Sometimes when I talk about God, I tell people that I don’t have to talk them into believing in order to validate my own belief. I tell them that, for example, their belief or disbelief in the existence of Nancy doesn’t change the fact that I’ve known her for more than half of my life and half of hers. Their awareness or lack of awareness of her patience with me doesn’t change that patience.
Some people know, many more don’t, that she loves to work with plants. Not to arrange them exactly, not to prune them into shapes that aren’t natural, but to help them have space to grow, without weeds, to have the beauty and character and health that God built into them.
Which is how she works with people, especially people at the edges of groups, at the edges of acceptance. To help them have space to grow, without weeds, to have the beauty and character and health that God built into them.
It’s very quiet work, out of the spotlight where her husband often finds himself. But it’s the kind of work that matters deeply to the plant, and the person, who is tended with a smile and an opportunity.
And it’s the kind of work that often leaves you at the edges because your values don’t exactly fit with the apparently popular groups on any of the sides of particular issues. Because plants, and people, are often beat up or ignored by the popular groups.
So Nancy prepares her heart daily for her work. And she tunes her heart to God. And she acknowledges the areas where she herself is needing to be tended and where there is need for weeding. And she walks, quietly, into all of our lives.
She’s been doing this, gradually better and better, for as long as I’ve known her. But today, on her birthday, on a day that is often looked at as a milestone birthday, I wanted to thank her. And to acknowledge that though she loves the annual beauty of her flowers, she is a more like one of the trees in our yard, gradually growing unnoticed until you realize that she is an oak.
Solid, shade-giving, enduring.