It feels good to sit here now….
the outside air has cleared my head and sorted my heart in just the right ways and the press of rough work and gravity against my soul have settled me into a quiet and peaceable place.
I can still feel the phantom weight of the 3lb hammer in my hand. A tingling buzzes along my arm from the pounding of the board and brick against the ground I’ve been shaping into a path. Dirt and dust still clings to my skin and nostrils. It feels good and alive.
I’m building in my herb garden. A path…a prayer bench…a place of quiet repose in the presence of God and any or all of my 6 cats!
It’s been a 3….4, (I don’t know five?) year passion of mine to turn this patch of sour dirt outside my kitchen door into a savory herb garden. The patio, the path, the prayer bench — these were afterthoughts.
Truth be told, as time spent with this dirt unveiled the story within me, those things just invited themselves into the project.
Art is like that.
I started bricking it when I was angry. I mean, the “tearing-up-the-ground” and “pounding-on-the-earth-with-heavy-tools” kind of angry… when I needed a place to refocus my heart, destroy the lies and rebuild in truth.
Brick by brick.
The brick is reclaimed from a scruffy patch of woods behind our house…discarded, forgotten and half-buried in a tangle of roots and vines, left there from a structure torn down long ago.
Somehow, along with each brick I redeem from that dirty, tangled mess, I’ve redeemed a piece myself in the process. It’s been a wholly and holy therapeutic endeavor… rough and raw..edgy and beautiful.
Like my life.
I do this because it’s in my creative DNA but also, I do this… because it’s something my mother did as well. Watching her from an early age, I learned how to turn a desolate piece of dirt into a slice of paradise. No matter where my mother found herself, she left NO stone unturned and very little unpainted in her path!
I’ve been thinking a lot about her as I go along with my heavy hammer, brick and dirt.
She’d like it, I think.
This Sunday is, of course Mother’s day but this Saturday would have been her 68th birthday. It’s hard to believe she’s been gone for almost 10 years. Ten years and I’m only beginning to know how to grieve.
My mother was a hard woman who’d had a hard life, difficult to please and very private. I confess, I feared her more than I was able to love her and I really didn’t understand her. But I’m starting to…now almost 10 years later..
I see why she pounded the earth too.
I’ve spent the past 3 months guiding a group of beautiful women… breaking free and learning how to tear down strongholds, sort the precious from the worthless and rebuild with the good. And many of the things I used to carry around in anger, confusion and darkness against my mother and myself, have melted away in the healing light of God’s love and truth.
What remains is precious….refined and beautiful. So while these thoughts and memories hurt, they heal at the same time. Put in the correct place and position, these things are valuable. I can finally look at them straight on.
My one regret is that I was really very unsuccessful at sharing my relationship and love for Jesus with her. In fact, I’d go as far as to confess that I was probably her greatest stumbling block.
I hate that.
I realize it now and it breaks my heart. I fear I was often more interested and invested in speaking the TRUTH of the Gospel over her life but not so good being the LOVE of the Gospel when it really mattered. I’m afraid that I didn’t really know how.
The truth is; I didn’t know how to LIVE
with my mother…
and I certainly didn’t know
how to help her die.
Fear will do that.
But there were dozens of grace-laced moments I can cling to and this is something I know I must absolutely trust to the hands of God. Freedom has always been His ultimate plan. I can….I must rest there.
So I’m re-building, using those stumbling blocks–the ones I laid in ignorance and those placed in my path by others…. the beautiful, the broken, the rough, worn and discarded
and I’m building an altar.
It’s an altar of remembrance…not for me or my mother, but of God’s faithfulness “thus far”. He’s been faithful to see me through the triumphs and the tragedies and when I’ve stumbled and fallen; He was right there to hear my repentant cries and set me on my feet again.
And while this garden I’m building really isn’t for her, or about her, I have some of her things which are precious to remember: a rusty wagon and coffee pot, a beautiful amaryllis, an angel statue and this plaque that reads, “Old Gardeners never die, they just spade away.”
That pretty well sums up my mother.
As I work, no doubt there are precious pieces of her present and working through me with every swing of the hammer and with each brick I place on the tar papered dirt path.
Honestly, I think she’d be proud…and if she was here I like to believe she’d be rebuilding too… both of us, side by side.