I am teaching my husband to deadhead. I had no idea what amazing measurement, dexterity and practiced skill lies in my right palm, fingers and thumb!
I demonstrate to him how to pull dead blooms off the flowers in the garden, but he doesn’t really see what is happening inside of my hand as I reach for a plant and return with a little spent head in my palm. And when he does the “exact same thing,” a strangled stem drags behind the spent head like a torn remnant. Jesus wept. Okay, it is no big deal … we can do this!
So we start using scissors, a proven and satisfactory (and safe for the plant) way to deadhead. Now the question becomes at what precise point to cut? Well, that depends on the plant: Cut too high and you have ugly naked stems towering over the new growth; cut too low and you trim away new blooms.
There’s a connection here to building a robust anti-racist organization. It takes practice. It takes effort. It takes listening to those who have been doing this for awhile. It takes attention, study and prayer. It takes commitment and persistence. It takes faith, compassion and diligence. And it takes mistakes–lots and lots of mistakes! Like my husband killing a yarrow, or the time I cut a prized lily bulb with my spade because it was not where the stem led me to think it would be.
If you garden, you understand that you limit walking in the beds. Just as there have been times when I have looked down and seen one of my “dainty little feet” stepping on the neck of a tender plant, I have also been in anti-racism presentations and training events and looked down and seen my foot on a neck.
Do I flee from the garden, sobbing, “I am just not meant to garden!!” Or have I learned to gingerly right the plant after removing my foot? Well, actually, I have cried and fled, but thankfully I have more often set things right.
How do you cultivate a culture of racial justice?
What have you learned?