AfterWords is a series of community-contributed reflections intended to further the conversations that begin during Parish sermons.
A 3-Minute Read
by Katherine Carrier
“Simon Peter answered Him, Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
I met my first friend, Kandi, at an old pasture fence that was covered with honeysuckle vines. We had just moved to the property and I was out playing. She ventured down and we made our introductions over the fence. We figured out we were almost the same age, that I was already five and she soon would be five. As such, I had a slight edge in knowing time expressions. She got ready to leave and told me she would see me yesterday. She shook her head. “No, I’ll see you…” her brow crinkled, “the day after today.” “I’ll see you — I’ll see you…” She was stumped. I was amused and thought it was probably a word called tomorrow. She finally said “Oh, ever mind! I have to go.” I stood grinning, knowing it was “never mind” but liking her word much better.
This was my Eden, a plot of land out of the tight neighborhood of Hapeville where we had moved to a sleepy, rural one-traffic-light county. My parents were young, healthy and beautiful and I was clothed in the innocence and wonder of five.
Some time later, my great Aunt Annie gave my mom an old Folgers can with a tiny cutting of wisteria vine. My mom’s grand vision was a gentle vine entwining the fence spilling decadent purple grape-like cluster blooms along with the honeysuckle. Her imagination was also filled with innocence. In her defense, there was no hand-held instant reference tool in the 1970s to warn her of potential perils of wisteria. It was just a little vine in a coffee can.
In the Now, this wisteria vine has celebrated its fiftieth anniversary along that old fence line. It has long ago choked out the honeysuckle. It has reached out to climb a pine tree and I am sure it is filled with vipers. It has outlived my father by twenty years. Almost every day when I call my mother and ask what she has been up to today, she will say “I’m fighting that dang wisteria.” Wisteria, it turns out, makes the Georgia’s Deadly Dozen Invasive plant list. Fun fact: from 2019 to 2022, in Georgia, wisteria gained over 4,000 acres of growth.
I am firsthand witness to this invasive growth. In my own yard, it took the removal of several pines and a tractor to uproot a wisteria growth, and it still pops up here and there yearly.
Time spills over the fence line of our stories. We celebrate what it gives and lament what it takes.
Recently a young physicist was telling me in layman terms about how, in theory, multiple dimensions can occupy the same space. I’m not sure the method by which God allowed the prophets to peer into events played out in another place, time, or both.
We have Amos, a herdsman and fig grower and prophet of God foretelling laments coming for Israel. In reading Amos recently, I was struck by a predicted famine, “not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord.”
People will stagger from sea to sea and from north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.
Unlike the wisteria vines that here in Georgia choke life from the land, we have another image of vines and branches from the Old Testament prophets and Jesus Himself, vines that give life. In a powerful image, Jesus tells us He is the vine and we are the branches. We remain in Him and we bear fruit, we bear the Good News of the Living Water, the Bread of Life. Did Amos see the time beyond the famine where the lands would be dotted with life-giving people bearing the Living Word?
This vine — we tend it. It tends us. We cultivate it. It cultivates us. We water it. It waters us. We live. We thrive. We share.
Sometimes I head out with my garden tools and meet my mom at her fence line and fight this good fight with her. I stand there and let my mind erase the years and see the two little friends meeting for the first time. I look at my mom and let my imagination erase fifty years from her frame, peer into her young gardener’s vision. I turn from the fence to the other parts of her property and see the Now, all the beauty she created all around the yard, the mature azaleas, magnolia, hydrangeas and her own fig trees.
The Not Yet
And somewhere in the shimmery lines between this dimension and another one, I know that my mom will have that strong youthful frame once more and will be tending a garden with the Author of all gardens.
This other dimension, time, a place with everything redeemed, everything made new: Does our language have a term to express it? The Not Yet? Eternity? Or maybe the four year olds better understand the relevance and importance. “Oh! Ever mind!”