A New Leaf

Ponderings in Changing Seasons

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The Love Language of a Bleeding Heart

Looking over the calendar, doing some planning, finding some dates.  Dates that need to be marked:  catching up on a few dates now past, noting the events that occurred, and adding to future dates both reminders and promises.

As I am flipping the pages forward in this still new-ish year ~ my heart skips a beat!  In the not-too-far-ahead, I see several days that fall clustered and that hold high expectation, joy ~ and just a little sadness mixed in with a dose of realistic expectation.  The month is May ~ a merry month ~ when flowers pop up & out, birthed from rainy wet April.  THAT is a promise in itself fulfilled:  Flowers after rain!

birthday cake with lots of cute striped candles shot on a red background

This May there will be three birthdays for those whose lives are quantified as a product of my own birthing!  My daughter, my younger daughter, turns 40.  My third GrandBoy, her son, turns 13.  My youngest of six GrandBoyz, another of her sons, turns 7.  And in that order.  ‘Twill be a merry, color-filled month, yes, even if clouded with shadows of gray. The living out of our days brings both joy and pain and often the two are so intertwined, we cannot find where one ends and the other begins.  Love does not come sugar-coated.  Love comes with a price; it calls for commitment and sacrifice ~ the decision, the choice, made over and over.

There is a favorite flower of mine that befits this Month of Love, but blooms in that merry month.  It is known as Bleeding Heart.



It is a beautiful, delicate flower that blooms, then fades as the weather warms.  Even the plant’s foliage disappears by mid-summer.  If you go to tend it, it is difficult to even find its remnants.  But it is still there, hidden below sight, under the warmed earth, watered by the sky.  It lies dormant.  It waits for the cold earth, the April rains, and then the warming of sun for its annual resurrection.

As a perennial, The Bleeding Heart is a picture of resilience.  It proves to fainting hearts that there is growth and beauty after what seems like, what appears like death.  Valentine’s Day for some is painful, lonely, sad.  It speaks of Love All Around, but to the one jilted or the one who has never known a soul mate, to the one who has lost love by death or divorce or mere disinterest, it is a season that bespeaks perhaps shame and certainly sadness.  It is about a heart bleeding.

Yet, as we consider this sweet, obscure plant created by a Creator God whose own Heart Desire is fellowship with His created one, hope begins to rise.  Finding Him means finding that that you ARE loved after all.  Finding Him means finding that you are never truly alone.  Finding Him means that you, like this lovely flower may bleed sometimes, but always there is a Healer for your pain, a Constant Companion for your need, a Lover for your soul.

Valentine’s is a Day to celebrate LOVE.  It is a Day to celebrate that “I am loved”!  It is a Day of hearts and flowers, of candy and gifts.  Above all, it is a Day among Days to KNOW  and to SHARE LOVE with those around you by being attuned to their hearts.  Together, let’s give the Gift of Love to several others this Valentine’s, not just those within our circle.  Share a smile, a kind word, an unexpected remembrance.  Our love, like the bleeding heart, can restore hope and resilience in another.


De Colores

I have just a small hankering for color!  Now, don’t you believe that for a moment!  My hankering is for LOTS of COLOR in lots of places.


Take, for instance, the Spring!  The time after Barrenness.  The time after the Big Chill.  Now if Spring isn’t a time and a place for COLOR, I don’t know when or where is!!


I’ve been marinating myself in COLOR for nearly a month now.  There was the first spotting of them setting out  flowering annuals at the local grocery.  The Big Box Store, it seemed, burst into bloom at the same instant.

It was marvelous!  One moment, there were drab brick walls and plain sidewalks and fenced gates; the next moment, bright red, vivid yellow and winsome blues were interspersed with tangerine and white and lavender.  Green herbs of all sizes, shapes and scents called invitingly to be chosen for Dishes yet-to-be-created.  For me, Spring had Sprung into action.



My daily yard walk-arounds have revealed striking changes overnight!  I love to find the first little plant poking its tentative sprout up through the still very cold soil.  Then, as Sun begins to warm the days, more and more sprouts give rise to more and more green shoots reaching for the sky and its golden orb.  The hues conjure up in my mind an Irish mural in a palette of forty shades of green, all which color the landscape of the Emerald Isle.








Once the red buds and pear trees and lilac bushes, the dogwood ~ pink or white ~ begin to put forth their flowers, it is confirmed.  I know that finally the long, dreary days of Winter have passed.  What seemed forever dead is alive again!




When I was a young mother with small daughters, my parents went on a three-day cloistered retreat called Cursillo in the Catholic Church or Walk to Emmaus in the Protestant.  They were smitten with the experience, literally meaning “A Little Course in Christ.”  They encouraged both my husband and me to make our own Emmaus Walks, where the Risen Christ is revealed just as He was revealed to His sorrowing Disciples walking along beside Him, unrecognized, going from Jerusalem to Emmaus after His Crucifixion.*  We did go ~ now so long ago.  It was the 1980’s, though I’m told that in 2014, Cursillo and the Emmaus Walks continue.

Many traditions have grown up in this deeply spiritual, highly creative, and eternally impacting weekend with “small lessons” which cover the foundation and doctrines of our Christian Faith.  One of those powerful traditions is the singing, accompanied by guitar, of a song borrowed from the Hispanic culture called De Colores.  Those singing it together are reminded of the colors of the earth, the colors of the rainbow above, the colors refracted in a diamond, and in the birds and the flowers and the roosters and the cluck hens and the baby chicks, the colors all of which summon us to love and to celebrate the many-faceted colors of personality and faces in human-kind.



