Finding God…In the Yard?

When I was a child I lived in the country. I did not know for many years that we were poor. I never understood that most folks did not live the way we did. We were happy to be tucked away, hidden from the world by the trees and the sky and the bubbling creek.

I never realized how rich that land made us until much later.

Are we in a depression?

My youngest asks me this not too long ago as we walk the streets of our suburban neighborhood.

Do you mean as a nation or as a family?

Our family…are we in a depression?

Do you mean emotionally or economically?

I quickly run through my head all the conversations his daddy and I have recently had. What has he overheard?

You know, with dad’s new job and stuff…are we not doing very well with money?

My husband changed directions, professionally speaking, at the beginning of the year and this choice did, in fact, involve a cut in income. The hope was that this position would be a stepping stone to something more rewarding—more stable–and the salary cut would be worth it. However, things never go according to plan and as the months tick by we grow a bit anxious.

My boy doesn’t miss much.

We have to be more careful with money than we used to be. But the fact is, we are still doing better than a lot of people. We need to be thankful for what we have and be good stewards of it.

So. We ARE in a depression.

I look at my son and see him. I see this middle-class kid with his Nike tennis shoes, braces, and big blue eyes. And I remember hand-me-down clothes and dirty bare feet. I remember day-long hikes in the woods and long walks to the bridge on summer days. I remember leaf-filtered sunshine and tall grasses bending in the breeze.

Nah, I wouldn’t say that, I say. We are rich. Richer than anything.

I squeeze his hand and take off running. He runs after me, scattering coins of laughter in the wind. We meet again at the bridge and stand together in silence–staring into water rippling over rocks.

We wade through treasure on the way home. Moments of countless worth. Gems sparkle on the water and golden rays surround us.

If I could, I would take my boys to live in the country. We would dine on joy, spend sparkling days like so many pennies in my change purse…and go to sleep to the sound of earth’s lullaby. But for now, this place—this edge off the city–will do. We can make it fit. With the riches we have, we’ll buy the accommodations. They won’t be secret spots, but they will feel like they are. Small spaces in our neighborhood where we let our spirits drift on the wind. Where we can play towards God—delight in Him.

Some of this play will be light-hearted, but mostly it involves letting ourselves feel. My boys have no trouble with this; but their mother? For me, to feel freely, I must remember. I must remember what it is to be a child.

And I must come to God this way.

Written in response to week one of God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us by L.L. Barkat. I’ll be posting off and on–as the spirit moves–about my journey with L.L. through this lovely book.


  1. says

    i understand. being rich is a matter of the heart. some of my closest times with God was when my families house was being foreclosed. it was the time when my dad and i started getting along and realizing we were both on the same side.
    thanks for sharing.

  2. says

    Loved this post…so thankful He can be found anywhere. We’ve had three seasons with our Engineering firm of not taking pay checks trying to keep employees paid…our girls have learned SO MUCH during those seasons and we always have a check in our hearts and minds about what has become our focus. We’ve all grown as many days require an act of faith to move forward…trusting for what we don’t see but choosing to celebrate ALL that we do have, within us and around us. It’s the little things that slip by…I need to embrace them as a child.

  3. says

    You all are welcome here in our bit of country…

    These words ring loud today. As we seek Him, He is leading us to a drastic pay cut, another move, and going deep into pasturelands where we will need Him for the sustenance of each day–even more so than now.

    So, who would willing enter through the doors of an economic depression? I reckon we would, as long as God’s the one holding it open for us.


  4. says

    “We wade through treasure on the way home…”

    As a former city girl, I am still amazed to live in the hilly country I do now, to wander through my very own field, to shop at a quiet Mennonite country store- your post spoke to me in a deep way.

  5. says

    I grew up an hour from the ocean. Summer Saturdays, we loaded up the station wagon with shovels and pails, towels, and sunscreen. Sometimes we’d stop at the boardwalk on our way out. Sometimes we’d just rinse our feet in the pail of ocean water my dad carted from the beach to our car, cuddle in the back, and sleep while our parents drove us home.

    That is where I still meet God.

    P.S. I love the phrase about scattering coins of laughter.

  6. says

    AMEN…we need to get rid of all of the “junk/stuff” in our lives and come freely to GOD! The clutter of our lives do hinder us or can hinder us.
    Great post, Laura!

