My husband has a deep appreciation for juicy ripe tomatoes, so this year I decided to try my hand at a tomato plant. The package said it would grow in cool or hot weather and eventually provide hundreds of sweet cherry tomatoes. During the first week, half the leaves turned yellow and came off. This morning a single green tomato appeared among the remaining leaves. I’m tempted to think it’s mocking me. Gardening is not all joy, my friends.
We are waiting for the Holy Spirit, and at the same time, the Holy Spirit is already here. Whether we believe a day of creation lasted 24 hours or an eon of time, when creation was complete, God saw that what He had made was ‘very good.’ (Gen. 1:31) We sometimes tend to think that imperfections, illness, and even evil are more real than the underlying goodness of creation. Yet, the underlying goodness remains.
“….There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs ―
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.”
(Excerpt from “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins)
My husband is a practical fellow. When we walk, he watches the ground to make sure I don’t trip while I am gazing at the tops of the trees and the sky. I can relate to the disciples who couldn’t stop looking at the sky after Jesus ascended and disappeared from view. As usual, the angels had to explain things, and now they remind me that my feet are still on the ground. There is still work to be done here.
“….Why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11 NRSV, Catholic Ed.)
Several years ago when we repainted the stucco, we added a tiled picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe to one of the courtyard walls. Later, when I became serious about turning the courtyard into a garden, I began to think of it as “Mary’s Garden” – perhaps because I have long held an image in my mind of a lovely garden filled with flowers that I walk through on my way to see the Lord. I have always thought of this image in my mind as “Mary Garden.” My courtyard garden is a pale reflection of my image, but I am happy to dedicate it to “Our Lady,” who said “yes” to the Incarnation of the Savior on behalf of us all.
Today is the Feast of the Visitation. The newly pregnant Virgin sets out and travels to the hill country to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who is also pregnant and in her sixth month. When Elizabeth sees Mary, the infant John leaps for joy in her womb. Then, in response to Elizabeth’s greeting, Mary utters her Magnificat: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed….” (Luke 1:46-48)