Today is one of those cold May days that happen in the mountains. It’s the prettiest time of year here; at least, in close competition with October. The sun is vibrant, the land is lush with green and yellow flowers. There’s water running somewhere, you can hear it. Spring in the mountains is a gift.
But also this morning it’s cold. We lit a fire in the stove first thing. We kept our two dozen little chicks inside even though they’re starting to smell like chickens. I watered the garden right when I got up, and it made my fingers hurt.
I’m still fighting the good fight, trying to love this ordinary life, even when the world is so full of shiny things and distractions. I’m trying to help the kids learn things, like how to write a cursive “q” and how to solve a problem without hitting each other. I’m trying to make cosmos out of the chaos of daily chores and daily life.
And I’m trying to tend my little plot of land…as if that somehow could really be sacred work.
I’ve done more clearing than real gardening this year. I worked all weekend — I swear, I did — but the places I worked look like ordinary land with a crew cut, or bare dirt with a little mulch on top. There are some little tiny starts poking through, or just transplanted this weekend, but nothing is impressive.
I tend to go back and forth between trying to do big, extravagant things that then I just quit, and doing small, manageable things, which I don’t quit but still don’t make the dramatic changes I crave. It seems hopeless, except I just read passed down on the social media of a wise friend, “the years will tell what the days never could.”
Maybe it’s not so bad, after all.
When we had this crazy idea to basically throw away our city lives, and try to build a different way on God’s green earth, I took a lot of direction from one particular good friend. He was a church friend, quite a bit older than me, and experienced in the ways of going against the grain. He liked to hear what Nick and I dreamed of for our land. He liked to talk about what might be possible, what obstacles might come up. He asked more questions than he answered.
A year later, as a gift, he made our littlest girl a baby-sized quilt. It was a picture, hand sewn with images he had gotten from our conversations: A little stream. A swing set. A table in a house. The tall green trees of fir forest and lower, bushier apple trees. It was completely beautiful. He just was in a different place, where he could see the whole picture in a way I couldn’t — yet.
I’m trying, these days, to trust my imagination. I’m trying to trust that I can envision something good, and then work into that, one little step at a time. It’s not hopeless, even if the places I worked this weekend just look like the forest with a crew cut, or bare dirt with a little bit of mulch. It just takes time, to gather all the threads together, and sort them out.
It takes all the moments, to make a picture out of the chaos of a life.
Sometimes we talk sheepishly about our Peter Pan life, how Nick and I have refused steadfastly to grow up and have real jobs and retirement accounts. We’ve skipped some steps. But to me there is nothing more grown up — nothing in the world that requires more maturity — than having the patience to plant a seed and water it.
Now it’s mid morning and the sun is getting high. Milo is doing his school work outside, sitting in a pile of straw. I’m still pretty close to the fire, but I’m not adding wood to it anymore. In two hours we’ll all strip off our long sleeved shirts and maybe we’ll have a picnic. That is, unless there’s hail.
May in the mountains is a promise. It’s a promise about resurrection, how the wild life grows freely, even against cold mornings and bare rock. But it’s also a challenge. How big is your faith? How tremendous is your courage? It would be so much easier, to settle for someone else’s version of what’s right. It would be so much easier, to live with more answers and fewer questions.
But this way, of walking out your invisible line of faith…is also to have your heart awake. And there’s beauty that way, too.
Wherever you are today, I wish you a little touch of the beautiful wild — maybe even the beautiful wild in yourself. And I wish you the courage to persevere, even on days that your efforts don’t look like much. It might add up to more than you think, if you could see.
Love from the yurt,