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Practical Ressurection

Apr 1st, 2010 by Mary | 1

Yesterday was glorious, a sprightly easterly wind from dawn to dark, trees ready to spring open with their soft green offerings, the bulbs I planted last fall peeking above their leaf-covered beds. Sheryl and I went around the eastern corner of our house to find daffodils planted by one of our forebearers on this land brightly dancing in the breeze. So, we now have our first home-grown bouquet on our living room altar, reminding us yet again of the sheer power of life.

Daffodils on altar

This is Easter week, for those of you who still have Christian roots. We just celebrated the spring equinox last week. Passover is looming for those of the Jewish faith. Two of these three traditions have entered into history as events believers proclaim have changed how generations have lived and died. Today is, for Christians, the annual commemoration of the Last Supper, the last meal Jesus had with his somewhat fickle disciples before the crucifixion the next day and, some say, his resurrection two days later.

Whether or not one ties one’s beliefs onto the coattails of a specific religion with doctrines that sometimes enrich, sometimes exclude and limit, the earth keeps doing its own thing, year in and year out, its rhythms, its magic, its mystery, oblivious to the words humans have invented to decorate their own particular theology or philosophy of life.

So, tonight, on Holy Thursday, I will probably go to church to share this story of faith with others of the Christian tradition, yet I will be spending the daylight hours plotting, a gardener’s version, that is, nothing sinister! Yesterday I measured out the spacing of my dwarf fruit tree garden. I have the list ready to order today: cherries, peach, apricot, plums, pear, apple, quince, pawpaws, persimmons. I have 13 spots already, and need to locate 4 more today. Then there will be the berry vines – blackberries, raspberries, marionberries, gooseberries. Then onto the grapes: muscadine, flame, Delaware, catawba, concord. Then, of course, in honor of my Oregon roots, lots of blueberries! Then bigger dreams of pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, butternut, chestnut, mulberry.

Then on to color spots, such as lilac, crepe myrtle, forsythia, bush cranberry, rhododendron, burning bush, wisteria, hosta, hydrangea, sugar maple, aspen and poplar. And, of course, the raised-bed vegetable garden. I already planted a couple of rhubarb yesterday, and have the lumber for the two asparagus beds ready to be hammered together.

I don’t know who will live on this land after I pass on, but I know that I am not planting just for myself and Sheryl and our numerous grandkids and future guests. I am planting for the future beyond what I can see, what I can myself grasp.

Wendell Berry, one of my favorite American poets, has captured this well in his poem, “The Man Born to Farming”:

“The Grower of Trees, the gardener, the man born to farming,
whose hands reach into the ground and sprout,
to him the soil is a divine drug. He enters into death
yearly, and comes back rejoicing.  He has seen the light lie down
in the dung heap, and rise again in the corn.
 His thought passes along the row ends like a mole.
 What miraculous seed has he swallowed. 
That the unending sentence of his love flows out of his mouth
. Like a vine clinging in the sunlight, and like water
 Descending in the dark?”

So, today, I will heed the call of the earth, a robin, fat and sassy, hopping up a bare tree’s branches, calling me outside right this moment “Hurry! Hurry!” its cry, insistent on this day’s blessings. So, like Wendell Berry, I will practice my faith through the ripple of my muscles, the spring of the soil beneath my feet, the dirt on my hands.

I can hear the grass calling to me. I can hear the poet summoning me.

“Go with your love to the fields. 
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts. …


Practice resurrection.”

(Wendell Berry, Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”)

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One Comment on “Practical Ressurection”


  1. Suzanne Nichols said:

    Mary,
    thanks so much for reminding me that the earth does not know doctrine or philosophy but continues to “resurrect” each year. May we do nothing to endanger mother earth. May we build for the future, beyond our own future. May we be held and blessed by the mother.

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