When our yard was landscaped over a decade ago, the new plants were so small that you could barely see them in the stark expanse of garden rock. Now the plants have matured to the point that the yard almost looks like a desert jungle. But there is still enough space between the plants to present a pleasing appearance.

If you have driven through the Oak Grasslands of California, you have seen my idea of perfect natural spacing. Here and there, the oak trees dot the rolling hills. Somehow they know not to crowd each other. One could easily imagine the Lord strolling through his creation and scattering the acorns that grow into trees. I am reminded of a stanza from “The Spiritual Canticle” by St. John of the Cross:

A thousand graces scattering,
He passed through these groves with haste,
And in gazing at them
With his image alone,
Left them clothed in beauty.

El Carmelo Retreat House

The interior renovations promise to be lovely when completed in the near future.

Last week I had the good fortune of attending some meetings at El Carmelo Retreat House in Redlands, California. It had been years since I had been there, and I was looking forward to the scent of orange blossoms from the groves that surround the buildings. I was a little disappointed as Lyft drove us up the winding road through acres of orange trees ladened with last year’s crop, but no blossoms. However, the freshly-squeezed orange juice for breakfast the next day was more than enough compensation.

The following afternoon, I took a walk along the Way of the Cross. To my delight, I found four trees anticipating spring. They were covered with orange blossoms while still ladened with last year’s crop. The scent was intoxicating!