working in the post conciliar garden

I wonder if Vatican II was a brief, appreciated warm spell in the late winter of the church that drew us from our cabin fever. We started seeds in egg cartons and paper towels from the first four centuries.Things sprouted. Some died. Others took root, and are thriving. Most of the seedlings planted in the days that followed the Council are still incubating indoors while they eagerly await their outdoor debut. We turn them so that phototropic tendencies do not disfigure them. As they grow, they come to know that sometimes it can even snow in early spring, but warmer, brighter days are coming.

It is evident to me today, more than it has ever been, that the ground is not ready. Farmers need to get in touch with nature.

For too long we have been sitting inside on the cast iron radiators, watching our plants, tending our palsied green thumbs or simply shaking colorful packets from Burpee company, while claiming to be champions of agriculture. We tired ourself during the high-pressure system, and went back to business as usual when a cold-front gilded our vehicles in frosty lace. We’re working in winter mode again. We claim we’re too busy, too fatigued to start turning back the old earth, but are we really?

Shake, shake, shake. Sugar snap peas in packets make maracas.

We caught the flu and that set us back even further. Like Rip Van Winkle, we rendezvoued with the Sandman for more than a night. The ground froze. The ice melted. It froze a second time. It’s thawed again and we’ve regained strength, so strike while the iron spade is hot from the noonday sun. Let the green babies grow strong on the windowsills for moment, for if the garden is not ready to receive them, their cotyledon banners will have been deployed in vain.

There will be no food come the fall if the earth is untilled, nor shoots in spring nor blooms in summer. The garden will be a barren patch where disgruntled farmers go to mourn. The garden will be a fallow field. Everyone will face famine.

Is this what we want, Church? Do we want to starve, Church? Do we want to have just enough to eat, or do we want to feed our kids and our neighbors and their kids too? Is Church a feast, or empty chairs at empty tables?

Lo, the winter is past. Get your shovels out. Lose the old hat- it never protected you from a sunburn anyway. Put on your steel toe boots and SPF. The work of the people has only just begun. Lo, the winter is past.


  1. I wonder how the experience of coming of age in a particularly oppressive political regime must have affected the leadership style of our last two pontiffs. I think some of the positions they espoused would have been better received if they had presented them as “questions,” for “discussion,” rather than musts. There is a need for colleagues to get together and experiment with new ways of celebrating the sacraments, but I choke on my words in thought of it for fear of being reported to some non-existent sacramental SS for simply talking about it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.