My yard has been my teacher since spring sprung earlier this year. I moved into my first home with a yard. I had my first lawn to cut, trim and the like. I now also have hedges to trim. I planted my first vegetable garden. I planted my first flower garden. Keeping up a lawn is a lot of work. It is at times more work than I want and yet it is impossible to ignore. Every week the grass grows, the weeds sneak in, the hedges loose their shape and the flowers and vegetables need tending. If I miss a week, chaos ensues.
This summer has been unusually rainy here in Colorado. Everything seems to be growing as if it were on speed. I have not quite kept up as I would have liked and things quickly got out of hand. I would drive home and say aloud! “UGH, my house is an eyesore!!!!” and walk in with a bit of shame that I have not been able to order my lawn.
Yes, my lawn has been disorderly, but it has not been for a lack of time, but more a lack of ability, a lack of tools, a lack of stamina, a lack of will and a preference to be with people over a disorderly yard.
My soul, like my lawn needs continual attention. As it grows and experiences life, it too needs to be brought to order. In recent days my soul has matched my lawn. It has felt disorderly. It has felt as if it were overgrown with weeds. It has felt as if it was in need of catching up with the hurried pace of growth, life experience and challenge I’ve known these last months. Just last week my soul was laid down. It had been over run and I was in need of help. Yesterday, I listened to my friend Jared speak at a worship service I had visited. His words were like yard work for my soul; they trimmed, gave definition, spoke life, and brought order. I left relieved and thankful.
He spoke of how the soul is the self that is standing before God. He spoke of the importance of the soul and how when our soul is not at rest we lack courage. He shared stories of those whose lives have been disrupted, where loss felt more like a companion than something one could avoid. He went on to share the needs of the soul: Rest, Repentance, Rescue and Renewal. (Re words are my favorite kind of words) As he shared stories and words from elders who have gone before, my soul was gaining language to put to what it has been feeling.
Like cutting the overgrown branches of my hedges, my soul was met with order. The sadness that had made movement so seemingly impossible the week prior, was now seen through the lens of my soul needing rest. For like my friend shared, at times our bodies need to reflect what the soul feels. I needed to repent and order needed to be brought to the chaos within my soul. My soul needed alignment with God. And that comes through turning and walking in a new way. I felt stuck in my life circumstance and needed a new perspective. My friend quoted Jaque Philippe, “true freedom is the ability to accept that which would not have been chosen,” and I felt a shift. I turned from fight to acceptance. I needed rescue internally from my despair and found victory not in a change in circumstance, but in a change of approach toward my circumstances. I continue to need renewal. My soul needs renewal daily, and renewal comes not from perfect circumstances, relationships and opportunities, but renewal comes with the truth that, like Frederick Buechner says, “Life itself is grace.”
My friend Jared shared, “The soul needs a God to sing to,” and my soul has been desperately trying to align with my Father, unable to do so on its own. Like my lawn, I haven’t had the tools, the stamina, the ability and the will to find alignment. I have needed friends. I have needed the wisdom of others. I have needed tools for which I didn’t know to look. I have needed to be still and allow my body, soul and mind to catch up with one another.
Hearing the words of my friend yesterday were like yard work for my soul.
I left feeling ordered and I had energy to be, to play, to listen and to reflect. I did just that.
I also, borrowed a hedge trimmer and went to town on my lawn. I went to bed, weeds pulled, hedges trimmed, lawn cut, flowers dead headed, leaves raked and order once again reigned.
I went to bed with peace in my chest and joy as my covering.
And, my soul and my yard continued to reflect the other.