the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
Digging in the dirt is therapy for me.
Perhaps it became habitual under the strict demands of my mother when I was a girl. Pulling weeds and gardening were an unenviable part of my regular chores. Oh, how angry I was at being expected to unearth every blade of grass from that white crushed stone driveway with a simple, two-pronged weed pulling tool. Other kids were out having fun while I was expected to get back in the family vegetable bed weeding or harvesting. I swore I would never have a garden when I became an adult, just so I wouldn't have to spend another minute on my knees doing that thankless work.
Of course, adulthood often finds us in a different place than we imagine when we're young. My adult relationship to the garden proved that to be true. While I dreaded thoughts of the work in my youth, I craved the beautiful flowers and rich produce that only come from tending ones own garden. Every year possible in my adulthood, I have planned and planted a lovely assortment of flowers to cheer throughout the warm weather months. The assortment of shapes and colors feed my soul. I couldn't imagine a year without flowers -- Until last year.
The amount of work required to remove all of the weeds, plant all of the beds, water, tend and maintain them was more than I could handle after just seeing a child through a hospitalization. I barely had time to deal with all of the enormous stress involved with a child who was once fully ambulatory, but who now had to attend a month of school in a wheelchair with additional precautions. We had a homecare doctor visiting us once a week to maintain our son's PICC line who was also trying to coax him into learning to self-infuse. With life centered around our son's health, there wasn't time for much else. The flower beds sat fallow.
Sadly, this year wasn't much different. This time it was our youngest daughter's turn to have a hospitalization and medical struggles. If the sleeplessness of being up with her round the clock didn't preclude planting flowers this spring, the cost of her medical bills certainly did. As a passenger comforting my child through the multiple drives to and from the hospital, I gazed longingly out the car window at homes coming alive with floral color thinking to myself, I miss the flowers.
Times like these nag at our hearts as parents of children with special needs. We can almost adapt to the fact that others are going on dates, and shopping trips, and vacations that we can never take. But then those differences are suddenly punctuated by something that might seem quite ordinary to others -- like flowers, and isolation wounds the heart. In my saddest, loneliest hours, I find I miss so much.
Still, the Creator is calling me to tend much more than a garden that blooms today and fades tomorrow. I am beckoned to that selfless love of nurturing these three remarkable human beings. God has blessed me richly with the great honor of parenting these kids. Each has a unique, vivacious personality that is all their own, which needs to be fertilized, encouraged and weeded around. And I thank the Lord that I have a close, warm bond with each of them. How many private smiles I get as I watch them flourish and grow season after season.
I may be lonely in the darkest hours of tending my precious garden of children, but at least that soil is filled with the closeness of common experience, love and a heavenward focus. Hope blooms here. There are so many who would give anything to be able to say that. Even flowers.
PRAY: Lord, create in me a heart that is thankful for what I have rather than dissatisfied by what I do not have. Every perfect gift is from You. Make me worthy of each blessing you see fit to pour out on me.