My {Dad} the Master Gardener

Today is a beautiful day.

I wish you could see what I see.

But even a picture doesn’t do it justice.

The woods surrounding my tiny village are in full force of transformation… oranges, yellows, reds, pinks, and purples shouting from the sloping hills, “Fall is here, Fall is here!” It’s a song of celebration.

A celebration of death’s beauty.

It’s the death of green foliage that once signified the resurrection of Spring and the sustenance of Summer.

The miracles of life now metamorph into brilliant displays of Autumn… death’s march… not in shades of black and grey but of the brightest, most awe-inspiring shades of victory and praise.

Has the grave ever been celebrated in such a way? With song and proclamation?

I can think of a couple of times. Though we don’t often recognize it as a celebration of a thing’s passing… but of the fruit its death bears.

Without Fall, there would be no Spring.

Without the expiration of leaves, the rotting of their membranes, the dropping of their seeds… new life could never form. It would be the end, the only end. The final end.

If we celebrate Spring, then we celebrate the death that brought it.

This is something my dad has taught me in the garden as well.

To get to the seeds of most fruits and vegetables, you must kill it.

The produce is cut from the vine, ending all flow of nutrients and life-giving forces. An incision to the center is carefully carved… to get to the heart of the fruit, where often the seeds for new life are stored. From that one death, comes multiple new lives.

Yet seeds alone are not the sole reason for celebration of a fruit or vegetables death.

The body itself becomes nutrient… live-giving sustenance. Building immunity. Fighting disease. Filling an empty tummy.

A death not wasted.

A death that would have no meaning had the life been spent fruitlessly. Selfishly. Fearfully.

But a gardener spends time with its future harvest… pruning, watering, weeding, de-bugging, feeding with good soil, securing the right kind of sun light… protecting, caring, clipping.

These equate to seasons of dryness, pain, refreshing, rest, growth, and trust.

Trust that the gardener knows what to trim away and when.

Trust that the water will come at the perfect time… so the roots can dig deeply and with strength.

Trust that the strangling weeds will be noticed. Removed.

At just the right time.

Confession: This, too, I have learned from my dad. A master gardener. Watching his tender care of his garden. Cringing when so much beauty is stripped away… only to see double, triple, quadruple replace his wise and strategic snips.

To watch him allow painfully dry soil… roots seeking water deeper and deeper… to then lavish the thirsty plant with abundance. Leafy arms raised high, flowery faces turned up… swaying in a dance to their lover… the gardener who knows the whens and the hows and the whys.

And how my dad has tended to my own soul, spirit, mind, body in the same kind and purposeful way! Allowing me to learn lessons through death and tragedy, lack of understanding, impatience, frustration… only to meet me in those places with every life-giving breath. Sustenance and peace, direction and guidance. Love and affection.

I’m not an amazing gardener myself. I watch my dad. I watch my husband, his apprentice.

And suddenly life makes sense.

Oh that the garden of my life would be fruitful to the fullest! So that when my season of Spring turns to Summer and then to Fall… and the hills march to their tune of victory and praise once again… and Winter settles upon my existence in this place, on this side of eternity… that a new Spring would be welcomed in full song! That a great harvest would be found among the seeds of my life… a life not wasted.

Spent trusting the loving hand of my dad.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.

John 15:1

 

 

 

To learn more about 31 Days in 2012 or view other 31 Dayers blogs, click here.

I’m spending 31 days writing about my confessions and the lessons {Dad} has taught me. This is day 6 of 31 Days in 2012.

{Dad} and Seasons

Fall.

It makes my insides bubble like the foamy top of a mint-hot chocolate.

Crackle like the splintering wood of a chilly day fire.

Explode like the blazing hues of changing leaves.

My heart slows to match the rhythm of the swaying wind… as it tickles the fronds clinging to their branches.

The fresh, crisp air almost stings my lungs. Almost.

This is my favorite season. And not just because it shrouds my birthday.

I love cozying up with a blanket on a cold morning. Snuggling with my besties in the name of “body heat.” A good excuse to be close to those I love.

I love the bright colors of pumpkins and gourds, trees in transformation, and the bleakness behind it all… enhancing even more the serenity of a changing season.

Confession: If I can take one moment for pause, simply to enjoy the season around me, then this I have also learned from my dad.

I have blazed through many seasons. Seasons I found bland, uncomfortable, painful, frustrating, or undesirable for one reason or another.

Only to step into the next season and find that I missed much of what was good about the former.

My single years were spent pining for my married years.

Married years spent missing the freedoms of my single years.

Years with young children pining for my own free time again.

Empty-nest years spent missing the noise of my young parenting years.

Well, at least, this is the path I am on if I don’t begin now to learn from my dad’s pleasure in each season.

I have watched him thrill in the beauty that each season brings, no matter how dark. I have seen joy in his eyes, even in the most devastating of seasons. In fact, I’ve seen this same joy lead and guide him through the darkest of hours. So that, on the other side, he does not regret the valley through which he has passed.

