Ascension, planting, and fun things to do in the Spring

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God
and the firmament shows forth the work of his hands.
Day unto day takes up the story
and night unto night makes known the message.”

Psalm 19

This past Thursday was the feast of the Ascension of Our Lord (transferred to Sunday for the Novus Ordo Mass). We look to the heavens on Ascension, the heavens which received Christ as he ascended before the eyes of the Apostles. “Day unto day takes up the story”— the story of God’s tremendous love in creating and redeeming mankind.

I was reminded recently of the significance of clouds as symbolizing the greatness and mystery of God. Shrouded in clouds He spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, and with a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night He lead the Israelites as they wandered through the wilderness.

It is hard to get any cloud pictures today. For most of us here in Alberta the heavens are filled with an eery smoke; but the birds are still singing. Underneath the haze all creation is alive and trembling with the excitement of a world reborn.

A Time to Plant

This week I read an inspiring blog post on man’s fundamental need to plant seeds. The author, John Cuddeback (see full post here) maintains the urgency of renewing the practice of growing things if we are to reclaim part of what it means to be human:

“Current circumstances, among other things in the growing dominance of the artificial over the natural and the virtual over the real, point to the human importance of cultivating the earth.”

In other words, cultivating the earth helps ‘ground’ us (quite literally) in reality by engaging our mind and body in an action that is supremely natural to us as humans. We need to eat, and food comes ultimately from the soil. Cuddeback argues that our very participation in this process is just as important as the end result, because it enriches our life. It fulfills a certain desire of our hearts to assist in the work of creation, a desire which began when God placed Adam in a garden to tend it.

Should we grow ALL our own food? Perhaps, for some people and in certain seasons of life… however, I think most of us will find fulfillment in simply growing something, be that a small garden or a few flower pots on the windowsill.

Cuddeback makes this point also, saying that our gardening endeavours may not “at first or even ever, make a significant contribution in quantity to what we eat. But the food will always carry a unique significance, as will the work of producing it.”

The act of growing things will change us—make us better people. And this is what we are really after.

French Tarragon

Cuddeback closes his reflection by quoting Cato the Elder, second century BC, who wrote that while the building of structures must be planned carefully ahead of time, “planting is a thing not to be thought about but done.” Essentially, this work is so important that we don’t need to become experts before beginning—we can just begin! Each growing season will be different and will teach us something.

This year I’m looking forward to planting geraniums in a pretty blue clay pot.

Two Beautiful Customs

This weekend I learned of two beautiful customs from a Ukrainian priest. One is that of Green Sunday, which is a Sunday in the spring on which the local church is decorated with branches from the trees which have leafed out and are freshly green. Is this not a lovely way to celebrate the season alongside the liturgical year?

Another fun custom (perhaps this was done on Green Sunday) involved the youth going on a grand picnic in the woods. They would plan together which foods to purchase to bring with them, and then head out to the bush and use branches to build a little ‘tree cave’ or bush fort in which to eat their picnic. What a fun thing for young people to plan and do together!

Some friends who really know how to pack a picnic!

I have fond memories myself of building forts with my cousins at my grandparents farm. We spent so many hours there, finding branches or small trees and using them to form a little hideout. We didn’t really care what we were going to do with the forts when we were done; we just liked building them. It was the funnest thing ever and didn’t cost a cent!

Finally, let’s not forget grass whistles! You remember making those, by cupping your hands together and stretching a blade of grass between your thumbs?

Here is one last quote, this time from St. Isaac Jogues – a fitting reminder that God is in control as our province continues to suffer from the fires. We pray and help as we can those who are in danger.

“My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing His designs.”

St. Isaac Jogues

3 thoughts on “Ascension, planting, and fun things to do in the Spring”

  1. Given your Tolkienien theme and this post’s topic, I couldn’t help thinking of your post when I came across this beautiful passage in my rereading of The Return of the King:

    “As Sam stood there, even though the Ring was not on him but hanging by its chain about his neck, he felt himself enlarged, as if he were robed in a huge distorted shadow of himself, a vast and ominous threat halted upon the walls of Mordor. He felt that he had from now on only two choices: to forbear the Ring, though it would torment him; or to claim it, and challenge the Power that sat in its dark hold beyond the valley of shadows. Already the Ring tempted him, gnawing at his will and reason. Wild fantasies arose in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age, striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dûr. And then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and brought forth fruit. He had only to put on the Ring and claim it for his own, and all this could be.

    In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived sill unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him. The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.”

    And yes, I do remember grass whistles! I also remember caragana whistles – they used to work well too if you can get them before they pop in late summer/fall.

    1. What a beautiful and fitting quote, thank you for sharing it! “The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due”… I love that line.
      And, I shall have to try making some caragana whistles!

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