There’s a tidge of spring in the air.
And here in the Northeastern part of America we are holding a hopeful-breath that perhaps…
Punxsutawney Phil was WRONG!
I am certain our local greenhouse departments are seeing a surge of individuals, strolling through the aisles with songs of ‘garden-planting’ dancing in their heads. Of course, here along Lake Erie, no one dares to even consider planting any fragile plants into the earth until at the very earliest late May or early June.
Frosts are notorious for sneaking up on us throughout the month of merry May!
I grew up with summers revolving around my grandparents garden. Tilling, planting, watering, weeding, harvest, repeat. And I learned at an early age the smallest quantity you could hope to plant, (of anything) in my grandparent’s garden, was one dozen. Because, “Why bother to plant anything that doesn’t produce enough for feeding, canning and sharing!” There were 200 tomato plants, 24 green pepper plants, 24 Hungarian-wax pepper plants, 25 hills of zucchini, cucumbers, and pumpkins. 15 rows of green beans, yellow beans, peas, carrots, and radishes. It was only the rows of leaf lettuce and the onions that were given the minimal planting of 12.
(and oh by the way…that would mean 12 rows!)
The first 12 rows of the garden, split up between 6 rows of the large spanish variety and 6 rows of the proverbial garden green, were always the onions!
I know they are not everyone’s favorite but, even as a small child I LOVED ONIONS!
They’re easy to plant and delicious to eat!
(FYI: We always planted the onion sets.)
The amazing onion provides layers of flavor, color, and texture to a wide variety of dishes and cuisines. But, their appeal goes beyond flavor when you consider their role in history and our health. On the surface they seem like a simple vegetable, but underneath they have an interesting story...
‘Peeling away the layers of the onion’ is a somewhat familiar term. It means examining and removing the layers that cover any topic until you get down to the basics, or the root of things. It means not just looking at the surface, but digging deeper!
In life, the onion is used metaphorically to describe sequentially removable layers that conceal an important something. That is, when we use a metaphor involving an onion – such as “peeling away another layer” – we visualize a central concept (a heart or core) that is buried beneath an organized series of layers.
There is nothing of material value between each layer of a metaphorical onion: it is treated as skin upon skin, fortification upon fortification.
The onion, then, describes the progression, rather than the destination; requiring a separate tone to distinguish the nature or value of the destination itself. It is a road – a choppy road to an uncertain, secluded destination. Whether a journey along this road results in good news or in bad news, it always results in truth, however dicey. J.D. Casing
I’ve mentioned, in a few of my recent posts, that there have been several changes occurring in my life…both interiorly & exteriorly. I spent the month of January in silence and these treasures I have unburied, many of which have been through the guise of books, have enabled these layers of self-discovery to begin unpeeling.
A lovely Christmas gift from my son, The Wisdom of the Enneagram, The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types along with a dear-friend’s gift, Nasty People: How to Stop Being Hurt by Them without Stooping to Their Level both helped to tear away the thick outer layers.
My wise Spiritual Director then recommended I read next, Self-Esteem without Selfishness written by Michel Esparza. Within all this treasured reading I discovered that indeed metaphorically, life can be very much like an onion!
“Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time; And sometimes you weep.”
-Carl Sandburg, American poet
So much was waiting between the pages of these 3 books! A page from my journal during this time spent in the silence of January describes it best:
I am discovering, through this mercy of yours what it means: Felix cupa (Happy Fault)! I am reminded God doesn’t love the sin, but he loves the sinner. “”God is maternally paternal,” said Francis de Sales. Mercy proceeds from the love God has for us because he loves us like a mother with a special affection for her weakest child. The depths of Christ’s merciful heart is similar to what we see in the best of mothers. Christ’s mercy is perhaps the most moving facet of his love, who suffers in silence because of our caprice. His generosity in his passion is certainly astonishing, but with his mercy we sense a more “personalized” love. Nailed to the cross, he loves us INDIVIDUALLY. He is like a mother who adapts her love to the peculiarities of each of her sons or daughters.”
