Friday, September 3, 2010

Hyssop and Heartsong

Last year, I was inspired by the flower-saturated border and scalloped picket fence of a quaint, mountain-town restaurant. What pleasure!- to be able to sit at the table and look out on all that loveliness! So I built and planted along the front walkway of my house, in full, glorious view from my kitchen table.

May I tell you what a joy it has been to me?

Climbing roses, lavender, lime basil, and sangria-purple dahlias; black-eyed Susans, sunny marigolds and soft, wooly lamb ears: all embrace the fence with color and texture. But my favorite of all has been the tall, airy bush in the center.

Wandering the garden center aisles last fall, I was first attracted to the hyssop by its soft purple color, but ultimately chose the feathery perennial for its biblical symbolism: Jewish priests used hyssop in cleansing ceremonies. Psalm 51:7 exults, “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” It was used to sprinkle sacrifices and sanctify homes. Hyssop speared a sponge that was lifted to Jesus on the cross.

I placed the plant in the herb and flower bed, across from the Jesus statue which holds court amid the sage and thyme. And it flourished there.

Beautiful as a cut flower, the hyssop joined hydrangeas in an arrangement for a couple who lost their unborn child. It graced plastic-bottle-vases of zinnia and lantana for friends who needed encouragement, for an acquaintance who had regained her health, for a random stranger at a gas station. It announced the chosen color at my daughter’s wedding shower. The more it was cut, the more it grew. Last year’s 18” spikes have become this year’s five-foot spires!

And, oh, the hummingbirds! And butterflies! And the hemaris diffinis! (Oh, my! The hemaris diffins! This clearwing hummingbird moth’s name comes from two Latin roots. One is “blood”. The other is “end”. Ponder that with your knowledge of hyssop as it relates to Christ and sacrifice. Another little “coincidental” treasure from God! How many do we miss?!)

Watching the feasting as I also partake of lunch, I am struck by the connectedness of living things and sit stunned in awe of their Creator. A heart-song expands in my soul, the hymn I loved as a child, the one that always swells over me in these moments: This Is My Father’s World. I become aware that my voice has joined my heart, and for a moment, I am transported, washed with hyssop, on wings of worship.