When the COLORS burst forth every Spring, I am reminded once again of the expanse of love and acceptance I felt on my Walk.  It is as if that cocoon of 72 hours was not an isolated experience.  Rather, it was a glimpse of True Reality ~ the reality of Eternity and the opportunity we each are given to choose to receive Jesus.  Through Him, we can know we are loved, forgiven, and welcomed by the Father ~ FOREVER!





De Colores ~ It’s not just a simple folk song!  No, it is a Story of The Father’s Love for ALL of His Creation ~ from the wee little ones to the great big ones, from the flowers of the field to the creatures of the sea to the bird and the butterfly emancipated from gravity to fly free.  The Colors speak of God’s Creative Love and Power.  The Colors, they call me, they woo me to draw ever closer to Him.



* Luke 24:13-35






Part 1: Uprooted … Unraveled



Walking across October’s still green grass with a load on my back and a too much stuff in my arms, I nearly stumble.  “Those old roots,” I mumble half aloud.  They’d just popped up, seemingly out of nowhere, an obstacle in my path.

Got me thinking.  About Roots.  I began to play mental gymnastics with the word itself, flipping it over and under.  There are deep roots and shallow roots.  In school studies, we were instructed to find the root whether it was a base word or a mathematical square.  When we garden, we want our plants to take root.  And when the storms come, we hope nothing is uprooted.  We women, we even dye our roots when the wrong color roots begin to show.

I stopped doing somersaults in my mind when I considered the root of the problem.  You see, in order to heal or to grow from any adverse experience, we must first expose the root.  Then, according to the Wisdom from Above, we must take an axe to the root.*  Even if the roots are old, even if they are generational roots.

Some roots just have to come out!


They say, those who study such things, that a tree’s roots expand at least as far underground as the tree’s breadth above the ground.

Stand back and observe a few trees.







That’s a whole lot of ROOTS!

Most are sight unseen.  The leaves?  Well, they come for a season or two; then they let go and they’re gone.  But these roots?  They just grow and grow and grow, spreading this way and that, drawing up water and life-yielding nutrients for the tree they anchor.

Generational roots are like that, too.  They hold on.  They hold up.  They expand across the decades into the children and the children’s children.  And then, into their children.  Generational roots may be hurtful; they may be ugly, shame-ridden.  Or, they may enfold blessings, rich heritage.

We are all recipients of the same generational roots as each of our parents.  Some of these roots we embrace, we enjoy.  We celebrate that Susie plays piano like Aunt Bea.  We admire Bobby’s desire to become a doctor like his Grandad.  But we lament when Bill grows into his Daddy’s weakness and takes up The Bottle, too.  We cry in anger that the same pattern of meanness we received from Sister shows up in very our own child with his sibling.

Stinginess or generosity?  Cup half full or half empty?  Abuse or affirmation?

These roots manifest in each generation.

Some roots just have to come out!

All it takes is a family crisis to expose these roots.  Before long, we revert to how we were taught, what we observed, what we concluded about the world, authority, ourselves, others and God as we grew from child to adult.  We may find ourselves in crisis starting to unravel, to fall apart, separating at our relational seams in the midst of a high-intensity circumstance.

a tangled mess

We may even find ourselves behaving in ways that surprise us, ways we did not even know.  When we are vulnerable, when we are in shock or hurting, we humans tend to act out of the pain.  Even we whose lives have been transformed by the Gospel.

Any crisis carries within it the seed to see within, to glean insight into our own roots.  People can change.  God has given each of us the capacity to grow through direct, experiential learning, as well as through insight. Becoming unraveled, being undone brings a gift of possibility.

We have been given, endowed by our Creator with the power to choose.  Will we continue growing roots of anger, bitterness and strife, if such is the pattern, the generational roots, in our family of origin? **  Or, will we choose to lay the axe to the roots, to process and grow in the face of adversity, allowing ourselves to be rooted in love? ***  Maybe, we have been already blessed, rooted in love.  Are we nurturing those roots in the next generation in our family?

Some roots just have to come out!

 Some roots must stay!

Unraveling our roots, our generational, ancestral roots, is bittersweet. As we unearth information about those who have gone before us, we find both noble and ignoble characteristics. The fruit of the tree falls not far, it is said. Finding the ignoble can be bitter, offensive to our senses. But sweetness comes when we find those in our familial tree who have broken the pattern, who have said, “No” to Vice, or who have said, “Yes” to to Virtue, to a Faith-filled life, to achievement and contribution.

C.S. Lewis put it: None can give another what he does not possess himself.  No generation can bequeath to its successor what it has not got.                 

It behooves us then to uproot that which is an obstacle to our path. For the sake of ourselves and for the sake of those coming after, let us not remain in that which is familiar merely because the unfamiliar is uncomfortable. Rather, like roots, let us grow down deep into Truth and Wholeness; like the trunk and the branches and the leaves, let us courageously challenge what was and open up to new possibilities as we reach toward the Light.

Tall and Strong

Joycie's Brilliant Trees

Look Up!

Joycie's Sun Rays

Grace of God in the Woods

* Matthew 3:10; Luke 3:9

** James 3:14-15; Ephesians 4:30-32; Hebrews 12:15

*** Ephesians 3:17