For the first time ever, I have planted bulbs in the garden in front of the place I call home. I grew up seeing my mom trundle out into the chilly/dreary/sunny/rainy October weather to dig into the earth and deposit dry, dead-looking little items which she would then cover up and forget about.
And then- wonder of wonders!- on some chilly/dreary/sunny/rainy March day, she would excitedly call me out to see the first little white snow drop or purple crocus. Every single time, my mom was beside-herself-happy to see these little harbingers of spring.
While I always shared in my mom’s excitement, I don’t think I realized the beauty and poignancy of the idea of planting bulbs until doing it myself this afternoon. There I was, in my rain coat, rain pants and rain boots, with a butter knife and big metal spoon (I have yet to invest in a proper trowel… Ha.) I loosened up a little patch of earth, dug twenty little holes, and placed a dry, dead-looking little item into each hole. I covered them up, watered them (to supplement the rain they’re also getting), and went inside.
I will do nothing else except wait, hope and trust that on some March day I will see a wee bit of green popping through the soil, or even the snow (I planted snow crocuses, given to me by… guess who? Yup. Thanks Mom!)
This week has been a heavy one, mostly due to the fact that a number of friends outside The Dale have been struggling with very heavy burdens – acute trauma, loss of relationship, loss of a loved one, scary surgery. I have felt so sad and weary for these friends, and have endeavored to be present to them as I was able.
In the middle of this acute awareness of the heaviness around me and my inability to make things better for my friends, I heard a sermon at Wine Before Breakfast that felt like it was meant for me (you know that feeling?) My friend Andrew Colman was preaching on one of the two parables of the sower, and the parable of the mustard seed. In each case, the Kingdom is compared to the process of plants growing, with little/no human involvement. The sower just sows the seeds, then eventually reaps the harvest. The mustard seed is probably blown by the wind, then grows into a shrub all on its own.
Andrew reminded me/us that the Kingdom will grow, with or without us. We have the great privilege and calling of engaging in Kingdom work, but through these parables God is saying, “if today you cannot till the ground – that’s okay, I’ve got it… If today you can’t shine – that’s okay, I got it… If today you cannot even throw the seeds, Jesus tells us – that’s okay, I got it.”
So this week, when I was feeling overwhelmed by the amount of pain in the lives of those around me, God reminded me that, “if today all you can do is plant some bulbs- that’s okay, I got it.”
The Kingdom will come, God’s will will be done.. and in a few months we will be surprised by snow crocuses.