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October 11, 2005
This is a time of some discussion on the Farm -- the moving of most plants is best done now, so that they can relax and work on their roots a bit during the winter in a new location. But which plants should move? Where should they go?

I think big: my idea is that we cut down a sixty-foot pine tree that I believe to be out of scale with the house, and a smaller yew tree that obscures the living room bay window. Then I want to move a promising little holly tree which has volunteered in an infelicitous spot between our garage and the neighbor's porch, showing the kind of initiative that could really do something if the tree lived in the spot where the pine was. And I want to move a ten-foot butterfly bush from the front garden into the yew tree's spot by the bay window: what could be better than plumes of purple flowers and butterflies on them, right outside the window on a summer's day?

Q sighs when I talk about ditching the pine tree. He is loyal to existing plant life. But I would get so much more light in my office, I tell him. Of course, it is true that I could no longer hang a little bird feeder on its branch outside my office window if it were gone, but there are window feeders, there are wall brackets -- I will always find a way to lure birds.

It is mid-October. I do not know what will happen about moving the trees -- sometimes my ideas take a couple of seasons to gain a political footing, and sometimes they never do. This is frustrating -- it is always so crystal clear to me, so quickly, what ought to happen. Q, though, studies things. He needs time to mull.

A collaborative garden is a spiritual challenge. You can never just do it; your product is linked to the vision of someone else. Actually, almost all human activities are like that -- we don't work alone on much. Even the solitary profession of writing must share: the editor comes in, the designer, the marketing people. You don't even choose the title of your book with absolute freedom -- titles are a major marketing decision. Most of mine have titles other than the ones under which I submitted them.

Gardening and writing are risky precisely because they are not solitary. Because you don't do them alone. They are incarnational, godly: God comes to earth with a vision, too, but comes among people with all kinds of other ideas. The Incarnation is conditioned by the ones to whom it comes.

How could God allow this? we cry when something terrible happens, as if we thought the life of the world were a puppet show, written by God, and that God had all the lines. But this play is real, and it's not a one-man show: we all have lines in it, too. Nature has lines. None of us are alone, not even God, who could have remained solitary but chooses the risk of fellowship instead.
Visit the Happenings page of the Farm at to keep track of Barbara Crafton's retreats and sermons that might be happening near where you live, and to read the latest from our three correspondents: Lane Denson of Nashville Tennesee, who writes Out of Nowhere, Michelle Degni Kingery, who writes New Eden, and Bro. Justus, S.S.F, an American Fanciscan friar who writes Letter from PNG, reports from his post as head of a struggling theological college in Papua, New Guinea.
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