stewarding the messy


This image of a vine growing around a steel bar is from a recent walk in the Botanical Gardens. The image seemed to ring a bell in me. Is this not what so often happens in life?  Things in our lives which we find to be simply basic architecture are accommodated by the new growth which will enfold us. And the new growth around us envelopes the steel, cold things as if no problem exists. Indeed perhaps no problem does, in fact, exist.  Perhaps as strange and hard and complicated and simple and disappointing and wonderful as life can be, God is working in and around us the whole time.

When i look at the image as an icon – a picture meant to take me to a different place – I find that the image invites me to a wide range of metaphors.  I see my intransigence but I also see my ability to adapt and go with the inevitable changes in life.  I see the cold steel and the living branch- for there are both in my life.  I see the clean lines of the steel and the undulating lines of the branch for there are both of these in my life too.

But mostly I see growth overcoming intransigence.  I see this image as an icon to the willingness to allow different parts of myself to co-exist in one person without having to fall to our western idea that difference cannot co-exist.

Someone could have moved the fence or a gardener could have moved the vine; but they were simply left to co-exist and co-mingle without having to make steel right and branch wrong or vice versa. I have walked in very formal gardens and I know people who have them.  I find I always prefer walking in a forest.  Forests are messy, tangled, chaotic places where the wild things are.  As hard as we try to be sophisticated, and cultured, we still seem to migrate back to the messy ordeal of life with its incongruities and its vagaries. We see their authenticity.

I know that there is steel in my life and that there are branches invading and enwrapping with a slow, undulating force which defies manipulation. I do not know if I am just getting tired or old (or both) but I am finding that the inconstancies and messy parts of my life which neither cause me nor others any harm might just not need to be pruned out.  In fact I think they add some interest – an interesting texture.

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