Thursday, May 29, 2008


The poppies in my garden have just begun to bloom. I'm particularly thrilled because I grew most of them from seeds after a lot of trial and error. I planted one at the front corner of my property, right at the sidewalk, so that anybody passing could enjoy it, and that plant got its first flower two days ago. It made me so happy to see it, vibrant, delicate, and billowy in the breeze, that I changed my route when driving home, so that I would pass that corner of the house. Then sometime last evening, someone picked it!

My grief over this loss has taken me completely by surprise, because I have become very zen about the comings and goings of beautiful, temporary gifts in the garden. But the thing is, I'm not sad for myself but for all the people, especially the children, who will pass the house without being able to enjoy that flower. If it could have stayed on the stem, it would have lasted for at least a week, but now that it's been picked, the petals will grow dull and wither within the next few hours. I only hope that this flower is part of a lovely story, that the person who picked it used it to propose marriage, or to show her mother how much she is loved, or to delight a small child.

The poppies I planted closer to the house still remain, and there are many more buds that have yet to open. The loss of this one flower shouldn't be so heart-breaking. If the thief only appreciates precisely what he has stolen!

1 comment:

clairity said...

"If the thief only appreciates precisely what he has stolen!" Ah beauty is like that, gratuitous. You've seen Babette's Feast, I'm sure. We said the same thing after a wine cellar break-in about some particularly nice lost vintages, but we were far more pessimistic. Enjoy spring!

Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."