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