We replanted our balcony garden this weekend. A little late, of course, as it is mid-June and the world is spinning entirely too fast for my little head to keep up … not to mention my hands.
Our balcony garden last year failed, a combination of insufferable heat and the occasional (ahem…) lapse in memory that led me to forget to water it. Eventually the “occasional” turned into the ordinary and I let the plants go to the birds. (Quite literally, actually.)
But I still dream of a little retreat 20 feet above the pavement, where I can sit and smell fresh herbs and smile at pink flowers and sip my morning coffee while the world wakes up. And so, blinding myself to the memory of last year’s failure, I journeyed again to Lowes and filled my cart with the hope of pink and orange blossoms, baby red tomatoes, and herbs of all kinds.
And tonight, when I stepped outside to forage basil from my newly-planted garden, I noticed that a flower had bloomed.
A big purple one, right in the middle of the pregnant stems that hint of beauty to come. But one bloomed today, in the heat of a day that wilted my hair and made me grumpy. A blossom, a promise, a reminder that beauty will come if I am faithful to water and prune and care.
I’ve always wanted to be a gardener. There’s little I love more than a big bouquet of fresh flowers … fat, pink fluffy ones and cheery yellow ones. I love tulips and the way they signal the awakening of the world after a cold winter. I love roses … pink ones and peach ones and the dozens of dried ones that peek around the corners of bookshelves and boxes in our little house, that drive my husband mad even though I’ve only dried every one he’s ever given me. They may collect dust, but I’m collecting memories, I say defiantly. He rolls his eyes. I get where he’s coming from, but I’ll always win this battle.
I love hydrangeas, blue and white, the flowers I held in my hand as I walked down the aisle to make promises that I didn’t understand and still don’t, but at least I vowed them to a man who promised me the same, and we’re stumbling through it together.
I’ve always wanted to grow my own food, to be able to step out my back door and gather herbs for pasta or grab fresh tomatoes to eat like apples. And to pick berries to top with oatmeal and brown-sugary goodness and let them bubble away in the oven for a seasonally sweet dessert.
I long for the patience that gardening requires. (I certainly will have to learn it.) I long for early, quiet mornings spent digging around in the weeds, and crusty brown dirt caked under my fingernails, and the spirituality that comes from creating and nurturing life from the ground.
But for now I have my little balcony, and my six potted plants, and the hope of a house in the future that will afford me the garden of my dreams.
And as I dug around in my little pots of dirt yesterday, and I gingerly pulled the roots of each plant out of the plastic buckets from which they came, I smiled.
Roots are funny things. They are scary things. And while I’m just rooting a few little plants these days in my garden, the roots we’re setting down now are scary, funny little things.
In the emptiness that comes inherently in being lost in your mid-20s, with no clear plan other than to fight to stay in love and to serve the Lord, planning can feel like a lost cause at times. Empty pots that stayed piled on my balcony reminded me daily that I didn’t want to stay, but that I always want something bigger and better … or just something different.
I defiantly planted my plants yesterday as a statement of staying. We’re not leaving … at least, not yet. Though our moods seem to change on an almost daily basis, and last week was a flurry of emotion and premature planning and the chance that leaving might be much sooner than later, I think we are planting roots in this little Nashville town that are growing stronger by the day.
We’re watering relationships, new and old, that will guide us and shape us well into the future. This weekend was a sweet time, of saying good-bye to a friend who is strong enough to leave for a while, of sharing adventures and deep conversations with a dear new friend, of celebrating with a little church that’s growing bigger and better by the day, of spending yet another long afternoon with a friend whose conversations I cherish more than almost any other, and of praying through trials and tears with the dearest of church friends. We’re sticky and sticking and stuck.
We are blessed beyond measure, and as we continue to change our minds and plan our futures based on the whims of the wind, we are laying down our roots. We are naming this “home.” We are planting herbs and tomatoes and flowers and dreams. We are pruning and patient (or trying to be), and we are faithful.
For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.