Preparation & Enjoyment – Work in Progress

The sun rises later and sets earlier now. The days are cooler, and the nights cooler still. Fall alights our landscape.

As my eyes followed the sunrise’s warmth stretching over the back garden this morning, I thought about how many transitions this precious little patch of land has undergone and how many memories it has been stage to and witnessed. Though still a work in progress, this past summer it has greeted many a bloom, many a bbq gathering, many a lingering in wonder in its sounds, smells and sights – and has even been a part of wedding pictures!

It has long been host to many a heart-felt discussion, multiple moments of silent tears and contented joyful contemplation, and many a gathering of fellowship and celebration. And, of course, it has been playground for our children and their posse of friends, taking full advantage of the small ‘treehouse’ and slide and swing we once had. As if it were yesterday, I can still hear them as youngsters holler and hoot with joy.

“Again! Again! Again!” my guys as toddlers used to whoop with glee when my husband or I would swing them high in the air, flip them upside down, or spin them around. And each time we did, their delight would tickle our hearts and warm our souls. We found as much merriment in these moments as they did, both as reliving bits of our own childhoods, and as parents relishing their children shimmer with joy. Their cheers and chortles have transformed as they have grown older, finding things that delight and thrill them deep into their bones, and we are still just so blessed to share in their fun.

Our Gardener too is all about “Again!” and  I suspect His heart swells with joy when we whoop with glee as He tickles our delights and ignites our hearts and minds! I suspect too, that He is right alongside and enjoying it as much as we do! Granted, there are some again’s we’d rather not be subject to (nor really would He for us either I suspect), but if we push and persist through their itchiness and discomfort, we will find occasion to again join in with Him in shouts of triumph and delight.

Not so sure? Take a look around and take your hint from the shouts of triumph in all our Gardener’s Creation!

“Look!” He exclaims:

autumn-rain-and-spring-rainIn the Fall, when diverse leaf after leaf is soaked and sun-dyed in mind-blowing variations of reds, garnets, scarlets, mahoganies, ochres, butterscotches, lemons, ambers, and saffron.  When the leaves softly drift to the ground to spread protection from the coming cold.  When tree after tree is laid bare to reveal the beauty of the undulating landscape dotted with winding fences and secret paths, puffs of scrub and store of stone.

“Faith!” He cries:he-orders-the-snow

In the Winter when flurries of unique flake after flake fall on our noses and pile layer upon
glistening layer atop cars, streets, hills and valleys. When the sun warms us through our winter packing during the day and bursts through the trees creating a glittering pathway on the ground that directs the eye to the glory of His warmth in the sun. When the sparrow fattens, and the skis glide effortlessly over the crunching fluff, or skates gnaw into milky ice.

“Hope!” He calls out:

In Spring when the heat of the pattering and glistening rain melts the snow like butter, and buds begin to yawn and stretch to peak through the soggy ground. When chartreuse shoots spring from damp tree branches, and robins quarrel over nesting territory in their limbs. When the geese noisily reappear after their vacation south, and the squirrels stand back to remember where they’ve buried their nuts. When the air begins to soften, the sunrises greet us earlier and dip on the horizon later.

“Believe!” He declares:

Rain in Abundance!In the Summer in the smell of freshly-cut grass and new dewy rain, and in the heat of the noon-day sun. When foliage and posey open in crescendo after crescendo, when a lettuce leaf sprouts, a flower appears on the tomato plant, a strawberry peaks from its bloom, and a bird finds another worm to feed her family. When the cardinal serenades and the cricket chirps. When the nights are comfortable and warm, and barbecues, balconies and backyards are gathering places for leisurely meals, laughter and easy conversation.

“Again!” He announces:

sunset

When the sun rises each morning and awakens His beloved, His Creation, and sinks into the hammock of the horizon each night in rest.

When the clouds one by one skim across the sky, playfully shaped for our imaginations drifting together in a slow dance, and evaporating into and then reappearing to transverse the powder blue, azure, or Persian blue sky.

When the waves of the mighty ocean sweep in to lick the shoreline, and back out to add to their strength in the sea.

When there are wee chicks peeping in nests, babes gurgling in their cribs and bouncing on knees.

“Triumphant!” our glorious and generous King exclaims, lavishing again and again His love and celebration as every chapter comes to a close and harkens a new, glorious and surprising twist in character development and plot line! And just as my husband and I delight at every phase along with our boys, so I am convinced our King does with us.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. (Proverbs 4:23)

So, just as some ‘agains’ we might be far from enjoying right in this moment, take heart and dare to hope in the nod to His heart in all of His Creation.  Look and see, and consider.

