There have been a lot of voices in my head this year. Don’t worry, not the kind that require meds and fancy white coats, just the kind that require prayer and yoga. Some of them are spoken by my smallest self, others are the voices of people speaking into my life who hadn’t earned the right.
As gardening season approached this year, I looked out the back window with dread instead of joy because I knew the voices would assail me in the quiet space between me and the earth. So, I put off any garden time, thinking that waiting until June, when gardeners around here can safely put things in the ground without fear of a surprise frost or snow, would buy me time to quiet those voices.
In early June, when I walked past the leaf-filled branches of our Linden tree to peek at the garden, my heart went into my shoes. There was no sign of my precious garden, just weeds and established grass as tall as my children. I couldn’t even see where the beds were supposed to be.
I went back inside and decided to leave the garden to its own crazy this year.
More time passed and I remembered that my friend Emma said that weed pulling dispels grief. I committed to one hour of weeding a day and looking down as I worked instead of up to see the insurmountable work ahead. I spent hours and hours on my knees pulling grass by hand (which will make you pretty much lose function in your hands, I learned). I spent a good amount of time with the weed whacker after Emma, my new gardening guru, suggested that even if the weeds were just shorter, it might seem less daunting. And I have a deep affection for weed whacking.
When I finally found the soil underneath the first bed, making it all the way to the back fence with bleeding hands inside my gardening gloves, I stood and had a victory moment. It was a small victory (there were 3 full beds to go and weeds in the smaller side beds as well), but it felt like something momentous to me. I stopped to breathe in the silence.
The next day I decided to battle bed number two, even though my fingers were swollen and wrapped in Transformer band aids. And this is when the real victory came. My babes got in the cleared bed space behind me and started finding lady bugs and other creatures and building homes for them. They went and got Legos to build fortresses and hideouts for their little living treasures. And instead of focusing on blocking out the old voices, I sat in the dirt and listened to the precious voices of my children. Their innocence buoyed me. Their affection for each other filled the dark corners of my heart. Their care for creatures that “growm ups” overlook encouraged me. And their happy little voices filled my ears with new voices. I remembered the Socrates quote I discovered via the joys of Pintrest: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
As I kept going through the mean grass in the bed, for the first time in my life praying for morning glory to be in my path, my mind let go and with my babes voices fading into the background I started singing hymns, praying for my Emma’s baby boy, praying for my miserably pregnant friend Carli who needed to get that baby out, thanking God for my friend Anna who he gave me as a special present this year, reflecting on bits of poetry and fiction that came to mind, writing grad school entrance essays with newfound vision for what my focus might be.
Two beds cleared, one bed planted with berries and two more to clear. I haven’t heard the voices since I reached the fence. And holding brand new Georgia Jae reminded me of God's miracles that happen outside garden beds. Amen.