The seeds in secret grew, extending their tender roots out into the dark earth beneath my wandering feet. Unaware, I went about my work, tending to the garden. A brave sprout first appeared by the fence, popping up to take a look around. She must have sent a signal to the others that it was safe, for soon there were dozens of little shoots rising up through the mulch.
“Welcome to the garden,” I said to them as I deadheaded the calendulas. They waved their two little leaves at me in unison. “How did you get here?” I asked, but then realized that the birds at the feeder had planted them, spilling seeds as they ate.
“Every one of you is a little miracle, ” I said, seeing in them the ancient mystery of God.
“Thank you, birds, for these baby sunflowers” I said.
“You’re welcome,” I heard them sing.
I raised my face to the heavens and said, “Thank you, God, for everything.”
“You’re welcome,” He replied, deep within my heart.
“Those boxwoods took twenty years to grow into a decent hedge,” my sister said and pointed to them lining one of her flower beds. We sat in her gliders, watching swallows swooping and diving in circles across the meadow, searching for nesting sites. My eyes moved beyond the meadow, out to the scrub oaks that stand guard at the property line. They too are slow growers, I thought. Taking their time to establish their roots so that they can weather the high winds and lashing rains that come in the winter.
I thought back to the decades of my growth, slowly learning to let go and to let God—learning to give my ego over to Him. “I’m not done, yet, God,” I said silently. “There is still so much to learn about love and grace.
“Slow growth is good growth,” God whispered in my ear.
My sister pointed to the flock of wild turkeys that had come into view in the meadow— a momma and her little chicks, proud poppa watching over them. I smiled, the babies were so cute, scratching about for food. My heart was full of joy, completely lost in the moment, watching them
“Your growth is right on time, Sparrow.”
I nodded, thankful for the reassurance that my slow and steady tortoise pace was pleasing to Him. “I’ll keep growing, with your help,” I whispered back.
A sudden gust picked up the windchimes, crashing them into the fence. They clanged with such force that I startled. All-day the chimes rang, the wind forcing itself through the garden. It was the kind of wind that left me feeling uneasy, reminding me how chaotic life is at the moment.
A crow flew to the feeder, adjusting his wings to maintain balance as the wind blew him about. That’s what I need to do—make adjustments for these turbulent times.
“That’s right,” God said as another blast sent the trees waving about. “Set your sails to where you want to go. Let the chaos propel you to new opportunities.”
“I like that idea,” I replied. The crow turned and looked my way. “Thank you for the inspiration,” I shouted, even though I knew he couldn’t hear me over the roar of the wind. Later, after the storm had passed, I wrote down all the ways in which I can make changes to better navigate these rough times—I set my sails.
In the heat of the midday sun, two finches took turns at the feeder, flying in from a nearby tree. They caroled to one another, their sweet voices filling the garden with joy. I pushed my spade deep into the earth, turning over the dark crumbly soil, preparing it for planting. I turned over another spadeful of earth and another, inadvertently freeing earthworms from their dark places. I put them back on the ground and watched them wriggle until they disappeared, swallowed up by the earth. Nearby, a bee buzzed loudly inside a foxglove blossom, while all the flowers nodded their heads on the breeze. A bead of sweat ran down my face; I wiped it off with my sleeve, taking a moment to rest and survey the plants growing all around me.
“I want my life to be a garden,” I whispered to God. “Plant in me, your grace and wisdom. Make me the soil that grows the fruits of your Spirit.”
God put His arm around me, “You are my garden, Sparrow,” He said.
I stopped my digging and stood with Him, searing the moment to memory, lest I ever forget that in me, God is growing.
The wind woke me this morning, bumping up against the house, insistent that someone pay attention to it. I grumbled, not yet ready to leave the land of my dreams, but I got up and opened the blinds to see what it was going on about. The trees moved under its force, bending and bowing. One tree, in particular, caught my attention. It rose from the earth, but then curved and grew sideways, almost parallel to the ground. Why did it grow that way? I wondered.
“See how the other trees crowded it out?” God said, and came and stood by me at the window. “It couldn’t grow in their shadows, so it did what it needed to do to grow towards the light.”
I thought about how I sometimes stay in the shadows of others, intimidated. “I could learn a lesson from that tree,” I confessed.
“Be the person I created you to be, ” God encouraged me. “Step out of the shadows, and grow towards my light. ”
A gust of wind shook the window. “You don’t have to be so dramatic about it!” I grinned.
“You’d be surprised,” God said, and grinned right back.
Be still, and know that I am God.
My daughter told me that she can feel the baby moving now, and invited me to experience the small little flutters.
As I placed my hands on her belly, God whispered to me, “I yearn to be known. My love projects itself into form so that it can be recognized and made real,” God said.
“And we are happy recipients of that love, grateful that you want to be known,” I thought.
My daughter looked up at me, her eyes brimming with the promise of new life growing within her. I rested my hands upon her soft belly for a moment more and said a prayer for the newest member of our family as he or she continues to grow because of God’s immense love for us, and His yearning to be known through that love.