Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Why Bother?

I walked out to the garden yesterday morning for the first time in weeks.  That bug that hit brought with it such fatigue that each day I would think about doing some gardening and then decide to go "tomorrow".  Well, one day followed another and before I knew it our temperatures had dipped well into the mid-30s.

So when I walked out yesterday, what was once a flourishing garden looked quite ravaged.  The basil that had been so lovely this year was now all marked with frostbite, the mint had long fallen off its' stems, even the kale looked poorly! All gone before I could do anything to harvest it.

But there were unexpected signs of life with a few small tomatoes and even some green beans peeking a bright green behind withered leaves.  The golden pineapple sage is ready to "bloom" and the parsley continues to flourish... that is one hardy plant.

So I picked the tomatoes and the green beans and placed them into the well worn basket.  I also picked the pole beans which were now completely dry.  After rinsing the tomatoes and green beans, I found a fresh tea towel to spread on the kitchen counter, cracked open each dry bean pod, and sprinkled the beans which will be seeds for next year on the towel.

For there is always a sign of new life to come, even in the midst of neglect.

During the days I was feeling quite ill, it was easy to think of giving up completely.  I mean why put all that time and attention and limited funds into growing a garden to have to stop during the harvest.  I know, I should have had my husband at least pick some tomatoes and green beans but each day I thought I'd feel better... the next.

As an aside... he is not allowed near any herb for he cannot tell herbs from weeds.  Just saying.

But these feelings are not limited to the garden. For example, when we first moved to the country and I fixed up the front porch to look cute and cozy... the thought came to me that I should not put so much effort into fixing up the porch.  For hardly anyone will even know what it looks like.  We do live at the end of a teeny tiny gravel road with three houses.  You can't see our house from the road.

So why bother when that work may only be seen by so few?

It is the same feelings I get when I spend money for flowers on the deck each spring.  Although we do have visitors and use the deck once in awhile, most of the time it is just one or two of us seeing the flowers out the deck door.

Is it worth the money for just one of us to view while sitting in the Lazy Boy?

These thoughts come when I pretty up the top of the buffet or decorate the hutch or place the veggies in a bowl to look beautiful in the kitchen.  They come when I decorate with some some autumnal favorites or cut daffodils each spring to enjoy on our table and in the kitchen.

I no longer have a lot of people that come through the front door so why create Beauty? For just us?

And every single November finds me deciding whether to decorate for Christmas as I once did.  After all... I no longer have Christmas parties and most of the Season there are just once again... two people and a cat at home.

So why bother?

Why bake the cake and decorate it beautifully or roast the vegetables until the perfect caramelized color?  Why peruse the cookbooks or read the gardening magazine or learn how to save the seeds from the green bean plant?

Why bother?

The garden wilts from inattention and the daffodils die and the Christmas stuff has to be packed again to be put away and the deck flowers are really a lot of work to keep going you know.

Making this fallen world a thing of Beauty can take time and effort and even some of the budget and gosh I'm already tired you know with enough to do each day.

Why bother?

Because if we didn't we would die on the inside.  Oh, not immediately but the internal wilting away would become apparent after awhile.  It would be like saying our life is over.

We begin a new garden each year because we are made of faith.  And hope.  We know illness could hit or storms could wipe it all away.  We plant the fields of wheat and corn realizing we live where hail and wind and blight can destroy our hard work.

We buy the flowers and plant them in containers and display them through the window in such a way we can see them early in the morning as the sun rises or when we watch the news or while grabbing a sandwich for lunch.  And their beauty feeds as much as the food we eat.

We decorate the house to look lovely for after all... we live there.  We see it each day.  We need to be fed with Beauty.  We set the table and light the candles and create an atmosphere of warmth even if there is no company.  For who matters more than family?

In the same way, when we are alone we decide not to opt for the teabag but we spoon the good stuff in the small teapot that has been warmed with hot tap water before pouring the water from the whistling teakettle over it.  We choose one of our pretty bone china teacups from the shelf and place it on a tray with the little teapot and a small treat.   We perform our own little tea ritual for we are made for Beauty.

We bother because every instance we have to choose between getting by and making Beauty, we choose that part of us which is in the image of God.  We choose... life.

For you see, the cooking of a lovely meal and the writing of a poem... the planting of bulbs in the autumn for blossoms to enjoy in spring... hanging twinkle lights and listening to Bing Crosby sing White Christmas while making cookies even when no one is expected... putting together our famous veggie beef soup to serve with homemade bread for just us two... it is who we are.

So don't let the world tell you that less than your best is not good enough.  You are made by a God who has to make Art and you were his very best creation... and being made in His image, you also must create.  However imperfectly in this fallen of worlds for our creations will always fall short of perfection.

Such as a garden which goes unharvested in September.  But it was glorious in May and June and July and most of August.

Photo:  Flowers in front of a business in South Haven, Michigan.


lejmom said...

I am glad you bother. And your words convey why I bother, too. We like to hang a flowering basket in front of the dining room window...because it makes us happy to see it every time we pass by. Yes, it costs money that could be spent on the electric bill---but it brings us joy. We all need JOY!


Anonymous said...

This rings very true to me. Thank you for reminding me that I need to keep doing the things that make life a little more pleasant, my home a little more comfortable. One year I decided to forego putting up a Christmas tree because my grown children wouldn't be there for Christmas. It was a sad house! I realized that my melancholy was increased by NOT putting up that tree. Never again will I be without a Christmas tree,,or pumpkins on my front steps at Thanksgiving, or flags on the Fourth of July.

Rebecca said...

