Endings, new beginnings, and transitions are always complicated. We are filled with excitement and anticipation of what may be, while at the same time grieving that which we will be leaving behind. This year feels even more complicated as COVID-19 has robbed us from our normal goodbye hugs, celebrations, and milestones as we end an academic year. This is especially true as Valpo sends out our seniors from this place.
However the lack of a traditional Senior Week does not take away what has occurred during one’s time at Valpo. As the days, weeks, and semesters have gone by, growth has happened. Recently my kids (and, truthfully, I, too) were fascinated as we watched an e-learning video that showed what happens with a seed underground breaking open, growing roots, and sprouting up. I think we too can often not see the ways we are breaking open and developing roots as we grow.
All over social media I’m seeing images of little cups filled with dirt and seeds starting to sprout and raised garden beds being built in yards for the first time. As the weather has warmed, I see more images of people exploring God’s cathedral of the trees as they hike and explore nature. During these times of uncertainty it seems there is something in us that calls us back to the dirt, and nature, and things rooted and growing.
Marge Piercy’s poem “The Seven of Pentacles” beautifully illustrates how the passage of time causes growth that sometimes we cannot see. “You cannot tell always by looking what is happening./ More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.”
The roots and connections we have built will continue to support us as we grow into our future.
Faith sends us forth from this school year with the promise that our garden tending, however long it may take, will eventually lead to a bountiful harvest.
May 7, 2020
Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.
Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.
Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: Make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.
Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after
the planting, after the long season of tending and growth,
the harvest comes.