Thursday, February 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

It has been a long while since I wrote of things for which I am thankful. God's gifts are so many, yet I have found it far harder than I expected to cultivate the attitude of thanksgiving I had envisioned. Today is Ash Wednesday and though my background is not liturgical, I feel led to attend to the season of Lent this year, much as we spend December in increased attentiveness through Advent.

As I focus on the life and death of Jesus in the next 40 days, I hope also to focus more on thankfulness, including these:

55. The scent of tomato plants in the garden

56. The sour-sweetness of the first ripe tomato

57. Little girl arms wrapped around daddy's neck - welcoming home

58. A favorite salad - enjoyed only once a year here

59. Small hands gathering beans

Unreliable internet in our remote place prevented me from posting this yesterday, and from adding the photos I would like to share.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Intertwined, Uprooted

It is spring here: the height of our gardening season. One recent afternoon saw me out in the garden, collecting sprigs of oregano, leaves of basil, bunches of parsley, and other green goodness for our evening meal.

Last, I headed to collect some mint.

Ours resides in a cement ring, to be raised above the flooding of the rains.

It is high season for mint.
The pot is full and green as I approach it from across the yard.

But mint is not all that grows there this spring.

Clover crowds in, vying for space in the damp warmth.

The clover has been at its work for a while now,
winding vines and runners around those of mint.

Unseen, ignored.

The two are intertwined.

Clearing the clover will take time, patience, effort:
but a necessary task if the mint is to survive, to thrive,
to send deep and spreading roots through its earthen home.

Should the rains arrive while the mint
is weakened by competition
and overcrowding,
it may not survive the onslaught - up to 120 inches of rain - in the space of a few weeks.

This particular clover is serious about gaining the upper hand.

Already, it is flowering, preparing to bear seed.

And so, I begin: painstakingly tracing out and removing
each root, each leaf,
each trailing stem seeking to put roots in yet another part of the pot.

It is tedious work, this uprooting of established weeds.
My legs ache from crouching low over the mess.
The sun beats hot on my back.
Other work beckons from the kitchen.

But this seems important, vital work somehow.

Why do I care today, about mint and weeds?

And then it comes, the soft voice in my mind,
showing me why mint matters on this busy
'company's coming for dinner' afternoon:

Sin -- all sin -- edges into life in the same way as
clover has forced its way into this pot.

It creeps into some unwatched corner -
a tendril from a neighbor,
a seed from a passing friend
- it slips in unnoticed
and makes quick work of spreading roots and seeds,

and destruction.

A little gossip here, a seed of impatience there;
of what importance is a few moments of sloth, or a tendril of unbelief?

Yet soon, sin - or clover - has done its work
and we are far from where we could have been
from where we - and HE - wants us to be.

A friend has come, to aid in clearing the weeds.

The work shared is simpler, less painful,
with tinges of

Can it be that the painful work of rooting out sin is easier when shared?

The work is done
leaving gaps and scarred dirt where beautiful
yet ugly weeds
once grew.

Pulling up sin leaves scars

empty spaces
waiting to be filled.

The weed will return if I am not careful

removing each trace of clover's rebirth.

The sin will return if I am not prayerful

letting Him root out each attempt of sin to return.

Thank you for the lesson of mint and weeds,
for being the REMARKABLE in the unremarkable of life.

photos from our mint patch