Bonaventure, opposites, and making peace with my urban homestead

I got a blessed hour and a half to work in the garden last weekend, and it was heavenly. The work was fun and mindless, so my mind could wander, and wander it did…

For the past several years, there has been an internal wrestling match in my soul — city, or country? Land, or cement? Gardening or ….not gardening?

My temperament likes settled-ness. I like to decide once and for all. I don’t do well with loose ends.

As my interest in growing things, chickens, bees, and more was growing over the last couple of years, I devoured books, read blogs, talked and talked to Hub’band, going around and around in circles — sometimes idly, sometimes obsessively scanning internet real estate sites — looking for the perfect place. I was convinced on existed.  I had to choose once and for all – chickens in the country and cowboy boots, or an upside-down planter of tomatoes, and high-heeled boots in the city.

I did read quite a few ‘urban homesteading’ blogs and books and articles, but I wasn’t convinced this was the path for me. I was stuck in an  “all-or-nothing: cognitive distortion.

Last summer, I was granted an epiphany, through the words of Katarina Zeno, who was taking the words of Blessed Jon Paul II, and making them accessible to a busy woman like me. The book, Discovering the Feminine Genius, was great in so MANY ways, but the part that has stuck with me perhaps the most is Zeno’s concise explanation of St. Bonaventure’s concept of the coincidence of opposites.  Zeno calls them the co-existence of opposites, which phrasing makes more sense to me  (no offense, Bonaventure, because you’re an awesome holy saint).

Very simply, it is not unusual to have internal wrestling matches going on within us – and these wrestling matches are a) normal, b) for some mysterious reason, allowed or given by God, and c) experienced for our whole lives, as our path in life, our vocation, becomes more and more fully revealed.

In other words: You can like the country and like the city. You can be a devout Christian and dance tango (one of Zeno’s examples from her own life). You can be a mother, and also enjoy writing and gardening.

The two don’t take away from each other, somehow, but inform each other. The last example, for instance: my motherhood is helped by my appreciation for God’s gift of growing things. It is a frequent topic of conversation that the kids are drawn into, and I see they are starting to notice and observe beautiful nature and creation, from caterpillars and bugs, to flowers and trees.

So, as I read this concept, and really resonated with,  a peaceful journey continued – and continues-  as I said to the two masked opponents inside me, “Country” and “City”, ‘ You can both just be here. Its cool.” It was a freedom to discover that God had placed inside me the desire to garden and grow things, and the desire to be within 10 minutes of a Target.

The peacefulness, the letting go, to say, “I can like both”, has made me realize where my true for-now place is: right here. I have a Playmobil landscape for the kids, complete with Dragon’s Blood Sedum and Golden Moneywort. I have a shady spot to read a book (which may be about gardening, or it may be a fictional Amish romance), I have chickens. I also have the library and several coffee shops within walking distance. Perpetual adoration at the church just a block away. Neighbors, friends – my parents – within a short drive. The bus to take me other places, the car when its my turn.

Peace. Joy. Life. Invasive raspberries. Busy streets. All right here, right now.

Are there any wrestling matches you have? Could Bonaventure’s wisdom help you, right now, to love where you are?

One thought on “Bonaventure, opposites, and making peace with my urban homestead

  1. Suzanne says:

    Amen, Laura! Big LIKE from me!

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