  7. says

    Wow…what a delight to wander past your yard and find such a beautifully inviting garden. My heart so deeply feels what you wrote. Thanks for sharing; I look forward to stopping by again and again. The fragrance is stunning:) -Jennifer

  8. says

    Beautifully written post, Laura.

    Earlier this morning, I read Andy Whitman’s post at Image Journal, which he framed in the context of what we give up to have something else. Had I read your post first, I might have responded a little differently to his, because, as you write so well here, we don’t have to give up anything, except the things that don’t matter, to be rich beyond imagining.


  9. says

    I’ve not given my children many moments of “yard play” over the years. The older two are mostly on their own by now, but I think we missed something in their earlier years… the notion of something simpler. With the younger two, I hope to give them more moments of “yard play”… perhaps years have made me wiser to the simple beauty of yard living. I hope so, because for some reason tonight, this post makes me sad…

    did you mean to do that?

    Oh for the grace of God that covers all the seasons I missed and didn’t get it perfectly right with my kids. That being said, the yard’s still here, and I’ve still got some “play” left in me…


  10. says

    Incredible as always.
    Lots here to think on. To savour.

    and I am only recently thinking I could live in the country. While I love the expansive outdoors compared to suburbia, I have some baggage there.

    and I was pretty much a city/not as nice suburbia girl as a kid prior to the rural route.

    There is a richness in how we see , not what, I guess. And as long as it’s outside vs in mostly.

  11. says

    I love it when my kids play outside — but in our small urban yard it’s hard to get the same feel. This post reminds me how important it is to show them the meaming of true riches. Not an easy task!

  12. says

    We can make it fit.

    That’s a lot right there, isn’t it? Making it fit — this place where we are, making it where we want to be.

    I think we might call that content. And I always like how rich content feels.

    We’re in one of those economic transitions at our house too, making the necessary adjustments, trying to not to alarm the teenagers. It’s an interesting climb.

  13. says

    What a beautiful post. This morning on my daily walk, I took in the beauty of spring. Thanks for putting into words the treasures of nature, beauty, and God.

  14. says

    I love this! Both the sentiment and the words expressing it. Beautiful inside and out.

    I understand so well the questions of “wealth” when seen through the eyes of middle class children who have lived their entire lives in suburbia. My daughter asked if we were poor because I couldn’t/wouldn’t buy her a pair of Uggs. Or why we can’t go on annual vacations to places like Costa Rica or Spain like her friend’s family does. Thank God our mission trip to the Dominican Republic last year opened both my children’s eyes to real poverty…and real joy. We all need these reminders.

    The richness you describe can never be purchased with material wealth. Thanks for this lyrical example.

  15. says

    Love finding God in the yard. This week I was stopped in my tracks and spent 15 minutes laying across the yard just to get a few pics of mushrooms. I’m a little obsessed. But it was worth it.

    “scattering coins of laughter” that is my favorite line. I can see them hitting the ground and bouncing.
    So beautitful.

  16. says

    I love this…seeing from their perspective. My man was laid off four months ago…but we are currently richer than we have ever been. Money is tight. very tight. but family is tighter and that makes us very rich. 🙂 I wouldn’t have traded these months for months of a paycheck and a routine!

  17. says

    This post reminds me of several conversations we’ve had recently with our children…I’m not sure any of us (our family) truly recognize how blessed we are…to live here in this time and place. God has been good to us…just wish we were better at showing Him how much we appreciate it. Wide open spaces are special…easier finding what really matters there-for me anyway.

    Great post! So heartfelt…so easy to read, easy to find inspiration.

  18. says

    Wonderful and challenging writing, we are indeed very rich people. Wealth is a term that can be misinterpreted.
    If we love the Lord we are rich in spirit. If we seek and serve the spirit of the Lord we are wealthy in heart.
    If we have peace within ourselves, no amount of money is more valuable.

  19. says

    I have a son who worries about money. Don’t know why or where he got it from. Maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a penny pincher—I just love being frugal; it’s kind of a fun habit. 🙂

    Thanks for the welcome back. I still walk with a lurch, as if on a train. 🙂

    Got my book club post up in time! Left a comment at HCB too, but it’s probably in spam.

    Nice to come back and find your words always here. So nice.

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