Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Deep into middle age, a friend of mine fulfilled a long-held desire to have a big garden. Having grown up in a so-so neighborhood in New York City, the idea of having a garden and growing her own food had always had a special kind of aura around it. Fortunately, she now had a sunny back yard that covered a double lot, more than enough space for a large variety of flowers, herbs, vegetables, the works! She took all the necessary steps to prepare the soil, including digging up and tilling a large swath of lawn, building and sculpting beds and hauling in many pounds of organic compost from a nearby farm. Finally she got to plant the seeds and pat them into the ground, according to the instructions on each packet. She reported that she particularly loved this part of the process, in part because it did not involve the same, semi-backbreaking labor as the previous steps, and in part because the act of planting felt deeply sacred and maternal. But the best was yet to come. When, one by one, tiny green sprouts of everything my friend had planted emerged from the earth, she was filled with a child-like sense of amazement. Each tender shoot seemed like a miracle. Yes, she had worked hard to prepare the ground for this new life, but once she had done what she could, it looked to her like the rest was in nature’s hands, in God’s hands. Whether or not the seeds sprouted, whether or not they thrived and blossomed, all this was in God’s court. That’s why each plant, from seed to flower to fruit, not only nourished her body and senses, but also heightened her awareness of the immanence of the divine, and provided her with a vivid display of divine intervention, of the role and presence of grace in the details of life. She often wondered if farmers woke up every morning with a heightened sense of grace.