My little patch of urban paradise is really shaping up! Everything that's going in the ground is in the ground, everything that needs to be mulched is mulched, flowers are blooming in reckless abandon, and I have begun to harvest. Mostly radishes.
Radishes. I used to plant radishes primarily as marker plants, and used a few here and there in salads. Most of them ended up in the compost, until this year. This year, I discovered that my dear friend Virginia is crazy about radishes.
Virginia is more than a friend. I jokingly refer to her as my "surrogate grandmother", although I'm really too old for an 84 year old woman to be my grandmother. Heck, my father is 86! But she doesn't mind the title. Years ago, ten or twelve I think, she briefly attended the Quaker meeting where I am a member, but I didn't get to know her then; it wasn't until two years ago that a mutual friend suggested I call her because she needed help with her computer. She was in the midst of writing a memoir of her youth, and completely computer illiterate.
Now the book is completed, and in the hands of a publisher. In the time we've known one another, we've found very strong similarities in our outlook on the world, our views of theology, and our desire to make the world a more peaceful and pleasant place in whatever little ways we can. One thing we learned about each other, for example, is that we eschew drive-in windows. We always conduct business in person, and always have a conversation with the person we are conducting business with. Bank teller, wait person, CSR, grocery checkout, doesn't matter who. If I can get a person to smile, I feel I have accomplished something worthwhile. Viriginia feels just the same way.
I believe in the power of prayer to influence events in the world. I believe that if enough people are praying together at the same time for the same thing, it becomes much more likely to happen. I believe that if a person prays for something often and ardently, it affects the person's life. A few years ago, some of the folks in my Quaker meeting started getting together in the middle of the week for the purpose of praying for peace. We spend a half hour in silence, then a half hour sharing with one another our experiences as peacemakers. Mostly just little things. We're not rabble rousers, crusaders, or self-styled messiahs, we're just ordinary people making peace with one person at a time. After our time of worship, we share a big pot of "stone soup" and a small salad.
Over the years, the participants in this little group have changed somewhat, and a year ago, we began meeting at Virginia's house. She was delighted to have it, as she relishes being a host and because of a physical handicap is unable to attend Sunday meeting. And she was thrilled to have a big helping of home-made vegetable soup once a week, especially when it included ingredients from my garden. I try to have something fresh every week. A few weeks ago, I brought some radishes for the first time. The way Virginia reacted, you'd think she was a six year old just opened the gift wrap to find that Santa had brought her just what she wanted!
That's the way she is: no holds barred immersed in the simple joys of everyday life, never tiring of counting and recounting her blessings. I admire her so much, for having lived her life as she did, and being the person that she is. I hope that very soon, her wonderful book will be published and she will be a famous old lady author. I look forward to seeing her hobbling amongst her fans, autographing, smiling and laughing, asking them how they liked the book, and being really interested in hearing what each person has to say.
That day will come, I pray. But for right now, I simply look forward to bringing her another bowl of radishes, knowing that the sight, the smell, and the taste of them will brighten her life.
May 11, 2008 | 9:12 PM PST
Your radishes look really good (I have a couple of weeks yet before mine will be big enough to pull).
Virginia sounds like a wonderful friend. Reminds me of the saying "make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other's gold."