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(Or: In Which Lori and Ruth Pen a Poem Together)

You may not know that one of my very favorite poets is our own Ruth. As you probably have gleaned, she has a way with words. So when she emailed me with a premonition most poetic — Rows and rows of grown things. And it came from the pain. — I had to respond.

Oh Gardener, you surely tease:
what can grow from this blighted, salted soil
but stones and brush, blunted and stunted as bonsai?
What takes root in blood and mud but dashed dreams
and creeping evil? This ground has shown no promise,
not in all its years of sunward striving. Still, you laugh.
Crucifixion turns into Resurrection. Do I not recall?
And I see — rows and rows of grown things,
green shoots rooted in pain, turning new blooms
toward heaven. When will it come? You simply smile.
I carry no timepiece. Only wait for the rain to cease.
And you throw me an umbrella: a friend.
I resolve again to wait.

Missouri had some seriously wacky weather last week and I know we aren’t the only US state to experience it.  On Wednesday, the high was something like 6 and I don’t even remember what the windchill was.  Saturday it was something like 60 and I noticed that something is sprouting in my flower beds.  Technically, it should be the crocus because they should come up before the daffodils.  But these leaves look a little heavy to be crocus.  I shall see what I shall see when they are a little farther along.

More than anything I wanted to get out the kneeler and start working with a hand rake to pull the leaves out of the beds that line the front of the house. I would get to feel the sun on my back and listen to the bird song while I piddled along.  We have many feet of garden beds – I’m not sure why this seemed like such a good idea.  I’m really not very talented.  We joke that some things thrive in spite of me.

What can I say?  Gardening in moderation makes me happy.  It relaxes me.  When I’m on my knees working in the beds, I feel closer to God.  Is it because I’m on my knees?  Or is it because my hands are in the soil?  I have no clue.   But one thing is sure – taking part in God’s creation is good for the soul.



tomatoYesterday (Friday 4/22) was Earth Day.  I have to admit that Earth Day is not a huge day for me.  We’re a pretty environmentally conscious family.  We recycle.  We reuse.  I remake some clothing.  We don’t use paper plates or paper napkins.  Nope.  Not even when we have 8 extra kids in the house.  And when one of them asks we explain that we are being stewards of God’s earth.  To us that means minimizing our impact and using things wisely.  I try to challenge them.

Every now and again one of those pesky teens challenges me.

Tonight, my son stood looking out at the back yard from the kitchen window.  “Can I plant something in that corner?  The weedy one?”

“Which weedy corner?”  When it comes to our back yard, you have to be a bit more specific.  The weedy corner with the telephone pole?  Or the weedy corner on top of the hill?

“That one by the telephone pole.  Potatoes are really easy.  I want to plant potatoes. That’s what we did in biology today.”

Way back before my son was born, I loved to garden.  Okay, garden is probably an exaggeration.  At our old house, you could throw compost down, minimally turn the soil and stick in some tomato plants. They grew shoulder-high (I’m 5’8”) with stems thicker than my thumb.  They had to be staked and propped and grew more tomatoes than we could use.  I thought I was something else.

Then we moved.  We’ve planted tomatoes.  We’ve even tried different places in both the front and back yards.  I have managed to get maybe 5 tomatoes total and we’ve been here 14 years. I finally quit trying.

I tend to think that’s why God sent me this boy. To encourage me to try again and to try something a little different.  All I know is that I’m eying that corner of the yard and I’m planning to turn that boy loose with a shovel and a pick.  For some reason I’ve never felt comfortable abandoning the compost pile so we’ve continued to add to it and turn it.  God only knows why because I sure don’t.

But what I do know is this. God has blessed us with this Earth and the things that grow. I’m just here to take care of it to the best of my ability. Maybe just maybe I’ll get a few tomatoes out of the deal.



Have a Mary Little Christmas

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