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October 12, 2003
I still haven't divided and moved all the irises. The peonies' exhausted stalks and leaves are still an eyesore in the back, and I still have about 70 daffodil bulbs to plant, divded between our place and Corinna's. And some tulips to put in. And I have just learned that a group of scented geraniums I thought were hardy in our climatic zone are not, so they'll have to come in. When they do, geraniums will outnumber human beings inside the house by about ten to one.

And I have to bring the dahlia tubers in. I was reminded of them this morning, talking to Anna on the phone. She's at our house, feeding the sick cat.

"I'm not sure what's in the refrigerator, but feel free to eat anything you find." I tell her. "There may be some chicken in there, frozen. And I think there's some ground beef."

"What are those things in the bottom? Beets?" I couldn't place what she was talking about. "You know, in the bottom? Wrapped in a paper towel -- they look like turds?"

"Oh, the dahlias." I hadn't thought of them as turdlike, but actually...well, never mind. "I had to take them out of the ground early, and I'm giving them an artificial winter in the icebox."

I was still laughing at the turds when we hung up. I guess a dahlia tuber is truly an ugly thing, at that. The fact is, though, that the work I have ahead of me is no laughing matter: all this horticulture will take hours and hours -- days, really. Weeks. It always does. It is never finished, a garden, until the winter covers it with a blanket of snow. And even then, you're thinking about it: they send you seed catalogues right after Christmas, when everything is brown and frozen,and you begin to feel spring budding in your heart again, months before it will bud anywhere else.

Many things start invisibly like that. Babies do: they are too small to see when they come into being, tiny cells, unknown to anybody, even to their mothers. And they grow, until their presence is obvious to everyone, and then they appear, round and downy as a peach. Love starts that way, too, usually: usually,it's not a sudden blast of passion. It's a warming of the heart, felt before you can name it, suprising you with its gradual grace. Forgiveness starts silently, invisibly, too: you won't and won't and won't, for years -- and then you begin to pray in earnest to be delivered from the burden of hating someone else and gradually your enemy takes human form in your imagination again, rejoins the human race in your eyes, and you begin to know freedom again.

I wonder if peace might be like that, too. Invisible at first. It has always looked impossible to the protagonists in any war -- each war has looked permanent and insoluble while it was going on. The way out has never been clear until it has become clear: peace looks impossible until its possibility is birthed, and the birthing comes from outside the cycle of hopelessness from which the conflict takes its terrible life-breath. Don't think the war can end because nobody can figure out a way to end it? Because it looks so hopeless? It is not so. Stay tuned.

There is always more afoot than we know. God has thoughts beyond ours, ands acts beyond our acting. No woman gets herself pregnant, no plant grows itself, no one falls in love by himself, no one possesses within herself the power to forgive. All of us who act are also acted upon by the Spirit of God that gives us all life, and our strength is never all the strength there is.
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