sow beauty, leave beauty

{I had many more photos and lniks back through the past many years, but they didn’t all work and it’s oh so late. So here is a post which took too long but hopefully holds something of value.}

I was sweaty, dirt-caked, and aching. For the passerby, the front yard still looked neglected: overgrown, dandelion’d, and roughly almost-cultivated. For me, it was like a new Eden. Where there had been weeds there were seeds, and where there had been boulders, there were young roots. The garbage had been hauled away, the smell of dirt fresh and breathing, the hope of a season beyond this season…sown

I had chosen perennials: medicinal plants, fruit trees and bushes, and flowers which would add both beauty and wellness. We had worked hard and the dirt and green space was starting to feel like a home and a promise.


And then it hit me:
I am an unfortunate optimist.

I wrote the first part of this post (days ago!) with certain intent, and then realized that it described every.single.home I had paused in during the past ten years. I was struck and silenced from this screen. What kind of fool was I, anyways? What was the point in thinking I was starting something new and fresh and lovely? Thinking I was planting towards a future? I wrote that paragraph for the now, for this week, for just a few days ago, but it was the same picture of every rotation and restart and hope of my life!

And it stung.

It stung because, looking back on my path, were potholes of roots and seeds and plows, with pilgrim footsteps always leading away. I thought about how we were so settled in this town and then dove into this, and how {ten steps and homes and paths later} we journeyed into this. Then, how that was so shortly stirred by
I thought of all those days; sun-streaked and hopeful; planting for the new real home, looking to the future, waiting on a harvest. I thought of all those nights; moon-moist and doubtful; uprooting and stumbling into another unknown. I thought of all the “this is it!” moments and the “now what…” prayers.

And then I remembered how, as a young wildling I tucked tamaracks and spruces into sunny open places in her forest. Planting for my own future and daughters but knowing it would be decades before they would provide shelter. And even now, feeling the wind.
And then I remembered how, during that season in that country, I took a buffalo and plow to the rice patty…and cultivated. Working. Hoping. Planting. Never to know the harvest.
And then I remembered exchanging vows and sharing a feast and how I carefully tucked tiny muslin bags of seeds beside each setting. Sharing seeds and inviting others to plant with us, and to remember us through the seasons and in these every things. {And at every home we have settled within, some have fallen from my hands as a remembrance of heritage and vows and holiness. And I still have one tucked away for when I am old and withered and cannot wander far and can finally watch them bloom myself.}


We are not called to resent or to withhold or to stake our own claim to the harvest.
We are called to sow beauty,
We do not always choose the what or why or where.
We might despise the how. So often. So true.
But we bring beauty.
We must.
If we do not bring it, we lay waiting, resenting, wondering why no one brings it for us.
If we do not plant it, we sit restless, questioning, in need of the signs of life.
If we do not leave it, we stand cruelly, claiming and clambering and just wishing someone had left it for us in the beginning.

I am slowly witnessing that faith is found in the unseen, and the unseen first asks for faith.
And so we hope. And so we breathe.


And so that morning, as I was sweat-stained and dirt-caked and my warrior sons looked on, I explained, “Sow beauty. Hope for good things. Leave beauty as your path behind and give beauty as their path before. Do not take. Do not begrudge the harvest. Love the unseen, for it is faith. Embrace the mystery, for it is Christ.”

And they looked at me with open mouths and wide eyes…and didn’t seem to hear a word I said, this time. But their hands placed seeds into dirt and their eyes watched hands upon the vine and they Heard something in their heart, I trust.


For we are always planting.
Beauty to bring, beauty to share, beauty to leave.
Grass withering and flower fading.
A generous promise.



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