Today I got a wild hair and decided to be productive. That hasn’t happened very frequently over these past five months when I have felt like grief, and trying to do life while grieving (working full time and taking care of four active children), has taken every ounce of energy and motivation I can attempt to muster. But today, I got tired of the chaos and dissaray of my surroundings...unswept floors, neglected piles of laundry, and the overgrown and untamed evergreens lining our yard and sidewalk.
I even put out my fall wreath and lit a seasonal candle. This has always been one of my favorite times of year. Thanksgiving will be here in 19 days, and the day prior, we will celebrate 6 months since our little girl’s passing.
However, lately, I haven’t been excited about the seasons changing, especially with the holidays looming. If we enter into fall, then that means we must move into winter. During winter everything is dormant, dark, and dead. Isn’t that where my life has been for nearly half a year now? I so desperately want to be in the season of new life and resurrection. I want to be in the season of spring, where anticipation and expectation is met with joy and a reward for the long, dark waiting.
But right now, I am in the waiting where the time of transition and change will one day lead to something “better than I could have ever imagined.”
Today’s adventure began all because of the dead vincas in the wall planters that were brown, gnarly, and a sore sight for my weary eyes. Every time I looked out of the front window, searching for beauty, there they were, begging to be tended. During Easter Break, about six weeks before our baby’s determined arrival, we pruned the plants, planted new flowers, and refreshed the courtyard flower bed, which is in front of an outdoor bench and fountain. My husband commented, “You will need a peaceful place to sit outside after the baby is born,” clearly knowing my daily visits to the chapel would be put to a hault with the demands of a nursing infant and sleep deprivation. However, neither of us could have known this space would become my refuge after “the baby was born,” and I would sit on that bench every single day, cry relentlessly, and attempt to soak up the healing warmth of the sun. Most days, if I could pull myself out of bed, I would spend hours in that space...confused, tormented, disbelieving, and longingly looking heavenward.
However, once the kids were back in school, and I was back at work, the flowers no longer received my tending. The beds became overgrown with weeds. The previously pruned evergreens grew with a mind of their own. And all of the flowers followed the pattern of my life and surroundings and died. And I was content with that...until today.
Perhaps today I got tired of making excuses. Today I grew weary with grief running my days. Today, I wanted to look towards 19 days from now and call to mind that I do still have things to be thankful for in life. Even if my arms are empty, my hands are full. My house is overflowing. Today, I wanted to look to the future.
So I pruned. I labored. It hurt. I felt the sun hit my skin and sweat slowly seep from my pores. I removed the dead and overgrown nonsense. I uprooted the old, rotten, and unwanted. I looked for beauty. And I carved out space to allow for growth. When I was finished, I was pleased with my wild hair and thankful it decided to make an appearance today.
And I thought, isn’t this the work of my soul? I find I get stuck in deep seasons of grief, in which I cannot be pulled out. I am simply content with doing nothing. I can’t see past the ugly lies of my life, which tell me there is no hope for a future, so what’s the point in trying? Eventually, these “weeds” slowly overtake me, entrap me, and suffocate me. In the end, all I see is death and dismay. I can’t move. I can’t grow. I can’t expand. I fail to tend to myself, nourish myself, and I become dry, parched, and barren. I whither into nothingness. I don’t want to do the hard work of pruning. But how will I ever get to spring, to the hope of joy and resurrection, without it? How can I ever receive the gift of new life, if I don’t first remove what is no longer needed and give growth a chance? And how will it come if I don’t tend to it? So I think I will try to be more attentive to the pruning of my soul, as I work through the overgrowth of my grief. After all, to quote author Christine Caine, “God prunes us when he is about to take us into a new season of growth and expansion.”
”Every branch that bears fruit, he prunes that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:2)