The anthropologists are busy, indeed,
and ready to transport us back into the
savage forest where all human things…
have their beginnings; but the seed
never explains the flower.
Okay, here I go to try to convince old Mr. Thoreau that I have a seed there so he can be prepared to expect wonders. In the collage on the left one can see two kinds of rain lilies. Once these lilies finished blooming each flower was replaced by a green, 3 faceted seed pod like the one next to the upper group of lilies. Then below that he or she can see that the pod eventually began to show touches of brown. Moving on, if one looks at the upper right photo he/she can see that the seed casing continued to turn more and more brown until eventually, as in the next photo, the brown facets, one by one, split open to expose the “black gold” hiding inside. Finally in the very last photo the seed pod can be seen split wide open, ready to spill its wonders onto the soil below. And what do I have to do in all this process so that I have more rain lilies to show for it. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch! With absolutely no help from me those seeds will sprout up right where they fall! In fact if I don’t want anymore rain lilies in that area, it behooves me to capture them before they fall so I can take them to work their “black” magic elsewhere. Pretty darned cool, huh?! Downright miraculous, if you ask me!
Two years ago, I was saying as I planted seeds
in the garden, “I must believe in these seeds,
that they’ll fall onto the earth and grow into
flowers and radishes and beans.” It is a miracle
to me because I do not understand it. And
the fact that they use glib technical phrases to
explain it does doesn’t make it any less a miracle.
Then why shouldn’t we accept God’s miracles?
~Edited quote by Dorothy Day
He(God) performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. ~Job 5:9 ✝
**All photos taken by me in my yard; collage created by me
In autumn, when the trees cry colourful leaves and the vibrant spirit of summer is only a memory, thoughts go on a ramble. Time for reflection and contemplation. A damp, heavy quietness settles on the garden. The work is done, we can sit back and watch. When I plant bulbs in the autumn, and there seem to be more and more each year, I always wonder how many more springtimes I will live to see. I don’t ask as a result of depression (I’m not a child of sadness!), but because I think of these bulbs that fill me with such happiness. First when I’m planting then later, when in the comfort of my armchair in front of the fire -longing in my eyes- they fill my head with fields of colour and scent and carry me through the season which I never came to love, although it has its beauty too. It must be the bulbs that fill me with wantonness and unreasonable hope. The expression “to be happy like a child” comes to my mind but kids are not happy and innocent like they used to be. If you’re faced with the first murder during breakfast and with Jingle Bells and plastic Santas climbing ridiculously into chimneys from September onwards how could you possibly hold on to that pure and carefree joy? As for myself, I find lots of happiness in the little treasures and secrets nature and garden hold for me. All the same, there’s something morbid about this question, and I admit that I never ask myself at other times of the year. How many summers or autumns will I live to see? No way. But maybe the reason for planting these crazy amounts of promising bulbs and corms lies in my hidden wish that the older I get the more spectacular spring ought to be. Recently I read a quote by Henry David Thoreau which follows me ever since: The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. Thoreau said this in the 19th century but it is still true. The reason for this lies in the continuous remoteness and alienation from nature which in its most dramatic case leads to people perceiving nature as an enemy or danger. Pristine nature has become rare and if it’s really wild, we meet it with fear and suspicion. Seeing and hearing have also become rare skills. We’re constantly exposed to noise, being lulled and deadened. Even the news are hammered into us to the sound of percussions so that there’s no risk of us coming to our senses or to be bored. Tranquility is out. A friend of mine told me about a visitor from Canada who switched on a tape each night at bedtime: She couldn’t bear the quiet, only with the constant noise was she able to sleep. Cathy at http://wordsandherbs.wordpress.com/ did a great post dealing with the subject of hearing a while ago, and I hope she will share the link once she reads this. To hear and I mean TO HEAR is by no means taken for granted anymore. There’s so much to hear when you listen to supposed quiet. Have you ever tried? The silence that makes you feel like you’re deaf has become rare. Where I live, in the middle of the woods, it can still happen. It descends like a comfortable blanket. No fear, no panic just peace. Some shake their heads asking how can you possibly live here? We shake our heads knowing that every explanation would fall into nothingness. The general rush and fear of missing out on something are so widespread that many cannot understand how satisfying it is to fill the basket with firewood to heat the house, to collect eggs from your hens and to tend the garden. To hear nothing and to work in the garden are today’s last luxuries. During our hikes we sometimes meet extreme mountainbikers rushing down steep slopes with fierce expression, or cool guys on rattling motorbikes, modern Marlborough-Cowboys. None of them knows the intriguing scents and sounds of the forest, sees the pink mushroom in the undergrowth, the tree creeper searching the bark for insects or hears the melancholic song of the robin. Kids don’t know anymore that milk comes from cows. A vegetarian friend of mine suggested recently that one could keep milking cows without letting them have calves. Once I watched children beating newly planted fruit trees with sticks until the bark had come off while their mother watched them proudly. Great to see kids fulfilling themselves. Nature is retreating more and more and can only be found where access is hard or impossible or where there’s nothing to exploit. Would we ask men their definition of nature – what would the answer be? I fear the answer a lot more than visitors the solitude of my wood. Why should men protect something they’re not aware of and don’t see, never mind appreciate? When man moves away from nature, he loses his roots, becomes depressed and unhappy. I could never be without my garden and nature, my sanity depends on them. I draw energy, courage and meaning out of them. Okay, some things don’t work out in the garden but I’m never disappointed and depressed. Still nothing fills me with more hope and optimism. A life of quiet desperation? That’ll never be an issue for someone who hasn’t lost touch with his/her roots.
A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
The human body needs food to be nourished, but the spirit needs to be fed in other ways. One thing it needs is beauty, and nature has a vast array of beautiful places in which the spirit can be nurtured and healed if need be. I’ve found that time spent in any of earth’s sanctuaries provides me with a better perspective about a whole host of things. When the senses are heightened and ordered, what’s really important in life becomes ever so much clearer.
Rachel Carson alleged that “those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.” She’s right because when one is alone in any of nature’s courts, if He is called upon and welcomed, it’s easy to become aware of the Lord’s presence. More importantly if one listens carefully in the midst of the natural world’s profound silences, he/she can hear the Lord speak.
God made the forests, the tiny stars, and the wild winds–
and I think that He has made them partly
as a balance for that kind of civilization that
would choke the spirit of joy out of our hearts.
He made the great open places for people who want to be…
away from the crowds that kill all reverence.
And I think He is glad at times to have us forget
our cares and responsibilities so that we may be nearer Him–
as Jesus was when he crept away into the wilderness to pray.
~Margaret Elizabeth Sangster
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. ~Mark 1:35 ✝