As the surprising burst of sunshine burns through the clouds and makes the green grass even greener, turning the abundant drops of rain left behind to glistening points of light, the yearning for spring is almost overwhelming.
The Oregon winter has been much more bearable -- even enjoyable -- than I could have anticipated. Waking almost every morning to a fog-shrouded world, the peripheral fields of green rye cloaked in a thick, damp blanket of earth-cloud, even the faded old barn just across the driveway a thing of misty mystery. And the birds! From every direction, out of the fog, the sounds of abundant life, reader! The honks of late-flying geese, twitterings of small sparrows, distant echoing quacks from the duck pond down the driveway, great hoarse cries of herons from the hidden beaver pond, sweet, lilting okalalee of the nearby red-winged blackbirds. Here, in the green valley, in the midst of winter, I have been daily surprised by the life that thrives. Winter here seems no winter at all, but a haven against the harsh cold that touches the rest of the country. Here, the grass is green, the soil moist and rich, the wind, though chilly, is full of the sounds of living things, enough so to cause a sudden solemn stillness in my own heart almost every time I experience it.
And yet, reader, for all this surprising and daily joy, the sun breaking through the rain clouds makes me remember that there is yet more. Spring! I haven't seen a spring yet on our Oregon farm. I haven't seen the robins built their nests in our sweet gum trees, haven't watched the apple and plum trees blossom pink and fill with bees, haven't seen the calla lilies bloom behind the garage or planted seed potatoes with my own hands. But I will! And the desire for these beautiful actions and signs of life make my heart ache -- when? soon?
Even Jude asks almost every day if it's time to plant seeds.
Oh, Jude. And here is where I realize that, perhaps, I'm yearning for the wrong things. Because, reader, while I'm standing at the window, trying to find the right words to tell you how much I'm falling in love with this beautiful place, Jude is asking me to play pretend with him, to bake pretend bread with him, to build a pretend fire with him, to do a puzzle and name the different animals with him, sing a song or read a book with him. With him. I'm longing for a bigger life, a bigger idea, something intangible and important. And Jude is just asking for me. He wants me to do life with him, laugh with him, pretend to mix in the flour and cinnamon and sugar with him.
I'm looking beyond, outside, to the green horizon and the future, when the garden in my own home is growing rapidly and beautifully and asking for me to cultivate it, now. It is always spring in my home. There are always seeds to sow and nurture, weeds to wrestle out, flowers and fruit to smile upon.
The outside work is good, too; very good, even. The world is in desperate need of working and loving, of planting and sowing, of all the different gifts God has given us to use -- teaching, wisdom, leading, art, words, giving, serving -- to a big or small part of the world. And now, God has given me a very small part of the world to love and serve and give to. My longing for a bigger bit is born of foolishness, the idea that I have anything to offer, but without this small garden and what I will learn here, how can I hope to speak wisdom? I am not yet who I will be, and if I am unwilling to be here, to give myself here, to this small part of the world, how can I possibly think I will be able to ever give myself to a bigger part of it, if that is ever what I am asked to do?
Jude is valuable and wonderful, because God made him. He is a deep, desperate sinner, because he is a son of Adam, a son of Eve, a son of Andrew, a son of Millie. And he, and our other children, are the work given to me now, in this season. Regardless of what other gifts I might (or might not) possess, or how more important they might seem to my selfish heart, or to the world, this where I am, for many many years. And it is good. This garden of our home is for Jude to grow, and for me to grow. We are both planted and rooted here in this soil. We tend and love and teach and grow one another, here in our small part of the world.
Here, in this garden. How beautiful is the Spring!