Fear not, Earth! Be glad and celebrate! God has done great things. Fear not, wild animals! The fields and meadows are greening up. The trees are bearing fruit again: a bumper crop of fig trees and vines! Children of Zion, celebrate! Be glad in your God. He’s giving you a teacher to train you how to live right— Teaching, like rain out of heaven, showers of words to refresh and nourish your soul, just as he used to do. And plenty of food for your body—silos full of grain, casks of wine and barrels of olive oil. (Joel 2:23, The Message)

Let’s not only marvel at this season of Fall as the Father’s triumphant and celebratory firework finale, and debut of  yet another ‘again’ in the majesty of an additional, fresh, completely new and marvellously distinctive season. Let’s likewise consider our own ‘agains’ – our own autumns – as with intrinsic beauty and as debuts of coming most assured and spectacular glory! Let’s allow Fall to remind us to look upon this very season in our lives as one with mysterious beauty and with inherent purpose, and look ahead and forward with expectancy to the splendour that awaits anew, that renews soul, and shapes spirit!

For aren’t we all His gloriously redeemed Work in triumphant progress?

life-path-sun-joy“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.”
(Isaiah 43: 18-19, The Message)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has great mercy, and because of his mercy he gave us a new life. He gave us a living hope because Jesus Christ rose from death.”
(1 Peter 1: 3, International Children’s Bible)

 

 

Erin
Soil and Seed

Maintenance & Seasons – Dandelions and Doing the Dirty Work

Don’t you love to th-92steal a moment back from childhood and blow on a dandelion gone to seed? Do you dare to watch with delight as its Whoville-like fuzzy-topped grains dip and then lift off into the breeze to soar high in the sky? I confess I do, and it’s magical to watch!

The problem is, of course, those fuzzy little seeds do land somewhere. And this year, it seems a platoon has landed to claim the beach-head that is my back garden, in the beds and between the stones on the pathway. Though I do enjoy the health benefits of dandelion leaves in my salad, these, unfortunately, must go.

With tools in hand, I begin and quickly notice that dandelions are not the only weed that I find in my garden. Others join ranks, peaking from where they once lurked below the surface, all cozied up to the daisy, or lily, or feverfew, or phlox, or lemon-balm. Stems tightly wrapped and intertwined so their leaves look like they belong.

Then Jesus told them another story. He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who planted good seed in his field. That night, when everyone was asleep, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat. Then the enemy went away. Later, the wheat grew and heads of grain grew on the wheat plants. But at the same time the weeds also grew. Then the man’s servants came to him and said, ‘You planted good seed in your field. Where did the weeds come from?’  The man answered, ‘An enemy planted weeds.’ The servants asked, ‘Do you want us to pull up the weeds?’  The man answered, ‘No, because when you pull up the weeds, you might also pull up the wheat. Let the weeds and the wheat grow together until the harvest time. At harvest time I will tell the workers this: First gather the weeds and tie them together to be burned. Then gather the wheat and bring it to my barn.’”
(Matthew 13: 38-43, International Children’s Bible)

I’ve found out something interesting about darnel. Though they are definitely weeds, they very closely resemble and grow with the wheat so that the two are just about indistinguishable from the other. Just about. The Gardener however knows the difference. And, sigh, I imagine He knows the same of the tares that grow alongside the wheat within me too.

SadfaceHe is keenly aware of the difference between what has disguised itself as a seed of wheat, and has grown into an overgrown platoon within me; what has glittered and deceived, sounded too good to be true, and is.  I may think myself hidden in the thicket from the Gardener, or perhaps honestly even hope it, so confused and scarred I am, regretful and contrite, but I soon discover there is no place too thorny, too deep lost or far gone, or that I can go or end up in that He is not already there, no place that I am beyond His sight. That truly both blows my mind with anxious wonder, and drives me to my knees in quiet humbleness!

God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,then up ahead and you’re there, too—your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in!
Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there! If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute—you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

(Psalm 139: 1-12, The Message)

I wonder sometimes if it is Him Who turns my head as I speak through my own wonder: Wait, what? Why is this happening? Why, and how, am I here in this place – again? Why am I allowing my hands to do the enemy’s double-whammy work? What happened to partnering with Abba to th-102preserve, to grow more beauty rather than this ugliness inside and out?

Where do I go from here? Can I go from here?

Breathe. Breathe Me in. Calm, child. Look, and see that small flame that watches for danger and flickers when it is near. Listen to that small voice that whispers vigilance, cautions to the slippery slope ahead. Pause, look and listen before being used by the enemy, before responding to his baiting and tickling and deceiving of your senses to do his dirty work. Don’t be afraid, child.  Lean into Me, and cast all the thorns of worry and coth-95nfusion upon me.  I can take care of them. I will take care of them. I love you, child, and My love for you never changes, no matter where you are – thorny thicket or golden field. Take you hand off the callouses of hurt and anguish and fear from which the tares grow, and let Me in. I want, and can, and will tend and heal. Breathe, and let my Spirit envelop your soul, renew your mind, recenter your heart, re-energize your spirit.  Bend this way so I may uproot the tares, and watch as I put them in the fire. Now, bend this way so I may prepare the soil for the planting new wheat. Abundant harvest is coming. Peace. Breathe in My Peace, My very Presence. Live outwardly from this place, this timeless calm that remains eternal within and around you, and is always accessible to you. 

