my Anonymous plot
One of our motivations for creating something is to share it with someone. A musician learns to play in order to perform. A visual artist designs and works to have that work displayed. An actor rehearses in order to--well, of all these, the actor probably needs an audience the most!
But the gardener? A gardener is certainly motivated to share the success and the overall aesthetic of the garden. Sometimes I stop and think, "Wow, somebody needs to see this." And at the same time, when the garden is in disarray, I am sufficiently embarrassed.
But most of the time this garden is a secret place. It doesn't front a suburban street or an arterial road. It sports no walking paths for nobility, nor play structure for neighborhood children. It is a changing palette of edibles and ornamentals, dirt, compost, mulch and weeds, but for the most part, it is hidden from general view. And for the most part, I am ok with that.
For, in truth, the invisible is no less valuable. It is a hard concept to hang on to, in our culture in particular, when fame and visibility are so highly valued that people destroy their lives and the lives of others for that proverbial 15 minutes. There is something in each of us that screams "See me! See me! See me!" Or, at least, "Look what I did."
But in the secret garden we know our Creator sees, and we are reflecting back to Him the creative urge that is so much of His very being. The unseen are no less important and/or valued, as in those who accompanied Peter on his visit to Cornelius--those nameless, unnumbered ones who supported and encouraged both parties in such a momentous encounter.
"...The next day (Peter) rose and went away with them, and some of the
brothers from Joppa accompanied him...."
An anonymous group mentioned in a small sliver of the story. How many more not mentioned? How many more dwell n the invisible place, nonetheless seen by Him of Whom it is most important to be seen?
"Don't turn on the dryer when we are playing hide and seek," warned my young grandson. The image is astoundingly humorous--his small face grinning out at me as he tumbles about, if he could actually fit inside. Although, now that I think of it, he has fit inside some mighty small spaces, and I wouldn't put it past him to squeeze inside the dryer. His statement struck me as a simple wisdom. It involves the seeing ahead to the possible consequences of each action, not only to yourself, but to others. It involves awareness of possibilities not normally considered, and taking cautious measures to avoid an unpleasant surprise.
I didn't realize it, but I have a short list of simple wisdom that applies to the garden. Don't let the dog poop therein. Don't grow prickly things. Don't let the bird feeder get so low on feed that a bird so focused on eating eats her way under the plastic side wall and gets trapped inside. These standards involve things that impact the future--of myself and/or others. In a negative way. (So I'm going to include Don't grow zucchini, because then, dear heart, you have to eat it!) Each one is a lesson in itself.
I consider the simple wisdom from my Creator's heart, "Why would you die?" Good question. Why would we choose to turn from Him who is our life. "In Him we live and move and have our being." Why would I choose to include the dog poop, prickles and other consequences of omission and commission in the garden, in the laundry room, or anywhere else I might stubbornly or stupidly(ignorantly) choose the dangerous path. If you can see the consequences coming, why not take averting action? If you can't see them coming, why not? You aren't paying attention.
Come. Let us reason together. Don't hide in the dryer in the first place.
This morning I wandered through the garden with a mug of coffee. They say if you drink hot beverages on a hot day, it will cool you down. I'm not sure that’s entirely true, but even if it is, I’m not going to try it with the plants; at the end of the day when I wield the hose, I make an effort to spray the heated water away from the desirables, particularly the young ones.
Just one of those details to consider. Along with the idea that every once in awhile the rain barrels must be drained and refreshed with new rain.
But the fact that I can consider the details now supports my sense of having found some sweet spot (as previously mentioned)--that I can take the time to address plants as individuals and deal respectfully with each. To my shame I can not remember the names of many, and I want to rectify that.
The problem is the level of overwhelm. When the weeds are all I see, and images of Japanese beetles invade my dreams, my life seems to proceed like a steam roller--the view only of the general landscape with an inability to see what is crushed beneath. Sometimes I am what is crushed beneath. Decisions are made without sufficient deliberation, care is not taken for the smallest detail. Hurry is an enemy.
Brother Lawrence says, "We must do all things thoughtfully and soberly, without impetuosity or precipitancy, which denotes a mind undisciplined. We must go about our labors quietly, calmly, and lovingly, entreating Him to prosper the works of our hands; by thus keeping heart and mind fixed on God, we shall bruise the head of the evil one, and beat down his weapons to the ground."
Mindfulness, anyone? Truly there is nothing new under the sun. But the difference is on what(or rather, on whom) we keep our mind fixed. The details can be either that which overwhelms us, or the place of focus and care. The art is in being able to make the choice.
The sweet spot
The view out the kitchen window reveals that the garden seems to have blown itself up...like a self inflating balloon...like Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. And this, seemingly over night. Everything is fat and green with spots of flowers of pink, white, red-orange, yellow, etc. I am at that sweet spot of garden life, where I can tread the paths and think in peace "This needs a little weeding...this needs a little pruning...time to pull these out...time to put something different in here," as opposed to "Aaaaaaaaargh!! I'm buried in weeds!" The Japanese beetles have dwindled (I did kill a BUNCH,) and seeds planted seem to be responding to the warmth and water.
