just breathe

Whenever I need to step away from the fray, which is every day, the garden always inspires me. To inspire is to inhale, breathe in, and to fill one or others with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. By inspiration, I’ve learned to breathe more deeply in a garden. Sometimes it’s all that I can do, go to the garden and just breathe.

My perennial garden in autumn is now bursting with seeds. Today it’s the seeds which catch my attention. I’m being intentional in this season to leave the fallen leaves, dying perennial flowers, and their seed pods alone. I’m not going to clear them away in November as the snows fly, I’m leaving the dead flowers and wind-blown leaves alone in order to provide winter habitat and food for the creatures which burrow under the snow and hibernate. This in turn keeps the wintering birds, burrowing foxes, sleepy rabbits, and snowy owls well-fed too.

These gorgeously engorged seed heads and pods are bursting now; even as each one, seen and unseen, is precariously hanging on withering vines and dying branches. It’s a final blossoming. At first glance, it seems like everything around us is dying away, but if you look more closely you begin to realize that these seeds are the start of something inexplicably new as the seasons turn.

And so it goes with hope. An incalculable multitude of ripening seeds in my perennial garden were once brilliant stands of summer blossoms buzzing with bees. Now, fast approaches the fallow season of frost as these seeds are being carried forward by the wind, by drenching rains, by other living creatures, and ultimately by falling to the ground. Soon all will be buried in a deep frigid darkness under soil and snow. The flora and fauna will find their own resting places known only to God until the Light changes again. So will I.

There is a wisdom that we still trust up in these north woods. We know that snow makes the flowers and grasses grow. We trust that after a long dark winter, the sap will rise, and spring will return in glory. These fallen seeds will find their own time to germinate and push through the darkness toward the light. It’s always a quiet miracle, we won’t notice when a tiny spark ignites new life inside of a single seed. And yet, and yet, from these dying blossoms of summer, a fruitful vibrant garden will take root and grow again.

We’ll never know where or when or if all of these seeds will bear good fruit, yet still we faithfully tend the garden through the turning of the seasons. Somewhere deep down inside of us, we know new life will return. That’s what propels us into action. We choose to see tremendous hope contained within even the tiniest seed.

God’s loving care of all Creation profoundly inspires me today. Even in the midst of all that is dying, the seeds of hope are being sown and will bear fruit. That is our loving proclamation, as we slowly learn that every ending is a beginning. Love and loss are intertwined in our divine dances. God’s promise of unfathomable love for all of Creation inspires us to keep moving forward through these turning seasons of darkness and light.


“That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”

-Romans 8:18-25

from The Message

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