Small Matters of Life and Death
Yesterday, I was forced to transplant some of the zinnias (Benary’s Giant) and my marigolds (Queen Sophia) I have started from seed. Though dramatic futures await these giants and queens, at the moment, they are just little beings—green threads hoisting pairs of tiny ovoid flags. Nothing yet suggests the elevated future of the zinnias nor the latent bushy splendor of the marigolds which, God willing and they’re not eaten by those cute bunnies that frequent the Temple gardens, is in store. Now they are simply fragile bits of green, unbothered by their astonishing potential.
In the morning, I had put several pots out to receive the unseasonal warmth and nourishment of yesterday’s sun. I was concerned that the sun might be too bright, but I forgot to worry about the wind. When we returned in the mid-afternoon after a trip to Boston to celebrate my son-in-law’s birthday, the pots were overturned and the seedlings cast about on the ground.
I was upset with the wind and my lack of foresight, but the seedlings seemed to have no opinion about this matter of life and death—their tender bodies lay scattered, silent and strangely unconcerned in this most dire circumstance. I gathered them as best I could and began the delicate work of repotting.
You must handle them with care, these little fellows – the whole summer is nascent in their slender bodies. Grabbing by the tiny leaves is better than risking the tender stems. Then you suspend them over the dark plastic cell while you crumble soil to fill in around the suspended thread of a root. Now pack down gently to secure the vertical direction of the trunk and softly water.
I know all this fussing around is silly. I could more easily buy mature seedlings at a greenhouse and my careful tending does not help alleviate the oppression of black and brown bodies – does not restore the promises of freedom and equality enshrined in our constitution.
But somehow, I am deeply stirred by my kinship with these small green bits of being. The deep ache of my heart is soothed and I am surely touching God as I husband these insubstantial threads of coming-into-being.