Lord, I know you already have the story written…I know Your providence has already been assigned. Help me to wait patiently, in FULL TRUST, for its deliverance; please calm my spirit & soothe my heart, while I await the appointed time. (But in the meantime…)grant me the grace of a tethered tongue, pure & holy thoughts, and the wisdom (needed) to only SPEAK WHEN NECESSARY; so that I may continue to live with humility, content with my weakness!
Help me to get out of the way, use me where I am needed, and move me into those places & relationships YOU need me most.
I sincerely desire to be your hands, your feet, your love, (in this broken human form.) Blind others from MY imperfections, so that they only see YOUR perfect love.
Forgive my failed efforts, most especially my need of man’s acceptance. You continue to humble & strip away and I trust in Your wisdom…forgive my lack of trust in these moments of sorrow and the grieving for what’s been lost, with those who’ve turned away. Remind me frequently that You are the one true consoler. For Jesus, YOU KNOW.
If we live for HIS esteem, we’ll love ourselves with our defects and, in a certain sense, with gratitude for them!
Humble pride in our weakness doesn’t entail loving the weakness as such. One merely accepts it gladly…because it offers a chance to rest our head on the Lord’s heart.
“Opening the pages of the gospel proves Christ’s predilection for the poor (in the biblical sense, “poor” means: ONE WHO LACKS SOMETHING.) St. Therese reminds us of this when she says: “The Almighty has done great things for me, and the greatest is to show me my littleness and my helplessness for any good.“”
My gal-pal St. Faustina extends this even further as she tells us, “As the soul continues to immerse itself more deeply into the abyss of its nothingness and need, God uses his omnipotence to exalt it.“ (#593 St. Faustian’s Diary)
The logic of mercy experienced by the saints helps us to approach our own struggle for sanctity realistically!
I am now 25 years gone done twice and I am still learning!
God has revealed, in these onion-layers that are being pulled away, that I have valued far too greatly man’s acceptance. Not for what I do or for what I say, what I wear or what I believe, but for WHO I AM. So, when this ‘self’ I offer to share with others is rejected, I am heart-broken.
And when I am rejected…
I am humiliated.
Humiliated by fear that because of ‘whatever’ this flaw (in me) has led them to turn away, their eyes for Jesus may also be blemished.
Through God’s mercy, He has given me onions to peel, which beautifully reveal
this is not truth!
If our failures sadden us, this means that he is not our MAIN MOTIVE for acceptance!
Nothing and no one can humiliate those who know themselves to be children of God.
Thus, we must cultivate that humble self-esteem that guarantees an unshakable inner peace! So that we might live at peace with ourselves, with God, and with other people. We will come to know that ONLY He is altogether capable of loving us – not only despite our flaws but because of them, and even thanks to them!
I know, just like the onion, I may not be acceptable to all people. BUT THAT’S OKAY!! Because…onions aren’t for everyone.
But God still uses them!
Onions may be one of the earliest cultivated crops because they were less perishable than other foods of the time, were transportable, were easy to grow, and could be grown in a variety of soils and climates. In addition, the onion was useful for sustaining human life. Onions prevented thirst and could be dried and preserved for later consumption when food might be scarce. While the place and time of the onion origin is still a mystery, many documents from very early times describe its importance as a food and its use in art, medicine, and mummification.
I am still unearthing and discovering buried treasures and I’ve still yet to share all those that I’ve already found!
But although I have gained great things from them all, such as the lesson of the onion, the answer to (most) all sorts of problems is: the love of God.
And this is the treasure I hope to always share with you, the most.
hugs n’ blessings to dozens of layers yet to be peeled away!
Banish (the onion) from the kitchen and the pleasure flies with it. Its presence lends color and enchantment to the most modest dish; its absence reduces the rarest delicacy to hopeless insipidity, and dinner to despair. Elizabeth Robbins Pennell
One thought on “if you hear an onion ring, answer it!”
How interesting–I am going back to read about your January of silence.
I am a late-in-life convert to the humble onion–caramelized onions are one of life’s real treats!–and I have just begun working with a book that reminds me of some of your reading. Never too old to learn and grow,,,in fact, I suspect these things find us when we’re ready to learn!
Thanks for a lovely and thoughtful post!