Visitor in the Temple Haībun

The February sunshine steeps your boughs
and tints the buds and swells the leaves within.
The groves were God’s first temples.

— William C. Bryant


Daily on my walks, I see miracles of beauty, hidden places that driving would never reveal. The slower I walk, with more deliberation and care, with time to look around, the more my soul lifts with the beauty casually offered to my eyes. Some combinations of shrub and tree were created with careful selection, pruning, fertilizing and skill beyond mine. I am the worshipper, visiting briefly in temples built by others.

Even my own garden has treasures I received, simply by deciding to dwell here. Some irises were planted by a previous owner. I thought they would be purple, and each year I waited for them to bloom. Their leaves never embraced a flower stem except once, overshadowed as they had become by the vigorous forsythia planted too close. One fall, I pruned back the forsythia. That next spring, the forsythia did not bloom, but the iris did: delicate and pale pink, with a creamy white interior.

not purple, unexpected
the pink of my son’s rosy cheeks
bearded iris bloomed

My neighbor, Terry, came down the driveway, waving, and calling to me. She told me she was delighted to see Reed’s irises in bloom after so many years. She asked for one, and I freely gave it. She told me about the woman who had planted them. Reed had developed brain cancer and was gone in a few months. The neighbors had come together to make the family meals while she enjoyed her last days, looking out on her garden. One neighbor came to play harp for her in the evenings. Now her garden is my garden, and her irises are in my care.

Last year, I moved all those irises away from the forsythia and into the sun. My neighbor, Terry, came by again: her iris had not survived. I told her I would give her another one day, once they had recovered from transplanting. One spring soon, I hope to see that pale pink flower again. I will care for them here, in my outdoor temple. As I tend the memories of my own mother.

mourning in shade
thick green bud rises in the sun
time to bloom again

Added by request, an old iris painting of mine, purple like the ones I carried at my wedding:

Purple Iris Painting

Iris 1 Painting by Brenda Davis Harsham

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham

Inspired by the Līgo Haībun Challenge Prompt: Temple.

41 thoughts on “Visitor in the Temple Haībun

  1. Pingback: Iris Blooms Haibun | Friendly Fairy Tales
  2. I love the Iris and I really enjoyed this journey through nature’s own temple and the connection with persons past. Beautifully written as always.


  3. ‘The slower I walk …. the more my soul lifts with the beauty casually offered to my eyes.’ There’s something about that line that just grabs me. I enjoyed the rest of your haibun too and hope the irises flourish in their new spot.


    • Thanks, I will be waiting with bated breath to see if they bloom this year. Just making it through all this arctic weather will be a miracle, really, so I will forgive them if it takes a few more years of waiting. Those bearded irises are really picky.


  4. Brenda, The Iris is one of the most beautiful of flowers. We had tons and I mean a bunch in our yard in Northern Virginia, and every other year my wife would split the blubs and share them. There were Iris’s all over the neighborhood. Such a beautiful sight. take care, Bill


  5. The painting is lovely, Brenda. I find the beady looking things in the first picture… look like amazing colored grapes that have been manipulated genetically to hang from trees.. *eyes cross over in head* I am a little sleep deprived and so probably not making a shred of sense!

    Your words express how much you take in the detail of your daily walks and I find myself inspired to spend a bit more time slowing down and taking in things around me on my next visit with nature! 🙂



    • Miss Lou, I hope you will, so many beautiful things to see. A talented gardener created that winter display of a white-barked tree, probably a birch, and vines with red berries that was beautiful. I never saw it in the summer at all. And she has almost no space to work with, just about 18 inches between her house and the sidewalk. It’s an amazing, award-winning garden. I love to walk by it.


  6. A true nature mystic – a lovely comment by Suzanne. But you also turn a walk into magic, and once again, everyone should learn, especially me, where haibun are found Yes. the first thing you show is that they are to be found in your walk, your garden, your contact with nature, but they are also to be found in our passions and our serenity – as you show. I am not sure where the flowers stop and your words start, but this haibun with lovely watercolour could be framed and hung on the wall. I am uplifted after reading, and ache to be outside, strolling, noticing as you said. What an absolutely beautiful haibun you gave us this week. And it complements two previous ones you wrote, so really fits so well as a series, though this one, for me, is particularly special. One of your secrets is your first sentence. It is never, never wasted, always says so much, but is always short and simple, and clear. One is pulled in, immediately.


    • I’m humbled by your comment, which has really moved me. I had had a really productive morning, and when I tried to write in the evening, it did not flow well, but I persevered, and was happy in the end. I’m learning that if it doesn’t flow well, sticking with it is worthwhile. As your comment has validated for me. 🙂 Cheers, Brenda


  7. Lovely, Brenda. I was smiling as I enjoyed reading this post, weaving in parts of you, your past owner had planted this garden and is no longer…you brought her to life for us briefly and I found that so moving; you put a bit of you in your haiku and your children….I truly loved this and your painting as your final touch floored me…it was my bouquet at my wedding many years ago too. Thank you so much for sharing this. Oliana xx


    • I had never seen an iris like it. It was a huge flower, too, bigger than my open hand. Three or 4 large buds per flower stem. I can see why my neighbor coveted it. She said Reed had not been willing to give her one.


  8. What a beautiful true story.. all the love and tenderness contained in the iris , so gorgeously expressed in your words and your haiku. I hope there will be a photo when they bloom.


  9. I think now that some of the Iris’ I have – I have planted too deep. I do enjoy the pops of daffodils.
    The memories with your garden are heartwarming.
    Hugs, Jules
    PS Yes, that which you plant by your own hand or transplant by your own hand are indeed special. 🙂


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