Planting Love

Today is not our wedding anniversary or my wife’s birthday, but I want to pay tribute to the most inspiring woman I’ve ever known. My wife’s name is Jo, but she should have been named Eve, as I’m convinced that she would have done a much better job as mother of all living things. She exudes femininity adorned by Parisian flair of a French manicure, but just as striking is her undeniable green thumb. Quietly she goes about her business of improving everything she touches– plants, animals and human beings. I’ve watched over the past eight years as she has turned a barren plot of ground in Bosqueville into a bonafide bird sanctuary, deer habitat, and breeding ground for miscellaneous wild creatures, not to mention a sanctuary for more domestic breeds. Jo is the female alter ego of St. Francis, whose statuesque likeness adorns some choice shade just outside our screened-in back porch, a constant reminder that devotion and animal husbandry are compatible here.

Jo’s specialty is rescuing things. Some time back she found an injured nighthawk and kept it alive while imploring me to track down an aviary specialist she had heard lived in our area. Just last month she rescued a young Painted Bunting that she found stunned on the side of the blacktop on her way to work. For several days she attempted to feed and water the beautiful bird from the safety of our greenhouse, and I witnessed her gentle grief when she found it lifeless several mornings later. Her concern over the plight of the few deer in our region prompted us to buy a deer feeder to place behind our house, requiring frequent trips to the feed-store for apple flavored corn. I’ve held her in my arms while she cried over painful choices necessitated by a diseased cat and aging rescued dog. She even worries over feuding hummingbirds and arranges multiple feeders to minimize the dueling. No living creature is outside the scope of her redemptive spirit.

I will never know how this blessing fell to me to have her choose to wear my ring and take my name. I see God’s grace in her eyes every morning, and gladly number myself among those whom she has rescued. Her name will likely never appear in lights, adorn a building, or command the attention of heads of state, but Jo faithfully plants her love into whatever willing soil lies at hand.

“And in this he showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed to me, and it was as round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought: What can this be? I was amazed that it could last, for I thought that because of its littleness it would suddenly have fallen into nothing. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and always will, because God loves it; and thus everything has being through the love of God.” (Julian of Norwich)

“Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:25-31, KJV)

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