Friday, March 18, 2011

Planting Season

Every few weeks we meet at Sarah's house.  The house on the top, top floor... at the top of a typical German house with a winding marble staircase, the landing outside her doorway decorated to greet visitors with a five-star candlelit flourish.  I feel as though I'm visiting someone famous, the fact that I push her doorbell and she must "buzz" me through the main entry on the ground floor.  I'm giddy at the thought.  Sarah is famous.  She is a daughter of the King.  She's royalty!  So is Jeri and Lisa.  These women who form a creative community, gathered to share raw art, to draw feedback, critique...  pour courage in to press on.  

There are always yummy treats on the menu: the last time an incredible Italian feast cooked up by Sarah who had just returned from a weekend with her husband in Pisa; this time fruit and pastries... and tomatoes and mushrooms!... Jeri's scrumptious offering.  And always, French Pressed coffee, a Coca Cola for Jeri.  Each visit, we celebrate, breathe, and eat! art.  Inspiration.
We chat over manuscripts, story ideas; seeds of prose and photographs.  This journey and the thrill of our daily anthologies as part of the bigger story.  His story.

Jeri handed me two plants as I was leaving, "There," she said matter-of-fact, "so that you can plant something with Israel."  I am giddy -- yes, that word again -- with anticipation.  To plant something.  To run reckless in this season of breakthroughs.

I ask her, "What if I kill them?"  I give her my don't-you-know-I-kill-all-my-plants-and-I-need-to-know-if-you're-okay-with-that look.  I resolve in my "heart of hearts" that I'm going to tend well to these plants, keep them alive.

She says cheerfully, "If you kill them," pausing before gushing her famous enthusiasm, "we can always get more!"

The children were playing basketball in the driveway when I pulled up.  I walked over to Israel, her dribbling and then holding the ball to peer into the bag as I held it open for her.  "These plants are gifts from Miss Jeri... so that you and I can plant them in the garden together."

She responded with a fist pump and, "Yes!  Finally!  It's the season to plant!"  I smile.

We churned the earth, dug deep, sifted layers of soil and fertilizer, placed the plant and covered it all round the roots.

It all felt reckless.  This planting... hoping.

Israel's determination.  Her confident decision-making.  "We'll plant them here."  And she digs deep, never hesitating... while I stand there watching, humming and hawing over inches and aesthetics, strategies, and managing to keep it all to myself even when I think that maybe we're doing it all wrong and I am tempted to put the whole thing on hold until we can go check out an armload of books from the library on how to garden.  On how to grow things. 

Like my propensity to sign up for one more conference, one more workshop, one more class.  To fill my brain and master avoidance techniques.  To analyze and scrutinize the project until I've talked myself out of the jump.  Instead, I breathe deep, allow my daughter to be my guru of hope.  To put plants into soil with bold determination.

Our small writer's group exists to spur one another on.  To make progress on projects.  To plant seeds and water them.  To go for breakthroughs.

And I continue to learn to be messy.  To overcome my addiction to self.  To splash in vulnerability.  In... imperfection?  To live and breathe in Spirit's grace.  Oh Lord!  May it be so! 

And when the project dies?

"Failure isn't fatal."  Larry T., precious spiritual father, who repeats this over and over, pours courage in, willing us to keep going, stay strong, cling to Grace, never stop hoping, dreaming, pursuing.

Several days after all our tender loving care and an ever-wilting flower, I opened this book, What I Learned From God While Gardening by best-selling author, Niki Anderson, in hopes of gleaning some gardening wisdom.

She writes, "Seeds are marvels of nature.  Tiny depositories of nature.  Miniature storehouses entrusted with a plan.

...Could it be that tucked inside all humankind is a blueprint for the impossible, similar to that which resides in a seed?... Faith is the latent power abiding within, smaller than a mustard seed, but powerful enough to fulfill God's purposes."

So I look on my sad flowers, smile sympathetically, pour water around its roots, hope it will revive.  Perhaps I'll have to get new ones.  Try again.

But I'm ecstatic.  It's planting season.  I am filled with awe and wonder over the mystery of the seed.  I want to fill my garden with seeds of love, patience, forbearance.  And words.  Might it be a season to plant words, string them together on heart's lattice, offer my messy endeavors in vases of hope, tied with ribbons of grace, to fellow gardeners, artists?  My fellow sojourners who are living out their own "blueprint for the impossible"? 

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."  ~ Hebrews 11:1  

Seeds of Gratitude:
24. husband who lifts weights with me at the gym
25. friend who offers me coffee, a slice of "very nutritious bread," and conversation in the midst of mop buckets and Windex and Lysol 
26. seeds
27. 5 AM workouts with husband who laughs with me and challenges me at the same time
28. words... all the ones filled with so much honor... the ones that make souls stronger
29. woman at checkout who saves an airman's dignity by purchasing his groceries when his debit card won't work and then tells me with a smile that "God sees"
30. my son, Isaiah, who exclaims, "Talk about making grace tangible!" when I tell him the story of the airman and the woman who paid for his groceries
31. second tries... and third... and fourth... and...
32. the dare to practice love that is not irritable, 
33. love that believes the best, 
34. love that is not jealous but that roots for another's success,
35. love that makes good impressions... that greets another so as to demonstrate genuine joy in getting to share life with them
36. love that's unconditional!  oh! the grace!


  1. Failure is not fatal.

    Love that is not irritable.

    Both of these, nuggets for Karen. Thanks.

  2. Thank you for your recent comments on my blog. You've been an encouragement.

    When I first read your most recent post, I thought you were referring to my Sarah, my good friend who lives in Graz, Austria. If your family takes a day trip there, let me know ahead of time and I will endeavor to introduce you.

  3. Beautiful post, Sharon. I'm always so inspired by how you find joy in everday life - the failures and the praises. Adina's right, you are an encouragement!