Tuesday, May 12, 2009

True worship

Be a gardener
Dig and ditch
Toil and sweat,
And turn the earth upside down
And seek the deepness
And water the plants in time.
Continue this work
And make sweet floods to run
And noble and abundant fruits
To spring.
Take this food and drink
And carry it to God
As your true worship.
A few lines from Julian of Norwich, the 14th-century mystic, who in a time of horrendous suffering and grief wrote lovingly of the goodness of God. With the Black Death stalking the land, she praised the tiny plant. From her anchorite cell, she extolled gardens.

Gardens. Each morning I walk through the community gardens on land of the Easton Natural Resources Trust. And now, just now, in this second week of May, the first shoots and tendrils are showing forth, the fruits of dig and ditch, toil and sweat. Well, not so much toil and sweat. The folks who garden here do so at an easy pace. They turn and till with an apparently effortless languor. They woo and coax the plants from the soil.

The Earth does not need us to fructify. If there were no humans, she would burgeon each spring with new growth; her green fuse is lit with no attention from us. But we are here, and we are the dominant organism, and the surface of the Earth will be -- is! -- a human artifact whether we like it or not. Let it be then a garden, a place where the hand touches lightly, where human cunning insinuates itself ever so gently into the rhythms of life. As I walk through the community gardens I silently thank the gardeners. Every shoot and tendril is a prayer they carry to God.