So as it would appear, quite a few of my followers have noticed a conspicuous lack of posts over the past few months. It is true. I have committed one of the cardinal sins of blogging by not consistently blogging. This is considerably more horrifying since I am trying to experience growth within the blogging community. What is more, I missed the previous week of church (gasp!). I know. I also want to recoil in horror and disgust at my inconsiderate behavior. Before my judgment, however, I would like a moment to explain to my friends and loyal followers what happens to me when the flowers begin to bloom.
Every year in early spring I have a horrible reaction to the season. My eyes begin to water. Sometimes I find it hard to breathe. The mere thought of going outside forces me to bury my face in a pile of tissues. The condition I am talking about has nothing to do with allergies (although I do experience a slight of hay fever, which is luckily calmed by over-the-counter medication). My ailment is more of a heart issue. You see, every year during a three month span I am reminded of all my loved ones who were called home. During. This. Exact. Time. (You can read more about that here: http://www.fromwater2wine.com/discovering-porch-swing-learning-mourn-gracefully/ ).
While the rest of the world seems to be lazily rejoicing each year with visions of new beginnings, I seem to miss the metaphorical boat every year. It isn’t that I don’t care, or that I don’t appreciate the beauty and therapy in gardening. Most of the time, however, this time of year I am detached and preoccupied with the task of remembrance. In order to experience personal growth, though, I realize that I need to make room in my life for planting new seeds…especially during this particular time of year. While there are some flowers in my yard and I would like to take full credit for the gorgeous blooms, the truth is that it takes the dedication of others to see me through my failures. The people in my life keep helping me plant. When nothing grows (or everything withers) they are there to help me evaluate my methods, correct my actions, and take better care of my seedlings.
Lack of Growth
I believe that a large part of the struggle for me is actively differentiating between the planting and the tending…the mourning and the remembering. My spring season begins with the observation of Jesus’ final days on earth. I reflect on the sacrifice he made for me, most of the time by making some sort of personal sacrifices during lent (which in no way compares to His gift) and taking communion. Somehow when it comes to my lost loved ones, though, the strategy morphs. I have to be diligent in ensuring that I am remembering my family instead of grieving them all over again year after year. Truth be told, I would much rather reflect on their lives and legacies than focusing on the exact days that they were called home. How do I turn grief to growth?
A Traditional Trip
My daddy’s daddy is from a small town in northern Nebraska. Here he buried his family and sisters. It is also where he vowed to go back in remembrance every year. I have made the trip several times with him, my dad, and other family members. Now that he is gone, it only seems appropriate to consider the tradition. This was the first year that my younger sister and I made the trip without
any adult supervision. Now, I am admittedly shamelessly nostalgic. However, this is one thing I feel like I have done that is not solely for my personal benefit. It seems as though this is actively remembering rather than personally grieving, and there is a strange peace that this offers. It is not a short trip by any means. While in previous years we had completed the trip in a sixteen hour driving day, we did it differently this year. We opted to spend one night in a Nebraska hotel and complete the trip the next day, stopping to see our poppa at the tail end of the journey.
A Cross to Remember
On the northern end of the trip between the small towns of Brewster and Ainsworth, after spending close to eight hours on the road, my sister and I stopped to take a picture. The cross on the eastern side of the highway was the largest memorial we had ever seen. It has probably been there in all the years past, and as our dad was driving we failed to notice. It is the largest I have ever seen. There is no name or explanation, just a simple bible verse:
“Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.”
Within the context of the bible, Jesus is talking about his second coming. The verse can also serve as a daily reminder in our lives as well. We don’t have the answers. All we have is today to make sure that our actions count. So even though it is true that I seem a bit (alright, excessively) emotional when the flowers bloom, please don’t misunderstand. While it can be a touch overwelming, I am planting intentionally. I am actively planning my harvest, hoping that the growth will be sufficient when the time comes. Please feel free to share what you are proud to be growing!