In the comments section of this blog she’s known as BuckBuck, but her real name is Rebecca Reynolds. Besides winning the recent clerihew contest, BuckBuck/Rebecca writes beautifully and thoughtfully at a blog she calls the little boots liturgies. Today’s post, about gardening and quadratic equations and the hymnal that is nature, is so good that I asked if I could use it here. There’s more where this comes from. If you like what you read here (and I think you will), head over to Rebecca’s blog and mine it for its other treasures.
by Rebecca Reynolds
Some gardeners never bother growing peas. They say the plants produce too little for the space they require. They say it’s easier to buy them at the grocery, and it’s true. My largest harvest wouldn’t even fill a $1.28 freezer bag at Kroger.
Responsible gardeners raise things that are bean-practical. And still, every March I poke the end of my index finger into the thawing dirt and drop pregnant frivolity into holes one knuckle deep.
I plant peas knowing full well that ten handfuls of pea pods will never even make it to the back door. My children will pull them off the vines and pop them sweet and sun-warm into their mouths, feet running, eyes full of light, littering the hulls on the trimmed tops of early grass. They will burst joy’s pea against their palates fine and experience five seconds of June perfection. Candy mixed from a recipe of cool, unfrozen earth and virgin April daylight.
Most vegetable seeds begin the same prim way, two neat little responsible leaves atop a juicy white stalk. The tomatoes, the peppers, and the beets I started early have already risen and conformed. Yet pea plants push their baby green elbows through the dirt, renegade. Hair tossed from sleep. Exploding into twirly bits and leafy whimsy. They are born into the shape of laughter and confetti.
They shout from their rows, waving their little palms in the air like children running out of heavy school doors into summer holiday.
We’ve survived Algebra I-
thirty long problems every night.
We’ve survived parabolas, and walking in line,
and Eustace Scrubb, and acne, and Mrs. Sneed.
We have recited bookish, joyless things underground too long.
It is the green-sweet time
when sun and earth make us sleepy and full!
We will lie in blanket pods for long warm days,
and drink the wine of becoming,
and fall asleep while frogs sing over us.
We have been birthed from the marriage
of thirsting and being made,
like the prodigal racing home.
The earth reads like a book and gardens like a hymnal. I am so thankful for that.
Because I have spent long winters memorizing the gospel of quadratic equations. I have traced steps on chalkboards, split factors, trusted that in cases of this X, Y should perform such-and-such. Cognitive shoulds demand allegiance like the putting on of scarves in February.
I have watched agnostics rumble and huff over it all, blood too hot and wise to be wooed by two dimensions. And I hardly blame them.
Yet four rows of pea plants rise through black dirt like a prophet poking reckless and beautiful into the light. Divinity pumped sweet through xylem and phloem with the pulse of a practical exchange. The madcap bliss of unorthodox gift art. The faithing life, borne through the sucking of honey into veins.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail,
Lo! oe’r ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail.
To the everlasting Father,
And the Son Who reigns on high
With the Holy Spirit proceeding
Forth from each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might and endless majesty.
R. Thou hast given them bread from heaven.
V. Having within it all sweetness.