Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Tiger Lilies - August 16, 2010
They blew in the wind softly, this way, that way; they were not disappointed when they saw the scissors, rather they braced themselves sweetly and shone with willingness. They were on tall and tender poles, with wheels of leaves. They were soft as the ears of kittens. They felt warm in recognition of the summer day. A dozen was plenty. I held them in my arms. They were silent the way the deepest water is silent. If they wondered where they were going they didn’t show it, as they sprinkled freely over my shirt and my hands their precious gold dust.
Is Mary saying that the Tiger Lilies were going to their death willingly, or without disappointment? Would the Tiger Lilies, if given a choice, choose to be cut and taken away from their tribe to enter into domestic dying? Is this poem a way of justifying human domination over nature? But surely, you might argue, the Lilies are a domestic species, planted for our benefit and so we have the right to harvest them. Perhaps the Lilies are “silent” because we don’t yet know how to really hear them – of what they “want” and how “need” and how life strives to flourish in their existence. How often do we silence the oppressed or marginalized voices – pretend we don’t hear them or that they don’t have needs or inherent worth and dignity? If Lilies, then why not trees, birds, pigs, and people? I am just reading today in the book “conservation psychology” of how plants and animals in the home and garden benefit humans in a variety of ways. We evolved to interact with nature and to derive benefit from it. But at what cost? Ironically, our desire for beauty and wildness must be tamed for the benefit of all. Perhaps in that taming and discipline of a measured response to life, we give ourselves and our world even more freedom that we even though possible. Who needs to cut flowers or pigs if we know we are the forest and the porcine, seeing their beauty and listening to their suffering where they are instead of commanding them to be where we want them to be. Oh Mary, Mary, I am so contrary. How together can we have our earth garden grow?
Where do you experience silence from another when really there is much to be heard and experienced?