I planted garlic the other day; got it all tucked snuggly into a freshly-worked bed in the garden just before the rains started to come on the north wind, andthe temperature swept down its autumn-to-winter road. It’ll be months before I see any sign of growth in this cherished crop. The actual time it took to plant it was minimal, but what happened that day in the soil is greatly significant…producing later the means for scrumptious hummus with fresh bread, homemade pesto pizza and soups and curries made delicious! Though the day which contained the beginnings of such rewards was like many a day this season – a small deposit there, a bit of seed-sewing here, dirty fingernails and a bent back, oftentimes returning in the evening empty-handedly.
But not forgetting the hope of harvest and the great returns that are sure to come.
So I came to the setting sun that garlic day, not unlike a mother who tucks her children in and turns her thoughts forward to the day to come; one day of small deposits done, another one on its way. But I have returned in my thoughts to that garlic again and again. In it, I find truth. And hope.
Life is made up of years, and years months, months days, and days are made of…moments. Moments. So easy to let slip away, or discount as insignificant to the greater make-up of life. And yet herein lies the very substance of life – the very bursting possibilities to make life new or fresh, joyful or stagnant and rank. I am afraid as people, we tend to look over the bits and pieces of our existence and give greater focus to those major signposts of a lifetime. But it is in the daily, albeit mundane, unglamorous foot in front of foot, raw material of being human that leads to (and through, and past) those bigger, brighter “events.” Marriage for example, we celebrate anniversaries of certain numbers with (due) honor and (sometimes) pomp, yet seldom do we take the time to truly honor the regular sacrifices of one spouse for the other that build the structure which can handle the weight and struggles years place on it. Or child-rearing, or walking slowly down the path of transformation with our friends in Suti Sana…moment by moment.
Unfortunately, popular evaluating questions of our day are prone to this farsightedness of life: “How many?” and “Measurable dividends produced?” With what shall we appropriately question and evaluate our efforts, our minutes, our strivings? Perhaps…”Have I this day been a slave to obedience that Christ may be the one living in my body?”…or “Is there a lady to rejoice over today who is truly understanding God’s amazing character?”…or “Is there a man who chose this hour to fill his mind with God’s WORD instead of the NBA or pornographic images?”…or “Did my time spent with someone communicate the love of Jesus?”
You see, this very moment, as you read these very words, is ripe with possibilities for future yields; whether in this life or the life to come…carefully placing a clove of garlic in the soil, dumping our small bucket of kitchen scraps into the compost pile, pulling up a weed by its roots; whether answering a spouse gently when frustrated or expressing appreciation for the regular task; whether lending an ear to a hurting friend, or visiting a dank brothel offering a cup of hot cocoa; maybe taking an extra moment to pray with someone for that nagging discomfort, or sharing a warm embrace and smile one more time as the drop-in closes its doors for the day…this moment counts. This one small deposit, just like the countless ones which have come before and the countless more to come after, MATTERS.
This just might be the one to bring into being new life next season, sprouting shoots of green!
But lo! may I remember to value it properly, lest I cast this moment aside carelessly, and fail to see that it holds the very stuff of life. For if I will not fully live now, in this moment, then I shall not either be alive in any other more glorious one. Sometimes it’s a “90’s” band that says it so well: “If not now, when?” (Jimmy Eat World, “Clarity,” 1997). Think spring!
By Laura Straniero