Friday, April 28, 2017

Taking Delight in God's Good Earth

Dear Friends,

Each year in April and May, avid gardeners prepare the land for planting, and when the moment is right, put in their annuals. Long before that, perennials are divided, shared, swapped and pinched off.

Those of us who like to have perennials in our gardens also know that certain perennials send out long adventuresome roots: bishop’s weed, lilies of the valley, jack- o-lanterns, to mention a few. They go under sidewalks and around corners and won’t stop. The only way to eliminate perennials that threaten to take over everything is to attack their roots system, to find “the mother” as it’s called.

The sneakiest thing about these tentacled plants is that they reappear when you think you have eliminated them. Roots have the power within them to shoot life to the surface. These roots intertwine with plants we want to preserve. The danger is in killing both.

So too in the spiritual life. The good we intend, the love, the care, the hopefulness, our sense of justice are often intertwined with less noble and sometimes downright destructive aspects of our personalities and habits. We need a kind of spiritual round-up -- you  know, ”round-up,” the topical spray which goes to the roots of what needs to be eliminated.

Then, too, I can’t help thinking about uprooted people…refugees and immigrants.

About one in every 35 people in the world is a refugee or international immigrant, forcibly uprooted because of persecution or war. The uprooted face closed borders, closed hearts and closed minds. Where will they be welcomed to put down their own roots?

It’s up to the world’s gardens to receive the special blossoms and fruits of the displaced. But it’s at a cost to us. We might be asked to make room, become hybrid and after all, is that so bad?

In his lessons in the Gospel, Jesus tells us that it’s important to stay connected to the vine, to let the tares grow with the wheat until harvest, to be pruned, to scatter seed lavishly. Every lesson we learn from the earth and its yield is a lesson of faith.

Years ago, a parishioner where I worked, and fellow gardener, brought me a five ounce paper cup with a seed growing in it. “I don’t recognize it, Mike.”  He beamed. “It’s a redwood tree.” What an act of faith! To plant a redwood seed, knowing this tree could grow and flourish for a thousand years or more! Mike taught me an important lesson, echoed by the poet Wendell Berry. “Plant sequoias,” Berry says. ”Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant. Practice resurrection.”

So as spring deepens into planting time and the earth warms, plant flowers and vegetables. Scatter seed. Take delight in God’s good earth. Remember those across the world who gave their life’s blood so that others might plant freely. Hold up your green thumb as if to say to God “OK Gardener God, let the growing begin.”

~ Sister Joan Sobala