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Own Who You Are

By Ann Bodling, Coracle Spiritual Director

Toothworts sprouting

Some time ago, a spiritual director spoke the words to my husband…”Own who you are!”  But what to do when we don’t remember very clearly, when forces beyond our control cause us to forget? The little plants didn’t look like much at first glance, perhaps. But for me, they were the needed gift. They were what led me back to myself this morning.

It is 39 degrees and windy outside. The landscape is still mostly brown. The March malaise is upon me, the long weariness of winter, frustration at the teasing days of warmth, only to be plunged back into freezing temperatures and muddy ground. The suffering of the globe feels particularly heavy these days…the emotional and physical turmoil of the nation, the farms and cattle and soil that have all been washed away, the loss of people’s lives and livelihood, worldwide.

Suffice to say I am not at my best in March. I am tired of grackles and red-winged blackbirds dominating my feeders. I am tired of going out to look for blooming spring garden flowers that I know full well are barely up out of the ground. I long for the blue jay’s squeaky, raspy cry to be replaced by the melodies of wood thrush and warblers. Sometimes all that is in me wants to cry out, “How long?

March is the almost-but-not-quite season. It is the season I begin to forget who I am because, deep down, much of who I am involves the green and growing world and my participation in it. Never mind that there are trays of young lettuce, kale, cabbage, onions, chives, dill, and calendula growing upstairs under lights, or pots of orchids and foliage plants growing happily in my study.  My soul longs for the awakening of the earth and the plants that no one has planted.

Blooming toothwort

And that brings me to my walk out into the woods behind our house this morning and my rediscovery of the Cutleaf Toothwort populations carpeting the ground. Flowers that no one planted intentionally, flowers that are some of the very first to support early bees and butterflies, flowers that declare unequivocally that there is order and assurance built into the natural world, if we but wait for it.

I know that I am connected to the One who mysteriously (and I imagine, joyously) splashed the toothwort across the wooded landscape. But sometimes I forget. This morning was a reminder that participation with the Holy sometimes means waiting and bearing with the longings of the world and, at the same time, there are moments of relief, moments that anchor us, not just in God, but in our deepest selves, as well.

Soon the toothworts will all be blooming.

Read more posts like this on Ann Bodling’s blog, Earthy Blessings.