Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Faith in a seed, a bulb, a root, a rhizome, a tuber, a corm...

Thoreau wrote a book titled: Faith in a Seed relating that he once dug up some field-soil, no more than could fit in a coffee cup, which when tended with light and water produced over 500 seedlings of many kinds. 

Indeed seeds, bulbs, roots, rhizomes, tubers, corms - all of these are nature's ways of plant propagation taking place insistently and in secret, hidden in the soil beyond our sight. How packed with life our planet is!

And this is Madonna Lily (Lilium Candidum) on its first day of bloom, very fragrant and often seen in paintings of the Annunciation. Of the Virgin Mary the bloom announces: "Blessed are the clean of heart." 

I planted three Madonna Lily bulbs in July of 2013. A rosette of leaves  quickly appeared on schedule in anticipation of next years blooms. But come the spring of 2014, long before any flower bud could appear, the deer chewed all three to the ground. Then late that summer new leaves appeared, restoring hope that next year I'd see flowers. 

Come the spring of 2015 some fungus settled in and the leaves rotted away - another year gone. Then in the summer of that year still more leaves appeared but on only one of the bulbs which survived the winter into 2016. Taking good care of this remaining plant: a little extra bulb food, a fabric cover on a frosty night, a strip of scare- away tape to distract the deer and rabbits - this single stem of blooms at last!

To be sure, not all garden stories end this happily - sometimes the losses are total, expensive and dis-heartening. But this bright white lily seems to say, hang on! And how important is that these days of political discouragement, gun and bomb slaughter that spares no one - even the littlest. 

Visiting the July garden then becomes a pilgrimage where I bend over Lilium Candidum each day, for as long as she's around, and inhale her encouragement and suggestion of hope. And hope is not wishing, but trusting that God may act, can act, nay, will act!


  1. Faith can be found in many places, but we forget to look. You are a good teacher Father Stephen. Keeping us strong and encouraged in hard times.

    1. I have to fight the temptation to despair or cave in to the troubling threats: "It's bad, really, really bad folks and it's going to get worse." I've got a little mission to fulfill here: St. Paul enjoins us to pay attention to what is good and beautiful and true. Thank you for tuning in.

  2. we should all persevere like this beautiful Mary plant. Never giving up and trying, trying until we can succeed. Giving hope to the world. Amen.