Posted by: Peadar Ban | May 10, 2010

The Garden of Mercy

She had offered her children to help this weekend with some chores around the house while we were occupied with preparations for a long trip.  It was a kind and gracious offer.  The children are lovely people, bright, happy, eager ones, always ready to do something, ready for an adventure and good hearted youngsters in the bargain.  So,we accepted her offer.  On Sunday afternoon, Mother’s Day, bright and breezy as only Spring days can be, they arrived with their mother.

The eldest, Isabel, who is in our charge and care on school days for her trip to and from school, was set to sorting and packaging three weeks worth of pills and potions which old folks use to help them make it through the day.  It would be just the thing, someone said, for a person who likes math.  I smiled at that.

Her brother, Thomas, a bright fellow who knows more about computers than I will ever know, was put to “real man’s” work outside mowing the lawn.  The surprise was the youngest, Julia, smiling and eager, nested against her mother in our dining room and confident her help was just the thing anyone would need.  “Do you think there is something she could do,” asked my wife, Mariellen.  I had just the thing for small hands, light feet and sharp eyes.  She could go about and remove the many young maples and oaks just starting everywhere one cared to look, especially in the flower beds.

Well they set  to soon enough.  Thomas took to racing up and down the lawn with my old fashioned merely human powered lawn mower, confidently expecting to have everything neatly done in a few minutes time.  Isabel sat at our dining room table, nearly filled with jars and bottles and containers of all sizes and descriptions to begin her counting, sorting and filling.  I devoted some time to showing Julia the Eager where the little trees hid, under the leaves, behind a flower stalk, and, sometimes right out in the middle of the grass; which surely Thomas would have taken care of by the time she got finished removing them from the flower beds.

He zipped by once or twice while I was so engaged with his sister, leaving me breathless.  She, for her part, eagerly and diligently got to work, doing her best to avoid trampling the “good” plants even though I assured her they weren’t so afraid of her small and light feet.  I left her on her own and went off to pull up trees in another part of the yard.

After a while I looked about me.  I had had no evidence for a few minutes  of Thomas hurtling by, lawn mower furiously churning up cut blades of grass as he went.  Looking around I saw him straining against it in some  heavier growth at the front of the house.  I went to help, to see if I could get him started.  Well, I did, but it proved too much for him.

“Do you mind raking,” I asked.  He certainly did not he informed me brightly, going on for a bit on his experience at home with rake and leaf bags.  Well, then, we soon had him outfitted with a good rake and some over-sized gloves, a hill full of blown down leaves and branches and two large trash cans for him to fill.

In the meantime, Isabel had finished her job in the house and had come outside to give a hand where one was needed.  Perhaps she could mow where Thomas couldn’t I mused.  Soon done I went off to see was Julia having any success.  With a big smile she showed me a large handful of offending seedling oaks and maples, repeating that there were certainly an awful lot of them.  I spent some time helping her and learned how much she was looking forward to seeing her own garden grow which she had planted beside her home.

We talked about roses, which she revealed she had only seen in pictures, and never in real life.  So, I invited her to come and visit when our roses were in bloom, and suggested further that she might even want to come around and pick some plants which we could divide and share with her.  I explained that this is what gardeners love to do for each other.

As I finished walking around with Julia, I noticed that Isabel seemed to be having the same trouble as her brother had with the lawn mower, bad thing.  We talked about it and, the shadows beginning to grow longer, I decided to give my garden crew the rest of the day off.

After goodbyes and thank yous, we got in the car for the short ride home.  It was the conversation in the car which made the day even more wonderful for me.  We talked about the works of mercy, the one that they had just completed, and the other ones, corporal and spiritual, we complete in our ordinary ways and days.

It being Mother’s Day I suggested that the children might want to treat their mother to something special at home.  The works of mercy aren’t, I was thinking to myself, limited to the mere seven each of the corporal and spiritual which are codified.

No they aren’t, at all.


  1. I just read this lovely piece and thank you for it.

    • You are very welcome, indeed, Sister.


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