The other day our eight year old son called our attention to a bird perched on the back fence. "What is that again?" he asked. "Oh, a mourning dove. Aren't they usually on the ground?" Well, yes, we affirmed. "How did you know that they're usually on the ground?" his Dad asked him. He answered, "I don't know; I just know."
The conversation continued into a little more clarity, and we shared memories from our old house watching the graceful, softest-grey little pairs milling around on the ground in our back yard. I recalled when once there was a single dove making its usual rounds, and this was unusual, and I wondered what it would do having apparently lost it's life-mate. Sometimes, as we have noticed before, these simple creatures offer a most beautiful portrayal of the very best things in life - pointing to and echoing the more perfected human experiences of virtue. This current bird was near its mate, and they've made a nest in the old pear tree - happily for us granting easy observation through our kitchen windows.
Our son was simply remembering seeing this type of bird more often on the ground, though what he answered at first satisfied us for good reason. It may not be much of a thing to say, to "just know because you know" - but it later struck us as profound, reflecting the kind of way we've come to see things especially over the last several years. Akin to poetic knowledge - in some ways the sense of "just knowing" things reflects the combination of knowledge based in common sense, intuition, imaginative insight, memory, and reason connected especially to simple experience of the real. When you are in touch with reality, you are more capable of knowing things unmediated, undistracted. The Gradgrinds of the world can apply science and the strictest of factual stricture to all, and sometimes to apparent proficiency; however more often we are reminded that a childlike and less sophisticated approach (blossoming organically out of the simple experience of a thing) yields a more lasting and sensible knowledge, bound to a worldview steeped in faith, towards wisdom. We don't eschew instruction or guidance or direction, and certainly not books; we just try at all costs to avoid "murdering to dissect" in the ways of learning.
Incidentally, and perhaps related - at least in the matter of natural beauty and the gifts of wonder this life avails - we had taken some of our church's old Easter lilies last year and put them in the ground. Most people told us they won't flower again, it's a waste of time, but we let the green stalks die off late in autumn and cut them to the ground. This spring, they sprung up again, and just this week we were gifted with the first of many beautiful blossoms to come. In this weary world it is a welcome sign of hope - especially as we come to the end of Mary's month of May, celebrate the descent of the Holy Ghost on Pentecost tomorrow, and begin the magnificent month dedicated the Sacred Heart of Jesus in June. These lilies sing like small lovely trumpets and point as signs to Him, to Whom we should turn our hearts. May He reign in glory, and may we always recognize, adore, and serve Him in a world raging against His most beautiful heart!
Christ is Risen! He is truly Risen, Alleluia! We have spent the last weeks feasting and enjoying the joys that come at Eastertime - abundance after famine, so to speak, in big and little ways. Our oldest boy was here for a couple of beautiful weeks, making the house seem whole again and filling our happy cups to overflowing. And never before had hot coffee, cinnamon rolls, and bacon tasted so good as on Easter Sunday morn after trying Lenten days, the sufferings of Holy Week, and the final long and holy Vigil night. The late frosts and violent storms have given way to Spring - embodying the life Christ's glorious Resurrection brings.
Earlier in Lent, I had begged the Blessed Virgin to save our fig trees whose early foliage, among many other shrubs and trees, had been killed off in a freeze. For weeks I lamented the bare and blackened branches behind Our Lady in the garden, then one day we saw that little green buds were once again emerging. Whether the trees will bear fruit remains to be seen, but at least the boughs will be green - a timely and revivifying balm for the soul after each dark and cold winter. Also, the puppy had destroyed the first blooming rose that had come just in time for Easter; in the moment it was hard to see that "this too shall pass" - and yet, as my husband had predicted, another bud blossomed in all its delicate beauty - a wonderful, fleeting nature's gold we should cherish while it lasts. Relatedly, we have taken in a baby buckling goat this week, bottle feeding and caring for this wee little thing that we hope will help us to expand our goat adventure in the future. Remember that instead of hoped-for kids we got baby chicks last year? At the moment it is good to reflect that, even if none of our best ideas ever come to perfect fruition or at the time we expect or desire, the best fruits tend to come a bit unexpectedly, and anyway the virtues that come of hard work and prayerful, faithful labor make everything worthwhile.
A primary part of our Easter celebrations manifested in our annual St. George Fest - a day of praying, feasting, good-natured competition (in an obstacle course race), a St. George play, music, and smore's. This year the weather was perfect - the sun shone and the skies were blue and the surroundings verdant - there were no big injuries and there were no insects to be seen. Children and adults ran the course in good cheer, traversing trails, climbing over the wall, splashing through the shallow waters of the creek, crawling through tunnels, throwing axes, hauling tree trunks, shooting arrows, running the pine-cone-bomb gauntlet, and finally thrusting a pine-pole spear into the dreaded dragon (the mulch pile) to finish. While we celebrate Christ's ultimate triumph over death, we emulate His models in figures like St. George, who took up the cross and vanquished the evil of his day. There is always a sublime balance in the fallen world; no longer in Eden, we mustn't let our guard completely down. The Church implores us to shout with joy and in the same moment to spurn all that is hostile to Christ. The happiness of the world is not the joy of heaven, may we be graced to discern the difference! And our glad moments and victories here are to be tempered in knowledge that it is all for His glory, not our own. Non nobis Domine, we sing. Sed nomini, tuo da Gloriam!
We look forward to our next gathering soon, in honor of Mary in the month of May. A processional litter on which to carry her statue will be covered with flowers to honor her, the Mother filled with grace, who ever points and leads us to the Savior. Today, that single soft-pink rose salutes her, and provides a lesson enough for the day.
On this little homestead our family aspires to work the land and hand on the Catholic Tradition, walking in wonder and learning to live by the fruits of our labor, in honor of Our Lady of Fatima, who guides us to Him.