How Easter People Make Life Lighter

“I have an idea what I want to get you for your birthday,” she said. “But I’m kind of afraid.”
I looked at my mother-in-law when she said that and wondered aloud.
“Well, now you just have me so curious,” I said.
And she giggled, but never gave it away. 
Saturday evening on my birthday, after my class and while my sweetheart is trying to make plans to take me for dinner—they stop by. 
Your birthday present is in the garage,” she says. 
I let my curiosity lead and there it is—amidst the boys’ bicycles and that red wagon I used to pull my babies around the neighborhood in. 
“It’s red,” I say, and I feel excitement start to curl in my stomach. I feel my fingers itching to fill that wheelbarrow full of rich dirt and roll it around back to start on the garden. 
She laughs at my delight.
“Laura, Ted says that wheelbarrow you are using is for masonry. I told the salesgirl you need something light. Something you can manage.
I remember how many times I’ve strained under the weight of that heavy black wheelbarrow—because, weren’t these things made for filling? And no matter that it might weigh more than me, that’s what I always do—fill it up past the rim each time I use it. 
It’s just like her to think about the heavy load I push along.
I take my new wheelbarrow for a spin.
“It is really light!” 
And it waits me out through a busy day and a night of rain and too much other work. But on Wednesday, after Bible study, I stop and pick up a few bags of compost and garden soil and some lettuce seeds.  There’s peat moss in the crawl space under the house from last year and all mixed together…it will be perfect. 
I’m already behind on the planting. 
I put the first scratches on my new red wheelbarrow when I mix all that dark loess together in her bed. They marry well and I am rich as I dig my fingers deep and till. I shovel four loads into my raised bed and stand up on the edges to work the soil in with the Claw. The sun is hot but the breeze stirs cool air on my skin and I am happy. 
I smooth the rich layers with a level and press the moist cool with my hands. I dig a furrow down one side and carefully scatter lettuce seeds. I have the memory of last year’s crop to urge me on and I am wishing I had gotten some green onion bulbs, maybe some carrots too. 
I talk to God about it, we make plans, and then I lift up a little song and let the wind carry it. It’s impossible not to think of the little girl me as I do these things. It’s impossible not to think about my mother. Did she know what she was planting in me when she hoed potatoes in the hot sun with her four children pulling up weeds between rows of corn?
In between breaths I remember it’s one of my favorite people’s birthdays. So I finish the planting and wash my hands. I’ll have to water down those seeds later. I don’t smell the best but it’s an honest smell, so I run out and buy a bouquet of spring flowers and show up on her doorstep. We sip wine in the afternoon on her back porch and the wind blows through and the trees lean into our conversation. 
And on the way home, the rain comes. In my mind I can see my little seeds—their tiny shells soaking through…that bit of sleeping life being coaxed into waking. 
When I pull into the garage, that red wheelbarrow peeks out at me. And I think how much better life is when we help to hold each-other burdens. And I know the struggles of this world are meant to be softly strewn at the feet of One who can carry them easily. But sometimes it takes some walking to get there. And how the walk is made lighter by some glad companions. 
How lovely it is to link arms and walk to the cross together.
With my sweet friend Jennifer today: 
And with the lovely kd:


  1. says

    I love the sweetness of the gift…I want to be someone who is a student of those around me…to give gifts that minister to who they are…gifts that speak…you are seen…
    blessings to you as you plant and harvest:)

  2. says

    Good, I’m glad I’m not the only girl who fancies practical gifts.

    (and for some reason this made me think of your story series from last year. will you write us another–maybe with a red wheelbarrow in the mix?)


  3. says

    My mother in law bought me a bird bath one year, I still love it and think about her when I turn the fountain in it on when we have company. You made me want to go out in my garden now. Love the way you bring me right alongside you wherever you are with your words. Have a great day Laura.

  4. says

    Who was channeling William Carlos Williams: you, your MIL, or both? So much depends upon a red wheelbarrow. Lovely post. The best gifts are the ones given by someone who’s really been paying attention to what would help, or delight.

  5. says

    What a wonderful gift and writing. I love it and I could just see you in all your smiling ways trying it out and planting seeds for growth.
    I love the red too, it is bright cheery and just so sweet.

  6. says

    I was SURE this was going to be a poetry post–even those of us who are poetry challenged know there’s something about a red wheelbarrow!

    And, there is something about people who really get us, who know the things we love and what makes us happy,

    And, if you ever show up at my house wearing an honest smell, I would gladly share a glass of wine with you.

    So much in this post makes me happy, Laura. Just so much.

  7. says

    Oh…this just made me smile so deep! You are richly blessed in your in-laws, it seems. So have I been – and that is a gift, indeed. But I gotta tell you, Laura – you are one of the hardest-working, moving-est people I’ve ever heard tell about. Man, you move those muscles. I am impressed. And just a little bit intimidated. In a very good way, of course. Because every thing about is just plain good. Thanks for this.

  8. says

    Oh, your mother-in-law’s gift brought smiles to many faces, including yours! I can see you know with that red wheelbarrow, digging and mixing compost and soil and yes, peat moss in the mix too. And the scratches now make it yours forever after! I love the words “each-other burdens.” I love reading your blog. Happy weekend!

  9. says

    What a sweet and thoughtful gift…and then you turning around and blessing another with flowers and your presence…your words here 🙂 thanks, Laura 🙂

  10. says

    …and I almost missed this! This reminds me of one of my favorite poems. So much depends upon a red wheel-barrel glazed with rain water, beside a white chicken. …and it gives new meaning to it. so much depends upon those who help us with our burdens…

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