My hostas were just lovely this year! They grew profusely, and were wonderfully lush, with their beautiful lavender sprigs of bloom and waxy emerald leaves with streaks of cream and white fanning out in easy mounds. But it’s now Fall, and it’s time for me to set about dividing.
Apart from the task at hand, I don’t do much thinking when I divide plants. But consider what it involves: driving the razor-sharp blade of a spade around the luxurious emerald leaves to cut off the path from its outward stretching tender roots, ripping the plant from the rich soil it has so far flourished in, wiggingly and shaking and tapping that earth from its roots, slicing the plant into quarters with another keenly-honed knife to separate it, and then tearing and ripping tubers apart from their closely braided kinsmen.
As Jar-Jar Binks would say, “Ouch time!”
According to seasoned gardeners, dividing certain plants, like hostas, keeps them healthy. Its keeps them from overcrowding themselves and other plants, from otherwise producing smaller and smaller flowers and foliage as they grow in the shrinking space that affords them, crowding out and starving their centers from air and nourishment. Dividing can keep them from gobbling up and diminishing the space of other plants, and from growing completely out of control. The process of dividing though is just a bit brutal for the plant.
“In this world, you will have trouble. But, take heart! I have ovecome the world!”
We will have trouble. We will have shaking and wiggling and slicing and tapping. We will be driven from the quiet and perky beds of contented tranquility, sliced apart and thrown onto the hard pathway stones of not. Life will hum with peace, and then … !!! We will all struggle inwardly between what we believe and what is actually happening. We will all ache to find answers to the why? what? when? and search the depths and skies for saving relief as we sit in it. Oh, but friend! What immense potential lies here; lush fertile ground for the growth of my character. And more than that, I think it could very well be essential for me to grow, for without facing adversity, we would never develop, never learn, never stretch or spread out or mature to flourish further from where we are.
“Sensitivity and reactivity to noxious stimuli are essential to the well-being and survival of an organism.”
No one argues that physiologically, and spiritually, pain is a very unpleasant signal – a blaring call to attention, a yelp for treatment and help for the threshold that has been breached. But what if it’s the next chapter in our life-story, a twist in the plotline of our character that brings us to the crossroads where faith and distrust collide, or a cliffhanger that hints a celebration of glorious transformation? What if it is the stage and grounds of discovery of new buried-deep treasure, hidden as golden seeds far below in the garden beds of our spirits and souls? What if how we approach and move in the trouble, and through it, will cause a ripple effect that washes outward, far beyond ourselves and our imagination? What if our own little response could even begin the groundswell metamorphosis of phenomenal widespread change? That change we hope for in others, and in ourselves?
No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.
(1 Corinthians 10:13, The Message)
Who, or who, we consider to trust, to turn to as that trouble throbs determines how we approach it, what we do with it, how we recover and heal and where we go – if it is forward into a more textured landscape of wisdom and rounding-out faith, or spinning in place and languishing in our overcrowded mob of thoughts. And that mob of thoughts is such a heavy and burdensome place! I find that if I obstinately refuse and deny my mind and heart to acknowledge and answer the call to step into the mysterious freedom of patient, kind, believing and hopefilled Love; if I squeeze my eyes shut to the Presence of my dedicated Gardener, I always lumber and stagger under the weight of lingering hurt and unanswered questions. Ah, but if I turn to the Gardener though! I begin to feel strangely much lighter, more at peace and oddly confident in His presence as the Overseer of every detail of my life. He knows. He. Knows. and I find assurance in His knowing. I just might well be able to endure this separation or division! I can even snatch faith in the glimpse of hope in its outcome!
I wince and feel my hostas pain, but not so much that it stops me from proceeding, for splendor lies ahead! I know what I’m doing will make the principle plant healthier, and will spread the beauty of its waxy emerald leaves to other parts of the garden, serving to provide shade for Impatiens, and contrasting texture and pop among the Shasta daisies! I know the timing is right, for the conditions are cooler and the air moist to alleviate the stress and encourage quicker recovery!
Likewise the Gardener must know, must see, must want for me, for us. How much more must He feel my own troubles, and yours my friend – for He has felt and lived the same! How much more must He hover and surround, must design even a peep of His Presence for us at the darkening sunset, in the discovery of His treasure planted deep within under the cover His star-light twinkle of the overnight hours, and in our stretching out transformed by growing warmth of the coming sunrise!
And friends the sunrise always comes – and with it, the hope of the breathtaking view that awaits to be shared in the fullness of the sunshine!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that!” (Jeremiah 29:11, The Voice)
Soil and Seed
For years, our basement would provide the means for the spring thaw to trickle back into the earth, seeping through the walls to belligerently steer its way down the slight decline to the drain. No need for pre-soaking those laundry piles! No need for what’s in those storage boxes! We fast became accustomed to prepare in expectation of the thaw’s royal procession.
We assembled early summer to draw up a battle plan. The boys and my husband would, come spring, dig down to the footings of our near-century-old house, repair and seal the foundation, and then fill up the trench with earth and rocks. I glanced out the window at the lush display this side of our fence. Really? The dignified hydrangea was laden with lime green and creamy white poufs. Mummy’s lily of the
valley had been sprightly and fragrant, its waxy leaves now framing where the delicate white bells had been. The day lilies brought robust punches of cheerful deep ginger and orange. The variegated hostas opened their lush mounds of leaves in applause to victorious stems with their crowns of mauve-blue trumpets. The lemon verbena beckoned with its gentle waft of citrus. The clusters of coreopsis turned cheerfully to me and smiled. “It will be alright!” they squeaked. Really? Everything was just so perfect! Soooo beautiful! But. Everything. Would. Need. To. Come. Out. Everything. Clay pots would provide temporary housing to select residents, mindfully attended while the mighty men did their work, to find new ground when the job was done.
