If the World Were to End Tomorrow
That's not quite the exact quote (supposedly Martin Luther said something like this about trees), but it was what I thought about when I went out to inspect my garden this afternoon. We had an early warm spell in February and I drastically cut back all my roses. New growth quickly exploded in the continuing warm days afterwards, and then the rains came, and now flower buds are appearing on those shrubs that just a few short weeks ago were bare sticks.
What else can we do in light of the chaotic events of the last weeks, from a wave of revolution (most peaceful, one bloody and likely to be more so in weeks to come) across North Africa to earthquake in New Zealand to another earthquake and tsunami and potential nuclear meltdowns in Japan? (And in our own country, little pockets of political chaos erupted in the midwest and Washington is stymied over the budget.)
Now I see in the news that the Japanese geologic event actually moved the country several feet. A country moved! A country moved. The ground shifted that much. Which tells us that no country can be the ground of our being. God is the ground of our being.
And so what else can we do but look at the flowers and marvel at the abundant regrowth and listen to the birds and watch them busily building their nests and know that we do not have to be in crisis mode all day every day to show that we care about our neighbors around the world who are in such desperate situations. It does me no good to ask, "How can I stand in my kitchen peeling potatoes when a nuclear reactor is on fire in Japan? How can I read a novel when people are dying in Libya?" All these processes are going on all around us all the time - cycles of disruption, destruction, death, rebirth, growth. We stand in the middle of several of them at once, often unsure what to do, how to react.
And so I say my prayers and go and stand next to a shrub, and I look at the shiny new leaves and watch the ladybird beetles scuttle over and under the tender shoots and buds, looking for aphids to vacuum up with their unladylike beetle jaws. I wonder at how it all works, at the mystery of photosynthesis and why the Penelope buds are lipstick red now but will end up such a heavenly shade of petal pink, why the China roses' new growth is always burgundy while the noisettes are green, why nuthatches descend the tree trunks head down, why stuff that looked dead last week is suddenly Ireland-green today. Which is all a prayer, too.
Nothing stays still. Not birds or plants or political systems or countries. Not even our hearts can stay still. Our hearts are restless, says St Augustine ... until they rest in God.