Monday, April 29, 2013

The Story of the Three Sisters' Garden

So much joy comes for me with Spring!  Just the sheer knowledge that I made it through the dark and gloomy Oregon winter is enough to send my heart soaring.  But Spring's gifts do not stop there, Easter, a steady unfurling of flower blossoms, off and on sunshine with fresh pourings of rain, and the endless opportunities to work in my yard.  I feel so alive!

This week I'm working on my garden.  Today I started a Three Sister's Planting.  This is an Native American tradition of mindfully planting corn, beans, and squash.  Before I started planting I did a Google search to get more information on how and why this is done.  What I found on it was so interesting I wanted to pass it on here.

At first, I thought this page was too "Thanksgivingy" to post in Spring.  Then I realized the only reason the Pilgrims and Natives were able to have a feast in the fall was because they planted in the Spring.  Their planting technique was unique to North America and true to their tradition of caring for the earth.  Since Earth Day was last week this "planting story" seems more than fitting for a lovely Spring day like today!

I also can't help but see the metaphor between growing a garden and growing children.  I'm pretty sure there is a story there for me to explore but I haven't quite worked it out yet.

Happy Growing!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Justly Story Ch 7: The Nasties

Ch. 7: The Nasties

By Kristen S. Sandoz

Some time ago I began to tell you about Justly's quest to find a new place to sleep for himself and his new pup.  They had been outcast from the Royal City on account of the pups imperfect eye color.  The pup had one flame orange eye and one ice blue eye and this was entirely unacceptable for a hound of the King.  Justly had saved the pup from an untimely death on account of this imperfection.  As a result Justly had to leave the city and his warm comfortable bed under the Baker's oven.  Last time Justly had just fallen asleep under an ancient walnut tree to a lullaby from a lovely voice and finally drifting of into a splendid dreaming about his mother. 

Now, on with our story.

The voice that sang Justly to sleep belonged to our beloved Pearl and in the morning Justly heard Pearl’s voice again, along with a robust and craggy alto, and knew instantly that he was in the presence of royalty.  He knew also that this tree would be his new home.  He resolved to dig out some of the rotten interior of the old walnut tree as well as some of the soft dirt around its base in order to give himself better protection from the elements.  Soon after these thoughts Pearl and Hazel’s song ended, the old heavy cottage door creaked open and Pearl stepped out of the door to draw water from the well.  Justly, wanting to make friends in his new neighborhood, hoisted the little pup onto his shoulders and approached Pearl.

She was carrying a wooden pail.  She used this pail daily to draw water from the well to fill up the cistern in the cottage kitchen and to water the cottage’s small family of hard working farm animals.  These animals included 25 hens who looked lovely from a distance, but have a story all their own.  Actually, this story is a worthy one to tell so I will indulge my own love of chickens and tell it now. 

You see these ladies and their ancestors before them were rare breeds of chickens.  Hazel and her mother before her had collected them from all over the known world during their healing journeys.  It had turned into quite a hobby or even an obsession for Hazel.  It was a way she could stay connected to her late mother.  Oh, what a sight these ladies were!  Any traveler passing by the cottage would immediately notice these exotic ladies from the well-worn path that went passed Hazel’s home.  They were intriguing looking birds, some with puffballs for heads and others with puffballs for feet.  Still others had necked necks or feathers that made them look like a mop.  There were some ladies that were as black as the night with shimmery green iridescence.  There were huge hens that stood almost to your hip and with them were little tiny hens who laid little tiny pink eggs. 

This flock of chickens was so lively looking that often strangers passing by, who did not know better, would have a great desire to get better acquainted with the birds.  They would go to all kings of lengths to call them over to the edge of the road with corn, or bread, or barley berries that they happen to be carrying with them.  The extraordinary flock of hens would waste no time hustling and bustling over to this free fare.  They were like an entourage of fine maidens hurrying to be the first to try on Cinderella’s lost glass slipper.

At first the travelers would get all excited to see these exotics running their way.  But as the hens came closer to the offered goodies the more it became apparent to the travelers that there was something quite wrong with these ladies.  Indeed one could not call them ladies at all!  For as they looked like a lovely picture from a distance up close they were a freak show!  Every single one of those ladies was pecked and bloodied.  Not one lady remained with all of her once lovely feathers in tacked.  The fact was these chickens looked nasty.   Not only did they look nasty they acted nasty too, which is why their feathers were in such an awful state.  Many travels stood in shock and horror as these nasty creatures scrambled and fought for the bits of food thrown out for them.  Some travels, mostly of the female kind, would squeal in fear and hurry off down the path as fast as their mode of transport could carry them.  Almost all the travels who looked upon these wretched creatures would be plagued with dreams of these Nasties, as they came to be known,  for weeks to come. 

