All things in His time, my wise sister Jackie often says this as I keenly wait for the next whatever in my life.
Whether it be an occurrence as simple as the flower garden letting loose with its spring array of colors, or more importantly, my understanding of God to unfold into a way of life.
Hands down, patience doesn’t come easily except when I’m teaching a person something they really want to learn. Then I’m good. I slow my pace, I think about how you may be hearing what I’m saying. I use analogies and tell you stories. I truly want you to get it, to learn.
But in general? I bark at traffic signals that flip from amber to red too fast, drivers who have to think about where the gas pedal is each time that light changes to green, and people too busy talking or texting or smoking to maintain the speed limit. If I’m in my car it means I have to go somewhere to do something and I want to get it done. I don’t want to dillydally and be stuck someplace because of inconsiderate, distracted drivers.
After the long, gray winter, when spring finally appears, I want the flowers to come out. Now. Right now. Get busy coloring my yard that has been dismal and colorless and BORING for too many northeastern USA months. In anticipation, I yank the flower binder off the shelf—my bible of all things planted in our yard—and read, when exactly do the Daisy’s come out? When does the Rose of Sharon bud? How long until the Butterfly Bushes are four feet tall? Stop hiding and show your various shades now!
Sounds like I should include a note in my flower book that states, “Calm down and be patient, RoseMary.”
Some years ago, I aptly named the left side of our backyard, The Hill from Hades. It is steep and was let go for a long time before and after my husband bought this house. As I worked to pull out things I surely knew were weeds, flowering plants reared their beautiful heads. We watched creeping myrtle stealthily spread with a tiny blue-purple flower. Queen Anne’s Lace sprouted and stood tall and white. Next came Sweet Pea tendrils with long fuchsia blooms. Each yank of a dreaded weed unearthed these gifts from the ground in a section of the yard that had been nothing but ugly and bland.
That first summer, I made progress on weeding the area until August when it was simply too Pennsylvania-hot and humid to keep tearing away the bad plants. Autumn hit early with a cold, snowy vengeance and there was no chance to winterize. The following spring, like our last one, came on dismal and rainy. And rained some more. And to make sure we understood wet, it poured again, keeping the soil muddy and unworkable.
All at once, that damp nonsense was pushed away by bright wonderful sunshine. The glow appeared and new things popped up green and I couldn’t wait to dive into the hillside and start uncovering more flowers.
As usual, my plan didn’t quite play out.
I peered intently at the leaves, scrunched my face up to glare at the intruder from another angle, then called Alex over for a second opinion. Yep, Crown Vetch aka Evil Plant (EP) had attacked our garden. It was everywhere and even as I watched, I swear it was spreading its viciously-long, gripping-roots, and popping up over THERE and again, over THERE. Deer love it like a delicacy and must have imbibed it the nearby woods, and uh, deposited it here on one of their many trips through our property.
Give me dandelions any day. One dip of the spade, one yank on the top and poof, dandelion-free. If I were the creative sort, I’d keep those little blasts of yellow and whip up some lotion from the oils like my sister does or toss the greens in a salad.
Delightful sunshiny dandelions are easy to deal with. Not so the EP. It’s the most deviously human-invented plant I’ve come across in my gardening adventures. That summer I ripped out five—count’em—five 39-gallon bags of EP.
Crown Vetch was imported to the USA from Europe in the 1950s. It no doubt started as a botanist’s bright idea for a hardy ground covering—except they forgot to do their due diligence and determine the long-range impact of a plant that is murder to kill. The root tendrils and hardiness of Crown Vetch are great for empty expanses adjacent to highways. Crown Vetch needs little water and has the most lovely white-pink flower. But plants, as every gardener knows, don’t simply stay where we put them. Roots roam, seeds blow, and I marvel that we have an oak tree sprouting up when there isn’t one around for two hundred yards.
Hence, there I was that summer, pulling, digging, cutting, perhaps—ahem—uttering a mild oath or two under my breath. I was doing my best to obliterate the weed so noxious to the growth of the plants I intentionally planted. Preferring to listen to the sounds of our neighborhood, I tend not to tune in electronically when I’m weed-killing.
My mind wanders as the ambiance soothes me, and my thoughts relax, and turn philosophical. Soon, God seeps in and I ponder the parallel of weeding the garden and purging toxicity from my life.
Negative thoughts progress to wondering what part we play in God’s plans for us.
I believe in free will and God’s predestination in our lives, not seeing a conflict between the two. We make a choice and a path appears for us to follow. When that route concludes, there are more choices to be made. We select one route and another path appears. God lets us opt for that decision and that decision and each time we do, a life’s journey spills out before us. Being alive is a constant evolving strategic movement that eventually leads us where we should be going.
Being the ever restless, yearning individual that I am, when my feet hit the trails the Lord put in front of me, I want to see where he wants me to be. Now. The entire time I’m moving feet one after the other, I realize I should not be rushing my life forward, that’s not how we’re supposed to live. Having a full and rich life is a constant process of learning and growing. Living is about coming upon the new and retaining the old as needed and letting it go when it harms us. We spread ourselves out into the world, dipping a tendril here and popping another one up over there.
One hot summer day last year, I grabbed a Root Beer Popsicle (to be in our house, these must be the true Popsicle brand, with jokes on the sticks) and stepped out to survey the hill. With fresh eyes, I gazed across the expanse. Is this space under control? Nah, but do we ever have our gardens under control? It looks lovely and we’re getting out of it what we want—a place to look at with pleasure, and colors to soothe the neighbors as they walk by and glimpse between the houses.
There’s still EP to be pulled, but I’ve gained ground. Literally. I’ve filled the hill with periwinkle that drapes down the big boulders retaining the soil. There are Rose of Sharon and a butterfly bush across the crest, and we added a forsythia. One section is teeming with irises, and coreopsis spills over a ledge I cut into the slope. The sweet peas have been regulated to a tiny patch and the “bumble bee” flower I know from childhood pops up every year to bloom. The Red Bud tree I planted is now nine feet tall and has broad branches.
I planted, pulled, and plucked. My fingers got a few thorns. Going through the process, I weeded out the chaff, fertilized the desirable growth, and came out with a finished job suited for me and my Rose-colored glasses.
I did the work, but God’s timing clicked it all in place.