This morning, a saucy summer rain drums through and leaves just as quickly as it comes. Without so much as a by-your-leave. I walk Bonnie through the aftermath and we are smitten with the glossy sheen left behind; the spider webs glisten and every leaf bends its neck—heavy with droplet baubles.
My noticing eyes open to the garden and I see that my snow peas are ready for picking. It’s the first time I’ve grown these lovelies, sown out of the desire for something new. All my reading tells me to harvest the pods early, before the peas get too mature, but I am reluctant to break up the composition.
They climb, all delicate vine and flower, where last year my pole beans twined heavily and as I peer into their green I name them beautiful. I spy on the secret ways they curve into one another, see how they tendril—every reaching vine grasping and turning until leaf and flower, stem and vine are all one.
It’s no wonder Gregor Mendel, the one we call the father of genetics, turned to peas for instruction when the bishop of his abbey objected to one of his friars studying animal sex. Mendel began his studies by breeding mice, but turned to plants after the bishop’s objections. Over a period of seven years the good friar tested roughly 29,000 pea plants.
I am thinking about how we can choose to replace one thing with another. This morning, in my quiet time I read Matthew 12: 43-45. Barclaycalls this passage “The Peril of the Empty Heart.”
‘When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, it goes through waterless places, seeking for rest, and does not find it. Then it says: “I will go back to my house, from which I came out,” and when it comes, it finds it empty, swept and in perfect order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and take up their residence there. So the last state of that man becomes worse than the first; so it will be with this evil generation.’
Barclay says this passage illustrates for us that any time a change is made; a new behavior must take its place. Otherwise, the old will keep returning. Don’t I know this first hand? Haven’t I been struggling with these thoughts that won’t leave me be—pulling at my heart and gripping me, pinning me stuck in places I shouldn’t be?
I stare into the mass of pea vines and see how a blossom still clings to a pod. I know that when the pea has grown enough, the fingers of that gentle flower will let go—drop off into the soilbed beneath where it will slowly slip away, becoming fertilizer for more growth.
I close my eyes and imagine these thoughts that cling to me as a flower. How they have twined into my heart and become a part of me lately. Only growth will loosen the grip, one thing must be replaced with another.
I let the thoughts flower for a moment; feel the beauty of soft petals cupping me. And then, gently, ever so gently—because part of me doesn’t yet want to be free—gently I insert a prayer where those thoughts and images are.
Peas for mice. Pod for flower. Prayer for thought.
Grow. And let the soil enrichen from all the fallen flowers; all the things that used to hold me.