“If you go slowly enough, six or seven months is an eternity—if you let it be—if you forget old things, and learn new ones. Even a week can last forever.”
Rick Bass, Winter

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."
Albert Camus

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Part II, Day 41: The God of Dirt

I told my atheist husband that I've started praying for Zoe.  He questioned whether someone with my solidly secular rationalist humanist credentials is allowed, opportunistically, to get in on the prayer circle scene, but then I reminded him that the god I already pray to is the god of animals and the natural world, so I don't have to be clandestine about the whole thing, I don't have to feel like a gate-crasher or poser, because in that realm I'm already a regular.

Today I pray also to the god of dirt.  I haven't planted anything in three years because I was traveling, so it felt good this weekend to revive my flower boxes on the balcony where Zoe sits to watch the river.  Here's a picture of her from the day before I got to work.  She doesn't know that some of us think there are serious problems afoot up here; she just says, "whatever" as I click away in what I hope isn't too obviously an elegiac way.  I don't think she notices the seedlings I've stashed under my chair for the time being, but then when she stands she is careful with her tail.

Later, in full afternoon sunlight, which is not always the best time for planting, I  get swarmed by the sweat bees who have occupied one of the pots and won't budge even when I dump out that dirt on the lawn below and start again with fresh topsoil.  They can't stop me.  They're a blip on my horizon.  I hum while I plant the snapdragons and pansies.  It will be lovely to sit out here with Zoe in the early morning drinking coffee or tea gazing at these flowers while watching the river, hoping the great blue heron will drop by again.  I picked purple to match Zoe's purple heart and pink and scarlet and white for contrast.

Here's an excerpt from a poem by Mary Oliver called "One or Two Things" that I have read every morning this week before beginning my morning session of meditation and, yes, prayer.

The god of dirt
came up to me many times and said
so many wise and delectable things, I lay
on the grass listening
to his dog voice,
crow voice,
frog voice; now,
he said, and now;

and never once mentioned forever,

which has nevertheless always been,
like a sharp iron hoof,
at the center of my mind.
I think that's how we live, isn't it?  With the now and forever inside us, the ephemeral and the eternal, pink petunias greeting pink rhododendron.  I look outside as I write this post and Zoe is posing in our freshly planted garden--which I'm not supposed to let her do--and even though she's quiet at the moment she brings her own dog voice, wise and delectable as ever, into the heart of this conversation. 

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