Don't think I haven't thought how this can apply to the rest of life(you weren't thinking that, were you?). I'm struggling emotionally right now, and I can't understand why, when all seems to be going well. I should be in the sweet spot of life, when things just need small adjustments--the major tasks are behind me and I've walked a road with sufficient obstacles and traumas. And of course, as in the garden, so in life, the weeds are waiting, waiting, to sprout forth and overwhelm me again. So why so downcast, oh my soul?
I only have one theory, and it could be so so wrong. But maybe the little adjustments are the hardest. Maybe having the time to consider the details also brings the time to review and condemn, to examine the failures and have time for disappointment.
I like to think this is only because we strive for perfection--a garden without weeds, bursting forth with aesthetic and nutritional value, so that the necessary adjustments now seem like an affront to our efforts. It also underscores the longing we all have, to live in the beauty, to be enfolded in the glory of the Creator's arms. We stretch out on our tippy-toes to attain to it here--our hearts and our souls cry out to live in that place--but we are still being formed for it: a long, often arduous process. So we can only look forward, and be grateful for the productivity of the garden as it is, and for the promise of future weeds with which to contend.
When it rains...
Today, being Tuesday, is dump-the-rain-gauge day. The intent is to insure that every week there is at least one inch of rain on the garden. I expected at least that much as I went to the gauge, but the float had not moved, even a fraction of an inch.
That was particularly surprising because yesterday it rained. It dumped big full buckets of rain for at least fifteen minutes, then paused, caught its breath and dumped some more. It was astounding, dramatic, and enticing. Only, I was viewing it all out a window some 14 miles away from home where I was attending a meeting and I could only stay seated and glance toward the deluge and try to keep my mouth from flopping open and embarrassing myself.
Imagine my surprise, then, when today I shake the rain gauge upside-down and find naught but an old drip or two. I had given thanks yesterday that the rain came to water the garden. Today I irrigated. Is it proper to rescind a prayer of thanksgiving? (Well, she thinks, fists tight and planted on her hips, thanks! Thanks a lot. Seems rude. Is rude). And now I think perhaps assuming my garden was being watered at the same time was a tad presumptuous.
It made me think, "for it rains on the righteous and the unrighteous alike", though I'm not sure in context which would be righteous and which not--my garden or me. But, since it is a very bad paraphrase, I had to look up what the red-letters actually say:
"For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."
And this is nestled in the section of the book of Matthew referring to how we treat one another. I always thought the verse was about how God blesses and provides for all, no matter how churlish or depraved, but had not thought about how we are called to do the same thing. If He is our model and guide, and we are to be as He is ("Be ye holy, as I am holy."), then we must also send rain on the just and the unjust, and shine on the evil and on the good.
"As though he did not regard human character at all, God bids
his sun shine on good and bad. As though he did not know that
any men were vile, he bids the shower descend on the just and unjust..."
As though He did not know!! He does know, and we do know. But our behavior towards others is to be such that we seem not to know. And no matter what, we keep on shining, we keep on raining...
I mentioned last night to an acquaintance that my garden was full of weeds. He simply asked, "Why?"
I muttered something about not having enough time to weed the past two weeks. After all, this is the "Summer of Big Projects," and I am ensconced in one of the biggest ever, involving paint, brushes, and a kitchen in great disarray.
But it cut me to the quick. If I cared about this plot of land...if I enjoyed it and wanted to enjoy it more, it shouldn't be languishing under a blanket of invasive green creeping weeds. So I spent 4 1/2 hours weeding yesterday. I didn't intend to spend that long, particularly on the first day of what I assume will be a long commitment, but the garden responded. It cooed under my loving hands, and stretched up as if to shake off a long sleep, and smiled back at me...
…like any relationship, once starved for time, attention and care, finally receiving what it needs, and responding with reciprocate joy.
We often hear that our priorities are indicated by where we spend our time, no matter what our intentions or the words of our mouths. I hate that. It is cliché and not a little obnoxious. Our lives are lived under a barrage of interruptions and distractions. It is just a fact. But when someone questions why there are weeds in your garden, you need to seriously consider...
And I did. And I heard the metaphor loud and clear. My primary relationship had gotten blurry with inattention. Once again I took for granted the fact that I can come at any moment into the presence of my Creator and tell Him anything, and hear Him tell me the Truth about myself and how He loves me because that Truth is that I am the apple of His eye. Or as Misty Edwards sings, "...here I am, Your favorite one." I am His favorite one.* Why would I not seek to be with Him every second of every moment of every blasted day? We are a stupid (slow) people.
I will tend my Garden. You?
* As are you.