I have seen him live presently. Stopping to give strangers his ear. His time. Himself. People I would have brushed right by in my own self-preservation and sense of accomplishment.

But not him.

He has walked me through all of the seasons life has given me as well. Held his head high when mine was bowed low. Carried me when I had nothing left to keep me moving. Sung and danced over me when I needed his lullaby. Embraced me with my moments when I could only see unforgiving stone and failures. Then we get to the top. And he tells me to turn around.

And the view is breathtaking.

These are the things my dad has taught me:

The the most painful of seasons make the most fertile of soil for the growth and harvest in the next.

Even ashes make way for beauty to rise.

To not waste fertile soil of pain in frustration… but to love it for what it will become.

To savor every moment of the blessings given in each season.

To live now… what will living in tomorrow or yesterday give me but more regrets and missed moments?

That it’s okay to grieve the passing of one season into another… but to offer hospitality to the next season nonetheless.

With joy set before me.

With the hope that every season has it’s purpose and, when I’m willing, each purpose will be accomplished.

So I can live this life fully. Intentionally. Purpose-filled. Joy-filled.

I can be content in any and every circumstance.

Fall is here.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 

I’m spending 31 days writing about my confessions and the lessons {Dad} has taught me. This is day 4 of 31 Days in 2012.

The Beginning

I’ve been mulling over the purpose of this blog. I’ve decided that this will be a place where we (you and I) share the things that bring our life passion and excitement. We all want a life of quality… one well lived and above and beyond the mundane and monotonous.

I know I have many experiences in life that have lent themselves to meaning far greater than myself. Experiences that enlightened my perspective, reformed my view, or simply held great significance that was worth noting and retaining. Many of these moments have been recorded  and filed away.

Knowing this, I pulled out journals from my past and began perusing the pages, hunting for those grand moments that make the rest of life bearable. And though I found those moments penned by my hand at various stages in life, as I knew I would, I actually found something far greater. I remembered how important it is that we record our life stories.

For many hours over the last days, my heart and mind were sucked into the past through the pages of my journals. Emotions surfaced that I had almost long forgotten. Visions and pictures danced in my mind as the words unlocked doors of memory. What most amazed me was how far I’ve progressed as a person in life! The girl on the pages of my first year married is a very different girl than the one married almost seven years today! Same pen, perhaps, but very different person. The man I described in that first year is also incredibly different, and I realized how much more in love I am now than I was then. Things only realized in light of the hardships and pure pleasures that we have experienced.

I read through so many prayers… of thanksgiving, of praise, of pain, and of total anguish. How many times I realized that my prayers or words had been fulfilled in future events and days to come. What a huge blessing to remember that I had prayed many of the things I am now experiencing.

My trip backwards through the years did not require a special time-travel machine. It did not require large sums of money or even sick days from “work” (or, mommy-hood, in my case). I simply traveled through a  journal in which I had so carefully treasured much of my heart and its meanderings.

Not only was that experience incredible for me…. to remind me of where I’ve come from, the mistakes I’ve made, the miracles I have seen, or the blessings I have been a part of… but I know those written words will also one day unlock the “mystery of mommy” to my children and grand children. Along with photo albums, those words document the heart and soul of their mother… something I only hope to have pieces of when my own mother passes. And its a void in my life for those people who’ve passed and left little of themselves to get to know through their writing.

Maybe you don’t feel like a writer. Maybe you hate to read. Maybe you love it! Regardless, may you find some time each day or even week, to record your prayers, wishes, hopes, dreams, and goals. Record your struggles and your successes. May your words become the hope of generations to come, inspiration for those you live among today, and a preservation not only of your past, but of the legacy you are aligned with. Go forth and journal! 🙂

Journaling tips:

1. Remember that whatever you write is visible to anyone… as safe as it may seem. Only right what you don’t mind someone seeing!

2. Journaling can be very therapeutic. If you must write things you don’t want others to see, DO! Then destroy it if you need to! I’ve done this many times!

3. The journal does NOT have to be fancy. Go to a dollar store and buy a spiral notebook. You can also find books designed to be journals at stores like Amazon, Barnes n Noble, Borders, etc.

4.Not every entry has to be about some supernatural experience or moment of significance! If you really have nothing to say, just write about your day! Start with what you did and see where your hand goes!

5. Don’t give up. If a month goes by, fine! Sit down and journal whenever you have the chance. Find some quiet time to reflect on your day, your life, your favorite song or food… and record it.

6. Discretion. I have many times written emotional letters to people and given it to them- when really it should have been only for me. If you want to write a letter to someone, do. Then keep it. Put it in your journal. I’ve done this with emails too. Usually the second or third time I write it, I’ve been able to weed out the things that don’t need to be said and have actually written a letter I can give.


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