This Season

It’s been a while.

A most understated phrase, and it’s one that I’m sorry to say. People talk about seasons of life often, and as a novice gardener, I’m tempted to think of those seasons as bunches of months, clusters of days defined by the weather and a solar path around the sun. However, as I’m learning, these seasons sprawl outside calendar lines. They aren’t thawed by spring or go on vacation in summer. They aren’t put to bed in autumn or buried in winter.

This has been a difficult season for me, one that’s been going on for a long time, and this past month with my grandma passing away was intensely hard. It’s been a time of equally hard prayer and closeness with family— much needed rain for scorched ground. Some days when the sun sets, I feel I’m closing the door on another day of broken trowels and withered plants, torn leaves and snapped stems.

Loss is a companion no one expects or desires, but it lets itself into every house. Earlier this year, I thought I heard it leaving. A few weeks after my most painful June 14th, it’s tempting to think it’s gone, but now I find it in my cabinets and closets. Sometimes I’ll flip on the light and see it at the bookcase, at the kitchen counter. Sometimes someone else in my family finds it first. Air conditioning has never felt so cold.

But outside, the world keeps growing. My grandma’s garden is lovely this summer, blooming in spite of this season of life. The sun is still hot, up in the 100’s some days, but that same sun is still making plants sprout and flourish. And even in those nights of puffy eyes and clouded moons, the fireflies are still dancing, winking reminders that God has been there every minute and that loss cannot break the beautiful things you made with someone you loved so much.

I had never seen so many fireflies in Kansas. And they were there every night.

These days, my thoughts are outside, digging in my garden or my mind. Both are overrun with the weeds and flowers all tangled together. There are always more of the former than the latter, and it’s hard to face. It’d be easy to let it all go, but I know I’m the only one who knows which things need protecting and which things need pulling up by the roots. Even some of those things I want to keep need to be pruned back if they’re going to grow back fuller and stronger.

It’s hard to go on when there’s no almanac for solace, no ache in the knees for the coming of relief. But someday, this season will end. It’s not as simple as winter or fall, spring or summer. I can’t circle the date on my calendar when the world will seem all right again, when I won’t feel like I’m plowing baked clay or clutching shriveled stalks.

But I know it will end, and regardless of what it turns to, I want to have tilled the ground, planted the seeds, accepted watering cans from friends and family, composted good advice with wisdom, and done all I can to make this garden of my life something beautiful, whether it’s tomorrow or twenty years from now.

In this season, I’m learning to grow and garden in droughts. And more than ever, I feel God’s hands on mine, teaching me how.

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