By FATHER JAMES S. BEHRENS, OCSO, Commentary | Published July 19, 2012
Scriptures reveal ample evidence of the traces of God and his ways, as these are found in the most commonplace things. Jesus often spoke of harvests and seeds, pearls and trees, the birds of the air, wineskins and more to share with his hearers what God is like, what he does for us, how much he loves us.
I need to hear those passages. I need to hear people who take them to heart and who can refresh their meanings by looking about and pondering the mysteries and wonder of creation.
At the monastery, we were blessed last week with such a person. Her name is Elaine Nash, and she lives here in Rockdale County. Her specialty? Grass. Or perhaps I should say grasses. She spent an hour with us one morning.
Our hope is to clear one of our large fields to re-seed it with grasses native to this part of Georgia, and Elaine was kind enough to come and speak to us. She brought some slides and showed us the many different kinds of grasses that flourish in this southern state. She fascinated me. Her knowledge of grasses is extensive. As she spoke, it was obvious that she loves what she knows and loves even more to share her wisdom. Somewhere along the line, she found her passion in the grasses of this state. She knows their names—many of them quite exotic. She knows each of them along with their varied characteristics.
As each slide appeared on the screen, she told us where the particular grass grew. She went on about the seasons of its growth, whether it needed shade or sun, whether is was “friendly” or “unfriendly” to other plants, how it cross-pollinated, what it needed in terms of rain or shine, when best to plant it, where it could be found.
One particular point she stressed I found to be interesting. Bugs need grass. There are grasses that are extremely beneficial to very small creatures—as well as rodents, birds—all kinds of animals who make up the food chain in this part of Georgia. She stressed that with no grass, there are no bugs. And with no bugs, there are far fewer birds. A lot of living things diminish and eventually vanish when an absence of particular grasses make it impossible for insects to thrive. She stressed this to make us aware that if we want life—in all its forms—to flourish here, we should do our best to optimize the conditions, i.e., get the necessary grasses seeded and growing.
I have been around and in grass countless times in my life. I have walked through it, mowed it, raked it, played in it, run through it.
Frankly, I did it all in an oblivious state. I had no idea as to the variety and the wealth, the power that lay at my feet or beneath my head. Elaine Nash offered us a wondrous view of the possibilities of our fields and what we can and should do to make such wonders happen.
I thanked her when she finished her presentation. I have always been enthralled by people who have found their passion in life. I told her how much I admired her. She looked at me, smiled and told me that she has long been in awe of God, a God who works marvels through grass, rain, the birds and insects—weaving these all together to work in concert and to create life.
The wisdom of God grows through grass—it is as if grass has a mind and purpose given it by God.
The world is a vast place. Jesus came from God to teach us that we are brothers and sisters, all living in this field of the Lord. Hopefully, we will someday learn from the wisdom of Elaine Nash, who must have one day looked at grasses differently, saw in them the hand of God, and found a love that has inspired her an entire lifetime.
Jesus looked at the same fields—and asked us to think about God’s love for all he created. What we can do for grass, we are also called to do for each other. With all our differences, we are asked to grow and flourish in one field.