This spring, as I pulled weeds and thinned flowers and runaway plants with bad boundaries, I worried that the gardens at my new house would be too sparse. Things were overgrown; the prior owner’s health had prevented her from keeping things in a Versaille-like order. As I started weeding and thinning, I was heavy-handed in pulling things. When the weeding was over, I carefully top-dressed all the bare spaces with organic compost and popped in nasturtium seeds here and there.
Whatever sins I committed in pruning could easily be flowered over with a delicate shawl of nasturtiums. They wrapped themselves around the bare shoulders of a newly planted Maltese Cross or the showy and naked Globe Thistle. They provided a blaze of color, too. For the last month, they’ve really given their all and done the job I’d planted them to do. They did not disappoint.
I’ve tried to find the right light and the best angle to photograph these workhorses of the garden. My camera disappoints me.
As lovely as they are, nasturtiums haven’t been primary in my mind this past week. I’ve been thinking about an e-mail from a friend. She’s going to give a “talk” to a volunteer organization later this month, a “motivational speech” of sorts and I’m making tentative plans to attend. She tipped me off to her topic in her note:
“I’m thinking about ‘sacrifice’ for my talk.”
It’s not a very sexy topic. From time to time, “servant leadership” waxes and wanes in business schools and a new book or speaker on the topic might trend on social media. Is there a Jeopardy question about it? The theory sometimes props up Jesus as the model of a “servant leader.” I was thinking about these things over the weekend and ironically, the church reading was the very passage I had been thinking about. The apostle Paul wrote this to a group of Christians, as a reminder of sacrifice and humility:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.
The passage goes on to discuss the “servant leadership” of Jesus further. It’s the book of Philippians, chapter 2, verses 5 through 8.
In the last week, I’ve had a chance to disconnect from social media more than usual and enjoy some quiet, unwired time. On the occasions when I’ve peeked at the news or social media, I’ve seen many examples of seeming sacrifice.
“Look at me dumping a giant bucket of ice water over my head.”
“Look at me walking with hundreds of others, laughing and eating fundraising-walk-sized energy bars.”
“Look at me giving blood.”
“Look at me pulling weeds.”
I tell myself it’s for a good cause. I’m raising awareness. I’m showing my Moxie. I “like” the pictures I see of others doing good things. Sometimes I wonder to myself “why am I posting this? Who does it benefit?” In spite of the many images I might share and the ones I may remark on, there is a dearth of conversation about humility and sacrifice in the collective vocabulary. It’s like trying to capture the warm ethos of nasturtiums with an old i-phone camera. The picture leaves something out.
I’m glad my friend is going to broach the subject of sacrifice in her “talk.” She’s bright and articulate and no stranger to sacrifice. A snapshot of her life doesn’t immediately reveal these things and she rarely talks about them. When she does, she speaks in a whisper.
She hardly ever posts things on social media.
I’m looking forward to her talk. I’m going to take notes.