Shades of Green
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Some days I hang my clothes out on the line, because it’s warm, because I have time, because I want to have that earthy smell on my sheets, and some days I stuff my clothes hurriedly in the dryer, pushing the little white button before I speed out the door. Some days I pulverize dried egg shells, mix them with old coffee grounds and dig them into the ground around my camellias, and other days I simply stir up the right amount of chemical fertilizer—it only takes a second—and dump it on the orchids, the orchids that smell so good, who greet me by my front door… Some days I make sure every last scrap of paper gets into that blue recycle bin outside; I’ll even pull toilet paper rolls out of the trash when I see them perched there, yet other days I use so many paper towels, because I’m lazy, because the rags are at the other end of our (miniscule-gee, it’s such a long walk!) house, that any extra recycling I might do is cancelled out by all the cast-offs I’ve added to our world.

Some days. I’m just so many shades of green.

I love green; it’s my favorite color. I love the smell and feel of green. I love my little backyard where I’ve squeezed edible growing things into every nook and cranny. Parsley and thyme, sage, rosemary, and tarragon for cooking. Plums for jam, pomegranates to go on my granola, strawberries for the baby, kumquats for just eating… Avocados, peaches, oranges, lemons… How blessed am I!

I’ll never forget the shock of returning to the States after living in Europe for a couple of years. The excess! The grocery stores with aisles and aisles of…stuff. The humungo cars, the humungo hamburgers, the humungo people. I boycotted buying anything for a long while, just because I was too over-shocked. My mom thought I’d gone nutty. I’m not so over-shocked anymore, though. Having and wanting stuff grows on you like weeds. But I still struggle, in that good sense, to stay some shade of green.

How exciting to see the temperature change in this country, from a green that looked a lot like money, to a green that has more to do with my little backyard. A green that thinks about other people instead of a green that thinks only about me. That’s really the key, and the beauty of the green movement. The view outward. A glance outside ourselves that actually takes in the sight of others. That’s what Christ has called us to do—to love our neighbor as ourselves—to tend to a sick stranger—to wash each other’s feet.

Today my kids are out in the front yard selling homemade lemonade to passersby. They’re sharing our backyard bounty with the neighbors and counting the coins when it’s all done. I sit back and help as I can, mostly keeping my mouth shut, knowing how quickly I can become a hypocrite. There are so many shades of green here in my little world. So many shades of green.