The boys and I spent much of the weekend getting our hands dirty, digging in the dirt.
And when I poured vegetable soil into the already-existent earth, the smell of wet dirt pinched my nostrils. Does dirt always smelled this way? Have I just not noticed it, at least not in awhile? But as the three of us mixed the two elements together, I wondered if the combination of old and new, of same and not same, would actually work in the end. Will the seeds sprout and flower and eventually produce the food we so desired in a couple of months?
I didn’t know. I wouldn’t know. I couldn’t know.
That knowing – of not actually knowing the answer, not now, not ever – feels so true to the current season.
Later, I asked my best friend from high school (the one I call my personal gardening expert) whether the seeds would sprout, but she too didn’t know. Sometimes the seeds are planted too deep. Sometimes they’re planted too shallow. Sometimes there isn’t enough sun. Sometimes there’s too much water.
Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes … the elements are simply beyond our control.
Perhaps like you, the last six weeks have sometimes felt impossible. Even if I know how to be a teacher, I know I am not the best teacher for my boys. Even if I want to write and publish articles, the words that were once there now feel like they’re lost inside of me, altogether out of reach.
I listen to a podcast episode of The Daily or read an article from The Washington Post, and I hear that this is the new normal (even if people are starting to experience quarantine fatigue). I remind myself that I need to prepare for a marathon instead of a sprint. I shake my head in disbelief: it’s too much to take in when no one actually knows how long it’ll be until a vaccine is developed or how long it’ll take for our children to return to school so the economy can really, actually recover.
But then, not because I want to end on a note of grace or positivity, but because this is the real truth, tiny moments of outstanding beauty rise up to greet me. I feel my breath catch inside my throat. I am found captured by the gift of the present.
I think of Kaitlin Curtice’s words in Glory Happening:
“We are shaped by our daily habits, by the way we pray in the light and in the dark, by the way we speak and the way we trust.”
I don’t know if the seeds the boys and I thumb into the earth will actually produce fruit …but we get our fingers dirty anyway, because this digging-in and turning-over and being still matters in the moment.
This is glory happening.
I don’t know if I’ll how long I’ll continue to homeschool my children …but I marvel in glory when and as I watch them get it, when the son who struggles with his phonics and sounds because of a learning disability not only reads but remembers an entire word he didn’t know a week before.
This too is glory happening.
And I don’t know if I’ll ever get another freelance article picked up or actually figure out what my next book is supposed to be about, but for now, as I sit in my office, I trust that this moment of listening to the sounds of silence – and discovering a Patheos blog post in between those spaces – is enough.
For this too, still, is glory happening.
I do the only thing we can do, the thing I keep writing and telling myself (and others), over and over again: I put one foot in front of another and I keep moving forward. After all, as Curtice said, all of us are shaped by our daily habits, including by the ways we speak and the ways we trust.
Maybe we really have no other choice but to keep our eyes open for glory happening.
So, how are you holding up? And where did you see glory happening this week?
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