A Wild Iris and a Lot of Gratitude

Wild Iris in the woods
A light purple iris grows in the middle of greenery and tree branches. Image courtesy Rachael Keefe.

I never knew there really were irises growing outside of gardens until this week.


Earlier this week, before the air quality was bad, I took Morgan for a walk at Battle Creek. While he happily chased his ball, I noticed something I’d never seen before. On the edge of a small pond was a single, wild iris.

The photo doesn’t quite do it justice. Yet, you it shows a faint purple flower on its own, in the middle of the greens. The sight took me back to my seminary days immediately.

In seminary, one of my favorite poets was Pulitzer Prize winning Louise Gluck. The Wild Iris is the title of one of her books and one of the poems within. The poem, “The Wild Iris, was on my top ten list for years.

The poem describes life, death, and rebirth through the experience of a flower. For me it described my experience with depression: “whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice…”

When I saw the wild iris at Battle Creek, I experienced a flood of gratitude for life, and the “voice” I discovered in my return from oblivion. I’ve carried this heightened sense of gratitude through the week. And it has been good.

What have you noticed or experienced in recent weeks that has sparked gratitude within you? Or joy? Was it something in nature or in another person or in yourself? Have you shared your experience with anyone?

Gratitude heals wounds within us and strengthens our relationships with others and with God. Today I am grateful for wild irises, healing, and community. How about you? What are you grateful for in this moment?

About Rachael Keefe

Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ. She was called to Living Table in 2015 after serving in many varied ministry settings since her ordination in 1992. She holds graduate degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Seminary at Yale (formerly Andover Newton Theological School). Her ministry and leadership often center around advocacy and accessibility. Her writing has been published by Chalice Press, The Christian Century, Red Letter Christians, Working Preacher, RevGalBlogPals, and others. She is grateful to be in ministry with Living Table today.

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4 thoughts on “A Wild Iris and a Lot of Gratitude”

  1. I am grateful for my gardens- bursting with life, color, and food!
    Every time I look at a flower close up I am reminded that something much bigger than me is responsible for the beauty I see.
    One tiny seed can grow and provide so much.
    I am also reminded that 30 yrs ago I also took 2 “seeds” and the gift was my twins.
    It’s a great week❣️

    • Jill, beauty is often a reminder that we are not “in charge” of the Universe. And happy birthday to your twins!

  2. I cherish the beauty and magic of flowers, wherever they grow, and when they are cut and in my home. I talk softly to each flower every day, thank them for being here with me, encourage them to bloom, tell them how lovely they are, and continue to thank them for blooming throughout their life right on through till they have dropped their leaves, or curled them up, or let them stand still as the moisture leaves them. I touch them very lightly while I talk to them. I am grateful for every day that we share. I thank them one last time, when I gently lift them from the vase, and say good-bye. I sense God in each flower and feel so much love and life as I communicate with them. They bless me.


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