Lacking Neatness

"I know a bleeding-heart plant that has thrived for sixty-years if not more, and has never missed a spring without rising and spreading itself into a glossy bush, with many small red hearts dangling. Don't you think that deserves a little thought? The woman who planted it has been gone for a long time, and everyone who saw it in that time has also died or moved away and so, like so many stories, this one can't be finished properly. Most things that are important, have you noticed, lack a certain neatness. More delicious, anyway, is to remember my grandmother's pleasure when the dissolve of winter was over and the green knobs appeared and began to rise, and to create their many hearts. One would say she was a simple woman, made happy by simple things. I think this was true. And more than once, in my long life, I have wished to be her. " ~Mary Oliver

The bleeding-hearts are blooming their beauty into the world in our garden. Like a fairy princess,they are throwing their hot pink blossoms into the open space where hostas are only beginning to have the courage to show up. Such delicate bravado, daring to be so pink in a newly greening world!

In this prose-poem of Oliver's, I love the description of those plants that grace so many gardens, those handed down or planted by someone who is now departed from us. Our garden has several…..bulbs and bushes nurtured by others and carried from plot to plot, a long history of connection with hands and earth, of birth and rebirth, of memory. As they bloom each year we find ourselves surrounded not only by their beauty but by the memory of those gardening saints.

But the line that particularly jumps out at me is this: "Most things that are important, have you noticed, lack a certain neatness." Perhaps I have just been surrounded by messiness lately, or by things important, that I resonate with this statement. I am aware of all the important things that lack a certain neatness…….raising children, friendships, faith communities,working with others,any creative endeavor, seeking the Holy, love. All the important things of life have soft edges and not much structure. They are not easily controlled or manipulated. They are full of surprise and challenge. There remains at the center of these important things a little ball of chaos out of which usually flows the best part of that most important thing.

So on this Monday, the beginning of the week, it was good to be reminded of how 'what's important' works. If I just hold onto that wisdom, I trust my week will go much smoother….maybe messier….but smoother.

One thought on “Lacking Neatness

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