In the cold, gray days of winter I find my soul longing for new life and spring. While I recognize the value of finding contentment in the present, I also know my soul is wired to look for signs of resurrection and new birth. And my little girl, waiting to give birth to new life, needed a warm place to stretch and move and, hopefully, hurry the process.
We bundled against the wind, and braced ourselves for February cold, and made our way to Phipps Conservatory in the Oakland district of the City of Pittsburgh. The conservatory, commissioned in 1893 by wealthy steel baron Henry Phipps, is one of the oldest and largest Victorian greenhouses in the country. Say what you will about rich people and their obscene accumulation of wealth, I for one am grateful for those who have used theirs to bestow such lavish gifts upon the public.
Lush green grasses, mosses, ferns and trees lined meandering walkways, punctuated by splashes of blooming orchids in a riot of colors, shapes, and sizes. More than thirty-five thousand orchid species and eighty thousand hybrids are known to exist.
The soft, clean scent of cedar mingled with delicious aromas of tropical fruits and spices. The music of water running, falling, splashing, and pooling sang peace within glassed domes. Tall trees towered toward ceilings and I wandered beneath their branches and leaves, some of which seemed fit to line the roadway for a king.
There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice, wrote John Calvin. If a single blade of grass offers cause for rejoicing, the abundance of plants, flowers and trees on display in Phipps Conservatory invited me to a banquet table laden with ridiculous joy.
As I walked, I whispered thanksgivings for all the hands which had come together to create and sustain this place. It was crafted by those knowledgeable about the cultivation and care of plants, and those skilled in beauty and design. Architects, builders, and electricians had each offered their gifts, as well as those who fit pipes to keep the water flowing. And I was the glad recipient of their sacred work.
More of winter is now behind than ahead, and the sun’s warmth and light offer their gifts more strongly each day. Groundhog Day or, Candlemas in the liturgical calendar, has come and gone, marking both the midpoint of winter and my daughter’s due date.
The celebration of Candlemas recalls the ritual purification of Mary following the birth of her son, as well as his presentation at the temple. Traditionally on Candlemas, a blessing was offered over all the candles which would be used in the church during the coming year. These candles would bear witness to the Light which came to shine in the darkness, light which grows stronger each day, as all of creation groans with longing.
My daughter continues to wait; it won’t be long now. Spring is coming, and my eyes and ears and heart are wide open and looking for signs of new life. I long for the return of warmth and light of the sun. And it was good for my soul, on a dark, dreary winter day, to walk and wait in a garden.
Joining Laura @ the Wellspring and Jen and the Sisterhood, and continuing to wait!