Back in the fall Brilliant Beauty and I harvested some of our herbs to hang for drying. It takes about six weeks for them to thoroughly dry and be ready for storage. So today, six MONTHS later, we took them down and put them in their glass jars so they can be used. Of course the very same herbs are now once again in bloom in our two outdoor herb gardens and we'll definitely use them fresh as they are available. But I have to say, we have loved them hanging in the kitchen all winter long, reminding us of a greener season, teaching something of delayed gratification.
By today these herbs, so unmistakable by their aroma and appearance when they were fresh, all pretty much looked like so many dead twigs and leaves. For a minute I thought I wouldn't be able to identify them, rendering them relatively impotent for use. Who wants to think they're making rosemary mashed potatoes only to bite into them and find out they're laced with lavendar (question: do you actually bite into mashed potatoes?)? Blech.
But I underestimated myself, and those amazing herbs.
In only a moment of rubbing my fingers on an herb, breaking open these pieces of long-dead plants, I knew in an instant what each one was. Sage is sage. Rosemary is rosemary. Lavendar is lavendar. Thyme is thyme and basil is basil and lemon balm is lemon balm. Shriveled. Dried out. Dead. Still, unmistakable.
Only just now, just as I write, do I see me in those herbs; pieces of me shriveled, dried out, dead. And what's more, at the hand and choosing of the Gardener.
There just are some seasons when parts of me are not in bloom, places in deep dormancy. Parts of me are in a kind of limbo, hanging, wilting, lifeless, not even looking familiar, gathering dust and cobwebs.
But as I think about breaking open those herbs today - their unequivocal scents, my propriety in putting their parts to death because of my intentions all along to then put them to so much use - I can't not see use in my dead places. And I take no little comfort in the thought that my brokenness sends up a fragrance to Him that smells like nothing other...Jessica is Jessica.
It's useful. It's fragrant. It's wholly appropriate.
All that from some herbs...