Yes, spring will come without me, but still…

by Kristin on March 23, 2012

in Belief, doubt & hope

Photo by apple_pathways

I’ve been surveying my garden these past few days, taking stock of the havoc winter wrecked as well as the signs of promise this ridiculously-sudden spring has conjured.

It’s that time of year when the mess and the hope of the earth are entangled like wrestlers on the mat, each trying to pin the other and emerge victorious. The difference, of course, is that we know who will win this particular bout. Spring is not to be stopped, even if there are some setbacks—a late frost, a spring gale, or a lazy caretaker who doesn’t get off her butt to help tame winter’s mess.

As I wander my yard, I see there’s no shortage of work to do—dead leaves and pine needles to rake, scattered sticks and twigs to bundle or break down for starting fires, and already there are weeds to get under control. It’s only March, and I’m not quite ready for this. These eighty-degree afternoons appeared so suddenly and then stuck around, turning into a long string of days that began to trick our minds into believing it was June as we woke up each morning with windows open and only a sheet covering us.

I’m still in observation mode, making mental to-do lists, prioritizing and strategizing. I have seen these gardens at their worst, but also at their best. I have loved and helped them along, doing what I can. It is time, once again, to work, humbly yet diligently.

* * * *

Over at Huffington Post, I recently wrote a piece about divorce and church, then faced a tangle of comments from both sides—those who find the church completely ridiculous for its approach to social issues, and those who find people like me ridiculous for suggesting that God can work through and redeem those who are divorced, and the church can be a part of that redemptive process. Sometimes the mess seems overwhelming—I hardly know where to begin. But the promise of something beautiful is there, as well. I have done my share of struggling with the church, but I love it, too.

It’s because of that love—not my skill—that I am a caretaker. I observe, tend, and nudge, in spite of my lack of understanding. I watch my own faith go through seasons. Some are clearly seasons of growth and vibrant bloom; others seem stagnant and still, but I still believe important work might be happening beneath the soil, out of sight, waiting for the right moment to shoot up through dead leaves.

* * * *

I walk the perimeter of my yard. Yes, even without me, spring will come—the daffodils and grape hyacinth are already blooming, all on their own, and my perennials are poking up through dead leaves and last year’s brown stalks, which I never finished trimming away. I use my hands to push what’s dead away from what’s emerging and green, then I head back inside, making mental plans to dig my gloves and tools out of the garage this weekend.

There is so much I don’t understand about the cycles of nature, the pests and the weather patterns—so much that’s bigger than me, and beyond my control.  But I can still help. I can still tend these gardens in my own small, but important ways.

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  • ed cyzewski

    I can relate to trying to bring order out of chaos in a garden. And even when you bring order to your garden, some stupid squirrel comes along and savagely digs up your 5-6 garlic plants.

    When I think of all the seeds we started, it’s pretty amazing to think that only a few will actually grow into full sized plants. The rest will be thinned. I think writing can be a bit like that sometimes. You scatter words and a few of them stick. But then those words can mean the world for some people and they grow and are blessed and that makes it all worthwhile. I’m sure your post at HP blessed many who didn’t even comment.

  • Addie Zierman

    This was so beautiful, Kristin. Loved the juxtaposition of the two threads–gardening and the divorce piece–and this idea of working to draw beauty from the chaos. What important work!

  • empathologicalism

    Your piece on divorce and the comments it drew , and finally your mention of it here all stay on the edges of reality.
    “The church” is not hard of divorced people at all, unless you say the church is hard on the people who have done anything and everything they speak out against. If the church speaks out against, oh, lets say “intolerance”, I would be willing to wager you’d have no concerns about the folks in the crowd who are or have been intolerant….and I right? Be honest. Feel the cognitive dissonance

  • Kristin T.

    ed, don’t even get me started about squirrels! It’s a good lesson in not being in control, though, right? But still, what little we can do is so much better than doing nothing. (I love your gardening/writing analogy, too! So true!)

    Addie, thank you! It was one of those meandering, woven pieces that wasn’t fully solidified but still needed to be put down. :)

    empathologicalism, there are such a wide range of responses to divorce from one church/denomination to the next, and what one person defines as being “hard on divorced people” is always going to be different than the next person’s definition. I will just say that the two greatest commandments are both about LOVE, and all Christians could stand to step back and reconsider what loving God and loving someone who has been divorced (or is being intolerant or whatever) might look like.

  • The Modern Gal

    I like the idea of seasons in our relationship with God and the church. I know I’ve had my own moments that have seemed like winter in my own relationship, but through tending the garden, it blossoms.

  • empathologicalism

    When a church has a message that suggests divorce is a bad thing, for some reason the people who have been divorced get histrionic. It has zero to do with them, its being spoken in order to influence those who have not yet done it.
    In church, divorce is the only thing that offends those who have done it in the past. if you hear a message on adultery, do you feel a burning need to lecture that they need to be kinder to those who have done it, or, rather, would you (rightly) consider it aimed at the behavior, and the future.
    Divorced folks (I have a divorce in my past as well) need to relax, its not about you.

  • Kristin T.

    The Modern Gal, it’s a metaphor that works especially well for me because I’m not a very skilled gardener! I don’t approach my garden with the sense that I can solve all the problems and make everything healthy and beautiful—I just work away at it, doing what I can and learning a few things along the way.

    empathologicalism, I absolutely agree that churches who are against divorce should have a preventative message. Not one of fear, of course, but of helping people make good choices regarding who they marry and then doing all they can to nurture healthy marriages. The problem is that many churches treat already-divorced people differently because they have been divorced. In some cases it happens subtly, but in many others it’s clear and intentional—they aren’t allowed to take communion or teach Sunday School, etc. Also, for a divorced person there is always that moment when someone shifts from being a divorce the church is trying to prevent to a divorce that is happening/happened. Most churches have a lot to learn about how to love people in those moments. The church is far too associated with ideas like “guilt” and “judgment,” and far too many people have been hurt by the church, for anyone to say “Divorced folks…need to relax, its not about you.”