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Tuesday, September 25, 2007


photo by Neil Bryant
Tomatoes discussing the harvest

“There’s a reason we’re slower to ripen ‘round here
Because now comes the day that I really fear
I see her gather each day those that are red
I hear they slice us to put us on bread”
Now it is our turn, picked from the vine
And here we are on a bench in a line!”

“Don’t be downtrodden; I see that you’re sad.
No need to fear or even get mad.
I know if we’re left out there on the vine
We’d certainly be mush in a matter of time
They picked us for a purpose I surely know
It’s our purpose in life, I know it is so
I can’t wait to see what soon we will be
Oh to be the T in a BLT!
Perhaps we’ll be salsa dipped up with chips
Perhaps in a penne pasta, chopped in bits
Think of the pleasure and maybe some fun
To become spaghetti sauce when someone slurps “yum”
When you die to yourself, for your purpose just see
What more you’ll become just wait, trust me.
It’s better than mush on the ground."

John 11:25 “He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live”

Monday, September 17, 2007

The way it was

I have often thought about the way it was before the white man and even to the beginning of the age before the Fall of man. These weeks have been much too busy to piece together that subject, so I will just give you some scattered thoughts amongst my week of distractions, additions and subtractions. I think of this theme as I spend a small scattered time dealing blows, (subtracting), to the Eurasia (white man) bindweed and the right-after-the-Fall-of-man thistles. I think of Eden as I drive the roads of this island in between meetings and errands.

I love the distraction of late summer, the slanted muted light that hits a red tail hawk’s tail and wings as it flies to a tree, crossing the road eye level in front of my windshield. Later in the day I stop, spirit refreshed, to see a doe and fawn slowly cross the same road in front of my car to enter the woods on the other side. I love this time of year. Returning in the dark of evening, my headlights pick up eyes ahead, I slow down and pass a buck on the side of the road. This week I’ve watched the ravens, the turkey vultures, the juncos, and nuthatches and brown capped chickadees all the time thinking that they were all around before man. I look at the land to see if there is any hint of what it might have been like. The trees, what is left of the native grasses all moving together with the wind, the native plants, snowberry, with its now white round fruit. When the light hits them , I smile and am refreshed.

I remember the camas looking like bluebells, that were on the point when we first bought the land. That was before the deer became too populated. Our field used to be full of camas, propagated by the first peoples, bulbs harvested to make a flour like substance. We’ve planted some seeds around inside the gate to see if they might grow once again.
A lot of people look to the native people thinking that the environment was much better when they ruled the land. They didn’t have bindweed, but they still had thistles. They might have been better stewards, but they worshiped nature not the Creator and all of us including nature have not been perfect since the Fall of man.

I have often wondered about the times when something in nature stands out, as the red tailed hawk and the deer and grasses. Why does my heart have joy? I knew it was not because I worshiped nature since I worship its Creator, but how was this connected? And why was I always so sad and upset when that which I delighted in was destroyed? As I mentioned in another blog, I’ve been reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn. I had an insight from this book this week. They joy was a glimpse of the new heaven and earth where there will be no death or decay or beauty destroyed and a chance to praise God. Heaven and Earth will be one when Christ comes again. He points out that the old Earth will be restored. We all have that longing for the beauty that we think is untouched by man. This is where my longing for the pristine, beauty of natural landscape comes from and my inability to keep it pristine, fowled by man’s actions or the weeds or unruly plants in my garden.

Until Heaven on Earth, God, however, looks to the church, the unlikely group of fellow believers, to demonstrate His beauty and presence on earth. This week this diverse group with every church background possible, has, only by the Holy Spirit’s intervention, come to a meeting of the minds to write an installation service for our new and first pastor, a new beginning for our fellowship of believers who have forever been without a shepherd. We still have a long way to go with a lot of subtractions and additions. The way it was is now gone and we have a better chance now of bringing light and refreshment and joy to those we meet along the road.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Bindweed revisited

Field bindweed, Convolvulus arvensis

Last week, while in town visiting friends and daughter Lu, I walked past a man wearing a white tee shirt with green words, stating “plants rule.” It caught my attention. If ever there was a plant that tried to rule, it is the bindweed.