Abba, occupy and overtake the entirety of all the beds and fields in the garden of our souls! Will you guide and re-landscape so they are resplendent in beauty and shout of your glory? Will you help us, so that your quiet strength and tender wisdom develops the wheat, yet simultaneously starves the tares of nourishment to grow? Will you fill our every moment with your gentle voice that lays all things bare to your healing, and keeps us supple and intent on partnering with you? Will you bring and keep us in that place of calm reliance and firmness in you, in the centre of your will? Will you use any good you plant in each of us to bring benefit to even more? Oh Jesus! Make your will to come to pass in us all!

After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
(1 Kings 19: 12, New International Version)

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.
(Psalm 23: 2, New International Version)

Erin
Soil and Seed

Maintenance – Out! Out! Darned Spot!

When my boys were little, I really enjoyed when they got super-dirty. Yes, I know. Be counted among the many to call me crazy. I loved when they would stand on the doorstep full of mud from the garden, or sand from the park, pumped with exuberant laughter, or th-64downcast nursing a boo-boo from rambunctious and carefree play. As we would stand together, there was a connection that escapes words; a bond that was so strong and deep, a love so liquid. They’d peel off their dirty shirts, shorts, socks and shoes or sandals, and off to the bath we’d traipse as I’d soak them in the warmth of clean water and gently shampoo and soap, especially behind ears and knees, up back and under fingernails, between toes and around neck and wrists – places they could not see or reach or clean for themselves. Together we’d watch as the umber-colored water would circle down the drain and they’d be towelled off and bedewed with coconut oil. Boys would be dressed, boo-boos would be covered, bathtubs would be spritzed and rinsed, and shirts, shorts, socks and shoes would be soaked and washed. And everything would come out sparkling clean. Ahhhhh. Isn’t that just the best?

“The great thing about dirt is that it washes off!” my husband exclaimed as he came in from another hard day of digging deep in the dirt. Absolutely! I couldn’t agree more! mud-splatter-vector-2No matter how dirty we are, it all comes off, and we feel lighter, and more energized and refreshed. Granted, some dirt is more difficult to take off than others. Grease. Tar. Wine stains. Sometimes, after a great deal of stress and effort, it all comes out. Sometimes, no amount of stress or effort is enough for it still leaves a ghostly remnant, as if to help recall and warn.

Oh friend! Don’t we all have icky, dusty, greasy and gross, muddy and smelly muck and ghosts of splatter in our hidden parts that to our shame and horror we can never seem to get out, and worse, seems to ooze outward and smudge on others? I certainly do. Just as I think the Gardener and I might have successfully scrubbed out that patch, I see that oops! I still have a small spot over there that just won’t respond to my rubbing, or I’ve streaked the grease and have seemed to make it worse in my carefree (read careless) play. I despair that it will never come out, and shamefaced I try harder to rub the stain and the guilt away. I am like a toddler clumsily and hurriedly trying to clean myself up, and I am fraught with fearful wonder at what else might be in places I cannot see. Mercy! Where do I go now? Should I turn to my Father? If I do, will I find a scowl and shaking finger? A reprimand and a smack? A refusal and a reminder? A tongue-lashing and blistering chewing-out? Dare I confidently bound up the steps as my rambunctious youngsters did, assured of tender love? What will I find if I swallow my fear and suck up the courage to show up on the doorstep?

Liquid Love. Lavish Love. Understanding Love. Unbreakable, Super-glue-bonded-to-you Love. Scoop-you-up-and-squeeze-you-tight Love. I-know-you Love. I-love-you-so-much-I’ve-died-for-you Love. Let-me-love-you Love.

Come to the doorstep. Come in the stress of sleepless and frantic night, in the dawn of desperation and consuming worry, at the noon-day blistering sun of temptation and failure, in the mid-afternoon of painful outburst and laborious trial, at the heavy overcast evening of unjust accusation and brutal condemnation. Come just as you are, where you are. No need to clean yourself up or get it right first. Come and discover the depth and breadth of His unconditional Love, greater than any of us could ever possibly experience on this beautiful earth. Come and be scooped up in His tenderness and exuberant joy. Come and find the Gardener, your King, who bears scars of His sacrifice of Love, who fondly delights in showering and bathing each who stands sooty and grimy with dispirited and confused, wounded and downcast heart. Come and be soaped and rinsed clean in places seen and unseen. Come and be saturated with His oil of blessing. Come and be lavished upon and ravished. Come and be lifted and lighter. Come and be refreshed, renewed and released. Come over and over. Come again and again.

Come. Just come.

th-106

Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” Then and there his skin was smooth, the leprosy gone. (Luke 5:15, The Message)

“Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.”
Matthew 8: 4 (The Message)

Erin
Soil and Seed