Why did they look so terrifying?  What had happened to them?  And why did Hazel keep such fowl creatures about her lovely cottage?  Well the last question is perhaps the easiest to answer.  Hazel not only loved these birds and hoped her love would reform them but she also knew that the lesson these birds had to teach the strangers who passed by was a necessary one.  It all started with one cranky hen pecking on all the others soon those birds got big enough and brave enough to peck on others.  Then after sometime the only way those ladies could treat each other was with a peck.  All the hens started pecking on all the other hens until every single one of them looked bloodied and nasty and horrifying.  Sometimes they’d get into such a nasty pecking mess that they’d simply peck one hen to death and they wouldn’t stop till her bones were pecked clean of feathers, skin and meat.  Horrid absolutely horrid! 

As for the Witch Hazel she would warn,  "nastiness begets nastiness, meanness begets meanness, selfishness begets selfishness". 

1…Now my story is done.
2…I love you!
3…Please kiss me.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Egg

The Egg

By Kristen S. Sandoz



The other day my five-year-old son had a friend over and they spent a lot of time with our hens.  Later that day when I went to check on the ladies I found two eggs smashed against the fence and evidence of a cover up.  If you have ever raised your own chickens you know how precious eggs are.  I was not happy about this and handled the whole thing very poorly.  That night I was really disturbed by my reaction and it brought to mind an experience I had as a five year old.


It was small, black, exquisitely hand painted, and edged with gold gilding.  It was lovely and delicate much like a teacup with gold trim.  You know the kind that even as an adult you’re afraid to touch its dainty handle with your comparatively large and clumsy fingers.  Only a teacup doesn’t quite compare with the fragility of nature.  In my hand I was holding an egg.  It was a gift to my mother from our Japanese neighbor, who moments before had delivered it to our door.  At the age of five I was fascinated with its elegance.  I had asked my mother if I could hold it.  Without hesitation she handed it to me and then turned and left the room.  What was she thinking?


I remember exactly what I was thinking as I held that piece of art and stroked its fine detailing.  The thought just came to me.  Not out of naughtiness but out of genuine curiosity.  Somewhere in my short little five-year-old life I had heard that an egg shell was so strong that you could squeeze it and it would not break.  Lord knows why at that moment I chose to test this theory with this particular egg.  I was not thinking about action and reaction.  All I was thinking was how good it felt to squeeze the impressively strong orb in my hand.


It’s hard to describe how it felt in my grip.  Perhaps you will have to try it yourself to understand.  But it felt GOOD.  It felt satisfying.  Like pushing myself to an extreme, like holding my breath under water until the very last of my capability and then holding it just one second longer.  I was truly amazed and absorbed in its strength.  Just how much pressure could it handle?  Was I strong enough to break it?  Was it even possible?


Then it happened and it was as if the whole world around me slowly imploded into the palm of my hand and I saw for one second, at five years old, a glimpse of the tragedy of many people’s lives.  My chest tightened, my heart stopped, my hand quivered and the feeling of utter despair, irrevocable damage, and life long regret swept through my entire being.  I was left standing with nothing but the shards of a once whole, precious, and beautiful object. 


I did what all of us want to do when we experience this type of regret and loss.  I immediately ran to my mother.  I sobbed uncontrollably into her arms for my loss, for her loss.  She let me cry until my tears were dry and then without anger and with true grace she said, “It’s okay.  Accidents happen.  It was only an egg.”  At the time I thought she was putting on an act to get me to stop crying.  After all it was probably the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen in my life up to that point.  Now as an adult I understand.  It was only an egg. 


It was a gift to learn deep regret for such a small price.  I have often remembered that egg broken in my hand when I am on the edge of an impulse.  That feeling of immediate satisfaction or pleasure warms itself in my being and then I see a lovely black egg nestled safely in the palm of my hand.  Suddenly without warning my heart stops and instantly my muscles seize up and I am filled with that feeling of regret once again and I am saved.  What cemented this lesson in my mind was my mother’s reaction. She comforted and mourned with me.  If she had yelled and raged or punished me I might have felt duly reward and moved on. 


I often wish I could recreate this scene for myself adult.  I wish that some how I could learn the pain of regret before the stakes are too high.    I wish I could trust myself with this precious gilded egg and let myself break it.  I wish that I could react as my mother reacted with grace and forgiveness and open arms.  But I can’t help but wonder about the balance between grace and justice.  If my boys were to make a mistake that couldn’t be nicely mended how could I keep them from throwing the baby out with the bath water?  This is not the message I want my boys to get.  This is not grace.  Is there not a good and whole life to be led after regret?  Is there not repentance, redemption, and reconciliation?  Did Christ not die because there are fragile eggs that we just cannot put back together again?  I want my boys to know that I love them no matter what.  I want to echo God’s grace, healing, and love, so they can come to truly understand that neither life, nor death, nor angles, nor demons, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, can separate them from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.