Setting the stage for new ground. Digging up the perfect. Waiting for the fixing up to be fixed up. But while the digging occurs, am I hopeful or fearful? While I wait, do I trust or do I waver? Am I faith-full or faithless?
Has that ever happened to you? Have you found yourself in that happy, contented and perfect place, only to be forcibly uprooted, hovering it seems in a netherworld, then transplanted to unfamiliar territory? Oh, the odious lay-off! I have felt the dread as I walked into the boss’ office to hear those fateful words that briskly elbowed me off into a new direction. I’m not ready for this! Why me? What do I do now? Will I get a job before the unemployment premiums run out? Will we be able to make ends meet? How do I move forward?
Have you ever sucked in faith, pushed out fear, and shoved yourself forward out of amazing fulfillment into the fog of God’s vague call? Oh, the rewarding perfect-fit job! What do you do when well settled into that environment you have this thought that tickles, nags and nudges you to leave and move beyond? Why, ponder it for at least a few years to make really, absolutely, decisively and unequivocally sure of course! Nah, it couldn’t be. If that’s you, God, give me a sign. Was that a sign? I need another one. If it was you, you’d be clearer, right? Would it be enough if I let go of this corner? More? All of it? Oh. But this feels tailor-made for me! Will the new be better? I need a sign that it will be better. I need more time. But, aren’t I too old? Ok Lord. Let’s do this. A strange thrill bubbles up and charges through. I close my eyes and take a leap into uncharted waters, following a voice on the wind that seemed to say “Let go, and let’s go!” And here I am. Exploring. Writing really long-winded thoughts. Blogging and having so much FUN! Is this what God had in mind for me? Maybe it’s something for whilst I’m in that clay pot? Maybe I’ve always been in clay pots? Do I have what it takes to do this, even in an interim? I don’t know, God. But, if you say so, ok. You know what will come of this, and where I am meant to be to fully be me. Oh, and Lord? Thank you for being soooo patient with me!
Sometimes the open sea of change is calm, and I can focus clearly on the lighthouse on the horizon. Maybe my faith is such that I can even venture out of the boat. But what does it say of this kind of shallow faith to step out into deep but calm waters? Sometimes change is a stomach-churning, all-hands-on-deck-head-spinning voyage on choppy seas, where rogue waves threaten life, where I stress and struggle to keep my stomach down, the mast up and water out of the boat. Sometimes it’s a dizzying combination of both, or something in between that has me yowling out to God above the gale of the wind. There’s no way I’m stepping out the boat, God! Uh huh.
Whether I welcome it or not, plan for it or not, change seems to arrive like a surprise houseguest, and always returns to become a regular lodger. There’s no condition I can create that will make it feel unwelcome enough to stay away. But really. Why would I? Like it or not, life is an ongoing symphony of change, percolating with the beneficial power and potential of stretching aptitude and refreshing attitude. Change is the water that tests the foundation and signals new layers of growth ahead.
“It’s amazing. Life changes very quickly, in a very positive way, if you let it.”
– Lindsey Vonn
Can I focus on the shimmer of light through the storm clouds?
Will I choose to consider change a tool that can loosen and uncover, and bring very-much-needed inner review and revision, attitude re-alignment and adjustment? Can I see that more and more change can help me to step more and more into who God wants and helps me to fully be? Will I trust in God, the never-ever-changing Captain, who supplies the boat and has the map, calms the sea and directs the wind, and who knows me, and my destination? Will I trust, and weather it all with confident hope, and patient perseverance?
“Without a struggle, there can be no progress.”
– Frederick Douglass
Change is transplanting and branch-pruning; maybe even in-gathering of this season’s crops. It is the lifting of cramped roots through fresh air and into new dewy acreage, ushering new tender sprouts to grow, containing vision of many more abundant harvests.
New sprouts of confidence in adventure, opportunities and possibilities.
New roots in hope and dreams, faith and patience.
New flexibility, experience and strength.
New reserves of excitement, anticipation, discoveries and treasures to uncover.
New willingness to give my toe, my foot, my fingernail, my hand to partner with God to uproot, and transplant me.
New depths of love for the Gardener who hovers over me, on tiptoe with excitement, basting me with hope and faith as I sit in the pots of uncertainty, who soon gently spreads my clumped roots out across a wide swath of rich renewed earth, covering me with the cool of rejuvenation. When I have outgrown that environment, even while he harvests, his eye is on the new plot.
I imagine flurry of excitement in the unseen. The delighted Father rubbing his hands, says “Yesss!”, and reaches out to grab my toe that ventures over the precipice. He whisks me even closer to himself in tight embrace, pointing to our destination, and declaring with confident authority, “Forward! Together!”
We finish repairing our foundation this year. More upheaval. More plants in pots. More mud and vision. More excitement and experience. More joy-filled expectancy … and new harvest!
God is the one who saves me. I trust him. I am not afraid. The Lord, the Lord, gives me strength and makes me sing. He has saved me.
Isaiah 12: 2 (International Children’s Bible)
Yeshua the Messiah is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Hebrews 13: 8 (Complete Jewish Bible)
An angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get ready and go south to the road that goes from Jerusalem to Gaza.” … So Philip got ready and went …
Acts 8: 26-27 (Good News Translation)
Soil and Seed