Planting Tomatoes

fullsizeoutput_79cThe Letter of St. James would have us all be doers of good things, and not hearers only. And like most people, I figure my way of doing is the doing of what I want to do at any given moment in time. The harder thing is doing what someone else wants me to do. Or doing what I believe the Word of God calls me to do, along the lines of loving my neighbor as myself.

In the hope of flattening the curve of COVID-19, governments all over the world and close to home ask us to shelter in place for the time being. Stay home is what they ask us to do if we are not part of essential services needed to care for the sick and sustain the rest of us sheltering at home. This lands me in a place of wanting to do more than shelter: mostly to do what I used to do outside the home, but also to do something that helps those who struggle with isolation and illness or to do something to support those who do their best to help.

Musicians are offering their gifts online. Yo Yo Ma plays his cello there and Steve Martin his banjo. My friend Chris Cobbs plays his guitar there and sings a song from John Prine, offered up as a get-well prayer. “Will you still see me tomorrow?” the singer asks his intended beloved in the song, then voices her fatal answer, “No, I got too much to do.” With the wisdom of Prine, my friend sings into their dilemma, “A question aint really a question if you know the answer too.”

Heartfelt online offerings like his can be played again and again: like gifts offered up for posterity or like broken records voicing songs we wish we’d lived, arriving in new minutes again and again too late. I’m pretty sure the offerings come from a place of asking, “What might I do for others?”

I’m told somebody once asked Martin Luther, “What would you do if you knew today was your last day?” And supposedly he said he’d plant a tree. Read more