Debra Donnelly-Barton offers another beautiful reflection today within her “Litany of the Living Earth” series. She has presented several retreats at our Center and we look forward to hosting her again in the future. Let’s take a few quiet moments to read about her next reflection about flowers near her home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and how it parallel’s with a gospel lesson.
A Liturgy of the Living Earth
Praying the hours in tune with nature
Sabbath, Blessings and Desire
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.
-Matthew 14 (full text)
We are all familiar with the stories of Jesus’ feeding of crowds with scant resources other than blessings and desire. In this time of fasting from each other and many of our familiar routines, it is good to remember that the kingdom of God is reflected in stories of abundance and enough.
Summer on the shore is a fruitful season. Vibrant green cornstalks, red tomatoes, and fields filled with flowers while nearby marshes produce saucer shaped mallows. Our riverbanks and roadsides are alight with the rose mallow. Large white petals open out from a deep rose center and bright yellow stamen where bees of all sorts bathe in pollen and then wobble off to their hives.
I spent some time with just one of these flowers the other morning and was reminded of what it looks like to share with abandon. Pollen offered to overflowing spills off the stamen, coats the petals and falls to the marsh floor. Like the loaves and fishes, generous giving becomes what is needed for the moment and then offers more. There is delight in extravagance of this kind.
Does the mallow hope
That pollination will happen?
That the offspring of these flowers
Will grace the riverbank next summer?
Or is it enough to do the one thing that can be done?
Stand where you are.
Give what you can.
Spend some time with the fruit of the earth – flower or vegetable. Perhaps in your garden or even along the roadside. What can you learn from observing the way that nature offers or doesn’t?