Friday, August 22, 2014

How does your garden grow?

I sat in the living room of my grandmother's home, in the worn chair, with the soft yellow light of a lamp shining on us.  It was my time alone with my grandma.  In those minutes ticking by so quickly, while boys and husband and all other relatives were occupied, I sat with her and poured myself out.  I told her of the gnawing sadness.  I tried to put words around it, the gaping hole in my spirit where emptiness stared up at me every day, mocking me, asking me to prove my worth, laughing at me because I stared back with no answer, just a haunting longing for more settled in my gut.  I told her these things.  And I wept in her living room with the soft glow of yellow lamp light surrounding us.  My grandmother says to me--in the way that only wise people who have had many years to consider such responses can--"Your most important job is to be a mother right now.  There will come a time when you will do more."  She told me not to despair, to trust that the fulfillment of longings placed by God always makes its way around to us, to know that the work of my hands in this moment is so important.  It is work that I alone can do.

Since then I have pondered her words.  And I have held them in my heart with the picture a friend shared on social media of me and my son.  I was volunteering at a summer camp that our church was hosting for children on the West side of town.  I brought my own children with me.  They participated as campers while I helped out.  We began each morning working in the community garden, a hands-on learning opportunity that teaches what makes for good growth and harvest.  And on this particular morning my son and I were digging so that a new garden bed could be cultivated.

I'll be honest and say I hate the picture.  My hair is ugly, my legs are pale, my skin looks jiggly.  But I also know this picture is more than just the image of the moment when I look unkempt.  It is a holy moment--a time shared with my son doing something good together, something that makes a contribution to a community larger than ourselves.  I have carried the image in my heart all summer.  As I meditate on the metaphor I realize, "Where else will my son learn what it means to give himself to goodness so that his contribution can bring forth goodness for others?"

This same boy was there sitting at my kitchen table as my husband and I discussed where God could be leading me.  He looks at me with big eyes and says, "Mom, you already have a job!  Taking care of us three crazy boys!"  His eyes get watery after he says it.  I take him in my arms and tell him that being his mother is my most important job in the whole world.  I tell him that this will always be first for me as long as he and his brothers need it.  And they are still going to need it for a while.  I'm not going anywhere.  But here.  Home.  With my garden full of sons.