While E and I were away in Thailand, we left our home and my plants in the care of my younger sister, M. We’d taken care of N’s plants for her while she and J were on holiday, but didn’t feel that we could subject them to the care of about fifty plants when they’d entrusted only around six to us. M needed an excuse to avoid going home (it’s complicated), so we figured it would be a win-win situation.
As it turned out, while nothing really bad happened under M’s watch, she did do a couple of things she said she wouldn’t do (like use the air conditioning system; I’d given my permission, but she’d said she wouldn’t use it), and my plants didn’t get as much hydration as they needed (and I’d given her a live demonstration with explanations on what needed to be done and why). We came home to find two plants massively infested with spider mites and nine others sporting tell-tale webs, and everyone was droopy. Many of the mesic varieties had burnt brown ends to their leaves.
All in, nearly ten hours of recovery work (including bug poison and soap solution soaks) have gone into rectifying the situation. The plants look better, but they definitely aren’t in the tip-top condition they were in just before we left.
I’m not sure why I wasn’t as pissed off as I’m aware I normally would have been. I like to think it’s because I’m growing in patience and forbearance, but it’s probably due more to the yet-to-wear-off lassitude that resulted from the trip. Besides, I know that M did water the tillies – she just didn’t have the heart or the eye for their well-being that their owner has.
That said, I was in fact annoyed. Mostly by the fact that I put a lot of effort into doing things well, especially when it’s something I’ve promised someone, but that this attitude isn’t often reciprocated. When I took care of N’s tillies in her absence, it was a point of pride that I was able to return them to her even healthier than when she deposited them with me. I’m like this with most things and in most cases, but have too often been disappointed when roles were reversed.
I’m no saint of course, and one might argue that I’m a “plant person” while M is not, but this was a stark reminder of the fact that humans are, in general, selfish creatures who make lousy stewards. We take good care of what is our own, but put in just enough effort with regards to others’ affairs to avoid trouble. We take pride in making sure what is ours is “the best”, and couldn’t care less if our neighbour is worse off. In fact, we might actually find a base satisfaction in that.
What possessed an omniscient God to entrust His perfect, beautiful Creation to the tender mercies of created beings? Sure, we were made in His image, and He pronounced us “very good”, and He loved us from before the beginning of time, but He knew. He knew what we would do to His beautiful world, knew that we would ruin His paradise, plunder its bounty in wasteful quantities, disrupt and destroy the delicate balances He put in place, kill and maim His other creatures, cobble together monstrosities while smug in our own cleverness, conclude that He was merely a figment of our predecessors’ unevolved imaginations, and declare ourselves gods.
Love is not love without the freedom to choose, indeed. We have more than failed our stewardship of this planet. We have betrayed the trust given to us, spit upon it and smashed it to the ground, and danced upon its sad remains. And yet Christ’s hand remains stretched out to every last one of us, salvation offered freely on his open palm for our taking. It boggles the mind. Truly, it boggles the mind.