Yesterday morning, I woke to a grey sky and felt limited motivation to get out of bed. I had spent the last night writing a difficult piece of poetry, I was going to be outside all morning in the garden, and all I wanted was more sleep. I also had several papers to write, chapters to read, books to prepare for. Why couldn’t I just stay in bed another hour?
Rise, I heard the spirit speak to me. Come, follow me. Today is a new day.
I got up quickly, ate breakfast and left my room in a hurry. Thankfully, I walked to the garden with a group of wonderful friends who instantly lifted my spirits. I was then greeted by one of my mentors, Eddie.
Eddie is one of the only people I have met who I instantly feel comfortable around. He has shown me how to tenderly care for the soil (and the spirit), and he also faithfully reads my blog. Last week, he found a quote that relates to both of our spiritual journeys: Einstein once said, “You can live as if nothing is a miracle, or you can live as if everything is a miracle.” He surprised me yesterday morning with a stone that reads this wisdom, and I suddenly forgot how I had felt earlier in the day. I was filled with gratitude for the miracle of being at the garden.
More friends came, until there were eight students all with our hands in the dirt. I was placed in a garden bed called the “cliffside,” next to the railroad tracks, with my dear friend Jessie. The bed was ridden with weeds that Eddie calls “Satan grass,” because even though its official name is Bermuda grass it doesn’t have the positive qualities of Bermuda. It takes over fallow beds and keeps spreading with a complex network of roots.
First, Eddie told me to overturn the soil so it would be easier to uncover the roots. Then, I found what seemed like a never ending system of one root after another – I filled an entire bucket in just a few minutes. When I tried to pull them out too quickly, however, they ripped. I could not pull them out with anger or frustration. I had to hold them tenderly if I were to uncover the origin of their growth.
Holding the roots of weeds in my hands, I thought about a conversation I had earlier this month with a dear mentor from my Quaker meeting, Patty. I told her how I wanted to uncover all the past family conflict that makes me suffer now. I wanted to undig all the roots of insecurity that I felt. She listened to me patiently until I practically ran out of breath. “It does not all come at once,” she told me. Sometimes, we have to wait, as there are many seasons of weeding.
As I continued to unearth these roots from the soil, I realized that weeds permeate by being. I cannot eradicate them in one prayer. Harmful thoughts, desires, and habits live within us all, and only the slow work of God can take them from us.
One by one, God weeds out our troubles in the miracle of redemption. God turns over the soil with tender hands. And as the roots of our suffering are unearthed, the soil can be reclaimed as fresh ground. Today is a new day, indeed!
In the garden, I see resurrection alive and at work. The compost of past death and decay gives life to turnips, potatoes, and tomatoes. The beds of old soil are turned over to bring nutrients to the surface. The weeds are uprooted to make room for new seeds. And when our hands are planted in that redemptive soil, all is well with the soul.
I am so grateful for the Davidson Community Garden, and all the miraculous mornings of gathering with volunteers there!
As I move into this week of finals, it is a busy time that requires much diligence and patience – like when weeding. Here is a prayer I offer in light of this weeekend.
Lord, take my heart as Your garden and teach me how to wait. Take from me the weeds of hate, and plant me with the seeds of Love. Water them with your grace. Amen.