind
the mad hurly burly of the other world
to take up a life that loves
the now with great joy.

I am discovering a life
grown upon a garden
of the past.

I have had a rich past upon which I stand.
My roots go deep
and have grown strong in soil
rich in the compost of living.

The old leaves of my tree of life
have dropped to the ground of my being
returning nutrients to the soil of my life.

Let my arms,
brown and smooth with new growth,
reach for the sun out of the dark rich soil.

My face turns up into the light,
drinking of the Spirit waters of new life
poured into me like a mountain stream
fresh from the glaciers.

My life comes from darkness into light,
I need both to live.
Let the light rule.

Ruth Jewell, ©April 13, 2013

The Liebster Award

What Wonder Comes When We Least Expect

April 13, 2013

What is the “Liebster Blog Award?”

The Liebster award is given to up and coming bloggers to encourage them to continue their work. What is a Liebster? The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

It’s an award that was reputedly started in Germany in order to give smaller bloggers recognition for their hard work. You receive this award from a fellow blogger that feels your blog is both worthy & important to them. If you receive this award, there are two rules.

1. You must award 3-5 other bloggers with the award. In this case, it is five.
2. The bloggers awarded must have less than 300 followers.

Participation is completely voluntary and is not limited to any genre or writing for that matter. Basically, the blog can be about anything and simply has to be one that you feel is worthy and that you would like to give recognition to by passing it on.

I am honored to have been nominated by http://sandyshopefulroom.com/ , it was a lovely surprise to be seen as a blogger worth nominating.  Thank you again Sandy’s Hopeful Room.

In the rules of the award I am supposed to nominate 3 to 5 other bloggers but because I am an intermittent blogger I really don’t follow that many. Also this requires a bit of time and  writing and I wouldn’t want to force anyone to do something they are uncomfortable with.  Therefore I am going to nominate 3 for the award and if all they want to do is accept the nomination as Honorary that is just fine with me. I did some research and found you can accept this as an Honorary Liebster award. So I am accepting this nomination for the Liebster award but leave it open to other to accept as honorary or at whatever level they feel comfortable with. Below are the rules for both:

Here are the rules for receiving this honorary award:

  1. Accept the award with a statement of gratitude
  2. Post the award on your blog

If you choose to follow the complete rules here they are:

  1. Answer the questions the person has posted for them
  2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create questions for the people you’ve tagged to answer.
  3. Choose 5 to 10 people and link them in your post.
  4. Go to their page and tell them.
  5. Post the award on your blog

Some Interesting information about me;

  1. I am a 66 year old perpetual student
  2. I have just completed my second masters degree, a Masters of Divinity and am discerning whether or not I am called to ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  3. I am graduating from the School of Theology and Ministry, Seattle University on June 16, 2013
  4. I love to read.  I am currently reading Gracias by Henri Nouwen, Written That You May Believe by Sandra Schneiders, and (for about the 10th time) The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
  5. I love to sit in silence and listen for the word offered me by the All Surrounding Presence
  6. Life for me is simply one big adventure that I dive into with all I have
  7. I love visiting our grandchildren in Boston, 4 year old Amelia and 6 year old Liam, for they bring me great joy in their discovery of life.
  8. I love playing with my two parrots, Green Cheeked Amazon George, and Cherry Head Conure Cuddles (also known as Carlos the South American terror) and our beautiful dog Fred.
  9. I love to travel with my husband John to new and amazing places
  10. I love to cook and watch others enjoy the food I prepare
  11. I love my friends, all of them, from the youngest to the oldest for they enrich my life in ways I cannot explain.

Here are the answers to the questions Sandy has asked of me:

1.      Who is my mentor?

My mentor, or I should say mentors, are those who model the best of who they are in life.  Three of my mentors are my pastor who has shown me what compassion is; my Regional Minister who has shown me the true meaning of courage; and my husband who has shown me what it means to love and be loved.

2.      Who is your favorite author?

Now this is a hard question for I have many favorites.  I currently have 4 that I am enamored with:  Joyce Rupp, John Phillip Newell, Henri Nouwen, and Brian McLaren.

3.      Where did you go on your best vacation and why?

Last December I went on a cruise in the Caribbean.  I love cruises they have only as much activity as I want to engage in and a great deal of space and time for meditation and contemplation.  The cruise to the Caribbean gave me the opportunity to meet people of another culture and discover their kindness and generosity and offer my gratitude.  Our time in Caribbean was a time of engaging creation in unexpected ways.

4.      Do you have a motto you live by?

Micah 6:8

5.      If you could be anyone in the world (alive or dead), who would that be?

I’m not sure I could be anyone other than who I am after all it has taken me 66 years of errors and successes to get here.  If I were anyone else I would not be who I have become and therefore probably not answering these questions.  If anything intrigues me at all it is who I might be if I were born 1 or 2 hundred years into the future.  It would be interesting to know how our world, society and culture will survive these tumultuous years.  I guess I would really want to know if we a people have grown spiritually or have we given away our humanity.

6.      What is your favorite movie?

Now this is a difficult question, as I am not much of a movie person but if I had to choose I think the Princess Bride is one of my favorites.  I like movies that are light and escapist or provide me with something to think about.  So I also like The Lord of the Rings because it gives me insight into what it means to faithfully follow ones task even if you haven’t actually chosen it.  I also love science fiction because it offers today’s issues in new settings that helps me to see them from a different angle.

