Riots, rampages. Disorder. Undisciplined behaviors. Right-leaners. Left-leaner…Lacking in control, The perky. The faded. The spent, chins on the ground. Deeply rooted. Weakly committed. The early and the late. The large and small. The tenacious. The stubborn. The overachievers. The strong. The weak. The intruders. The raucous crowds.
The always unpredictable.
Do you think I’ve been describing a political gathering? The state of our cities and institutions? Our nation in the present tense and tension?
No. I’m describing our garden as summer slips away.
It started innocently enough, with a plan.…
Top tier: creeping phlox, some bushes of no particular interest. Second tier down: Dutch Iris, black-eyed susans. Coneflowers. Daisies. Zinnias. More dutch iris. Everything in its place—though the creeping flox had somehow snuck into the iris below. The bottom layer, larger, curved edges. Back: more perennials not all of which we could name, planted last fall (half-price!): asters, lavender, lobelia, maybe bee balm, anemones? In front of them, a carpet of wave petunias in purple, pink and white. And no border yet where the daffodils had bloomed.
It was ordered and promising—but there’s a huge difference between planting and its results:
A criss-crossy every which way gangly tangly enthusiastic explosion glorifying God, coming from the front “border” into which we sowed a native-plant mix. We didn’t know exactly what we were getting. They didn’t have names and pictures on the seed packet. And every seed pluckily showed up.
So these later-planted whatever-they-ares, now moving into September in great blooming fervor, have largely brought a meadow into our planned garden. Those bright little petunias crumple, waving goodbye as the meadow drinks their water and blocks the sunlight. The perennials too dry and fade as they bequeath their dark seedy centers to the breeze and the birds. But so much rejoicing is yet to be as the natives thrive! The the oddest, sloppiest, tallest most enthusiastic sun-drunk array of blossoms and greenery! We can name some: the tall trembling cosmos leaning into the sturdier zinnias, leaning over the parking lot as they twist to gather the sunlight, both such a prize for the bees; other poke-ups of small white ones and greenery not yet flowering, the small surprise of orange poppies, the blue bachelor’s buttons, four kinds of gold and brown varieties growing through each other, (Rudbeckia? Coreopsis?) and the yet-flowering anemone, from garden plan One, peaceful and composed in rose-pink.
If my introductory description had raised in you a vision of today’s fraught human world, you weren’t far off the mark. These worlds intertwine, actually. But all versions of gardens and meadows wherever they are to be found echo that never-to-be-suppressed song of grace and hope and delight as God gardens the living community of Earth. If we but stop, look, smell, and listen.
Our sun-smitten blooms bring us a simple but bright harmony in contrast to the shouts and clashes and cries that sound in our world: a sweet and lilting “consider the lilies” to remind us that the breeze of the Spirit is and will be always moving among us, and with and in Her we are Oh so frightfully contagious.
From the poet GM Hopkins: There lives the dearest freshness deep-down things….for the Holy Ghost o’er the bent world broods/ with warm breath and with ah! Bright wings.
And a prayer from the Mystic and Doctor Teresa of Avila: Teach me Lord to sing of your mercies. Turn my soul into a watered garden, where the flowers dance in the gentle breeze, praying with their beauty.”