(In loving memory of Charles Spencer)
Blessed are you, Lord our God, who brings forth food from the earth.
Blessed are You, that when Adam cursed the soil with his disobedience, You hid within the earth a countless multitude of consolations, and we who grow food from the earth still find them. I thank you that the sweat of my brow has not blinded me to many of Your mercies. I pray that, for the sake of Your name, You reveal to me the mercies I have missed in my selfishness.
Blessed are You, for weeds. I thank you for violets and dandelions and plantain, which are food I can eat when I pull them, as I wait for the food that I planted to grow. Blessed are you for the grass that just keeps growing up, no matter how many times I pull. I thank You that, when I keep the grass short, it deters slugs better than plain earth. I thank You for the harmful weeds as well, which I have to pull quickly before they overtake the patch. I thank You that I meditate on repentance as I grab the weeds quickly, while they’re small, and I thank You that I meditate on stubbornness as I pull them later, if I was lazy. I thank You for the penance of thorns and thistles, and for the consolation of wildflowers.
Blessed are You that beans sprout easily, a day or two after they’re planted if it rains. I thank You that kale grows fast as weeds if I keep it in the shade. I thank You that roots dig deep to find water in the ground, and that leaves stretch up toward Heaven without being told. I thank You that cucumbers are difficult, and always dry out. I thank you that corn demands to be fertilized, but that pole beans grow up a cornstalk without any trouble. I thank You that snap peas cling to anything, while tomatoes demand to be staked. I thank You that squash hugs the ground and shades it.
Blessed are You, that garbage is fertilizer. I thank You that no one in town knows the value of straw. I praise You that when I ask to rake up their fresh cut grass for my garden, they let me do it for free. I thank You that compost is warm in the middle and never smells as bad as I’d imagine. I thank You that egg shells help tomatoes grow. I thank You that potatoes like coffee grounds best of all.
Blessed are You when water comes from the sky free of charge. Blessed are You when my rain barrel runs dry, and I learn the humility of carrying water by hand. Blessed are You that the water always splashes me and soaks my clothes, no matter how careful I am, when I water the garden in the heat of summer. Blessed are You for the heavy rains that bring on the slugs, and leave me running back and forth to destroy them before it’s too late.
Blessed are You that an eggplant looks like an Easter Egg when it’s small. I thank You that peppers go from green to yellow to red. I thank You that a pumpkin begins as a pregnant flower that swells and swells and hardens until it takes over the whole patch. I thank You that potatoes grow in the secret of darkness, under the earth or in straw. I thank You that brassicas are flowers. Blessed are You that tomatoes break off in my hand, when they’re ripe. Blessed are you that summer squash just keeps getting bigger until you pick it.
I thank You that life and nature and plants keep growing, not only out in the country but even here in an abandoned steel mill town where so many have forgotten the earth. I thank You that food still comes forth, for those that seek it, even though the sins of Man cry out from the soil. I thank You that You still walk in the garden in the cool of the day, calling out to those that will seek You, in spite of our sins.
For favorable weather, an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and temperate seasons, let us pray to the Lord! Lord, have mercy!
(image via Pixabay)