Inviting Life

I am troubled by the dialog (or lack thereof) in our country. Never have there been so many topics off-the-table when chatting with people I love but who see politics quite differently than I do. Even a conversation about fanatic football fans becoming violent quickly turned to a divisive political statement the other day. There is no middle ground. No rational discourse. Only sides—each believing the other side is idiotic and delusional. It’s depressing.

Yet, as soon as I indulged in complete hopelessness, a miracle happened in my front yard. My friend and native-plant expert, Chet, created an amazing “habitat garden” (as I have dubbed it) in our tiny patch of a front yard. It includes an even tinier decorative pond. Surrounded by overgrown sweet coneflower, butterfly weed, bee balm, and dozens of other plants I have to ask Chet to remind me what they’re called, this tiny bowl of water surrounded by stacked rocks carefully placed to create a space for birds to wade in and bathe, somehow attracted a frog.

It is an amazing mystery to me. There are no sources of water that I know of for at least a mile from our house. We live in an urban residential neighborhood near the peak of a steep hill surrounded by many other hills—in fact, it’s an area that was once called “Hill City.” I know very little about frogs, but I didn’t think a water-loving frog would be in the neighborhood.

Did it get air-lifted by a bird? Perhaps a bird that drank out of someone else’s pond and swallowed a tiny frog egg that it deposited in our pond? And from that bird visit came a tadpole that we somehow never saw that grew into a full-grown Green Frog that just one day appeared among the rocks surrounding our pond? I think of Occam’s Razor and find my explanation doesn’t really pass the test. Is the appearance of a frog in our front yard that complicated?

What strikes me is that we built it and they came. We built a space and brought in life forms that would invite more life forms. And more life forms showed up. I have been introduced to tiny, orange aphids that seem to live harmlessly on our yucca plants, beautiful orange and black bugs called “milkweed bugs” that appeared as mysteriously as the frog, more types of bees than I knew existed who seem addicted to the bee balm, and, of course, the butterflies that have found our patch of wilderness in the midst of mowed lawns an oasis.

There is something god-like about having a patch of land that has been transformed into an oasis for wildlife. It’s as if life truly can be created by molding clay. I look for my frog eagerly every morning and every evening. I giggle each time I find him or her sitting on the rock ledge around the pond. Today, I discovered a smaller frog sitting on the rock ledge. I don’t know if my frog invited a friend over or if he somehow managed to reproduce without a second frog around. Or, perhaps another bird delivered another fertilized egg that grew into a tadpole in my pond without me noticing? Occam would not be proud.

I cannot stop wandering over to the window that overlooks the pond. There sits a symbol of hope I never imagined. The concept that by merely inviting life makes it show up is so joyful, so hopeful, so inspiring. I wonder if inviting love in the midst of divisive times works just as well?