by Jocelyn Benson
Have you ever looked at a stand of trees from across a cornfield that stands next to a soybean field? Have you ever gazed into a ditch coursing with grasses, weeds, and wild flowers? Sometime, try counting all of the shades of green. Just when you think you have seen them all, there is another!
Children, like the boy in James Hogg’s poem “A Boy’s Song,” demonstrate thorough research of their surroundings by asserting claims such as “the greenest hay”:
Where the mowers mow the cleanest,
Where the hay lies thick and greenest,
There to trace the homeward bee,
That’s the way for Billy and me.
Greenest assumes green and greener. The boy in the poem observes a distinction and discriminates between the tints and tones of green. A keen eye and recurring observation of the same hills, dales and streams gives him the wherewithal to declare that this hay is “greenest.” The boy does not tire of the green. He is drawn back time and time again. After all, “that’s the way” for Billy and him.
Perhaps our adult, monochromatic eyes can be opened by the discerning eyes of youth. Perhaps, to, the intentional gaze of an elder can train youthful eyes toward discernment.
The summer green of trees, grass and crops in the Corn Belt where I live is a sign of the ordinary. Sometimes we might look around and perceive the ordinary as mundane. We look left and see green. We look right and see green. We do not stop to see the unique and beautiful within the ordinary. The unique and beautiful do not make the ordinary any less ordinary, yet a more intentional look can give us a new appreciation for the ordinary. God provides our daily bread, ordinary though it may be, through our neighbor, and we receive it with thanksgiving. The ordinary, though it may not be as exciting as the feasting and merriment of a party, keeps us alive with its steady sustenance.
As we look around at the ordinary green of summer and remember the ordinariness of God’s provision in supplying our daily bread, we are well reminded of the green that is also on our churches’ altars throughout the Trinity or Pentecost season. While it may not be as festive as the white or gold of Easter and Christmas, the green on display during this season, which the Church calls “ordinary time,” is anything but mundane. During the time of green paraments we hear about the teachings and miracles of Christ Jesus our Lord during His ministry on earth. There’s certainly nothing mundane or monotonous about Jesus healing blindness, raising the dead, multiplying loaves, restoring lepers to health or providing miraculous catches of fish. The parables of the Lost Son, the Rich Man and Lazarus, the Pharisee and Publican, and the Ten Virgins are equally remarkable and teach us much about the gifts Christ freely gives.
Although there may not be special candlelight services, Easter lilies, or brass fanfares during the long, ordinary season of green, whenever we gather together on the Lord’s Day, we continue to receive forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. There is nothing ordinary about that. Thanks be to God!
Jocelyn Benson is a member of Saint Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chatfield, Minnesota. She serves as Head Teacher of Wittenberg Academy.