In spring, my parent’s yard was a bright array of color. My mother had a bed with yellow and white daffodils. My father planted multi-colored tulips under maple trees. There were two colors of lilacs filling the air with their sweet smell, both white and pink dogwood framing a small grove of pine, and two cherry trees with their soft white blossoms. Yes, there were the dandelions as well, dotting the lawn with yellow specks. So many colors and such rich variety! It was something amazing!
As the flowers and blossoms budded, time came to prepare the vegetable garden for planting. Divided into three sections, there was room for lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, corn, endive, rhubarb, turnips, kohlrabi, cucumbers, melons, strawberries and squash…all leading to a bountiful harvest.
The yard was shaded and the house protected by a wide variety of trees, including pine, maple, dogwood, and cherry. There were also white spruce, chestnut, and a variety of ever-green shrubs and rhododendron.
As a child, I learned a very important lesson simply by playing in my parent’s yard: the world is overflowing with wonderful diversity. It’s so simple and so obvious that we often miss this truth. A flower isn’t any one thing but naturally blooms in a variety of shapes, colors, and fragrances. Fruits and vegetables: there’s not just one nutritious choice but an incredible variety. And trees: yes, the variety I grew up with but then the ones I grew to love in other places I lived like palm trees and cacti. What makes a flower a flower, a vegetable a vegetable, or a tree a tree? Given the array of different flowers, vegetables, and trees, essence is difficult to capture.
Throughout my life, I’ve heard religious people talk about a natural order of things. The order of nature or natural law is significant for them when they address human beings and human sexuality. They reason that who we are as people, how we express ourselves in our bodies, and how we show love is supposed to fit into neatly defined categories. They claim that it is only natural that God created male and female, that the only purpose of sex is procreation, and that gender must be expressed in one set of culturally based norms. I read these statements, pronouncements, and dogma and wonder: did these people every look around their own backyard? Did they never encounter the actual wonder of nature? What they claim as “natural” doesn’t look anything like what I’ve experienced in nature. I didn’t even leave my childhood home to figure this out! (Further, not meaning to be offensive, but have any of these people actually had sex? No one who has ever had good sex would ever think it’s just about procreation! In potent sexual encounters, there’s joy, pleasure, union, and beauty. It is full of grace and love! Good sex is life-giving and only occasionally procreative. How did they miss it?)
What is natural? How was Earth created? What is most evident about the natural order? It’s both evident and obvious that our planet — and the cosmos — was formed and created with diversity as a foundational element. Everything we encounter and experience in the natural world comes in multiple forms and great variety. That’s part of the wonder and amazement of our shared life on Earth.
In the end, any category people have tried to create, even when attempting to articulate something they believe is moral, regarding human sexuality, gender, race, or other human abilities, is simply not natural. It is against nature. To understand this, all they ever needed to do was pay attention to what was in their own backyard.
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© 2017, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.