The other day I wrote in my journal; I’m always fortune telling when it comes to my future but my telling never includes a fortune in it.
I shared that with Pascaline, my 19 year old daughter, as we took our morning walk. She stopped in her tracks, looked at me, and said “I do the same thing!” Does anyone else relate? You look ahead and all you see is a storm of fear and doubt barreling toward you.
Thank God for the space to garden. As I dirty my hands, I feel myself gardening the soul.
My spirit often feels like an artichoke plant. So many layers surround my heart, layers that rise up like tall mountains, protecting what is in the center.
Someday, it will be interesting to go back and read my journals from COVID 19. There have been definite (emotional) stages; acute shock in the beginning, numbness, mental fog, then the need to be inspired and inspire, grief and random weeping, physical fatigue when I’ve only walked up and down the stairs, then sheer glee when taking a bike ride at the end of a work day. Talk about a roller coaster! How do I get off?!
How do I find my center again?
Wishing I had Sailor Legs
In May, Texas lifted our quarantine and opened retail to 25% capacity. I expected to be more excited, but instead I’ve been more weepy and more overwhelmed.
Maybe life felt easier when we were all doing the same thing, staying home and staying safe? But now there are so many discrepancies. Some businesses are opening, others are not, some are following the quarantine guidelines, others refuse… an there are so many that had to permanently close. As a small business owner, I sometimes feel tired before the work day has even started.
There is a new reality coming, the post COVID 19 world. But it still lives in a thick fog. I can’t make it out. Every time I think I have my footing, the landscape changes again. If I had sailor legs, I’m sure I’d be doing better. But the reality is I’ve always been the first one in my family to get motion sick.
Gardening the Soul
Gardening has been my saving grace. Nine months ago, I came home with a picture of a cool planter box and asked Brian if he could build something similar. For Mother’s Day, he and Pascaline took that picture and built something even better from scratch! Take a look!
I ordered my favorite dahlias (TX heat resistant) and planted them on Monday. This is my first time trying dahlias since we moved here from Seattle. I pushed a dozen tubers into the dark soil, patted the top down just like my mom taught when I was a kid. And then I sprinkled the planter box with water.
Looking for Growth
It’s been four days since I planted those awkward, sausage shaped tubers. The letter from the Dahlia Barn says it takes up to 90 days for the first small blooms. I read that. I’m even repeating it to you. But it clearly hasn’t sunk into my heart because every morning I jump out of bed, grab my slippers, and run out back to see if they’ve broken ground yet. My head knows it’s only been four days. But my heart is desperate to see results today.
The Roller Coaster Begins
I start fortune telling my dahlias future. As I write this, I’m literally shaking my head because it’s ridiculous. But this is what I’m doing!
‘They’re never going to grow. The soil isn’t wet enough. It’s not dry enough. The tubers probably dried out in the mail. Or they’re already rotting from the one watering I did. If not, the thunderstorms may rot them. But what if they’re fine? What if they grow five feet tall? Imagine cutting them for the home!’
Up and down my emotions and thoughts go. That’s what happens when I feel left in the dark–like a tuber pushed into the earth, unable to see up from down. And this new reality we’re walking into feels just like it. The up and down of my emotions, the spinning and cob webbing of all the “what-if’s”, the stumbling from the shifting landscape and rolling waves…it all leaves me exhausted.
Three Principles to Sowing and Reaping
I read the simplest, best thing thing in my devotional the other day. It’s the three principles to sowing and reaping.
- You reap what you sow.
- You reap later than you sow.
- You reap more than you sow.
As I read this list, I realized I’m always expecting myself, our business, my dreams to jump from one to three. I sow, I reap, and then I should right away reap more. Right?!
Well, that’s not happening in my planter box with my dahlia tubers. It’s going to take 90 days to experience Principle 1. And then Principle 2 will become painfully real–the waiting. “You reap LATER than you sow.” But at the same time, these simple truths are so comforting. They leave room and space for gardening the soul.
What is so?
While I wait for those dahlias to break ground, what-is-so for today? What is true? Where is the ground firm?
One, there is joy to be found in the beginning. I took a Before picture of my dahlia planter box because a transformation is even more powerful when you see a clear picture of where you started. (Didn’t Brian and Pascaline do a GREAT job?!)
Two, I can acknowledge the courage it takes to stay in the dark versus digging up my dreams and hopes prematurely. And not just acknowledge the courage, but the work that is happening in the dark. Those dahlias are not only trying to break ground, but they’re also pushing deeper into the dark to establish a root base. Growing from both ends is not for the faint of heart, yet that is exactly what dreams must do to be sustainable.
Knowing up from down almost becomes irrelevant when you look at it that way.
Three, I can look back on past evidence, moments of triumph, and milestones when I did grow through a tough season. I remember us ripping up the beautiful grass in our front yard back in Seattle. Neighbors thought we were nuts!
Fast forward a year, this was how it turned out.
Growing a dream and cultivating hope, creates oxygen. It makes spaces for others. And I’ve also noticed how joy multiplies in this beautiful space.
I can spend time meditating on God’s faithfulness. The dreams He’s brought to full bloom in my life. And how He is the Master Gardner of all three sowing and reaping principles. I love how God never adds anything, He only multiplies. That’s a beautiful truth to ponder in the Waiting Room.
Layers Surrounding the Heart
Last, I can stop staring into the crystal ball. When so much uncertainty is ahead, our need to know what’s coming is amplified. Instead of judging myself, I can extend a little more gentleness to my heart. Breaking ground is emotional. Being pressed into the dark is overwhelming. Reaching below to build a root base while also reaching high to find the sun is work. But none of it is in vain. This is the work of gardening the soul.
I loved my artichokes in Seattle. They were the epitome of a Dr. Seuss plant. A show stopper every summer not because they were beautiful but because they were odd. Their purple fuzzy tops made people stop, turn their heads and smile.
They took three months to get to this point. And even though I want and expect instant overnight growth, I’m thankful for the layers, the roots, the time. In some gentle mysterious way the artichoke validates all the beautiful layers that protect and guard my heart. And it always gives me freedom to be okay with looking odd to others. No matter how odd or outlandish my dreams may seem.
Reality of Today
Ever since we moved to Dallas I feel like my green thumb in Seattle has dried up with the relentless heat. All but two plants have died. Every spring I start with new enthusiasm and by the end of July, I want to cry and give up.
Everything in me fights against needing to learn the soil in the south. I want to be able to do what I did before and have a lush garden grow! But it won’t. The things that worked in Seattle don’t work in Dallas. I noticed that when I finally surrendered to that reality, I finally had space open up in my mind and heart to learn–begin again. But I first had to let go of what I was once confident and sure of in the past. It’s a new landscape, literally.
I have a need to grow…
I’m learning how to safeguard my flowers from rabbits, greedy rabbits. My weekly routine involves fertilizing and watching for mites and ants. Watering is completely different when you move from a rain forest to a desert. And that is only the beginning. There is so much more to learn, it’s almost overwhelming.
Despite all the challenges, I have a need to grow, cultivate, experience breaking ground. And if I can hold on to that in one hand, along with grace to be weepy, rollercoastery, tired and everything else in the other hand, I may have a chance at growing a garden I’m proud of.
I may even grow more than the actual garden. This is gardening the soul.
*Heartfelt thanks all the friends who chimed in on my Facebook post. Your honesty and diversity gave wings to this post, Fortune Telling vs. Gardening the Soul.
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