In the May 13 blog I wrote about painting the bindweed invasion with Roundup, but since then I have not been diligent, mostly ignoring the garden for other interests. I think I am in denial because I don’t know how else to combat its tenacity. So with the “plants rule” reminder, upon return, I walk around and take a real look. It is worse than before, escaping underground in the opposite direction from my Roundup attacks, there finding more plants to bind up with vine so no more freedom of movement. When trying to untangle or pull out the bindweed, the perennial gets pulled out as well. It has now moved from the border to form a huge patch in the lawn, crept underground past the grape arbor, through cracks in the rock wall and attempting to invade the next lawn terrace below and field beyond.

Six years ago, we were in England at Great Dixter taking a plant propagation class when a gardener who was listening to the radio quietly came and told us about what had happened at the World Trade Center. “Apocalypse” the British papers headlined. I think of this every time I look at the bindweed that took root in the newly planted perennial border established upon return. I look at how it operates. Plants are not made to rule, humans are as they depend on God, but that was before the fall of man. Since the fall, all of creation is tainted and out of order. As I fight the bindweed, I am made continually aware of our need to be diligent in prayer for our country and the need to fight back those who wish to do us harm, those who wish to make us to be like them at our expense, taking away individual and corporate freedom. I see the way the bindweed goes underground, becoming stronger as it goes and how it springs up in other places as soon as it is driven out in one place. It gathers the sun and the rain that is given to the other plants and brings it down underground to become a fatter root and more impermeable. What can stop it?

Some day there will be a new earth, it will be restored when Jesus comes again, with bindweed and humans that behave themselves. I remember that the battle belongs to the Lord and remain humble in that I don’t have the whole picture. In the meantime, maybe I’ll paint a picture of bindweed on a tee shirt and in between its clutches, the words looking like soon to be crushed flowers, “Come quickly Lord Jesus”.

Sunday, September 2, 2007


Last brood of three barn swallows to leave the nest

Following much diligent feeding and nurture, the third and final summer’s barn swallow family has fledged. The morning after the first batch left an evening empty nest; the second pair came and claimed it. They checked out the nest and tossed out the white feathers to start their almost 2 month lease which ended last week. A second pair, discovering the nest already taken, found a new place under the eaves of the main house that we could watch from the attic window. I can see September swarms of swallows gathering in the sky to start their southern journey. They have once again fulfilled their God given purpose “to be fruitful and multiply” This week I will take back dominion over this spot of earth by the back door. It is time to clean up their mess.

In the meantime we head south to the city to gather with our family and feed and nurture our “third and last hatch” daughter, Lu, newly expecting. She flew north to visit, to be in a wedding and to put on a baby shower for a longtime friend. I spent most of the week excited to be a Mom nurturing a Mom to be, feeding and caring for one whose changing system didn’t tolerate being around strong smells of food preparation. So, with focus on family, (not blog) we visited mother-in-law and Aunt Maine, celebrated daughter-in-law Tomoko’s birthday, and Chris’ birthday and their anniversary and kept Dylan while they celebrated. We prepared for and gathered with former neighbors and friends at the shower and thought of family and friends far away. It was wonderful to connect, catch up, keep up, bond again and stick together in the fun times not just the tough times.

It was a week for our church family as well. As a barely hatched church, the pastor is now in place, soon by God’s grace to be installed. He will feed and nurture us and protect us as we huddle together in prayer to be united in our chief purpose “to glorify God and praise Him forever.” We, unlike the birds, are made in God’s image. We have will, reason, and a unique relationship to Him, marred by the fall of man but reconciled by the blood of Christ. We pray that we, as a church, might conform to His will in order to give God the glory so we can hatch, fledge and go out into the world or our community with light and hope to feed and nurture. In the meantime, we claim God’s dominion over our lives to help us clean up our own mess.