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November 12, 2007
For a few years, I had a hard time letting plants go. I'd lug enormous woody grandmother geraniums into the house in the fall, struggle to find sunny places for all of them indoors. If I left one outside into the first frost, I felt like a murderer going out in the morning and seeing it slumped over the side of its pot: darkened, limp and pretty much dead.

More gardening and more years if seeing what happens in a garden changed my attitude. It's important that species survive, but every individual of every species doesn't need to survive, not every time. They have life spans. None of them live forever, and that's not a tragedy. Our task is not to make them immortal; it is to make their lives good while they are here, so that they can do what they came to do. After that, their delight is in their return to the earth, to enable the larger survival of everything.

Now, I take cuttings and save seeds. I might bring a blooming plant or two inside for some winter color. Of course the lemon trees come in: three Jersey lemons are fattening on the branch of one, while the other -- on a different timetable -- is in bloom. There are tender herbs who come in to spend the winter with us, to flavor and perfume our stews and roasted vegetables. But most of them fall right where they grew, giving themselves back to the soil. Depending on who they are, they either lie there and decompose, get shredded for compost or wind up in a leaf bag at the end of the driveway.

Things can end. An enterprise isn't a waste of time if it doesn't go on forever. All your friendships don't have to endure in just the same form as when they first began; it's not disloyal if some of them ease out of your present and into a place of memory. You each had a hand in making each other what you are; it may be that this is what you came for, and that now the smiles of a winter's remembering are life together enough.
November 26-28 A retreat at Holy Cross Monastery with Barbara Crafton. Busy on Sunday? Responsible for everyone else's Sabbath but your own? Take a couple of days to regroup in the famous quiet beauty of this extraordinary contemplative place, where we will talk quietly and you can walk or sit in blessed silence for hours at a time if that is your desire. Sound good? Telephone the brothers at 845-384-6031 or email
This Sunday, November 18th: Barbara Crafton will celebrate at preach at 7:30 and 9:30 am at the Church of the Resurrection, Hopewell Junction, NY, and read and sign her new book, Mary and Her Miracle, which is dedicated to the people of Resurrection.
Saturday, November 24 (5:30pm) and Sunday, November 25 (8 and 10am) Barbara Crafton will celebrate and preach at all services at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Metuchen NJ.
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