By Gracia Grindal
The garden, strewn with pink and white,
Was planted by another hand,
Another set the angles right
Joining the levels where we stand.
The goods to which we now are heir
Will shape the spirits that we bear.
The children, padding on the floors
Delighting in the dust that sifts
And dances through the windowed door,
Enrich the legacy of gifts
Imprinted on the will they found
Written in rooms where their world turns round.
All these effects we have been given
To tend the child who frolics here
Whose pirouette—the pink of heaven—
Has brought divinity so near
We tremble as we catch our breath
And wonder as our hopes take flesh.
Poet’s Commentary: It was late summer, the gardens pink and white with phlox. My nephew and his family had just moved into a new home. Standing in the yet-unfurnished living room, we sang a few classic hymns and thanksgiving songs for the blessings of family and good homes. The sweet and memorable scene needed its own hymn, and since I had been writing hymns weekly, I started one in long measure [four-beat lines in quatrains]. But the imagery took over and suddenly I had a poem of praise, not a hymn. The poem is profoundly domestic and thus Lutheran. Martin Luther, whose act of rebellion we celebrate this year, did more in his Reformation of the church’s theology than challenge the gathering in of indulgences. His theology went to the heart of our lives together. Our callings—whatever they were—became our vocations in the world, and that word vocation was no longer reserved for religious callings. We were to enjoy the pleasures of this world and not flee them, and at the same time fulfill the duties they brought us. Through these pleasures, we catch a glimpse of another reality, the home toward which our pilgrimage will take us. We reveled in these gifts as they graced our lives that lovely afternoon.
Gracia Grindal is a poet, Lutheran hymn writer, and scholar of Lutheran Church history, particularly of women in the church and on the mission field. She has published three books of poetry and many books of hymnody, as well as collections of hymns. Her most recent book is Unstoppable: The Norwegian Pioneers Educate their Daughters. She has taught at Luther College and is Professor Emerita of Rhetoric at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN.
*This poem used by permission of the author.