What’s Up Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Every year, it amazes me. The teeny tiny seed, turning into at-first teeny tiny plants, and then growing, growing, growing and bearing fruit. I’m sure I could wax philosophical all day about all the wonders of creation, but I’ll leave my waxing to just a single thought today, and just enjoy the photos as well – of beets, quinoa, peas, and green beans.

There is so much potential inside a single small seed. The first poem (well, and I guess, at this point, ONLY) of mine that was published was written when I was about 8 years old, and was in Wee Wisdom magazine (anyone remember that?). The title of the poem? “A Little Seed”.

A Little Seed can grow, they say,

if you care for it,

each and every day.

It also works with people, too –

Friends and family – just like you.

*Thank you, thank you very much. Yes, I am a very talented poet. Indeed.

But seriously, it was a thrill for this young would-be writer to have a “Published Work”. So official! So wonderful! Do you recall, dear reader, the scene from the Steve Martin classic, ‘The Jerk’, where his character, Navin Johnson, receives his new phone book, and says, “It is this kind of spontaneous publicity that MAKES people,” ? (Suuuure you do!)

But that is what * I* thought. I was so excited!

I always kind of thought I’d make my living writing. I did make *some* money from it, for awhile, and that was very fun and neat. But as kids came, it was harder to have the quiet time I needed to get to the writing. I loved those little seeds too much to leave them very often. At the time, I questioned, was this giving up? Was this the right thing? Should I press on and make this dream happen?

I don’t feel like I’m missing out, in any way, but not making a living full-time writing. I feel like throughout the seasons of life, we are provided with, perhaps guided to, different outlets that will give us a way to help ourselves, our families, and the world. I hope that you find joy, encouragement, and humor on this blog. That is what it brings to me. It also gives me a simple way to write, while nurturing my seeds (my actual seeds) and my Hub’band and family, my other little seeds. I write about a lot of crunchy stuff, but I hope you get a sense of my underlying philosophy at times. In this season, my family and my garden, provide the blank page on which to write. And what a wonderful story we’re coming up with.

Even while freelancing, I had a sense of the fleetingness of it all (Fleetingness? Its not coming up in spellcheck, but seriously? Is that a word? Yeah, I’m a writer. I make those UP.). You’d get a story done, and the it was on the next. Impermanent. For me, not enough reward to keep going.

Now, as a gardener, I keep going, even though one season makes my garden grow, and the next kills all my plants. But, somehow, it is natural, expected. Nature doesn’t care about fame (like I used to, when local people would acknowledge and admire my writing work). Nature is wise. We learn from nature, and we learn about the Creator of nature. And we have to just stand back and feel very blessed.

Okay, so I thought this would be a short armchair philosophy session, and I feel like I’m still not quite getting at what I mean here! I think Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins expresses it better as a poet than I ever could. I will let him end this post for me. Thanks, Father.

God’s Grandeur (Poems, 1918)

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
  It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
  It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;         5
  And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
  And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil

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Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
  There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;         10
And though the last lights off the black West went
  Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
  World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings

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?

Do you hear what I hear?

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know I’ll be making a pallet garden soon! It was my birthday present! I also was blessed to receive something else I asked for – wind chimes! Fair trade windchimes, to be specific. If you’ve never checked out the handmade treasures — that support women, kids, and men in other countries, directly! — you should really hop on over to SERRV where you can find many, many beautiful things.

My boys gave me the catalog and asked me to circle things for my birthday. I circled several windchimes, but, truth be told, the ones I would have chosen for myself were not the ones I received. Yes, its true, I can be kind of petty, or picky, or worse! I wanted metal, booming, hollow, almost-creepy windchimes. (Okay, my hub’band calls them creepy, not me). But, that’s the kind I wanted. I got a set that was bamboo, in fact, here’s the one, right here.

I did hang them up right away, and tried to be satisfied. My heart was saying, “metal clank”, not tiny hollow tube clink.

But, you know what? And here’s the really cool part –

As I was cutting up some carrots for supper, I had the window slightly open. I heard something – it sounded like a gentle rain falling. I looked out the window: no rain. I turned back to the carrots. I heard it again, only this time it sounded like rain, followed by wind blowing through a heavy, grassy field. I looked out the window again. Oh yeah – the new bamboo wind chimes.

As I chopped, and listened, my heart was won over, and I realized the preciousness of the gift. It was what my boys (hub’band and sons) could afford, without going into debt over $50 dollar “creepy” chimes. It was a beautiful sound, and one that was unexpected. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did – and to really embrace it almost so instantaneously.

I was honored by being humbled that day. The things I pick out for myself are not always what I’m meant to have. I could spin a few more words about that particular proverbial quote, but I will let each and every reader figure out what it means for them, today.

Is there something you desire and yearn for, or have in the past, that has gone awry — only to be replaced by an bigger, unexpected blessing in your life?