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Hello friends,

     Sometimes poets become companions in life’s journeys, and Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver has been that for many, myself included.  During the three years researching, photographing, and writing Soul Space, I often pulled out Oliver’s poem Praying to give me the courage and confidence to keep writing.  My first drafts often feel and are rather like “weeds in a vacant lot” and some days, especially when facing health issues, I could only “patch a few words together.”  I longed to express our “doorway into thanks” for the surprising wonders within the Krista Foundation and Hearth.  So I’d read her words, light a candle, and try. 

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris.  It could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just pay attention,
then patch
 a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence
in which another voice may speak.
                                                          Thirst, Beacon Press: 2006
     For Oliver, “paying attention” was akin to prayer.   She spent hours quietly observing small occurrences in the Cape Cod landscape near her home in Provincetown, Massachusetts.  In poignant insights, she wrote of her search for universal truths in both the pain and wonders in the natural world.  For those of us still in quarantine, that option exists for us in close observations within our spring gardens, or in walks in public parks, or natural trails. My favorite of her books is Why I Wake Early and you can hear her read this marvelous 52-second poem on YouTube. It might make your day!
The Astonishing Shapes and Shades of Flowers
     Encouraged by her suggestion to “pay attention,” and living within the pause of Covid19, I took a few minutes one sunny morning to just collect the many shapes of flowers, each unique in their variety, colors, and design.  Our Creator, plus horticulturalists through the centuries, have given ordinary gardeners like you and me a visual feast. I gathered the delicate yellow columbine, blue brunnera forget-me-not like flowers, pink dianthus, scented Lily of the Valley, golden ruffled daffodil, Dutch pastel iris, my favorite white bleeding heart and more.  I often like to use them to decorate desserts. 


Artist Georgia O’Keefe believed, If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for a moment.
Want to give yourself a gift? 
Add a Chinese Tree Peony to your garden.
     If you could only add one shrub to a garden, I always encourage considering the spectacular Chinese Tree Peony.  Blooming in May, when brought inside they open 8-10 inches and one flower makes a wonderful gift.  Considered the “king of flowers” in China, they have been cultivated for centuries for both medicinal (the root bark) and ornamental beauty, often portrayed in Chinese art and literature. 
      Chinese tree peonies take patience, about two years, especially when purchased from roots, like available at and other quality nurseries.  But I like getting them from local nurseries in 1-2-year-old plants.  A hearty shrub, they are resistant to deer, drought, and frost.  Available in many gorgeous colors, they need at least 3-4 hours of sun and dappled shade.  As a symbol of enduring and sturdy beauty; perhaps planting one now could be an act of trust that our pandemic will eventually end?
The Krista Foundation Annual Day of Prayer
   Traditionally, each May the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship offers a Day of Prayer for our Krista Colleagues serving around the world.  In Spokane, guests come to the Hearth and gardens and gather prayer requests from a basket for a private time of meditation.
     During COVID19 time, the Hearth is closed, so we decided to shift it to “outdoor only” with social distancing and masks required for a drop-in walk-about. Throughout the gardens are benches, wicker settees, even a secret garden with red Adirondack chairs.   Most international Krista Colleagues and some national volunteers have been evacuated from their assignments.  Like others, they are suddenly facing unemployment in a dire market, plus heartache having to leave their communities and a vision of service they embraced. It’s pretty devastating for most and an important time for prayers.  Different types of debriefings are being planned, bringing in the wisdom of earlier colleagues who experienced similar dislocation after 9/11 or medical evacuations.  
     This is a particular time of difficulty for many young adults.  You may know ones who are unemployed, uncertain about their futures, and anxious at the huge divisions in our country.  Your efforts to reach out in friendships in whatever ways are appropriate could offer significant encouragement. 
Puzzlement Living in a Pandemic
     Living with uncertainty, without a clear picture of our future, seems to be one of the hardest realities of the personal and economic impact of a global pandemic.  I have a cousin, a pediatric oncology ophthalmologist, who discovered the relaxing respite of doing puzzles after long days of stress.  Hours each day she helped children and parents facing a future of uncertainty, surgeries, and sometimes blindness after a diagnosis of debilitating eye cancer.   I’ve always enjoyed doing puzzles, especially during family reunions since they offer   
companionship and conversation that bridges generation gaps. 
     But I now find it almost contemplative during quarantine time, paying close attention to shape and shades of color piece by piece.  I also like the truth that if one steps away for a while, we often see with new eyes that an earlier ‘impossible’ problem is resolved easily.  Maybe it’s just the satisfaction over small goals and concrete closure reached in this highly uncertain time?   Oh yes, and then there’s the reminder of impermanence when we tear our efforts apart to put it back in the box!   
The Ippy Awards
     I received a wonderful phone call one afternoon from the Independent Publisher Book Awards.  Soul Space: Creating Places and Lives that Make a Difference just received a bronze award in best regional nonfiction!
      Open to University, Foundations
and Independent Presses, plus self-published authors, they are known as the “IPPY Awards.” With almost 5000 entries from 44 states and 15 countries, they award books that “exhibit courage, innovation and creativity” in many categories. 
       This is the second national award (the earlier one was from Illuminations for Best Gift and Keepsake book). Barbara
Genetin, the excellent graphic artist who took my 150 photographs and created beauty deserves much of the credit too! 
     If you’d like to order a copy for a gift or yourself, please just go to my
author website.
Savoring Moments from the Kitchen
     It’s rhubarb time in the garden!  “You’re sure baking a lot,” mentioned my husband with a smile this morning after I pulled out the Raspberry Rhubarb Crostata from the oven. I’d already experimented with a rhubarb bread pudding and my standard strawberry-rhubarb pie, plus baked donuts and homemade crackers. Clearly, this happens only in pause time! This delicious recipe is on Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa website
      I’m not surprised cooking nourishing meals, especially baking bread, has been abundant during the quarantine.  For those of us not on the front lines courageously serving our nation, or home juggling on-line jobs and children’s schooling, our ways of contributing feel naturally limited.  Baking simply offers a tangible way to express love to those nearest, plus a centering activity for our hearts and souls.  It reminds me of Mother Teresa’s words, Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love.  
Paying Attention to Racial Trauma
     Each of you is likely deeply troubled by the painful racism flaring in America during this last week in May, especially to African Americans. One thing this rare pandemic pause does offer is time to really “pay attention.”   To truly listen to our citizens of color.  Their voices are expressing historic and very contemporary injustices, racial trauma, violence, and fear. What can we learn from the men and women, and even the children who are trying to have us understand what it is like to live with racism impacting every day of their lives?  Keedron Bryant, a 12-year-old has given voice in song to what it feels like to be a black child growing into manhood. 
     Rather than shutting out their troubling stories, intentionally learning and listening offers another one of the small things we can do with great love.  Their stories might cause us to pay attention to our stories, to search for our own blind spots, and to discern ways to contribute to change in ourselves and within our local communities. 
     What are you paying attention to and finding meaningful during this pause time?  I’d love to hear….just let me know on my email below.     
Thinking of you, with gratitude! 
Questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you. 
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Linda Lawrence Hunt, The Hearth, Spokane WA  

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Linda Lawrence Hunt · The Hearth · Spokane, WA 99218 · USA

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