Monday, April 16, 2007

Refuge and Reminders

I walked out into my yard last night, into the high winds, drizzle and darkness, and stood by our relatively small crabapple tree for a moment. Suddenly, in my memory, I was transported back 15 years to a time when I stood in almost the same spot, by another similar crabapple and railed at God regarding a deep and unfulfilled longing I could not shake, nor accomplish. The intensity of that memory caused me to linger a while, unmindful of the turbulence and precipitation around me.

I have, over the years, sought refuge in my yard more times than I can count, sometimes in daylight and sometimes in darkness, in all seasons and for many reasons. Thanks to the hedgerows that line the property, and the fact that most of my neighbors seldom spend time in their own yards, I usually have a sense of privacy there, a sense of solitude and comfort, a sense of sanctuary. Often times, when I have been driven by grief, the situation itself has not changed. My mother’s dying, my marriage ending, the loss of dreams and people and pets I have loved have all sent me into the backyard with a gnawing ache to make sense of the why’s of this life. No setting can provide the answer to why, of course, but the natural world has often answered the question of how to live with the loss and even, surprisingly, granted a vision of new wholeness.

Sometimes the indoors just seems too small to hold my hopes and joys, my fears and grief, or even my faith. Sometimes I need the expanse of the outside to unleash the emotions, the thankfulness or sadness that build inside of me and need expression. It is in the space of this small refuge that I have felt God’s renewal as I watch spring unfold. I have sensed His faithfulness as I have welcomed “my” nesting birds back for another season, and His promise of sustenance and direction as I have listened to the cries of the tundra swans overhead, heading north once again.

I need these tangible reminders of what is real and what is important in a world and life confused by too many things, too many pulls and too many choices. The wonders of life and growth…tadpoles becoming frogs, acorns becoming trees, eggs becoming birds…help to hold me to what is true. May I never forget and may I continually be grateful for these reminders and for the wonders of simply stepping out my door.

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