Thursday, May 31, 2007
Notes from the Garden
The eighth grade boys have a slang word that I used to discourage them from using. After thinking it over, however, I've adopted it myself as a very useful word. It's a word for that emotion you have when you suddenly realize you are in over your head but you just have to soldier on in the moment. The word is, "gnarly", as in "Dude, that was really gnarly."
I have discouraged the usage of "dude", a word so massively overused that it has been applied while addressing me on more than one occasion.
It brings me to this question from a reader, which I have been pondering for days, looking for the words in answer.
So I voted on the Blogger's Choice awards after I read that Sister St.Aloysius was praying for those who did, which made me feel guilty like I was just doing it for the good graces. I will readily admit I will take all the prayers and such that I can get and like a kid looking for candy, I definitely do some good things because I want the rewards associated with them. But like with the blog voting, I also mean what I do. I *do* think this is a great blog and deserves recognition. And when I'm nice because I know it makes God happy even though I don't always feel like being nice, I also really mean the nice things I say and do. Like deep down that is the person I really want to be. So here is my question: If we do charitable works and get a payoff, do they still count as charitable? And are there really any selfless good deeds given that at the very least a good deed makes the doer feel good?
If you've been following our exploits you know we've been battling our garden. It's been difficult to get the work done, it was so massive and our schedules are full, even though the garden is tiny. Working in the garden, however, is very rewarding. In the end there is beauty and while working there is constant metaphor.
The work was gnarly. Gnarlly....gnarley....what's the proper spelling?
We have a rose called, "Joseph's Coat". It's buds are a dark pink which open into blossoms of orange and red and then fade to shades of pink. It has buds, open blossoms and fading flowers all going all at the same time. It is magnificent.
It also has thorns on it's thorns. I'm not kidding. There is nowhere on the plant, even on it's rough leaves, that you wouldn't get poked or jabbed or shot full of thorns that break off in your skin when you touch it. The thorns are razor sharp and slide into your skin like a knife through butter. I had one stuck in the pad of my pinky for almost a week before I was able to dig it back out. When I looked at my little finger with a magnifying glass on day four I discovered there were three more thorns in there I didn't even know about!
And I'm not even touching this nasty plant. I'm doing everything I can not to touch it. I only use the scissors or the pruners to touch it. Somehow after you clip off the branch, it spins or flops or springs back and manages to stab you anyhow. I screamed and howled my way through the whole process. I tried not to, but it took me by surprise every time I was stabbed because I was being so careful not to be stabbed. At least I could offer it up on the back end.
And that's just part one. Part two is that we have to haul all the razor filled stems and branches over to the green can by putting them in a basket and them dumping them in the green can because we can't take the green can into the garden. It's too big to fit through or around the house.
I think about all of this every time I hear someone say they won't give money to a homeless person because they did that once and the man screamed at them. Or they once gave a sandwich to a homeless man because they didn't want to give him money that 'he would use for booze' and the man was not grateful for the sandwich. Made them think twice about doing that again.
Believe it or not, I'm trying to answer you question.
If we do charitable works and get a payoff, do they still count as charitable? And are there really any selfless good deeds given that at the very least a good deed makes the doer feel good?
They always count as charitable works but ...who's counting? As long as we don't fall into the sin of pride it's perfectly alright to feel good about being good. You are certainly on the right path. But ...and this is a very big but....
It's really about how you behave and how you feel when it gets gnarly. And believe me, there are plenty of good deeds that won't make you feel very good after you do them. I just named two very common ones.
My roses are utterly ungrateful. Can I be charitable when my help is not appreciated?
My roses attack me when I take care of them. Can I be charitable while under attack? Gnarly.
Thanks for your votes. Sister St. Aloysius has calmed down about the whole thing once we leaped past the atheist blog, but she still gets a real bang out of following our progress.