The Quiet Promise Of This New Year

The Quiet Promise Of This New Year January 19, 2019
Fresh snow at Maplehurst, our Pennsylvania farmhouse.

I’ve now sat for five minutes watching a cursor blink its black bar on an empty, stark white page.

If I shift my eyes just a bit to the right, I see another blank page: one more inch of snow fell around this old farmhouse last night. Looking through the tiny window of my third-floor office, I can’t see the driveway. I can’t make out the paths. Other than the footprints my children left when they headed to school, and the footprints my husband left when he checked on the chickens in their little green house, all is as bare and blank as a story that has yet to begin.

January is like that.

It is the intake of breath before the storyteller speaks.

It is a garden tucked up in snow like a child asleep.

It is being not quite sure if what you feel is heartache or hope.


Welcome, friends, to this new page, this bare and empty ground I’ve called “Cultivating Glory.” The name of this twice-weekly column expresses the seed of hope I feel when I ask one, particular question:

Is it possible to live in such a way that, as it says in the Psalms, “his glory may dwell in our land”?

What I want, what I suspect many of us want, is assurance that the natural rhythms of the soil and of green, growing things are not so different from the rhythms of the spiritual life.

The gardener knows she does not control the process. Gardening is no mechanical operation with guaranteed results. Living relationships, like our relationship to the land and our relationship to God, can never be like vending machines. But the gardener does understand that without her participation, the vegetable garden will yield no harvest of tomatoes, and the flower garden, while it might hobble on for a year or two, if it is not tended will eventually give way to weeds.

That same Psalm goes on to say, “The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest” (Psalm 85:12).

I long for a harvest of glory. I want, whether I am walking with a neighbor in my garden, whether I am sitting with my children at the dinner table, or whether I am opening up a prayer book or Bible or sweeping the cobwebs from the front porch, to stop and say, with sudden confidence, surely God is in this place.


This space is dedicated to the cultivating life. Here, I will reflect on the quiet rhythms and ordinary practices of a life dedicated to tending–tending the soil, tending the soul.

Here I will cling to hope.

Here I will anticipate a harvest that is entirely a gift of grace.

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