In our house, one of us is called Hebe, and she is very wise.
At first I had only Two Wise Things to tell you about today (Beauty Cream and the Frankincense Tree), but two always wants to be three in lore and storytelling, so I am going to add a third one and tell you Three Wise Things about Hebe.
First Wise Thing:
Hebe is a Maker, and she has many magical and intriguing things in her room.
When I went in there looking for the First Wise Thing to photograph it, I couldn’t find it at all. With Hebe, sometimes things are Apparent and Sometimes they are Hidden, because she is a friend of Mystery and can’t help picking up enigmatic ways. Now you see it, now you don’t; that’s how it is with Hebe. But while I was searching vainly for the First Wise Thing, I did see some other Things, and I photographed them with my camera Lumix, so you would not be disappointed by having no picture to see when I tell you about the First Wise Thing.
So, here you are. Look – this is the corner of Hebe’s shelf. The baton that holds it up is made of a small branch that fell from the ash tree at the bottom of our garden. That makes me happy.
And these are some of the Magical Things I saw while I was in her room; the tiniest giraffe possible, two handmade wooden spoons, and a strange bottle obviously for some Magical and Mysterious Use.
That’s how it is in Hebe’s room. But the Thing I searched for and couldn’t find is a button badge she wears sometimes, that says:
“It’s always the quiet ones”
This small and modest statement contains an inherent wisdom that unfolds like a flower as you hold it in mind. “It’s always the quiet ones”. It is too. So that was the First Wise Thing.
The Second Wise Thing came about for two reasons (two to keep it company in its second place on the list, you see); because Hebe loves Healing Herbs and Wildflowers, and because she is an Explorer and Finder. She moves at the speed of love around the garden. The speed of love, unlike the speed of light, is very, very slow. Nobody knows the speed of love; sometimes it is quite still. Another Wise Person I know, Martin Baddeley who was once my Teacher, said: “Jesus walked, and He stopped. What is the speed of love?” This has only ever been a question; never an answer – it has this in common with many Life’s in-sights. While Hebe is in the garden she is Looking. Not looking, you see; Looking. Insects, flowers, toadstools, raindrops, spider webs, bark, pebbles, toads, ferns, moss; she really Looks, so she really sees. This is how she puts her Quietness to good use.
A plant she didn’t find in our garden but often includes in the Healing Salves she makes for us, is Frankincense. Sometimes, quietly, like a Sniffing Animal, Hebe takes her time poking and rootling in the moonlight on the World Wide Web, balancing precariously along its many strands until she finds out things and can weave them into her own Wisdom, much as she includes herbs in her Healing Salves. On the World Wide Web one dark night, Hebe discovered that the Frankincense Trees of the Earth (and as far as we know there are none anywhere else) are In Danger. Human Beings in their Ignorance and Sin have been greedy and impatient with the precious resin of the Frankincense Trees, and taken too much.
The Frankincense Trees did what they could, climbing to the Rocky Outcrops of High Mountains and standing there on tiptoe clinging on by the Barest Root in the hope they could never be reached, but even there Human Beings came with their cutting knives for the healing sap of the tree that has the fragrance of all beauty and can make people well again.
So the Frankincense Trees upped the ante and decided to have no more children.
When Frankincense Merchants in Wales heard of this pass, they decided to Do What They Could. It takes patience to germinate a Frankincense Tree. Only three in every hundred seeds germinate at all. And Frankincense Trees grow at the speed of love. But the Frankincense Merchants in Wales persevered. A year ago Hebe added her name to the Waiting List and at last the tiny trees the Merchants had been able to germinate were ready to go out (at considerable expense, mark you) to their new homes.
When the Quiet Ones advise, you listen; so when Hebe suggested we incorporate into our household a Frankincense Tree, we said "Yes; of course," because that was the Right Answer.
The postman brought it here from Wales. Royal Mail! Very fitting.
First it must live in the bathroom, where it will like (we hope) the diffused light and the cool mountain air with its mists and fogs.
Here it is. God bless you, little tree of hope and promise. May you grow and prosper! May you rise from strength to strength!
So the Second Wise Thing concerned the finding, considering, advising and acquiring of a Frankincense Tree – a privilege and a responsibility.
Then the Third Wise Thing, Hebe gave to me on my birthday this year, when she made especially for me a pot of wonderfully fragrant Beauty Cream. It came with a Sheet of Advice:
And if that’s not Wisdom, I don’t know what is.