new year, new…weeds?

weeds-for-saleAs part of our 2016 New Year rituals , my family decided to spend our final day of winter break this week in the garden.  We made this plan expecting to uproot and discard leftover dead growth from last year’s harvest, and to cover the newly bare earth with a blanket of leaves.   Sounds perfectly lovely and symbolic, right?  What we did not expect was encountering a large distribution of healthy, deeply rooted green weeds that we would have to spend fully two-thirds of our morning digging up  – in January!

How do you think we responded?

Did we hunch our shoulders and give up on the task entirely in disgust?  Proudly, no.

Did we smile, inhale deeply, and plunge into the fresh challenge with optimism, gusto, and a deep appreciation for the character we were about to build?  Not exactly, though we may choose to remember it that way.

Did we procrastinate a little to assess and discuss the situation at length before digging into the unavoidable with a mild air of resentment?  Maybe some of us did…a little.

Here, in the spirit of full disclosure, is a composite outline of my mature and deeply spiritual thoughts as we bravely took back our land from the encroachers:

Not fair!  This is not okay.  Weeding is a summer activity, not a winter one; don’t you know that?  It’s January and this is ridiculous and I shouldn’t have to do it.  No.

Rats.  My kids are watching.  If I quit this, I will never get them to finish a chore ever again.  Where’s the stupid rake?

Sleet?  Really?  NOW comes the cold, dry, weed-prohibiting weather?  Thanks a lot, Mother Nature.

Hey, that sleet is kind of pretty in our hair.

sandhill cranesWow, sandhill cranes At first I thought they were geese flying overhead, but that’s wrong because their calls sound like a cross between domestic turkeys and Julia Child.  They are really beautiful.  Happy travels, cranes!

How do I not have all of these weeds out yet?  I rake and I rake and I pick and I pick and still there are clumps, usually stupid tiny ones hiding under the rake marks, impervious to my might.  Get out, get out, get out already!

Aw, my girls are working so well together.  Look at them, filling that wheel barrow and encouraging each other and making jokes.  They’re going to do so great on their own someday.

-“All right, you guys, knock it off!”  Will they never develop the people skills to get through ONE DAY without arguing or having any meltdowns?  They’re never going to make it on their own.

Oregano is the devil.  It has overgrown the entire herb patch and I am going to break this rake getting it out of the ground.  Burn in hell, Oregano!

-[holds giant, basketball-sized Oregano root ball to the sky]  I did it!  I got it! I have emerged victorious from the trenches of war!  Away with you, vile foe, never to darken our dirt again.

That was fun!  Let’s all hug and go inside and chow down on some chili.  Maybe later, we can clean out the closets!

garden 01.16

 

all clean

So my family and I took on clean eating in its simplest form this year for Lent, and it has opened a floodgate of information, emotions, and paradigm shifts for every single one of us.  One of my friends likened it to Morpheus’s red pill, and he is exactly right.  I feel like the scales have fallen from my eyes – and the new world I am seeing is rugged, powerful, and teeming with vigorous new life.

take the red pill

I began phasing into clean eating shortly before my girls did, because I wanted to go through all the hard parts and feel my best in order to support them properly.  These were noble intentions, but they turned out to be wholly unnecessary.  I did not face the migraines, fatigue, or listlessness that previous fasts / diets brought on.  Turns out, my body didn’t want the old way as much as I thought it did, and with a newly sufficient supply of produce  and all its nutrients in my system, I began to feel better almost immediately.

What I did crave, in a surprisingly fervent way, was knowledge.  I binge-watched half a dozen documentaries and testimonials (my personal favorites being Hungry for Change, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolutionand nearly everything Joel Salatin ever said), and still look for new ones every day. I also read every clean eating webpage I could find, and organized my recipe box to make room for all of the exciting new foods we were taking into our kitchen.  I actually enjoyed eating a parsnip, people!  It’s a whole new day.

