~Planting an herb garden is challenging.
~Herbs have the power to transform other things.
~St. Clare of Assisi is in the transforming business.
Have you ever planted an herb garden? I decided to in the Spring. The seeds were like dust, so fine, flyaway. Would this work? Was this idea for professional gardeners only? Forging ahead, sprouts emerged, so fine, frail, so slow growing. Eventually enough growth allowed me to transplant to the garden. Basil, oregano, parsley, cilantro, thyme, chives, and spearmint all had their place. Meanwhile, a pandemic was raging, and continues to. At least the garden provided distraction. But when could I expect some robust herbs?
Weeks passed. Weather improved, and like a miracle switch flipping, I was now consuming the herbs! I was, and am now, enthralled with the power these edible plants have to transform the taste and enjoyment of food. It is as if they were designed to pair with specific other foods. I don’t want to go back to the way I prepared foods without them. They would seem tasteless now. Have you ever paired some spearmint with watermelon? Transformed! How can this miracle spring from a particle as small as a speck of dust? And they even have healing properties? It’s almost too much to believe.
Perhaps it’s quite a stretch to see a parallel for Clare of Assisi in my little garden, but I do. We will celebrate her feast day very soon. She had an experience of tasting something transformative and didn’t want to go back. Clare paired herself with Holy Father Francis and carried his message of reform to even greater dimensions. She had known a well-to-do life of comfort, but now it was tasteless. Paired with Christ, then helped by Francis, the transformation began. We still talk about her today, nearly 800 years later. We always will. Taste and see for yourself.
I don’t believe it is a coincidence that her feast falls between the feasts of the Transfiguration and the Assumption, and that we just heard the accounts of the multiplication of loaves and fishes. This after all, is the Season of Clare. And her transforming, Franciscan presence is alive and well here at St. Anthony’s, all the year. Chiara Offreduccio di Favarone, Holy St. Clare of Assisi, pray for us.
– Bruce LaCrosse
As is my custom, I share my painting on this theme. Have you spent some time in the Chiara room at St. Anthony’s?