"Internal wilting" subtly it happens when we don't attend to the promptings of God's Spirit...

What a thoughtful post.

My Cottage Diary said...

I agree, Brenda. Beauty is worth the bother. And I think it inspires (is that the word I want?) energy when we feel all our energy has left us. Another great post. Thanks for sharing the photo of those gorgeous flowers! Blessings, Bess


I love this post so much. I agree... all beauty matters, as it originates from ABOVE.


Thickethouse.wordpress said...

Oh, Brenda, how this speaks to me...I have a lot of these same problems, mobility issues and tiredness.....But sharing in the act of creating beauty feeds something in me and when I am so fed I feel my spirit is strengthened to reach out to my Creator, or to be more aware. It is necessary! And finding the beauty in the natural world does the same thing for me. As I sit here at the computer and look out the window through the branches of the witch hazel tree through the dappled sunlight of several other layers of lawn and trees, my spirit rises in joy and gratitude.

Barbara said...


What an absolutely beautiful blog post! So cheerful and full of encouragement (and especially on this dark, cold, and rainy afternoon in Colorado).

"We were made for beauty." You said that several times in this post. I needed to see that. I really did.

There are those who don't place much value on taking the effort to beautify things, and they tend to pull me down, even to the place of of where I feel guilty for taking the time and effort.

May the Lord bless you for cheering me up!

Grace-gardens-and-reads said...

Thank you for these words of wisdom. Your courage encourages me. I too have problems of tiredness and pain due to a thyroid condition and bad back, but continue to garden despite having limited time: I still teach English at the local high school. Just a glimpse of my garden from the window or a quick stroll through the flowers before work can indeed refresh, just as you describe. We are indeed made to revel in beauty.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this encouraging post. I once had a friend who made beautiful clothes, and as a matter of fact designed clothes for others. She always embroidered a beautiful rose or some other decorative item on the lining. Someone asked her why she did it. She said "it's for the wearer!" I never forgot it. I, too, feel as you do. I live alone. Why bother decorating and creating beauty? It's just for me. As another commenter said, it would be a sad house without it. If we create beauty only for others to see, we are cheating ourselves of what can bring us joy. So glad you ended the post the way you did. Like so many of your posts, when I read them, I think you are writing just for me. You verbalize so many of my thoughts. God bless you, and keep making your world beautiful.

Cindy said...

Brenda-Thank you for such an inspiring post! As I have recently found myself wondering why bother with so many things, your post offered so many wonderful reasons why. Thank you, thank you!

Heather Anne said...

I absolutely needed this beautiful reminder today sweet friend! I'm glad you are on the mend ... your post prompted me to go out and see the lingering beauty in my much neglected garden ... and it was soul-nourishing!

Nana said...

501Hi Brenda;
What a perfect post today, you hit the proverbial nail on the head! It does take effort and money. Sometimes when we are so tired we can't wait for bed time (and its only 4 pm) it takes all of our energy to do some small task. I am so glad you bother to garden and cook and decorate. You can than tell us about it and inspire us all to go and do likewise. With love and hugs, Nana.

Anonymous said...

1/ hope you feel better soon
2/Amen to everything you wrote

I will dwell on your truthful post

Living on Less Money said...

Beautifully written and expressed!

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

We were made for Beauty! Yes, I believe it and agree with you whole heartedly!

The several years before my grandma died she decided to 'not bother' putting out her Christmas decorations. I knew she loved them, and I knew if it were me, I'd want them, so I went and decorated for her. Her little tree went up, her ceramic tree, too. Her Christmas village houses were displayed. I knew she loved having it all, she just couldn't bring herself to do it. After her last Christmas with us, she was talking about how much she loved her tree and wished she could keep it up. I said "why not? It brings you joy, leave it up!" So she did. For her it was pretty radical to do that, a wild choice, but she loved it. It spoke beauty to her.

Ah, I could write a book about this subject!

Enjoy your day in your beautiful home.


Sandra said...

Thank you for these wise words. I've also thought "why bother" some times but have come to realize the same thing you have. Beauty is important even if it's just for me, made even more so. Creating beauty and surround myself with it will be reflected back to others.

Judy said...

Brenda - thank you as always.

Without beauty, a sense of my true purpose (to glorify God) slips away, leaving only the dutiful toil that leads to a weary spirit.

To create beauty is life sustaining, inspiring gratitude and providing a taste of our eternal hope...

Anonymous said...

When I was young and sick our Mother would tell us to get out of our pjs and get dressed if we could at all. She said just being dressed would make us feel better. It did. To me that is like decorating and making beauty when you maybe be the only one who can enjoy it. It make you feel better. Feel better about life. Feel better about yourself and all. It lifts you up. Gets you a bit out of your doldrums. It can even put a smile on your face and it sure warms your heart! Sarah

terricheney said...

I save reading your blog for Sunday evening. Well this weekend we were out of town, riding up old state highways where I gazed at lovely, beautifully decorated front porches. I thought about how much I haven't done to my front porch, since we have so few visitors these days but had decided on this trip of ours that it was worth while because I WANTED to see how pretty it looked when I came home from errands or a trip. Lovely to read your thoughts along the same lines.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said!! Pam (SD)

hopeinbrazil said...

Lovely post, Brenda. I will be linking back to it from my blog next week since it's too good not to share.

Shan said...

Dearest Brenda,

I just love this speaks to my heart as so many of your posts do these days.

You always inspire me and even when I just stop by for a moment I leave with a lightened spirit!

Hope your day is beautiful and you are feeling well..

Honey Hill Farm

P.S. I just put up a post inspired by you...God knows the little (and big) places in our hearts!