LAbri, May 1, 2003
As the calendar turns, the lyrics of an old song leap into my mind: Though
April showers may come your way, they bring the flowers that bloom in May. My
small trapezoid shaped garden verifies this prophecy. Blossoms both domestic
and wild -dandelions too splash their paint on my canvas. Backside of the chalet
and unhindered by shadows, Ive seeded a pot garden with several rare species of heliopsis -- sunflowers. Already they have sprouted and grown to a height of five inches or more, drinking in the pennies from heaven. If all survive the summer (and foraging deer), one will bloom a dark burgundy with
a brilliant gold center. Others will be dusty pink, iron rust, burnt sienna and copper gold.
What greater excitement could anyone ask than to be in league with George Washington Carver or Luther Burbank?
While rainy days of late confine me indoors, Ive been on an armchair journey with Colin Thubron Among the Russians. As I write these lines, I am in Leningrad, the old Soviet name for St. Petersburg. It is 1981 and I am in the city I had often yearned to visit, but was forbidden because
all of Russia was off limits to military officers with a top-secret clearance. After
the Soviet Empire collapsed, fortune, destiny, and the Peace Corps brought me in the back door via Alaska to Vladivostok. St. Petersburg was eleven time zones away, so I was relegated to Eastern Russia for
an entire summer. Now Thubron guides me through that other side of Russia with
his vivid observations and lyrical descriptions of the Russian soul, the Kirov Ballet, the fabulous Hermitage, and the life
of a failed system quickly to pass into history. Such is the next best thing
to being there. These days I am content to travel vicariously via these essays,
letters from friends around the globe, and the marvels of cyberspace.
What a difference a month makes! Predictions of a protracted war in Iraq vaporized in a single moment when a mammoth statue of the tyrant
Saddam came tumbling down. I watched with misty eyes those few seconds of history
mesmerized by the television images. Gideon and his band had intervened. I knew many deeply meant prayers were answered.
Our universe breathed a gigantic sigh of relief. Even so, I cry yet for
those whose sons and daughters gave the last full measure of devotion and storm the Holy Gates for the safety of all at war
anywhere. In these turbulent times as always, where can I go to still my
soul but to the Psalms: Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be moved, and though the hills be carried into the midst
of the sea; though the waters thereof rage and swell, and though the mountains shake at the tempest of the sameThe Lord of
hosts is with usHe makes wars to cease.Be still and know that I am God. (from Psalm 46)