728. There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air is softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

Poetry is a rich, full bodied whistle,
Cracked ice crunching in pails,
The night that numbs the leaf,
The duel of two nightingales,
The sweat pea that has run wild,
Creation’s tears in shoulder blades.
~Boris Pasternak

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Well, perhaps not every child had such a garden in their childhood, but I wish they had. I did, but the enchanted place was actually all the blocks around our house more than just a single garden. Nevertheless, Lawrence’s description fits my childhood perfectly. For, you see, in southern California where my life began, flowers grow everywhere, and many of the houses, like ours, which were perpendicular to the Pacific Ocean had car-width alleyways behind them. While many of the backyards were filled with all kinds flowers, the fences along the alleys were covered oftentimes with sweet pea vines. So strong an imprint did those images and scents make on my mind, heart, and soul that the memory of them hasn’t faded, not even a smidgen, for the fifty years I’ve been gone from there. Had I known 20 years ago that sweet peas would grow here, I would have started sowing their seeds when I first took up gardening. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I stumbled across a packet of sweet pea seeds in a nursery and thought what the heck. Why not give ‘em a try?! And guess what? They have done fairly well the years we’ve gotten a good amount of rain and the temperatures haven’t gotten too warm, too quickly. Et voilà! Today sweet peas are abloom on my back fence again! And the halcyon days of my childhood have been flooding the foreground of my memory the livelong day. My oh my, but those were wondrous and wonder-filled times!

By helpful fingers taught to twine
Around its trellis, grew
A delicate and dainty vine;
The bursting bud, its blossom sign, Inlaid with honeyed-dew.

Oh, some may choose, as gaudy shows,
Those saucy sprigs of pride
The peony, the red, red rose;
But give to me the flower that grows Petite and pansy-eyed.

 Thus, meditation on Sweet Peas
Impels the ardent thought,
Would maidens all were more like these,
With modesty–that true heartsease–
Tying the lover’s knot.
~Excerpted verses from a poem
by Hattie Howard

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. ~Ephesians 5:1-2   ✝

114. Feel the wild imprint of surprise. Free the joy inside the self. Awaken to the wonder of life. ~Edited excerpts by John O’Donohue

 Happy is he who still loves something
he loved in the nursery:
He has not been broken in two by time;
he is not two men, but one,
and he has saved not only his soul but his life.
~G. K. Chesterton

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When young children feel “the wild imprint of surprise,” they so easily let go the joy they feel, but by the time they reach adolescence they have usually become reticent to share their feelings and expressions of joyfulness for fear of ridicule by peers.  Then as they grow into adulthood, the playgrounds and backyards of their youth are left as far behind as their ability to experience wonder and awe and unbridled joy.

Off and on throughout my life I’d had glimpses of my childhood and the splendor of its days, but it was only after retirement that I realized “that like a forgotten fire, childhood can flare up again.” First I was elated that at last I owned my own time, had the time to belong to myself again, and was able to spend unlimited amounts of time in my little piece of Eden, taking photographs, and pursuing any other desires of my heart. But oh my, how also thrilling it was to find that my inner child was alive and well and that the middle years of my life in which I traversed valleys of brokenness and spiritual darkness had not robbed me of a joyful and thankful heart nor irrevocably “broken me in two!” God is so very good!

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.  ~Isaiah 55:12   ✝