I thought it was spam, and then a scam… A Nigerian prince offering riches beyond my wildest dreams. For a price. The e-mail read: “Dear shopper: You have received this notification from Prairie Moon Nursery because you received a gift certificate from Admirer for $400.00. Message: ‘A blog admirer is sending you a gift certificate to thank you!’”
I must have reread the e-mail half a dozen times, all the while eyeballing the “delete” button. But I know Prairie Moon Nursery. I’ve purchased their merchandise. I’ve recommended them to other gardeners. I recognized their e-mail address. Even so, images of computer viruses, account hackers, NSA snoops danced in my head.
I clicked the link. Sure enough, it led directly to the Prairie Moon Nursery website.
No-o-o-o-o way, I thought to myself, suppressing a sense of burgeoning wonder.
It took me another week toying with the delete button, and surfing the nursery’s web-site finally to do the obvious: pick up the phone, call the nursery and ask: “Hallo. I received an e-mail from what seems to be your business informing me that an anonymous blog admirer sent me a gift certificate in the amount of 400 dollars. I am calling to ask about the legitimacy of the e-mail in question.”
And guess what? Too-good-to-be-true turned out to be Good and True! Someone out there in the blogosphere, a kind, generous, big-hearted reader – one of YOU – chose to rain mana-from-heaven down on my head.
A number of emotions emerged in response: excitement of course, and a sense of dumbstruck wonder. And then, oddly enough, a welter of embarrassment. I recently wrote a blog-post outlining the very real financial considerations that will limit my garden ambitions for the coming year. Had I been so very whiny?
And then, of course, for a red hot moment, my middle-class pride stung. Though deeply honored and moved by the gesture, the magnitude of the gift… surely a ten-dollar gift certificate would have served equally well?
I pondered whether the ethical, or morally correct response would be to cherish my anonymous benefactor’s generosity in my heart, but ultimately to refuse the gift.
What does it actually mean to reject a gift while at the same time, claiming to “cherish” it? It took some time for the absurdity of the oxymoron to become clear to me.
Has anyone ever on a rainy day told God to call His rainbow back up into the Heavens because, “it’s too much. It’s too lavish. It’s more than I deserve. Thank you, but that much generosity is out of the question!”???? Who on Earth tosses a rainbow back into the face of God? When rainbows come, we stop and stare, soak every hue and shadow up with our senses, gulp down the scent of lightening, drunk on the thought that we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse. What else is there to do but to share the rainbow with the stranger at the bus stop? Two travelers hunch against the cold drizzle: “Look over there,” one says. “A rainbow!” Together you marvel, and for a moment, the cold isn’t quite as cold.
Under the glory of a rainbow, there are no strangers.
What else is there to do with a rainbow but first to share it and then to say, “Thank you” to the universe?
So here’s me:
And here is my back-hoe savaged bus-stop. Can you see us there?
I’m tapping you, Dear Reader, on the shoulder, to draw your attention to something lovely, something that survived the back-hoe’s savagery:
I’m pointing to the sky, where the clouds have thinned. “Sometime soon,” I prognosticate, “sunbeams are gonna break through the clouds, right about there…and when those beams strike the ground, a shade garden will spring up, a meadow of Columbine, and Wild Geranium. Accented with Bottlebrush Grass, Monarda and Foxglove Beardtongue. Prairie Alumroot will send up fronds between spikes of Palm Sedge. There will be Sweet Joe Pye Weed, Early Sunflower and Cardinal Flower. Brown-eyed Susan and Culver’s Root. Short’s Aster, in a sea of River Oats.”
Won’t you wait with me at the bus stop for the rainbow-to-come? I’ve received a sacred gift, one that has the power to make friends of strangers.
Thanks to you, beautiful Reader. Thanks to you, beautiful universe…