We planted a garden in May, not long before we trekked across the country with our beautiful and precocious 5-year-olds to get married, to laugh and play in the gratitude and wonderment of discovering a life together. It was lots of hard work in our back yard, literally spending hours pulling up deep-rooted weeds that would choke out any new growth. We mapped out our hopes for that garden, went to the local nursery to buy seeds and good soil, till-ed up that ground and helped it become something new.
And then we left for the Pacific Coast. The rocky cliffs and crashing waves embraced us all as we promised to face the future together, as we enjoyed the beauty of its beaches, ancient trees, sea animals frolicking around us we kayaked along its shores. It was a week packed full of joy, tears (joy and the occasional 5-year-old angst) and laughter. We came home to a sweet celebration put on by friends that shared in our joy, a garden that needed weeding, and a depth of contentment neither of us have known before.
Very soon after, the summer turned into a season that put every one of those promises to the test. It became a time of deep and wrenching loss that re-ordered the hopes that went into the soil with those tiny seeds in May. Nothing went as we had thought or wanted or dreamed it would.
Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day.
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
Harvest will fill the barn; for that
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.
And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we’re asleep.
When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, and finds it good. –Wendell Berry
In these very beginning days of August, we are exhausted. Worn out from the ten thousand hours of vigil and grief. It is the certainty of the promises we made on that rocky cliff that have held us up, accompanied by the unending prayers of those who love us. And today, walking out to the garden, making my way through the overgrowth of the garden to see what might have preserved, we find this bounty of harvest. It’s a good morning. We are held by all that has been left to Grace.