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January 21, 2008
The Geranium Farm is virtual, for the most part -- it lives in the ether of the Internet, and most of the farmers will never meet each other face to face. But the house in which we live is also referred to as The Farm, even though it's just a house in a medium size town, and not a farm at all. We do raise geraniums, though, lots of them, and many other flowers and herbs. And of course, Q raises bushels of tomatoes every summer. He ripens them inside when the weather turns cool; he just polished off the last one in a salad on the Feast of the Epiphany. Those tomatoes are built to last.

For the most part, though, gardeners though we may be, what the Geranium Farm hopes to raise is people. I hope we will all be lifted up, that the best that is within each of us will have a chance to flower in the sun of human and divine love. I suppose none of us are ever all that we could be, but I hope that most of us can become most of it.

These past days, the eMos have been silent. No sermon eMo got written, nothing since Wednesday or Thursday, I think. We have been busy here, with a sad duty: a dear friend has died. Denise did not star in the eMos, wasn't the punch line in any Farm jokes. She was a most private person. But she lived here with us for ten years, a quiet but genial spirit of the house. Coming here because of a life-threatening illness, she managed to care for herself and for us beautifully for all that time, enjoying the small, quiet pleasures that her health could afford: walks into town, trips to the grocery store, expeditions with her beloved cats to the vet. Sometimes the air would fill with the warm spicy smell of her Caribbean cooking, and sometimes the crisp clean smell of her soap would linger as she passed by.

She was not dying, she told me the day before she did. She was sure. But she was increasingly ill, that was for certain, and I had a different forecast of her future. We were able to tell each other how grateful we each were for our friendship. We were able to talk about heaven and how Jesus takes us there when the time comes. She was often in pain, but at the end, we were able to relieve it all, and she slipped from this world to the next in the arms of a peaceful sleep. Her favorite religious radio station was still on when we found her: hymns accompanied her transition.

Now we venture into the small world of her room, going through her things, feeding the puzzled cats. I can only do a little at a time; my heart begins to break after an hour or so -- her books, her notes to herself, her careful lists, her clipped recipes from magazines, her clean clothes, with that lovely clean soap smell. There isn't much, really; hers was a small life.

Except that there really aren't any small lives. Some of us are noisier than others, that's all. To God, we must look pretty much all the same size -- it is we who are interested in hierarchies of importance and power, not God. That she loved homemaking, loved Christmas, loved beauty and order and cleanliness, loved animals and music: these are the things I know about who she was. That she is home now, at last, forever, that she is pure beauty now, and pure health and pure joy now, pure oneness with the one who created her: these things I know about her life now.
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