Recklessness, and words thrown away.

Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors,
there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of night.

Lorrie posted that quote from Rainer Maria Rilke on her blog, and I have to agree with her that shrieking has somewhat the wrong tone as a descriptor… Even “reckless” can’t be right, because it’s all in God’s good order, even if it is more than I can fully appreciate with my puny and/or disordered soul.

She titled her post “Every Year is More Beautiful,” and I agree here, too, and that is part of the “problem.” The beauty in my world is magnified year by year, day after day, with over-the-top sweetness not to be compared with anything so flat as a slice of pie.

My garden is full of it, as is the sky above, and the birds’ songs. This week a house finch sang to me from the rooftop, and I realized I’d never heard his announcement before; it sounds like he is being quite emphatic about something. This morning I walked a little earlier than usual and saw and heard several more birds.

But what most occupied me on the path was hundreds of pages of Holy Scripture scattered on the pavement or in the leaves or grass at the side, and even in the creek. The first page was all alone, from the Gospel of Matthew, and as soon as I picked it up I saw another just beyond, and another… then larger parts of a little New Testament that had been ripped out of the sewn binding. I gathered each scrap or sheaf I saw, except for one of the orange covers and whatever parts might have remained inside it that I saw floating in the water below the bridge.

I read a line or two from a few pages, like,

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us,
from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son,
in truth and love.

But mostly I tried to be efficient
in the task of recovering the pages of more words similarly poignant.

It seems impossible for me to get a good picture of the cow parsnip in the creek. The whiteness of its flowers shrieks at my phone’s camera! This is the first year I’ve noticed that plant in our stream… and say, aren’t those some healthy nettles I see next to it?

Down there flitting among the willows and the cow parsnip was an unfamiliar bird. Dark grey, the size of a crow, but not acting like a crow. He flicked his tail frequently, and he had a black head and a vague black stripe down his back. I haven’t found him in the bird guide yet. To provide (so far) two new bird encounters in one week could be thought of as recklessly generous of my Father. How can He expect me to cherish His gifts if He lavishes them continuously?

And the button buds of the pyracantha are darling, not one as large as the head of a hatpin:

My neighbor Richard’s prickly shrubs are always half-dead, but they make white petticoated blossoms with blood-red hearts – so plucky and girly at the same time:

I wanted to read every wrinkled page of the Bible I picked up, because I was sure there were pertinent messages there… but of course I couldn’t, and I just brought them all home for a more honorable disposal. Eventually the evidence added up to three copies of the little orange Gideon New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs that had been torn and tossed.

I’ll type out just one meaningful verse from a photo above, that captures something of the excessive generosity of the Subject of these loosed leaves:

Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

But wait —
In that modern translation, I’m afraid the syntax doesn’t satisfy, as the end of my post.
So here is another excerpt from those pages, for your edification:

Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.


16 thoughts on “Recklessness, and words thrown away.

    1. I neglected to mention that this was not far from the middle school. There were three New Testaments torn up, so I imagined a story like this: A Gideon was passing out the little Bibles to the students after school. Some boys (hmmm – I see I am assuming boys…) accepted them thinking or unthinking, and then were embarrassed in front of their friends, so they made a show of disregarding the gifts to restore their coolness.


      1. The pictures of the flowers that you posted are lovely and sure a contrast to the willful destruction of those New Testaments.
        Your theory of why they were torn up seems reasonable to me too.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Be careful with the cow parsnip. It may be toxic. I was pulling weeds around our church a few years ago and had a poison ivy like rash that was worse, and I believe it was that parsnip! I have a Gideon bible that they gave me my first year of college, that our 2 year old loves, as it’s about 2 x 3 inches! Perfect size for his little hands. I’m glad you picked up the pages!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful flowers and plants you are enjoying, and thank you for sharing them with us. The pages of the Bible scattered didn’t make me think of destruction, but rather, God’s word was scattered and maybe someone picked it up, and read, and was refreshed or was drawn to God. His Word does not return void.

    I have a small, orange Gideon Bible that my littlest grands love to “read.”


  3. I have a hard time disposing of old Bibles or pages of Scripture. This post is particularly poignant for me. After my husband’s death I had a library of his Bibles and study material. He had taught Celebrate Recovery in a prison in Placerville. The woman’s prison here was having funding cut so the women lost staff to teach them and would have to teach themselves. All the work books and Bibles with copious notes in the margins were gratefully received. I too do not believe in coincidence. Love the scripture you chose.


  4. Pages of scripture scattered and thrown away. Was it because of a troubled soul? After reading your note about
    some student doing it I still felt sad.
    I prayed for that soul.

    The pyracantha is beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe the ducks? I picked up every scrap or crumpled paper I could reach, short of wading into the creek. I wouldn’t leave the Bible in the dirt in hopes that someone would pick it up any more than I would throw it there in the first place. I’ve heard stories of people stealing a Bible out of a (horse and) buggy and reading it to salvation; I’ve heard of eastern Europeans of the last century treasuring single pages of Scripture and making multiple copies by hand. But in our culture today, no one would break into a car to steal a Bible. Three (probably) middle-schoolers found it easy to tear up Bibles because there is little reverence for the printed book as a symbol of the words of the Word. It’s the “throwaway society,” right? Nowadays, if hungry sojourners are walking along the bike path, they are likely looking at their cell phones and constantly distracted from the reality of their hunger.


  5. Although the idea of torn pages of the Bible strewn on the ground is sad and discouraging, your photos of them are meditative and yes, even lovely. Wild beauty, or, order among chaos.

    BTW, I’ve a new post up to kick off Middlemarch in May. Trust you’re delving into it with new insights and enjoyment this second time around. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a poignant story juxtaposing recklessness both positive and negative. God’s reckless generosity is everywhere in the world, isn’t it. We only have to be attuned to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have to ask: in that last photo, are the pages of Scripture lying on a packet of William Morris wrapping paper? I have one of those folios — two sheets each of several designs — and that particular design is on the cover. Actually, I know it’s Morris; I just don’t know in which form you have him!

    Whatever the story behind the New Testament pages, I’m glad you found them. And the flowers are beautiful.


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