Friday, August 8, 2014

When Flowers Fail: Moving Forward When It's Time to Embrace Something New

Dear Friend,

My neighbor owns most of the meadows near my home.  This past spring he leased his property to a local farmer. I was told ahead of time that the land would be turned over for soybeans, but I wasn't prepared for the acrid scent of chemicals in our gentle valley. The day after the fields were sprayed, I viewed the land from my car. No sign of life to be found. All was burnt. Yellow. Destroyed. 

It was weeks before the deer crept back into the fields.  Now they come in droves to nibble at the scrawny crop of beans. Tall black stalks poke up through the rows, unsightly as unwanted hair.

I haven't taken many walks down the old paths this summer. I feel something akin to homesickness for the butterflies, bees, and red winged blackbirds that used to flutter, dive, and hum.

The pictures in my post today are from last year. I took them on one of my long rambles when I thought my lovely meadows (which were, of course, not really mine) would last forever.

How many Flowers fail in Wood—
Or perish from the Hill—
Without the privilege to know
That they are Beautiful—

How many cast a nameless Pod
Upon the nearest Breeze—
Unconscious of the Scarlet Freight—
It bear to Other Eyes— 

Emily Dickinson

I'm glad I have pictures. 

The images I've captured of my long county walks are closely tied in my mind to the great classic books I've read in the last few years.

Sometimes, as I journey through books, I capture them well; I take lots of great notes, ponder insights, and do research.  More often though, life happens. I become absorbed in my primary job of nurturing my lovely family! (And sometimes, to be fully honest, I become absorbed with less noble things like what my friend Anne Bogel calls the "Facebook Rabbit Hole.") Before I know it, I've read another tome without documenting the experience. The moments -- the flashes of insight and awe -- they slip away like a "nameless pod upon the nearest breeze" and I'm left with a sense of loss. 

I have more unfinished drafts of posts in my blog archives than I have published posts. 

Here are some classic books I've read while on my quest that I've written little-to-nothing about:

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Emma by Jane Austen
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville 
The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster

And here's some modern stuff I've read lately:

David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore
Cut Me Loose by Leah Vincent
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
What Makes Olga Run By Bruce Grierson
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Homeschool Sex Machine: Babes, Bible Quiz, and the Clinton Years by Matthew Pierce
Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle
The Intellectual Devotional by David S. Kidder and Noah D. Oppenheim
How to Read Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster
A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz

So here's to moving forward! To seeking new places to ramble! To reading more and writing more as time, self-discipline, and energy allows!

Peace & Joy.


P.S. I wonder -- is it time for you to let go of something? Perhaps you need to release something that has more gravitas than a burned up meadow and some forgotten quotes. Is it time to move on? Is it time to make room in your life for a new residence or friendship or job or project or pet or ______________?


  1. I love your post, Adriana. All those wonderful books!!!!! And thanks for sharing that Emily Dickinson poem. Like all her poetry, it's amazing.

    I think I know what you mean about embracing the new and finding new & different paths. There's a time to mourn the old (often a very long time), and a time to strike out on the new.

    1. Jeannie, you are so kind. After I posted this list (and thought of a few other titles), I felt vulnerable. Like, when my readers see how much I've been holding back on them, will they be repelled by my lack of discipline? On the other hand, I've been enriched by these books. No doubt memories of them will resurface in the future.

      And that's how I feel about the meadows: I can't walk through them today, but they held me once. For a season of my life, they helped me shape my thoughts and prayers.

      And I still have the river.

  2. "unsightly as unwanted hair" - haha.
    Im sad about your meadow. And the poem is profound ---which makes it even more sad. At least you've got pictures.

    woah that's a lot of drafts and books!

    I don't know, but when it comes to letting go i ask for signs. :p

    1. Sheena, I wish I had a giant pair of tweezers to pluck out the black stalks one by one!

      I'd like to know more about how you process signs. I older I get, the more I find it difficult to adapt to change. Sometimes I envy the Emily Dickinson lifestyle -- white dresses and all! :-)

    2. It's very hard to discuss about it.Letting go is hard and people here are wise enough not to say anything. But i am not wise so :) Let me share. Signs-- I think is unique for every individual, and as for me, when there is something that's very hard to let go, I ask for signs. I believe God is guiding us and he meets us where we are in our faith and that he is generous enough to give the signs we are asking for(like when i asked for a bracelet with leaf ornaments so that i could finally resign from my job, and ive seen it! --earthquake moment). It takes some openness and acknowledgement -- this applies to signs that i did not ask --Like what is happening in the present moment -- Like getting a phone call -- or like your meadow with unwanted hairs.(haha) Oh, i see what you are doing, Lord. I see you. And it takes some openness and acceptance to what is. And you are surprised and you didn't know that you would be surprised. I may be formulating something here that may not apply to anyone. But that’s what it’s like for me. weeeeeeeee that was very hard to capture and put in words.

      P.S. The Dashes. ---

  3. Our back yard opens onto fields, and now someone bought the acreage directly the other side of our fence and is building a house. Oh well, we knew it would probably happen sooner or later. They will probably be great neighbors, but I miss the openness of having nothing but fields and farmland between us and the river delta miles to the south.

    Your book list has given me an assignment, too. I need to pull Huck Finn off eh shelf and re-read it before you write your post on it.

    1. Tim, I can imagine that change will take some time to get used to! I'm glad you already have a fence in place. As Robert Frost said, "Good fences make good neighbors."

      Huck is one of my favorite characters. I didn't expect to relate to him as much as I did. I have a mind to vlog a reading from HF. I hope you will reread him soon.

  4. Oh luv, I would be heartbroken at such a change too!! I hope so much that things heal and thrive in that field so it becomes a haven for you again. XO

    1. Thank you, Krista. I knew you would understand. Love you, my friend.


Comments make my day! I read each one and try to respond within 24 hrs. If you choose to comment anonymously, please leave your first name, pen name, or nickname in the comment box along with your comment. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!