Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Another Thorny Issue

It is one of those glorious days in Pensacola. I love winter here anyway, I love the cold temperatures and a chance to wear some of my old German sweaters and coats, but today, the threat of deep freeze seems past, it is just warm enough to prune the roses and the bougainvilleas.

I used to garden, I gardened well. I gardened in Seattle, and in Germany, mostly, although I also had gardens in Jordan, and in Qatar. In Qatar, I will admit, my function was mostly to buy the plants and buy the pots and tell the gardener where to place them. He came to my door when I tried to do it myself, and he said “Madam, this is MY job. Please don’t take my work away from me.”

Now that AdventureMan is also a Master Gardener, my gardening responsibilities – and my gardening prerogotives – have declined substantially. I tried gardening when we got here; I can garden just fine in November – April, but the summer heat and humidity and mosquitos defeat me. Oh? Yes? You’ve heard this before? I am so sorry!

I still retain personal interest in the bougainvillea and the roses. I love the bougainvillea, and it is now three years old. I am trying to grow it tall, so it will cascade over the end of my porch area, as it does in the more tropical countries. Yes, it is a challenge.

I also love trimming, rooting, and creating new rose bushes from the beautiful old white rose bush we have, with it’s delicate coloring and scent.

Old White Roses

Old White Roses

I was careful. I wore leather globes. But when you are working with bougainvillea (great big huge thorns!) and with roses (smaller, but equally lethal thorns) you can get very scratched up. I did, indeed, get very scratched up, but I succeeded in getting the bougainvillea gathered and trimmed, some new bougainvillea starts made, and several new rose bushes started. I think next time I will at least wear long sleeves; my Master Gardener suggested long leather gauntlets!

The Master Gardener pruned the roses. 🙂 He had a class in pruning roses a couple weeks ago, and wanted to tackle the roses, but he wanted our marriage to survive. Today was the perfect day; a day we could both be outside. We discovered we have very similar styles in pruning roses, and our marriage is better than intact 🙂

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, ExPat Life, Gardens, Home Improvements, Marriage, Pensacola, Relationships, Weather, Work Related Issues | 2 Comments

A Thorny Sermon: The Prodigal Son

From today’s Lectionary reading, the Gospel:

GOSPEL: Luke 15: 1 – 3, 11b – 32 (RCL)
Luke 15: 1 – 3, 11 – 32 (Roman Catholic)

Gustave Dore: The Prodigal Son in the Arms of his Father

Gustave Dore: The Prodigal Son in the Arms of his Father

Luke 15:1 (NRSV) Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Phar’isees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 So he told them this parable:

11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.

14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything.

17 But when he came to himself he said, “How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.” ‘

20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe–the best one–and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’

28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’

31 Then the father said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.'”

Sometimes people will leave off the part about the elder son, and just concentrate on the return of the younger son, focusing on the father watching always, hoping for the return of the younger son, ready to forgive and welcome before the words can even get out of the younger son’s mouth.

It is wonderful, and reassuring, for those of us sinners.

Many, however – including me – can also identify with the oldest son who says “I’ve always done everything right and you’ve NEVER given me a tiny goat, much less a fatted calf, and you’re throwing this party for the son who blew his entire fortune on louche living???”

It doesn’t seem fair, does it? Isn’t that really the point of the story, that we can’t behave our way into heaven, it is sheer grace, the love of the heavenly creator, that allows us in? It’s not an easy concept to wrap my mind around, so today I struggle to take it in, and I give thanks for Father Neil who tackles the hard questions and doesn’t just sweep them under the carpet because they are inconvenient. (The sermon isn’t up yet, but when it is available, you will find it here)

March 10, 2013 Posted by | Character, Charity, Cultural, Faith, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Lectionary Readings, Relationships, Spiritual | 2 Comments