Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Unearthed Healing

Last summer, I spent several weeks in my beloved flower garden, praying, gardening, healing, worshiping, and simply spending some alone time with God.

With each weed I pulled, pain was also pulled. With each plant placed into the ground, more healing also took root. As the old gave away to new, I felt completely renewed in Him.

Other than adding a few plants this spring, I hadn't planned on doing much gardening. I don't have the physical energy to do as much as I did last year, and I knew that even if the garden was left as is, I was satisfied with the way it was.

I felt as though the gardening, along with the healing, had been completed.

At least, that's how it looked on the surface... until...

... earlier in April when our temporary guest, Pepper, tore the entire flowerbed up, and turning my heart upside down. I wrote about it on my personal blog , trying to put the experience into words:

I got up from resting this afternoon, looked out the window of the master bedroom and into the back yard... the flowerbed with the miniature weeping cherry tree... torn up, desecrated. I turned to Terry in tears and frustration, and told him I didn't think I could take much more. Of the dog. Of the family mess. Of the relentlessness. Of the heartbreak. Of anything.

At some point, I gathered up whatever courage I had (there wasn't much, I'm afraid), and headed outside. I grabbed my garden tools, and fought back the tears. I started on the outer edges of the garden, on my hands and knees, working my way in, unable to even look ahead to the damage done to the heart of the flowerbed...

... Then, I got to the base of the tree. Not only had it been completely dug up, but the special ornament that I bought in Ohio last summer was buried in dirt.

I could barely breathe.

I picked it up, frantically brushing away the dirt from between the hands that held the tiny baby, and as the dirt fell away and the tiny face surfaced, I completely lost it. I had to bite the back of my hand to not scream as I sobbed from the weight of the things going through my mind right at that moment. It wasn't pretty.

"Tested", April 6th 2010

This experience brought me to my knees; not because the flowerbed had been damaged, but because of the weight of the pain I had experienced in those moments. The flashbacks, the crushing emotions, the shock, the shame.

As much as I had worked through so much last summer while gardening, my grief, the issues with my father, the message God had given me about my life... there was grief deeper below the surface that I had never dealt with, grief that I couldn't speak of. I felt blindsided.

"No stone left unturned."

God had made it painfully clear that it needed to be dealt with.

Back in April, I felt discouraged at first when I saw the damage that Pepper had done. It was difficult to see my hard work undone, to see sacred ground turned upside down. It hurt to feel the raw emotions so suddenly, so strongly, knowing I would have to face it and work through it even though I wasn't sure how I would.

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll even find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

Within hours, I felt hope begin to grow from the rubble.

It didn't take long for me to see what God planned to do with this and to realize all over again what a blessing it would be.

As always, God isn't the cause of our pain and losses, but if we open our hands and hearts to Him, He replaces pain with something better, in ways only He can.

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

The garden being torn up ended up being a beautiful analogy for how the healing process often goes. We heal as much as we can, we but once in a while something happens and triggers an old wound that hadn't properly healed. The unhealed scars gets dug up like the earth of a desecrated garden, leaving us with a need for further healing... leading the way to new life, new growth.

Sometimes, it's healing we didn't know we needed.

Sometimes, it's the healing we never thought we'd find.

We face a choice. Do we completely submit to God, bow down on our knees and do the dirty work, or do we allow our life to remain torn up and turned upside down, unfinished, undone?

Once we begin, we realize that it's not as hard as we had thought -- we build upon the progress we've already made. We don't need to start from scratch, we use how far we've already come as a building block to bring us further in our journey. God fills the gap of difficulty, if we allow and trust Him to.

If Pepper hadn't torn up the garden in April, would I have missed this blessing, this beautiful sight, this breathtaking gift? Would I have missed what God wanted to give me from this opportunity for growth?

What are we missing when we are too caught up in raging against what's "unfair" to notice how much He loves us?

When I wrote earlier this year that I longed for God to be the Vinedresser in my life, I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I knew it would be worth it. My heart calls to Him for perpetual pruning.

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

Even though I didn't know how to even begin, once again, God led the way. I spent the month of April and May working through what I needed to, and during my time in Michigan, found healing and closure beyond what I had ever thought I'd find. It's amazing how something so broken can become so beautifully restored when we're willing to be raw clay in His hands.

I had every intention of waiting until Pepper leaves us in June before I began to restore my flowerbed, but God had other plans. Even though I was feeling physically miserable, I went to the garden center today, picked up 16 bags of soil, 12 bags of mulch, and nearly 50 perennials. The early bird gets the worm better prices and selection.

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

I raised the flowerbed up by adding more soil getting Josh to haul all the soil, I planted most of the perennials I had bought, which Jillian cheerfully brought to the flowerbed for me. I removed the plants that had died from the mishap in April and was pleased to see life already growing in the rest of the plants I had placed there last summer. Even the "twisty grass" which was supposed to be an annual plant, was sprouting new life.

In the end, the garden had weathered the storm stronger, fuller, and more beautiful than ever...

... and so had I.

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

God wasn't done yet.

He never misses an opportunity to blow my socks off...

In the years since I planted my miniature weeping cherry tree, I had only seen a few rare blossoms on the tree each spring, five or six at most. Last year, there was only one double blossom. I wondered if I'd ever see it really bloom in this lifetime, but in a way, it seemed symbolic of the way I grieved at the time -- reserved, sharing little.

Since then, SO much has taken place.

Today brought a visual reminder of all that has changed in my life.

Hundreds of delicate, pale pink double blossoms
covered the entire tree
in celebration of
of joy,
of LIFE.

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

What an incredible gift from God.

The timing was His... that the tree would be in full bloom this year is no mistake. God is rewarding the journey, and giving me the gift of seeing the fruits of my faith.

The tree of sorrow has given way to the tree of life -- life in full and glorious bloom.

Yet, in other ways, I also can't help but be reminded of some of my recent journaling...

Does a flower not bloom to its most magnificent glory just before it loses its life and withers and fades? Does that knowledge keep it from blooming, or does it make it all the more determined to bloom as beautifully as possible, taking our breath away with the fragrance of it's short lived life? Does it ever hesitate or fear?

Bloom purposefully.

"Beautiful Things" lyrics by Gungor.


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