Oh, the redbuds! In bloom this morning, as they were not when I left for the weekend, and clearly visible in the front garden outside my office window. Their blooms are tiny and multiple, hundreds of little flowers hugging each branch, so that the tree is outlined a deep pink for a couple of weeks before its green leaves come in, a second beauty. Today, we are told, it might climb into the 80s Fahrenheit. At last. I have been so cold for so long.
The redbud's other folk name is the Judas Tree. The lore is that it was this tree upon which Judas hung himself after he realized what he had done, and that it has blushed with shame ever since. Our stories are full of plants and animals who participated in Jesus' life in some way: animals who talked at midnight the night he was born, a cross-shaped growth of black fur on the back of a donkey in honor of its royal rider as he entered Jerusalem, the dogwood's cross-shaped blossoms with their crown of thorns in the middle, their spot of blood on each petal.
That nature itself participates in our holy story is one thing, one charming thing. That nature is a holy story is another. But it is certainly so: surely the creation is as holy an event as its redemption by the same hand that brought it into being. We oppose our own importance to that of the creation, subordinating the protection of the earth to our need for a certain level of economic growth, never realizing how silly we sound: who will grow the economy if none of us are here?
It is possible to prosper and care for creation at the same time -- much more possible than we used to think it was. Some of our best minds are busily at work on it, turning recycled tires into sidewalks, corn into fuel, swapping, reusing, revisiting old practices in new ways. But make no mistake: a time will come when the choice will have to be made between our right to be as rich and as comfortable as we want to be and the integrity of the earth and the rest of its inhabitants. When the creative measures we are developing to decrease the size of our impact on the earth will not be optional. Right now you can still have an enormous house in which two people live and two or three cars the size of apartments, if you want to. But a time is coming when that will no longer be possible. I'm getting ready now, by revising my approach to my own consumption as something other than a God-given right. That way, I won't experience the loss of some of it as an outrage.
Books for Mother's Day! All available at the Geranium Farm's bookstore, http://www.geraniumfarm.org/bookstore.cfm
Just out -- Heaven, edited by Roger Ferlo, which contains a heretofore-unpublished essay by Barbara Crafton, as well as many fine essays by other wonderful writers.
Does your mom have The Geranium Farm Cookbook yet? Do you? No? What on earth are you waiting for? Recipes and lore from the Farm.
And does she have Women's Uncommon Prayers? Contains the "Seven Last Words" poem cycle by Barbara Crafton (the only publication in which you can read the entire cycle), and hundreds of other fine things.
And The Desert Mothers by Deborah Farrington, redressing the balance a bit, perhaps, in your understanding of how Christian spirituality was shaped in the ancient Church.
And, finally, if your mom never ceases to surprise you, Ana Hernandez' The Sacred Art of Chant: Preparing to Practice. A great companion to the HARC Chant CD, also in the bookstore.