I am up quite early, 4:00 am, sitting in my sunroom, listening to the quiet of the lingering nighttime. All the dogs are asleep, curled up on their beds and/or the couch. Two of them are dreaming, moving their paws in imagined runs. All is silent except for the softly snuffling canine sounds and the water in the koi pond as it cascades down the rocks into the pool below it. This is my bit of Eden, silent as it awaits the dawn of day and the approach of spring.

          After the several soggy rainy days we have had of late, yesterday I found myself drawn to my back yard. I took stock of the daffodil, daylily and peony plants pushing up through the earth. I tended to all the birdfeeders, lest the wrens and woodpeckers worked themselves into a frenzy impatiently waiting for the morsels of nuts and seeds to be replenished.

          I wandered over to the koi pond to take stock of the fish. During the winter, the fish go to the bottom of the pond or hide out in their cave in the wall of the pond. Near the end of each winter, I make my first fish count, hoping to find all the fish I had at the end of autumn. The fish scatter and dive to the pond's bottom when they sense my presence. They have forgotten who I am and  the relationship I share with them during the warm days of each year.
          I call one of the koi my ghost fish. He is beautiful- totally black except for a striking grey color on the outer edges on each of his fins. But for all his beauty, on the best of summer days when the pond water is crystal clear, he is difficult to find swimming against the black backdrop of the pond's liner. I saw every fish present and accounted for but the ghost fish. I even found a surprise fingerling, perhaps three or four inches long, a beautiful solid yellow-gold color. I scanned the water a few more times, searching for the ghost fish. Eventually, as I turned to walk away, I caught a glimpse of silver skimming just under the water's surface.

          I suspect winter, with its cold wet days, has not really left us. While it is not yet over, at least we know it is drawing to a close. With each passing day, I find myself thinking about and planning for the work I have to do to care for my small garden of Eden.
          During this season of Lent, I have been taking stock. I have been examining who I think I am, who I think I am called to be and who others see me as being. I am taking stock of all the gifts life has given me and taking stock of how I have cared for those gifts. I am taking stock of my commitment to God in relation to God's commitment to me. I am taking stock of what I think I need do to increase and strengthen my commitment to Christ and his Church.

          Just as I expectantly await the return of spring, the blooms of daffodils and peonies, and the return of warmer crystal clear water with opportunities to feed the koi from my hands and feel them gracefully swim along my legs and arms, I eagerly await the celebration of Easter and Jesus's resurrection. But while I wait, I take stock of the work I have done and the work I have yet to do to care for God's people and creation.


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