Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Last week a real estate agent left a note on our front porch.  It read, "Nice house. Pretty yard."  I almost dismissed the comment as the work of a clever sales person, a reaction something akin to "What? This old thing?".  However, I started looking around the front yard.  It is far from manicured, but we have been doing quite a bit around the house, including placing a raised bed for spinach, chard, arugula, lettuce, and collard greens just off the front driveway.   I am grateful that the city of San Leandro is not fussy about front yard vegetable gardens, and I am seeing more and more of them on my morning runs.  Much of the water that we use in the garden now is collected rain water and the water we save as we wait for hot water to reach our sinks and shower.  The daily process of collecting and moving water where it needs to be is turning into a spiritual practice that brings me closer to the garden.  I no longer stand behind a hose, aim water in a general direction while thinking of a dozen other things that I should be doing.  We have a small lawn that Tyler calls" the meadow"  because of the wide variety of grass, clover, and other plants that are growing there.  The trees are large, and I fear that we do not get enough sun to raise dahlias, but feeling hopeful, I bought a couple of plants from the local dahlia society just to see.  I placed them in pots along the walkway yesterday.  There may be just enough sun to bring forth flowers.  
Gardening is much like cooking.  It is a day by day process that brings me into gratitude for what we have.  The result is a more frugal kitchen that gives me a peace that cannot be described.   First thing this morning, I went out to pick some greens (Tyler says we are starting to eat like swampavores) and I could actually smell the greens in the the early morning sun.  They have an incredibly delicate scent that also defies description or replication.  I noticed a lady bug among the leaves, and I saw a much larger one yesterday.   Yes, there are some hungry worms who are enjoying the garden as well, so I must keep a gentle eye out for them.   I don't mind sharing, for truthfully the small garden is over planted, but I don't want them to dominate. They probably feel the same about me.  
This simpler time of my life is proving to be surprisingly rich.  I am grateful to serve SpiritCare, and I have deepening relationships with several small faith communities.  On Sunday, I witnessed a couple holding hands as they both actively listened to the homily.  I felt God's presence so deeply.  During the prayers of the community, the young woman, a gifted musician, said, "I am so grateful for church.  I don't know what I would do without it."  She looked so peaceful as she gave thanks for what was going well.  I know some of her struggles, but in that moment she was able to lay them down.  I think I, too, am learning to lay at least some of my struggles down so I can actually enjoy what is going well.  
As I look around, I think, "You know, it is rather nice."   And I give thanks.