Goldfinches, Illumination, and Elections


I’m really not very political and just barely politically correct.  But still, I wonder what the results will be of the upcoming state elections, and also the local proposals. I try to make informed decisions but tend to give up about half way through the learning curve, feeling less illuminated than when I started. I have found over the years that after an election, what I’d hoped was accurate information was advertising in the name of game and gain.

Truth is important to me. Not the appearance of truth or relative truth, or a proposed truth stretched so thin it becomes transparent. Is it so because everybody wants it to be? Or is it so because it is claimed true in the name of God? Does anyone really carry the full light of truth? I doubt it. So…how do I weigh truth?

I remember a couple of months ago several Goldfinches rocketing across the backyard. I wondered if there was a disagreement about whose yard it was. Typical of these lively little birds, they are unconcerned about my purpose or presence in what they have claimed as their territory. They continued to dart about and I wondered if it was a sort of Goldfinch-game. I watched them flittering and listened to them titter from the lower limbs of the Sunburst Honeylocust tree.

That day was a yellow day. Yellow is pure, a primary color and according to research evokes energy and illumination, and brings awareness and clarity to the mind. Besides the yellow finches, the narrow leaves of the locust were vivid chartreuse, flowering nearby in light-gold the Rudbeckia ‘Irish Eyes’, and the Lemon Drop daylily was in all its glory.

The little birds continued darting about the yard; one of them repeatedly landed on the top of an empty daylily stalk and reached for the seed head of a nearby grass. The stalk looked as though it was strong enough to bear the weight of the tiny finch but was too weak to do so. The little bird rode the not-so-sturdy stalk downward, and then flew off to a tree branch. It looked at the frond of grass seeds, flew again to the daylily stalk beside it, and again rode it downward. The truth is, no matter how often the finch comes to the stalk, the daylily stem will not bear its weight.

Reflecting on that yellow day I now wonder… How often do I latch onto something too weak to bear the weight of truth? Do I continue to land in the same place in hopes that the more I try, the better my chances are of the situation changing?

I’d like to think I’m smarter than a goldfinch. But I can see that sometimes a simple truth is evident in the smallest of things. Just because I want it to be so doesn’t mean it will hold up under the weight of reality.

Image, CCO creative Commons.


Trying to Harvest Truth


I’ve been a city-dwelling gardener all my life. I’ve worked on  overgrown lots that hid a multitude of sins, to old suburban back-yards with compacted patchy lawns. When I would begin to transform a landscape I would be unsure of what would be unearthed; one year I dug up a lawn chair. Gardening was done gingerly and with gloves, and tetanus shots kept up to date.

A plant that I had grown in every yard was potatoes. I love potatoes. When I lived with my grandmother we ate them almost daily. Then I discovered, in my twenties, that I could grow them…and did. As with any vegetable, there is no comparing the flavor of home-grown produce to what is bought at the grocery store.

In early spring I would find a well drained area in the yard and prepare the city-lot for potatoes—and a vegetable patch, too. This meant not only turning the soil but sifting it for debris and glass.  Once the patch was readied, the potato-sets were planted. During the weeks that followed they were mounded, mulched, and watered. Late summer, after the plants flowered and stems started to wilt, harvesting began. I am always surprised and delighted when digging potatoes. With vegetables that grow above ground, the anticipation is quelled by watching flowers swell into fruits.  With potatoes, all is hidden.

I wasn’t one to dig potatoes using a spading fork; I found I did more harm to the tubers by using it. With only a few hills to harvest, and the mounded soil being soft, my hands worked best. There was always something a little exciting about blindly plunging bare hands into warm soil and bumping into potatoes. Wiggling fingers underneath the tubers, I would pop them up and out of the mound.

But the plunging bare hands at times would meet with peril. Pushing fingers into the soil, there is that split second when I’d realize that the pressure pushing back wasn’t a potato, and I couldn’t stop the forward motion quick enough. Then it was too late, I’d just been cut by glass. Wounded, I withdrew, dismayed but not surprised—its one of the risks of gardening in an area that was used for trash. No matter how careful I was at preparing the soil, every once in a while something nasty would work its way up and out of the depths.

A similar thing happened the other day when a sin worked its way out. There was that split second when I knew my soul was about to be wounded by a lie…but it was too late, I couldn’t stop the words. The result was calumnity—I had planted seeds of doubt in the heart of another.

And for what? To feel more important? To appear more knowledgeable? To be liked and feel part of a group? My soul is worth more than that. Worth more than a two minute sound bite, or the bitter unspoken words in my heart, or that drink  from the drive-through window that wasn’t really mine and wasn’t really free.

Little shards of glass hidden in the depths nick and wound my soul. It is one of the perils of trying to harvest truth in a world of broken pieces.

Image, CCO Creative Commons