gardening, spiritual life


“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.” James Baldwin, American novelist

One of the stories to emerge from Hurricane Florence is precious. A tiny kitten made it out of the flood-ravaged city of New Bern, NC, attached firmly to the shoulder of a man who may or may not have exactly been his before the weather went wild. His or not, the aptly named Survivor sunk his claws into the man’s rain gear and held on. Where the man went, Survivor went — and that’s just how it was until they were both safe.

I thought of them this weekend when we (by which I mean my husband; I mainly smile hopefully and point) were lugging massive pots of tropicals back into the sunny kitchen for the winter. The deer are coming out of the mountains, seeking what they may devour. They may get what’s left in the ground, possibly by tonight, but the tropicals are safe. Gathered in. To a place where neither deer doth munch nor frost doth turn to green goo.

(Wink, wink to fellow KJV enthusiasts.)

Not all the stories of the weekend bring such smiles, of course. America alone has been rocked by disasters of several kinds in just these last few days. Home and life-destroying floods and winds in the South. Exploding homes in the Northeast. Wildfires in the West. Rogue ministers just all over the place. And, it’s not any easier anywhere else in the world. Typhoons, drought, violence. It’s tough all over.

It’s enough to make one fearful, in fact. But, how much better to focus on the fact that God loves us more than a tropical plant, more than even that darling wee cat. Come what may, we can hang on — clinging to Jesus for dear life, for eternal life! Where He goes, we go — perched on His shoulder or, more accurately, tucked securely into His arms. Safe!


gardening, spiritual life

Nest in peace

“If fear was a man he would never take risks.” author Fritz Chery

A pair of house finches is eyeing the Boston fern hanging on the front porch. A few strands of yellowed grass tucked beneath the fronds suggest a nest might soon be in the making. One pair or another does this almost every year, at least the years we have Boston ferns. I am an unpredictable gardener.

Fern availability aside, the birds’ willingness to risk our presence always astounds me. It’s a hanging plant, swinging from a high rafter. I have to tilt it a bit to water. It sways in the wind. Our family — which includes a rather large and hairy beastie of a dog — walks past, sprawls noisily on the wicker and even makes use of the porch swing that hangs a literal arm’s length away from the pot.

I can only guess that the birds weigh the risk of our proximity against the safety of it and decide to go for it. Humans and dogs are around, true. Raccoons and black snakes not so much.

Are we really that different from the finches? Probably not. We weigh risks throughout life. Some are not worth taking. Not wearing a seat belt in the car? Eating dodgy food? Trying an opioid out of curiosity? Chucking the marriage of youth for a passing fancy? Nope. Not worth it.  Not ever.

Getting and staying married? Having children? Adopting children. Helping someone. Believing God. Changing (for sound reasons) our jobs, our entire careers, our locations, our minds. Yep. Worth the leap — even if doing so causes us to tremor with fear.

If birds listened to fear, there would be no nests and, eventually, no birds. No place is safe. We have to live the same way. We can’t listen to fear, especially when it tries to masquerade as wisdom. We just have to live. The winds will blow and danger is always, always going to be an arm’s length away. But, the believer enjoys the proximity of a God whose watchfulness is without match.

We can nest in peace.