7.      Newspapers, Internet News or Television News?

I am a hard copy, paper reading, and book holding in my hands kind of person.  The electronic media leaves me a cold so the newspaper I like is our local paper, The Everett Herald, from Everett Washington.

8.      When do you do your best writing?

Five minutes before it’s due.  Well not quite that bad, but, I do often wait until the last minute to write something.  Although I once wrote a homily for Morning Prayers on the bus in route to chapel and it turned out to be one of my best.

9.      Morning person or night person?

I am definitely a morning person.

10.  Name one news story that fascinates you right now.

I am currently struggling with all of the issues associated with gun control. I do not understand our countries fascination with weapons and am trying to come to grips with the violence guns, and all weapons, have on our society.   I am mortified and saddened by the violence against innocents that happens every day and I am confused by those who claim that more access to violent means will make it all better.  No one has given me a satisfactory explanation for any of this horror.

11.  What would you want to do if you knew you had one week to live?

What would I do, well I think I would take the time to hold my family in my arms one more time and then sit and watch the sunrise over the Cascade Mountains and set over Puget Sound.  I would listening to my dog and birds play, the song sparrows at the feeder and the Jays squabble.  That would be my last sounds here on this earth.  Then I would open my arms and let the new adventure begin.

So here are my questions for you:

  1. If you could choose anywhere to live where would it be and why?
  2. What is you favorite piece of music?
  3. What is your favorite book?
  4. What period in time would you most like to live?
  5. What would be your ideal purpose in life?
  6. What task is your least favorite, ever?
  7. What world issue are you current struggling with?
  8. Name one or two people who have been mentors in your life?
  9. If you had to live today over in what ways would it be different?

I am nominating the following Bloggers:






Ruth 1:16-17

16But Ruth said,
“Do not press me to leave you
or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go;
Where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people,
and your God my God.
17Where you die, I will die—
there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me,
and more as well,
if even death parts me from you!”

John 14:23
23Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

2 Corinthians 5:6-9
6So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— 7for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.

Our book group has been reading and discussing Diana Butler Bass’ book, Christianity After Religion, and in Chapter 6 Bass discusses home and identity.  I actually had trouble with this section because I’m not sure what is home for me.  I mean I have a home; I live in a house, with my husband, one dog, 2 parrots and a seminary student so that isn’t the issue.  What is my question is “what does home mean?” 

I grew up in Ohio and moved to a farm when I was 5 years old so for the next 19 years of my life my “home” was this wonderland place chock full of discoveries, and sadness.  When I was 24 I moved from the farm and began a kind of nomadic life.  I moved every couple of years from home to apartment, state to state, city to city, and moving many times within cities.  My latest move was in 2000, when I was married, and moved into the house I am now living.  When I moved into this house I told John, this was my last move and I would be carried out of here feet first because I wasn’t going to pack up all my “stuff” again!  But, given my past history that may be a wish made on sand and someday I will have to, reluctantly, move from this house. 

When we discussed what was home in our book group I realized I was the only one who had no clear sense of home.  In fact I have no sense of a home town, or place of origin at all.  All of the places I have lived are really far in the past and clouded with time. Does that sound strange to you?  It didn’t to me until I began to listen to the stories of home from others.  For instance my husband can identify one spot as his hometown, St. Charles Iowa.  That is where he was born and grew up and despite not living there for 50 some years he still calls it home. 

I can’t do that; there is no one place I would call home.  Heck, there are times when I drive up my own driveway that I have to remind myself this is my “home” and I belong here.  For me where I am is home.  As long as I have my friends, companion critters and now the family I married into I’m home.  I don’t have relatives to speak of.  My parents have passed on; I haven’t seen any of my family of origin in 40 some years.  The family I have is the family I have created around me, a group of individuals, couples, and families I feel strong connections with.  Not one of them is a blood relative and that is fine with me.  Yet I feel closer to this group than I ever did to my blood relations. 

It is not that they all think like I do because they don’t.  In fact, my guess is we have become friends because we think differently.  But they share something with me that my “own family” never did and that is themselves.  If I need a shoulder to cry on I can count on one of them showing up at my door saying, “Ruth, I had a feeling you needed a friend today.”   Even when great distance separates us I can sense when a good friend needs me to call and talk.  The conversation may be nothing important at all but it means something to my friend and me. I can’t say my own family would ever feel that connected to me.

For me home is where I am, right now, in this place, at this time.  It means for me being with God, family, companions, friends, creation in whatever place or time I am in.  If I had to suddenly leave the place I currently shelter in I can do it.  I would grab what is important: my husband, my companion critters, my backpack throw in my bible and a change of clothes (my vanity wouldn’t let me wear the same underwear two days in a row, I’d add soap as well for cleanliness is next to Godliness),and walk out closing the door behind me.  The stuff in the building is just stuff and can be replaced, none of it is important.  As long as I have those that I love (and a change of underwear) I’m good to go.  Were I end up I’d be HOME.

So I guess I am saying I am “home” wherever I am, I don’t need a specific location to call “home” I just need to feel close to what is important and what is important is love and companionship with those who I love and who love me.  God will not abandon me, where I am God is because I experience God in the love I give and receive.  What else is needed?  Someone once said “home is where your heart is” and maybe what that means is my heart is my home, the ultimate shelter, the ultimate place I meet and live with Love.  I am Home.

Ruth Jewell, ©April 12, 2013