(There is nothing I can add to the poetry of this short essay, The Garden Remains by Baron Wormser in the current issue of Orion, but I have trimmed it for this post. I feel as if he has condensed most of my blog posts into a few short paragraphs, and so, I've provided links to those posts. The essay decorates my last two posts.)
..."There is no shortage of answers--the specter of mortality, sheer restlessness, cupidity and anxiety. To reside in the pagan world of celebrating the harvest god is to acknowledge the difficult truth that life is cyclical rather than linear (1, 2, 3). It is to give primacy to what is in front of us rather than what is behind the scenes. And it is to lay to rest a degree of our inherent uncertainty about this world. The seasons come and go; so do we. That is that. The excitable news of the linear world is so much palaver.
"I tend to think that once human beings entertained notions of the infinite, it was all over. Such a scale had nothing to do with the human race and, in its imaginative potential, everything to do with the human race: it dealt with overwhelming, impossible questions like, Why are we here? and Where are we going? Overwhelming questions tend to call for overwhelming answers. The garden answers those questions, too, but in a very different manner, a much milder one. The garden tells us that we are here as part of all that lives and dies and that where we go is at once plain--back to the earth--and mysterious. We can celebrate both ends.
"Alas, the human race never has been very good at appreciation (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). We're active and forgetful creatures who tend to be glib. To build a culture of appreciation for the finite and reside there may be the largest task facing the human race. It certainly won't be accomplished by being busier and creating more labyrinths of money. Weeding and hoeing are much more important. So is cooking. So is any imaginative endeavor that makes us feel at home on earth.
"When the song "Woodstock" proclaimed that "we've got to get ourselves back to the garden," it wasn't as hippie-foolish as it might have seemed. The backers of the blind certainty that perpetually afflicts human affairs and demands blood sacrifices in the name of ideologies, nation-states, and ethnic hatreds might ponder the peace that resides in that line. We may have left something very crucial behind; yet the good news is that anyone can see the garden any day on earth. It's called grass or tree or fruit or flower.
"Maybe the gift of the green world is more than we can bear. Maybe that is the legend of the garden. Maybe the shame and guilt that go with our exile are more real than any of us can bear. We blew it and continue to blow it. Do we have to? I don't think so, but the image of two stricken, cowering people is what it is. In one unforgettable sense that is the human race.
"Today is beautiful, one of those I-can-feel-everything-growing days. I will go outside and affix pea tendrils to the fence. The tendrils know what to do, but I can help them. I can stand there and linger for long, fulfilling moments and simply take in. It seems the best of all worlds."
The Garden Remains
Orion, March-April 2013