Garden Dreams

I spent most of yesterday afternoon in the flowers—cutting back, pulling up, raking out. I’m late this year—the frost already thick on the grass in the mornings. But my mother-in-law told me to wait; let the birds glean what they will, she said. And they did. The coneflower is dry as straw, the Black-eyed Susans blink. All the color is gone from the garden. The brittle browns and faded rusts shushed me as they rubbed together in the wind.

I raked the leaf confetti out from around tubers—their subtle reds and golds like scattered gems. The thick bands of iris greens broke easily with fingers. I smoothed around their fibrous heads, let them breathe. Already the leaves have started to make a rich compost–the soil underneath fragrant and dark. I breathed deep its heady scent, closed my eyes and dug fingers in the cool moist.

I cleaned my bed and dreamed. I dreamed of what would come in the spring.

When I was in the seventh grade I wrote an essay about what I wanted to be when I grew up. Mr. Kovalan, our English teacher, assigned us a theme every week. It was my favorite thing about school. Each week I looked forward to discovering what topic he would put before us. Mr. Kovalan never said much, but his comments on my themes always encouraged me. This is very well written, he might write. Or: A very good story. There wasn’t much I was good at, but Mr. Kovalan helped me see that telling stories was something I could do. But this one? What do I want to be? I thought long and hard about it. Finally, I wrote about my dream of becoming a hairdresser. The most beautiful women I knew were beauticians–it seemed like a good choice. Besides, I’d never thought I could be anything. Girls like me didn’t have those kind of choices. Girls like me rarely left the hollow.

When Mr. Kovalan graded my essay, he left me with few words. 

Your choice surprises me.

That was all he said. That dear, dear man.

It was the first time I thought that maybe I could be more. That maybe…maybe there was more than what I know.

When I was in seventh grade I could never have dreamed the life I have now.

This afternoon the robins are in a frenzy over my newly cleared soil. I watch from the window as they hastily march back and forth amongst the stubby remains of my garden. I smile at the cleanness of it. The mulch around the dormant clumps of green holds so much promise.

I have plans. There are things I still dream to accomplish. But I don’t want to hold these things too tightly. Who knows when God will change the plan? And I’ve already seen the beyond anything I can ask or imagine.

Yeah, sure, I feel a call on my life. But the call is not an endpoint. It’s a journey. A walking together. Walking through all the seasons…the spring, the harvest, and the raking out.

I’m trying not to hold on too tight to all these hopes and dreams that rage inside. I try to remember seventh grade. I try to remember that acorn that is growing into a tree in my garden.

The surprises are the best.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.—Prov. 19:21


  1. says

    Absolutely beautiful. Your words touch my heart deep, and I feel like I know you. I do know you–you carry the image of the One I adore. He is the one who brings us peace in “the spring, the harvest and the raking out.”

    May your garden spill over with love and blessings, Laura.

  2. says

    Laura, I love these photos. Such beauty even in the brittle brown.

    My mom wanted me to be an airline attendant (stewardess back then)so she could get free tickets. Back then you had to be taller than me and have perfect vision. I think it also helped to be a nurse.

    Actually, I never knew I had a choice other than teacher or nurse. If I’d known back then what I know now–well, I might have missed a lot on the journey.

    Hugs to you today.

  3. says

    The call is not an endpoint, it is a journey. I like that, but it’s hard.

    How can we be called to a journey without getting obsessed with the endpoint of our journey?

    I always end up focusing on the endpoint and not stopping to smell the flowers.

  4. says

    this is my favourite post of yours I think.
    I seriously wanted it to keep going.

    Which of course, it is.

    And I’m so privileged to be “along” for it a bit of your story now.

    You know, in Gr. 7 my friend/rival for top marks:) , wrote in my little denim autograph book to remember her when I was a famous writer. I’d completely dismissed that until not too long ago.

    And that teacher was a good good man. Bless him.

  5. says

    such gardening here . lovely images and dreams..your sharing of both made me stop read it again and let the words really sink in…

    teachers can do so much with few words…

  6. says

    ah, the processes and cycles of life in a garden…and our lives.
    I am thankful for that teacher that spoke briefly and clearly into your life.

  7. says

    It’s intersting how we remember those who have impacted our lives through their words. He gave you hope and vision. Your post is wonderful. And, that you are still open to wherever God leads you is beautiful. I love the pictures..there is beauty in everything.

  8. says

    You are a beautiful woman, Laura. Especially your heart! I ran into one of my teachers who was a great inspiration a couple of weeks ago. She brought so much joy and sunshine into my dark world. I recognized her in a crowd even though I had not seen her for over 30 years. She was still full of joy and sunshine. She didn’t remember me, but I will never forget her or the words that she spoke. Oh, to be the one who inspires! To speak words that live on the hearts of others forever and ever. You are very good at that! 🙂
    Blessings, sweet friend!

  9. Anonymous says

    My school teachers were rarely postively impacting…but a 10th grade teacher did something I’ll never forget: She made each student write down their hopes, desires and dreams now and where they thought they’d be at the end of the year. She collected them and kept them safely sealed in envelopes for us and then gave them back to us to open the last week of school. I don’t know what exactly it taught me…except maybe it was the first time I learned how to giggle about myself.

    Your writings are exquisite and edify me…thank you.

  10. says

    There is something to cleansing and a little bit sad and a lot hopeful about cleaning out the garden in late fall. And your words about the path…much-needed in this heart and soul today. Thank you, Laura.

  11. says

    In one photo, the webs are already collecting on the dead flowers … That photo stopped me. Maybe when we stop dreaming Garden Dreams, and when we stand still too long, the webs weave ’round us?

    Yes, the life we live is more than our seventh-grade dreams. And I wonder what I might think about my 38-year-old dreams when I’m 62. Hmmm….

    You’ve got me thinking, Laura.

  12. says

    what would we do without those teachers? the ones the holy spirit uses to point us, and keep us, narrow and true… and poised for … letting go. 🙂 i know, i hold so many dreams… and it’s painful, this falling apart, but God is my teacher and his comments, i live for. thank you for this, dear laura.

  13. says

    It is amazing what a word here or there can catch us and move us in an entirely different direction and in a place that we never thought but still wonderfully end up at…and then wonder…what is next.

  14. says

    What a gift to have someone in our lives who sees us not as we are, but who we can become.

    I know from meeting you here, that God has great plans for you, Laura.

    I think God most of all sees us not as we are now, but who we will become in Him.

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