Well, dear reader, I can honestly say that it has been a very tough few months. Not the worst I have ever faced. By far. No-one has died, for example.
But key relationships in my world have changed and the landscape of my life is now looking much… what is the word I am searching for… bleaker? Yes, that feels in every way accurate. Bleaker.
There are a few more mountains in view and much less fields. The climb has gradually got steeper and there seems to be less and less air for me to breathe. This is not the season of the ‘wide and spacious place.’ Spiritually speaking and in terms of some things in my personal life, I feel hemmed in, claustrophobic and reduced in some key and significant ways.
My close friend texted me yesterday and said “Maybe this is what it feels like to be a grown up?”
I am not that much of a fan. It is painful and exhausting. And so NOT fun.
But then I don’t know anyone who enjoys learning hard lessons. We all enjoy coming OUT from under them and experiencing the joy of gained experience or new maturity…don’t we? But the path towards that? I’m sure most of us would prefer a level boost and a fast track.
The truth is, there is no substitute for living through something stabbingly awful. You can’t read it in a book and get quite as much righteous rawness from that. You have to journey it. To wake every day in the nightmare of it and choose to slide your feet out of bed and embrace another confusing tearstained day.
I have often found myself feeling deeply lonely and isolated over these last few months. The phone has stopped buzzing as much, as so many of the people around me have been going through such tough times they have holed themselves into protective caves.
Like I said, its been rubbish.
But I was arrested this morning and caused to be still when a phrase came into my head as I was praying. ‘What has died in your soil?” seemed to be a strange premise for the Lord to bring to my mind. But the more I began to look into it, the more I began to understand and grasp hold of.
Soil is full of life, yes. There are tiny little worms wriggling and working. Microbes dance away, earning their place in the world. Lots of trusting, thrusting life is at work on a miniature scale in the sediment. However there is also death in the soil too. Plants die, rot off and become sucked back into the rich, earthy loam to create an ever- more nutritious nest in which other plants can survive and thrive.
And so I was interested today to hear the phrase “What has died in your soil?” when God spoke to me today.
Perhaps, like me, you are experiencing the pain of lost or broken dreams. Maybe it feels as though something has DIED in the soil of your life.
I am so sorry if that feels authentic for you today. In fact, my heart, what I am able to feel of it at this stage of my own thoughts, goes out to you.
I am just aware though, and I offer this to you like a tiny flower from a child’s hand, that we actually see life and death side by side in soil. Something rotting and dying CREATES the environment for something else to succeed. Perhaps in order for life to thrive there needs to be a healthy (and I use the word with a sighing smile of irony) amount of death too.
There can be no resurrection without crucifixion.
I am still confused and in a place of just not understanding what the heck has just happened to my friends. But I am at least prepared today to hold fast to the truth that life and death co-exist in happy symbiosis in the soil of their lives and in mine.
I hope that thought leads you to hopeful thinking in your own world today.
That felt like a prayer. And so I will say, Amen.