Avengers and Hands in the Dirt

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by Brian Cole

The Wish to be Generous
ALL that I serve will die, all my delights,
    the flesh kindled from my flesh, garden and field,
    the silent lilies standing in the woods,
    the woods, the hill, the whole earth, all
    will burn in man’s evil, or dwindle
    in its own age. Let the world bring on me
    the sleep of darkness without stars, so I may know
    my little light taken from me into the seed
    of the beginning and the end, so I may bow
    to mystery, and take my stand on the earth
    like a tree in a field, passing without haste
    or regret toward what will be, my life
    a patient willing descent into the grass.

-Wendell Berry

To understand my marriage, consider how my wife and I respectively spent a late Monday afternoon. Susan, who grew up on the campus of a renowned work college, constructed a raised bed in our back yard, an effort that encompassed 30 feet, the first of four she has designed for the space.

I, at the conclusion of a day off, watched The Avengers: Age of Ultron. In 3D glasses.

Susan, who was made for the soil, takes joy bordering on boundless glee from helping things grow. If it takes water and sun and soil and attending human effort, then Susan will be there, from sunrise to sunset. She has no idea how many Marvel Comics films she has missed because of this vocation for the earth.

I am a lover of the great indoors. Doesn’t Susan realize that the grass will wither and die, that the flowers that you weeded last week will need to be weeded AGAIN? Besides, there are magazines to read, coffee to consume, dog bellies to rub. 3D movies don’t watch themselves.

However, from my view inside, I have made a great discovery while watching Susan delight in creation. She understands, along with Wendell Berry, how to “bow to mystery,” how to recognize beauty, no matter how fleeting.

As we approach the Ascension, we are living in minor Rogation Days, a time when the Church give thanks for creation and growth and asks a blessing upon the soil and those who toil in it.

I love that the great holy day of Ascension is “rooted” in Rogation, placed right up against a brief season of holy blessing upon the soil, the earth, the growth of good food and beauty for beauty’s sake. Before the Christ ascended, he cooked fish, he ate fish. He walked the boundaries of creation one more time with his friends.

Later, in the summer, Susan will complete the raised bed project. The honeysuckle beds we inherited will give way to gently ordered native flowers and organic vegetables. It will have taken a great deal of work, but we will sit at table, eating tomato sandwiches.

But Susan will never know how the latest Avengers film ended. I will have to tell her.

Grow a garden. Or purchase a share in a local Community Supported Agriculture project. Or spend the afternoon with a friend who gardens, who farms. Get your hands in the dirt and give thanks for the land and the fruits of the earth God has given us.


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