(similar version published September 13, 2013 at meditationsandmuses.com)
In the spring, I decided to re-landscape our backyard in preparation for my daughter’s high school graduation party in June. I hired our friend, Mark the Handyman, to transform what was a lifeless, messy, difficult-to-maintain yard into what I’d hoped would be a beautiful setting for the special occasion. Completed just days before the party, the new yard was my long-time dream-come-true. The handyman had done an amazing job!
Mark grew grass where there was only dirt and weeds. He dug up shrubs that had out-lived their usefulness and framed the perimeter of the yard with generous flower beds. He cropped all the dead tree branches that cluttered the back fence and trimmed down the weed vines that liked to wrap themselves in desperation around the fence boards.
All the cutting away exposed the beauty of less. Now, the two stunning walnut trees that reach high into the heavens stand out like regal monuments to those who planted them decades ago. Now, the clean lines of the well-worn fence invoke the kind of peace that the scriptures say “passes all understanding.”* The makeover is remarkable, but it’s more than that. My vision and Mark’s hard, hard work created a sanctuary, a pathway to a world that nourishes my soul.
As I water the flower pots that rest on beds of brown mulch between brilliant green arborvitaes, I am moved to pray. I offer thanks for the gift of this space. When I stop in front of the statue of St. Francis, I ask God to heal my husband (of mesothelioma) and my dear friend and spiritual director (of sarcoma). Somehow the tenor of St. Francis’ life calms my fears and gives me hope for these God-seeking men — and me. Like Stations of the Cross, each flower pot calls me to reflect and listen and to pour out my heart.
Early this morning, I went out to check the vegetable garden (planted in 4 x 10’ raised wooden boxes Mark made), and picked a bouquet of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and basil. It won’t be long before the lettuce is ready for our table, too. I am always thrilled to find this fruit of my labor. It reminds me that God is ever-present as I sense his delight in my joy. It speaks of the endless possibilities that spring up when I am willing to invest myself in God’s work:
- to CATCH HIS VISION for making something beautiful and good out of broken landscapes,
- to COOPERATE with the natural order of creation, planting dead seeds from which spring shoots of promise, blooms of hope,
- to WATER and WAIT for God’s plans to unfold, and
- to REJOICE when they do.
I offer my hands, my energy, my heart, and He turns it all into food for our table, nourishment for my soul. I give and God gives more.
Enter Into the Dialogue
What nourishes your soul? What fruit of God’s spirit is coming to life in you? How are you investing in God’s work?