Sunday, July 24, 2011

All of Love's Slow Strength

"The main obligations of the gardener are to be mindful of the garden's needs and to be observant each day of what is going on in the garden.  And it compels you to structure your life because there are things you have to do at certain times...some things get overgrown, or die from a hard freeze, or a plant shades out one next to it--these things are ongoing and you have to respond to them as they happen.  And the garden is not deceptive.  The garden lets you know."  -- Stanley Kunitz from The Wild Braid

How do I hear the language of the garden, reaching into scratch and tangle to remove the rotted part below?  The earthy smell of growth and decay anchors me to the moment: life and death happen simultaneously.  I can't seem to live deeply, be present enough to understand the mystery of this.  Nothing is still.  How can I maintain this attention?

When I lean back into the row of cilantro in flower and the pollen stuns the memory of some old hardware store and the seed display in back, hardwood floor, silver metal scale that measures weight of nails purchased, the world comes apart inside me, and I have to close my eyes to see it happen:  The weight of nails and the sacrifice that can not be measured.

My forearms are turning red, tiny bumps emerging.  The work is not always comfortable, and yet:  The soft earth and straw under my knees respond.  I let my hands rest palm up in my lap, looking into the clouds and breathing dirt whisper and it tells me: we are relationship.  We lean into each other, need each other.  Every weed I pulled last summer, a woman removing stitches from her heart after some deep cutting away, a loss too large to address in a single moment, was relationship and negotiation.  One stitch at a time.  Until.  Only the unyielding voice remained:  You will make it.  Keep moving.  Death and life happen simultaneously. This feels like death, but it is also life.  I will always choose life, and life abundant.  

I am stunned by how much it hurts to remove the dead thing.

My life was changing and this is why we are always relationship (verb).  I am not "a person" so much as I am what passes between me and the things I touch, the things that touch me, whatever is exchanged in that space.  Whatever is lost.  And found anew.  These moments are what I leave behind.  I am only here temporarily, and my love doesn't belong to me.  It is His to give.

I was too afraid to take my time.  This must be the case:  We are relationship.  I have been writing and erasing and writing for the last two hours, and what finally breaks through is this.  I would do anything for you:  wave the space between us, strengthen it with a hand that touches, receives, lets go, calls back and finally finds rest open and facing the sky in my lap as I kneel in the garden, stilled because I had been rushing through the work.  I had felt the garden shrink back from me.  So I stopped.

Prayer is a form of slowness and attention.  Love: this takes time.

I've learned what makes love grow.  Do you know what it is, too?  Do you hold it each night?  Do you sing to it?  Do you tend it slowly as if you had nothing else in the world to do but to love it right, love it in wholeness, with every portion given despite the trauma of the past, the fear of the future?  

I think, more than anything, I'm talking about how I want to live.

Be present for this moment, the one that said, that says:  God is love.

Sidenote:  I can't explain the connection, but somehow these song lyrics figured into what was made clearer tonight.

"If there's anything to say, if there's anything to do, 

if there's any other way, I'll do anything for you.

If you had a part of me, will you take your time?

I'll do anything for you." 

--Sufjan Stevens "Widows in Paradise"

"And I am joining all my thoughts to you.  And I'm preparing every part for you."

-Sufjan Stevens "All the Trees of the Field will Clap Their Hands"


  1. Living and dying, simultaneously. Yes. That's life. One of the strange paradoxes of this strange world.

    "Prayer is a form of slowness and attention." Yes.