This is what the world wants from our rhetoric, what the man of God longs for in a shepherd—someone daring enough to be different, humble enough to make mistakes, wild enough to be burned in the fire of love, real enough to make others see how phony we are.~Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
Everywhere—dropping from the dew-soaked sky, clinging to every high stalk of yarrow in the meadow, behind the closed doors of walnut-stained cupboards, between cottony sheets on my bed—everywhere, there is truth. It stares me loud in the face and still I choose to believe in a world of arbitrary rules and a way of life I have concocted on my own—stubbornly convinced of the importance of too many things that. just. aren’t.
In the early morning hours, my feet wet with fallen starlight, I peer through yew branches to find the finch’s nest. She has roosted high this year, on a scaffold of limbs to cradle and protect. I will need the ladder to see and count her young, but I can hear their plaintive cries for breakfast. The crows have been nosing around for days.
All around me the world breathes, inhales and exhales life I can see and touch, and death crouches in the shadows, waiting to pounce. In early spring, I noticed that our plum tree did not bloom. Our beautiful umbrella-like tree that usually announces the arrival of the season heavy-laden with pink, pearly blossoms unfolding … The tree we planted when Jeffrey was born—little pearl, the one who rains color into our days. The tree is dead. The winter must have been too harsh for it—I noticed a neighbor cutting down his plum the other day.
This morning, I picked the first tender shoots of greens from my garden and made a salad for lunch. A simple joy—seeing this thing through from the garden to the table. With each forkful I felt truth settle into my gut.
The truth is, I’ve been too concerned about what other people are doing. Measuring myself up against a plumb line that was not created for me. Lost in worries about slow book sales, and whatiswrongwithmes, and feeling the ache of inadequacy.
The truth is, I know my worth is not found in these things but the truth of this is easy to lose sight of when you run in the wake of the fast kids.
It takes courage to step out of that race, to take a different path and face the writer’s rhetoric with truth.
Dare to be different.
Be humble enough to make mistakes.
Be wild enough to risk the burn of love.
I’m tired of following rules that leave me empty and aching for something real. Truth goes by many names. I will try to choose wisely. Is the truth I carry able to carry me?
I think about these things as I water my garden, as I walk Bonnie around the yard, as I cut irises for the table.
Then I see it, blatant in the afternoon sun. Out of the base of the dead plum tree. A single shoot of life.