I get it. The theraputic nature of gardening. I didn’t always. The grit of the soil between my fingers, it now connects me deeply to God’s earth. The tilling of the ground – an act as ancient as time. And I do it this week.
Hardened dirt lays before me. Naked and grassless in a small area, maybe 6ft by 4ft in our messy, unkept, but gloriously green backyard. But not this patch. It’s dead brown. We need to plant seed – so I start to till. On a sunny, cool morning, I just start hitting the soil. Me, a three-pronged weapon and bare dirt – we have a date.
WHACK. The forked tool comes down hard.
I hit the dirt over and over, my intensity building. As the soil breaks, I break. In the very moment I’m hitting and coming down hard on this dry, lifeless land – I’m coming into myself. I’m realizing. Life… my life, has been the dry soil. The thirsty, life-seeking soil. So incredibly parched for so long, yet blinded to my own need…
For purpose. For grace. For God.
And I’ve been longing for the green grass all along, but fearful of the tilling. Resisting the tilling.
Yes, I know in theory how all this works. Land grows grass and trees and flowers and food. But to grow something beautiful where barren land once was – well, it is a process. The tilling, the violent preparing and breaking up of the soil – it’s necessary for growth to take place.
And it’s no longer the soil I’m preparing, but God preparing my heart. Yes, I’m a crazy garden poet – and dreaming dreams while wearing rubber boots. And my daughter looks on and giggles. And it’s ok.
WHACK. This culture – my dislike for the life of ‘plenty’ is growing, mounting, almost suffocating me.
WHACK. My greed. I hate it.
WHACK. My ignorance. Give me wisdom, God.
WHACK. His calling – to love.
WHACK. How am I loving through my actions? How is my LIFE love?
WHACK. Wasted years.
WHACK. Wasted ambition.
WHACK. His love.
WHACK. His grace.
WHACK. His calling for my life. My family’s.
SRAAAAPE. And the soil is raw and ready. But I’m sitting, staring at it, simply lost in thoughts.
How do I live drastically and intensly devoted to Jesus? To my neighbor? At 28, my eyes and my mind are finally clearing and I’m starting to realize, as Katie says… that my life is upside down. And I’m ready for God to completely rock my world right-side up. I know He’s planting.
Crazy, unimaginable seed.
Passionately counter-cultural seed.
And my soul is tilled. My heart is open. Blemished, imperfect – but open. Ready for the process – ready for more breaking, more ripening, and the planting, and the growth. This year has been a year of tilling. It’s been painful – it’s been unexpected. It’s been like violent scrapes of prongs in vulnerable earth. But I’m still here. He sustains. He prepares. Even the ‘me’s of this world. He prepares even us.
And so it goes. Just as the garderner’s hands break up the earth for planting… doesn’t God do the same to our very soul? To the very deepest part of us?
Breaking up is part of the readying. Shaking up, mashing up, scraping through – it is the ripening… and it is sacred. He is preparing us for the plant and His everlasting waters, will always be there to sustain us. Always pouring freely. Filling to overflow. And then, when we are most vulnerably bare, something miraculous springs up.
But it takes the tilling. And it’s uncomfortable. And hard. And Holy.