Sunday, May 12, 2013

Good intentions

Blog, May 12, 2013

Dear friends,

It appears that spring has come, or at least is beginning to come. Two whole weeks have passed without snow so there is some encouragement in that. I know this performance is not promise, however. In Colorado snow has appeared on patios more than once in early June. Nevertheless, I have purchased potting soil and begun to set out plants.

There is something fundamentally comforting to me in the smell of earth and the miracle of seeds and roots and green and growing things. I have been amazed at the resilience of some small perennials that emerged in the “silly season spring” we experienced in early March (70 degree temperatures!), then survived the ice, snow and freezing winter days that April brought. I have grieved the loss of my perennial snapdragon. It survived the cold of January and February, was putting up brave small green leaves in March, but could not recover from April’s winter storms. There has been enough weather-induced trauma to encourage both plants and gardeners to proceed cautiously.

I had expected that this flurry of activity and spring weather would somehow produce the makings of a cheerful helpful blog—silly me! What it produced was a practical reminder of one of the sobering realities of relationships as you will see.

The weather confused even experienced nurseries, and plants were shipped according to the frost-free dates established for a given planting zone rather than the reality of the weather occurring at that given destination. My order arrived via UPS, delivered by a driver openly puzzled by his assignment to deliver nursery plants in a snow storm. I understood his response.

When the carton was opened, I could see that the plants were clearly in severe shock and required emergency care. I carefully set them up on every available counter space in my warm kitchen. I faithfully watered them and talked to them encouragingly. Despite my care, two plants died. The others, although frail and shaky, appeared to have survived their dangerous journey.

Shortly after the arrival of my plants,  I went shopping with a friend and found a marvelous bargain—a planter with four small shelves and a clear plastic cover that could be zipped up to form a make-shift greenhouse. I purchased it with the intent that my struggling plants placed in this safe ‘green-house’ could grow happily on my back patio protected from the wind, warmed by the afternoon sun. I could recover the use of my kitchen counters. Win/win.

The initial move went well. The first day was cool and rainy, and the plants looked perky and pleased with their new home. The next day was warm and cloudless with the high sky and clear sun that mark the high desert climate of our mountain foothills.

I went about my day’s work thinking that by virtue of my good provision my plants were prospering safely on the back patio enjoying the sun.

However, the following morning when I went to water the plants, I discovered to my astonishment and dismay that the green-house (I had not thought to open it for ventilation) had become so hot in the afternoon that my plants had died in the uncontrolled heat. Every one.

I was reminded again—graphically—that intentions do not control consequences. If for no other reason, this fact makes mercy a basic staple commodity in my life rather than some abstract theological additive.  I need—daily—both to give and receive mercy, since the results of my behavior (and that of others too) do not always reflect the motives of the heart.

Learning to live with the awkward truth that my “good intentions” do not invariably produce good results.

See you next week.


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