Here are some images of resilience I've witnessed lately. On March 31, Carolyn and I were in the office in the midst of a gulley-washer. There was lightning, loud thunder clapped - a real display of nature's noise and strong-soaking Spring rain. A soaking rain serves a different purpose for plants than does a sprinkle. A soaker in Spring bodes well for possible blooms buried beneath the ground. Working on Call Multiplier, through the rain streaked office widows, across the parking lot on our new land, we saw this big black bird. A crow? An actual black bird? A raven? I know not. What I do know is that not even the hard bullets of rain could deter this bird from the delicious seeds or roots or worms it was eating. When we want something badly enough, we will endure a lot to get it. Life, in the midst of a deluge, finds a way. In the Winter of 2015 or the Spring of 2016, we knew we would be moving from the NC mountain community of Candler. We knew we couldn't stay put there, though we loved it, for five more years, to see Ivan through high school. It has always been our goal to get our kids through high school in the same community, so that their high school years would not be disrupted by a move related to our jobs as UMC pastors. There are many different approaches that United Methodist Clergy couples take...this has been our approach. Getting Olivia through High School at Enka High led her to UNCG. Getting Ivan through High School in Reidsville led him to UNCG as well. Go Spartans! Minerva is Marvelous! Lucky (blessed) when we moved from Candler, we ended up in Reidsville - close but not too close for their college experiences. While in Candler, we loved the spot where we lived. It is on a cul-de-sac, of sorts. A wonderful back yard and porch that is shielded from traffic by a deep gulch and thick woods. With the help of an adventurous young man, we even made a ropes course in the backyard! We were blessed by the perennial plantings left by previous parsonage families...Irises, Echinacea, Black-eyed Susan, Gardenia. A healthy Rosemary plant spiced spaghetti sauces and ubiquitous Mint flavored a favorite couscous and green pea recipe. I was clear that every time I looked out the front door of that house, I'd love to see a red bud in bloom in the Spring. I imagined it when we moved there in 2011. I finally planted a red bud tree in the Spring of 2016, even though a move was pending.
Parsonage life is odd, as is the life of itinerant preachers. You dig up what you did not plant. You transplant what you did not seed. You plant what you do not get to nurture with water, fertilizer, attention. You have to figure out what needs attention. You have the privilege to harvest what pops up and what you never knew existed--what you never expected. And you get to flavor both your own life, as well as the life of the parish with those discovered spices, left in the ground by someone else. Whatever you plant, you may never see come to fruition. You will move- that is part of our system, United Methodism. This fact may prevent some from planting anything at all. This is a thought I have had I have resisted this thought to a greater or lesser degree across appointments. Focusing on planting something, anything, has helped my selfish resistance. In an instant message this morning, I received this picture of the red bud I planted in 2016. Karen & Michael Kurtz, formally of Oak Ridge Church, live in the house Joe, Olivia, Ivan & I once occupied. Karen wrote, "It's hard to see clearly, but this is the lovely tree you planted in the front yard...Each year, it weathers the snow and mountain winters. This year, it blossomed!
My eyes filled with tears. Crazy, I guess, to cry-- at a thanksgiving picture of a frail tree blooming...but not really. On Easter, we will place blooms on the tree indicative of death.
As to the jonquils, which needed to be planted before the first frost
in the beautiful yard of our parsonage home in Reidsville...well.
I won't say anything about good intentions and the destination to which they take us.
Dear Reader, you know (I did binge "Bridgerton").
What I will say is that Life finds a way.
Life. Loving-Kindness. Long-Suffering - finds a way.
It finds a way even through what seems like death.
"So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, it is only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building." -1 Corinthians 3:7-9
So, Friends...we dig anyway.
We transplant anyway. We harvest anyway.
We plant anyway. I dig anyway.
I transplant anyway. I harvest anyway. I will plant these jonquils, anyway. Wish me luck (blessings)!
Grace and Peace,