My daughter, Elizabeth, planted some pole beans last week around a teepee-like structure of sticks in our garden.
As vegetable lovers we choose to train our beans to climb up poles. It's the only way we can possibly squeeze in all the varieties we want in our limited space.
Every day now, one or all three of us can be heard squealing with delight at the rapid growth of the humble little bean. Otherwise we are going about our gardens celebrating each rose and lily and shrubs bursting into color with bright peonies.
What is there about growth and new life that so touches our hearts and sets our souls to singing?
This spring we welcomed a new grandchild, Gregory, into our family. He and his parents, John and Janine, live in Seattle, and although we haven't met him personally as yet, we are thrilling over each new photo that appears on our computer screens, from the first one sent by the hospital when he was just one hour old to the one that appeared yesterday of Gregory at three months, wearing a funny cap and looking for all the world like someone told him to smile for Grandma.
I have one favorite shot of him covering my computer screen when it is at rest. When I tear myself away from the garden long enough to write or when I awake groggy and tired and stumble in to check my e-mails, there is that bright, smiling face to greet me. And I say, "Good morning, Gregory!" and whisper a prayer that God will let him grow into a fine young man.
All the world delights in growth. What is the first thing your relatives said to you when you stepped in to your annual family gatherings? "My, how you've grown!"
Never mind that you were particularly decked out in your finest clothing or had a fresh new hairstyle. It was your growth that got rave reviews, something you had very little to do with.
In my opinion, this is why we senior citizens need to be around children and gardens as much as possible. What fun is it to watch the growth on our own bodies?
We grow humps on our backs, bigger bellies, liver spots, and bald spots. We grow knobs on our fingers, corns on our toes, and warts on our faces. I dare my relatives to comment on those!
On the other hand, as long as we aren't growing tumors, we are happy, because we want to go on living, lumps and all.
Time to reflect
We seniors are growing in good ways, too. When we tend our gardens, when we care for our grandchildren, we are delighting in these acts because we recognize that God is allowing us to share in His creative process.
We are not only witnesses to but participants in the miracles of life and growth. And so we are growing in wisdom.
Senior citizens are also growing spiritually. We have more time to develop our relationship with God. We talk to him more in prayer.
We have a little more time in solitude and reflection. We may read the Bible more or do other spiritual readings or join a study club at church.
Did you ever think that maybe that's why God, in His wisdom, has allowed the slow deterioration of our bodies to happen? It forces us to be less physical and more reflective.
He is telling us, "Give me more of your time and I will bring you an inner joy that surpasses any physical pain. You won't even notice the corns and lumps. And I will rejoice in your beauty!"
You see? Growing old is growing, too. And all growing is beautiful to behold.
Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
Offices: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Road, Madison
Mailing address: P.O. Box 44985, Madison, WI 53744-4985
Phone: 608-821-3070 Fax: 608-821-3071 E-Mail: email@example.com