A small congregation of jack-in-the-pulpits sprouted up seemingly overnight in a patch of newly spread pine bark mulch. I’m not sure whether they traveled as stow-aways in the mulch bags or transplanted themselves from our own woodlands, since these North American natives thrive in moist thickets from Nova Scotia to Florida. They reminded me of the Emily Dickinson poem about going to church by finding heaven in your own backyard. Of the many things I admire about Dickinson, her determination to eschew organized religion is right up there on my list. Though I found the recent movie about her life — “A Quiet Passion” — overly somber, there was a terrific scene near the beginning where she point-blank refused to join the Calvinist revival sweeping through New England at that time. “I am one of the lingering bad ones,” she told a friend.  That same spirit of proud rebellion is evident in this lovely poem:

Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church 

By Emily Dickinson

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –
I keep it, staying at Home –
With a Bobolink for a Chorister –
And an Orchard, for a Dome –

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –
I, just wear my Wings –
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton – sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman –
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –
I’m going, all along.

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14 Responses to Jack-in-the-pulpit

  1. Cheryl Sullivan says:

    Love the flowers and Emily Dickinson poem. I feel similarly about organized religion. I would much rather by out in nature .

  2. Judy Buck says:

    Lovely. And caused me to remember that my mother, Avina, was the first tree-hugger.
    Thank you Liza, as always, for another petite vacation.

    • Liza says:

      Thanks, Bucky. Avina — what a beautiful name. I bet the gardens out in your neck of the woods are flourishing!

  3. Anders Gyllenhaal says:

    It’s so nice to see flowers spreading across the top of this page. It makes it official: Summer is on its way.

  4. Susan Fisher says:

    I love the poem and would be delighted if my mulch brought with it such a wonderful flower instead of just a ton of work. I

  5. Phyllis Azar says:

    Thanks for the loveliness. I mentioned to Bill this weekend how I have never felt compelled to join an organized religion. It seems there are a lot of us out there. Thanks for brining this to light.

  6. Umit says:

    Organization seems to be held in bloated esteem, and never more so than when applied to organized religion. Consider that the transition from polytheism to monotheism is almost universally regarded as “progress.” Who says? The legacy of thousands of years of learned minds coexists with equally venerable revealed religions, their rational and spiritual compasses pointing the way to salvation through a similar pin hole: a single force so absolute that all competing narratives are relegated to an ash heap called superstition. Is Dickinson a primitive when she attributes sublimity to flowers? A lingering bad one, indeed.

  7. Stephen says:

    Lovely. Lovely. Lovely, sis – her poem, your thoughts, the Jack in the pulpits and nature. xxxxx

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