The most surprising revelation of all, however, has been the unparalleled freedom I am experiencing.  I’ll admit it: of the three pillars of Lent, the one I have always gravitated toward the most is fasting.  There is a part of me that is still, every day, trying to earn my way into God’s favor.  I am good at rending my garments and covering my head with ashes, yet it is always accompanied by constant side-eyes at God, hoping I am gaining brownie points through my sacrifices and sorrow.  So yeah, when I came upon clean eating in my search for nutrition and health solutions, I easily targeted Lent as a starting point – you know, so my suffering would be all holy and everything.

pharisee fasting 2

 Instead – get this! – I am having FUN.  I am trying new things, visiting new places, meeting new people…even seeing new sides of those already in my closest circles.  Most exciting of all: There are no Nos for me anymore.  There is no list of food I can’t eat!  Sure, I have an ever-evolving list of foods I don’t want to eat, but it’s not because of any mandate or legalism; it is my own decision based on what I have learned about food and what goes into it (if you, as I, am still in the dark about this truth, please watch Food, Inc. as soon as humanly possible).  I can have whatever I want; I choose to eat that which is good, healthful, and free of toxins and bad intent.

And you know what?  I don’t even miss the old stuff.  There is nothing that Big Food or any other world system can offer me – no taste, treat, buzz, or sense of satisfaction – that is not only available, but actually better and more fulfilling when I get it naturally, as close to God’s original form as possible.  Pizza, macaroni and cheese, hamburgers and french fries…we still can and do eat all of the things we love, and we enjoy them with far more appreciation now.

Doesn’t that sound exactly like God’s original design, all the way back to the garden?  Now that I’ve seen this, I can’t believe I was blind to it for so long.  It’s like a hidden picture or word puzzles.  I can never NOT see it again.

The point of fasting is not merely to abstain.  This is a lesson I have been missing for nearly forty years.  The point of fasting – at Lent or anytime – is to make room for God to do something new in my heart and/or life.  After all of that striving and fear, I think I finally am getting it right for the first time.

I am SO glad that I finally took the red pill…more soon!

"Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything.  -1 Corinthians 6:12

“Everything is permissible for me”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”–but I will not be mastered by anything. -1 Corinthians 6:12

 

plants

2015 is now three weeks old, and the best gift I’ve received so far is plants.

Not real plants, mind you, as in flower boxes or a house cactus, but just the word itself.

https://i2.wp.com/img.loveitsomuch.com/uploads/201406/04/20/2014%20photography%20-%20garden%20sign%20wood%20%20vintage%20licence%20plate%20farmhouse%20barn%20garden%20plants%20country%20life-f55793.jpg

My family did an exercise this holiday wherein we each chose a word – any word that was on our hearts – and threw it in a hat.  Then we drew them out randomly, and whichever one each drew would be her word of meditation for 2015.

(Before I go accidentally taking credit for this lovely idea, please know it did not originate with me; my aunt suggested it based on a testimony she read recently, and there’s even a whole website dedicated to the concept here.)

So we drew our words and the most beautiful thoughts began to emerge: purposeful, patience, change, treasure…  And then I drew plantsIt was not at all what I expected, but the more I think about it, the more I love it.  You can do so many things with plants!

My daughter submitted it thinking of biological plants, with the implication that the person who received it would use the year to learn more about them scientifically.  To kick that off, we have some philodendron leaves soaking in our kitchen window sill right now.  They are cuttings from a plant of my aunt’s (the same one who initiated the exercise, in fact, so I love the symbolism of that); in a short time, they will sprout roots, and we will plant them into pots to begin new lives of their own.

phil leaves

But there’s so much more!

I love that, as a noun, the word is plural, implying a plentiful yield from that which was sown.

I love that, besides flora, it also can refer to places (again, plural!) where large quantities of manufacturing work happens – centers of productivity and industry.

Best of all, I love plants as a verb: to place or fix something in a specified location, usually with the intent that it will grow.  Whether I’m planting the seeds of our Three Sisters garden or planting a kiss on my girls’ cheeks or planting my stake in the ground, I am definitely praying for exponential growth this year.

And I pray the same for you.

    “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb