When I Was A Child

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Amy Curran -When I Was A Child3By Amy Curran

When I was a child, I thought like a child, I spoke like a child, I acted like a child. Now that I am grown, I have put my childish ways behind me.

I have forgotten how to lie in the tall grass and watch it whisper above my head, telling stories to the sky. I have forgotten how to walk with no purpose in the woods, oblivious to time, listening to the birds chatter at moss. I have forgotten how to wonder at the clouds and the stars, naming them for things they resemble, in an effort to pull them closer and make friends with them.

Now I am grown. I have no time for these things. I have important matters to attend to. I have things to prove. I’ve got to make something of myself–no time to stare at what has already been made.

At the garden I tend, I have a twice-a-week companion. He wears glasses so thick I wonder how he finds them in the morning. He is a gentleman, with a soft southern drawl of bygone days. He wears a pink suit coat. When I was a child, I thought like a child, I spoke like a child, I acted like a child. He was already a man then. Now he is old, and I am learning from him how to recover my childish ways.

His Gardenia bush grows behind his house. Every morning he speaks to her, holding her name like honey on his tongue. “Gar-dee-nia.” He caresses her, his beloved friend, counts the blooms and buds. “Gar-dee-nia.” He forgets himself in his Gardenia, simply loving to love it. She, relishing the love, opens up to him in all her glory.

Yesterday at the garden, we planted sweet potatoes. We were in a hurry, because they were about to die, had suffered too many days outside of the soil they craved. My companion took each one in his hands and pulled off the rotten parts. He bandaged wounds, every leaf precious in his sight. He brought stem after withered stem close to his mouth, near enough to kiss it, and whispered to it. Only the plants know what he said. But he murmured to each one like he had a secret to share.

Lavish. Frivolous. My friend gives his time and attention without hesitation; he does not count his losses or tally his hours. He sees the lilies of the field and loves them, right now. They are, after all, the here-today, gone-tomorrow types.

We wonder how to feed the world. We worry about how to make enough grain and corn and sweet potatoes for a population hurdling toward 8 billion mouths. For we are mathematical, and all our calculations tell us that 8 billion mouths also means 8 billion stomachs. We cannot waste time kissing dead plants. We cannot be so frivolous as to spend the morning talking to Gardenias. We will leave that to the children. There are things to do.

We have forgotten, in the midst of our own importance, that it was the Giver of Life who first whispered a love song to the world in the tenderness of its becoming. It was the Creator who first held the dirt close enough to kiss it and whispered to it until clay formed flesh and soul sprang from soil. This same God who has counted the mouths of the world has also counted the lilies of the field—both precious and beautiful beings with a tendency to wither away so soon.

We important ones with Life to Sustain have forgotten that life does not exist out of carefully formulated plans, but springs forth lavishly in response to lavish love. We breathe because we are Beloved. We are seen, wondered at, spoken into being by a Creator who seems to appreciate the poetry, rather than the efficiency, of things.

Frivolity is not frivolous to the Creator. The lilies are worthy of all the wonder in the world. It is, after all, their seductive beauty that draws in the buzzing winged creatures who dip their tongues in liquid love. In their frenzied excitement these lovers visit every flower, sharing the powdery residue of their feast from plant to plant. Pollination. The Birds and the Bees. The DNA of life itself. Exactly zero percent of the world’s stomachs would be filled without the lilies of the field. A fact worth wondering at, if only for the recognition that it would get along fine without us.

Repent. It means turn back, the scholars say. Make a 180. Stop forging ahead. We had thought we must leave our wonder at the door of adulthood, exchange it for Progress. But we have found our progress proves sterile in the face of this world that asks to be kissed. Feeding the world is hard work. With this work to do, can we afford to spend our precious time singing to a Gardenia? Can we afford not to? My gardening buddy is teaching me to rethink necessity. Maybe the first thing that our cracked, depleted, starving world needs is the type of lavish love that takes the time to whisper sweet nothings to a sweet potato slip.

Life depends on love. No cup can run over without it. For if we have stopped loving the world, wondering at its sacred beauty, we will soon no longer find any reason to do the work of saving it. So, together, my gardening buddy and I court creation, learning her song and her smell and the feel of her soil. We learn to do this in imitation of the Creator whose lavish love spares no expense. And as I learn to delight in creation, I am taught that this delight is the key to our survival.

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About Amy:

15672925_1205512876199003_8778369956033042514_nMy name is Amy, and I am a gardener, coffee-lover, and baking enthusiast.  I love to think about connections between food, communion and community, and get excited about creative ways to extend God’s nourishing love to folks who don’t readily feel it..  My favorite time of day is when the sun slants sideways through the trees.

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  • I I woke up later than I intended this morning, tired from staying up doing all the things I never seem to have enough time for – angry at myself first thing that I am behind on my to-do list. I needed this today. Full stop. See the kids. See the house we are selling that I won’t get another summer in. I’m going to try to act more like a child today!

  • I get regular doses of curiosity enhancement when I spend time with my grandson — and wonder! We pulled radishes out of the ground last time we were together, and I think he was convinced they were magical. Thanks for this encouragement to slow down and enter into the wonderful perspective that all of creation is a portal to delight!

  • After many years without I finally got to have a garden this year, and I’m convinced that gardening is a form of worship. What beautiful words. Thank you so much for this.

    • Amy Curran

      Agreed, Beth. Gardening feels sacramental in a way, no?

  • Hannah Parish

    I read this site every morning, and I was so surprised to see your name at the top! Beautiful words, friend. You’ve always had such a gift with storytelling- it is lovely to see your gift flourish and grow. Love!

    • Amy Curran

      Thanks for your encouragement, Hannah. What a gift and a surprise to see your name here! Love to you as well!

  • Fritha Washington

    ‘this world that asks to be kissed’. Beautiful. Thank you. I’m off to kiss some things…