Monday, July 25, 2011

This Organic Life

I've been thinking a lot lately about organic living and how, for me, it is so much more than just the foods that I choose to eat or the chemicals that I choose to avoid. It's inevitable, really, this organic life.

I couldn't get away from it when I witnessed the arrival of the cicadas earlier this summer. When they covered the grass beneath my feet, emerging from some deep hole within which they've remained hidden for year upon year and I fell asleep to and woke to the endless wooshing of their wings, rubbing together endlessly, as they sought out their mates.

But then, almost as quickly as they arrived, they left.  In spirit, that is, because all around they left reminders of their presence.  A mini foreshadowing of a rapturous exit from this world.  One day they were here, the next, no more.

And then, there is the garden.  We got started much later than is reasonable this year.  Delayed by the seemingly endless Spring rains that made tilling and cultivating impossible to do well,
we waited. 
And waited. 

When others were already starting to harvest their first yellow squash or zucchini, we were just beginning. 

But we were armed with something different this year. 

Chicken manure. 

Like a slow, magical brew, it has been cooking for over a year.  Chicken waste is too strong to use straight from the coop.  It must be tempered by time and patience.   As it sits in its pile, quiet and unassuming, a mysterious thing is happening deep inside.  What was once waste begins to cure.  Temperature and moisture and air dance together in a mystical trinity, working together for good.  What it becomes is like gold.

 Into this pile of what, in another setting, would be considered trash, waste, crap, we boldly place our seeds.  We do this because we believe that good will come of it.  We do this because our experience has shown us that there is promise in the pile.

Even though every year that we work this soil, more rocks make their way to the surface, as do other remnants of life gone by, the fact that we have this pile of gold dust to mix in makes all the difference.
It doesn't matter that ugly things have been hidden here.  It doesn't matter that others didn't care for it like we would have if given the opportunity.  It doesn't matter that this dirt didn't produce anything for years.  We are allowed access to a miracle. 

A miracle that testifies to an impossibility:  from death comes life.

"...where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace..." {2 Corinthians 4:16, The Message}

I couldn't help but smile when I traced my finger through the soil to make safe havens for my seeds and I came across cicada shells in the dirt.

...from death comes life.

So now, our seeds have transformed into plants.  The tomatoes reach upwards, guided skyward by strings that assist them towards the sun. 

Now there is fruit.

Thanks be to God.

"For if you go poking about the world, intent on keeping the candle of consciousness blazing, you must be ready to give thanks at all times.  Discrimination is not allowed.  The flame cannot gutter and fail when a cold wind whistles through the house.
Thanksgiving, thanksgiving.  All must be thanksgiving.
It took thirty-eight thousand Levites to give thanks to God in David's day; every morning and every evening the shifts changed.  Four thousand were needed just to carry the hacked carcasses of cattle, and another four thousand were needed to sing about it.  The place reeked of blood, was soaked in blood.  The priests stood around gnawing and chewing and giving thanks.  They did not cross-stitch their gratitude on samplers to frame and hang on the wall.  They wrote their thanks in blood on the doorposts every day.
Thanksgiving is not a task to be underaken lightly.  It is not for dilettantes or aesthetes.  One does not dabble in praise for one's own amusement, nor train the intellect and develop perceptual skills to add to his repertoire.  We're not talking about the world as a free course in art appreciation.  No.  Thanksgiving is not a result of perception; thanksgiving is the access to perception."
--From And the Trees Clap Their Hands, by Virginia Stem Owens

And so I continue to count...

--breezes that cut the blazing heat
--the rumble of thunder that tells me that it is raining somewhere
--boys that turn 9 and still want me close
--friends that own cows (named Chocolate!) and share their abundance with us
--discovering like-minded souls and bearing mine to them
--the wonder of imagination and the capturing of such in amazing stories and books
--an impending anniversary that sweetens the week
--conversations around the dinner table that create laughter and good feelings
--the promise of new learning opportunities and wonderful people with whom to share such gifts


  1. So many things well said here, Holly. The cicadas are still going strong here. Most evenings it sounds like they are in the house. And I just read a few weeks ago that they are underground for 17 years! Amazing!

  2. Holly,

    Your way with words is magnetizing! The photos, beyond fabulous! The message, touching, deep. All this even before I read about Chocolate the cow.