Spring is upon us in North Carolina so I took our brood outside and took a walk around the front flower beds (and really that is being generous because right now it is a bunch of dead stuff mixed among weeds). As I pulled away leaves that had blown in and over what was once cherished I found myself grateful for the rhythm of finding forgotten things that once brought joy and beauty.
The largest offenders went into the large trash can: things choking the progress of the tiniest, bright green newbies who were hoping to try out for the freshman garden team. After that trash can was full I began cutting back things that had done so well last year, who brought joy to those who stopped to smell the flowers. After piles and piles of dry, brittle, dead shoots and leaves were cleared I was able to see what remained: lots of weeds and some mulch that had passed its prime, but mostly barren land. I longed to see what was yet to come.
So I went around to all the places that I remembered planting something and dug around to see the bright green that meant that all was not lost. There was beauty coming around the bend. I was delighted to see teeny tiny shoots beginning their voyage to maturity. Tiny dots of possibility letting us know that there was something that had been growing deep down. While I had forgotten about my flowery friends there was much developing beneath the soil. The sun and the rain had been looking after these lovelies while I tended to the soups, stews, and hot cocoa of winter. There was much work done and soon there would be something to show for it.
I had to giggle as this past year of life has seemed to be one that could be labeled as darker than most. There was a lot of stuff that was dead but still hanging around, ushering me into seasons of mourning: some friendships, some perceptions, and some expectations. I had allowed myself to feel the sadness and enter the mourning process but had not cut the dead stuff back so I could see what may be growing underneath. I don’t feel like I played the victim or dwelled in sorrow longer than necessary but I had not been looking for what beauty may be nurtured in the process. Instead, I had only processed the loss and how I might walk through the dark in order to come out the other side. So standing up with my hands covered in dirt and my shoes full of sticks and leaves I realized that one of the most enjoyable parts of gardening is that it reminds us of all that is going on underneath the surface.
In my life first I needed to remove the largest offenders, things blocking the light and choking out the progress of the new growth. This was a big part of my last year. Sitting with the question of what brought life and health, and what was sucking all that is good and healthy from me. As you grow up life changes. Seasons demand more or less of you in a myriad of different areas and there need to be times set apart to digest what is encouraging you to be more of who you were created to be versus what leads you consistently down the road of wishing your life was different, you were different, and watering the weed of discontent.
Next I had to cut back the stuff that had done well and grown and flourished but had past its season. This was a more difficult part of last year clearing out the things that were once beautiful and lovely that were no longer flourishing or meant to in the different season that I found myself emerging into. This takes some sober moments of perspective. Things that were a regular part of a different season and that had brought joy and whimsy to the days of yore, but just didn’t have a place in this new season. I found myself grateful for the chapters these parts added to my collective story but painfully aware that to stay in that chapter would impede the beautiful progression of my story. So I labored to cut back what needed to be removed.
After this there was just a lot of barren land. It seemed lonely and sparse and frankly not worth the effort and energy it took to clear the flower beds of life. So now I find myself drawn to digging. I need the encouragement that the bright green shoots provide to continue on in this journey to health, life, and wholeness. So I’m walking around to check on the places that things have been planted. Hoping to see just a glimmer of the new growth. I’m looking at my life, how I spend my time, what I choose to put before my eyes, what it is that overflows out of my mouth, and I’m looking carefully to see where there may be the tiny beginning of something that can be coaxed into maturity with the right tending. I’m looking for the tiny dots of possibility letting me know that there is something growing down deep that I hadn’t yet known.