Our family garden spanned the whole north side of our home nestled in a wooded acre of red clay land. My mom would wake my brother and I early in the morning in the heat of summer to go out a weed before the day grew hot and sticky, a rhythm she had adopted from her childhood on a farm in Iowa. We would grumble but do our work well, knowing she would come out and inspect, giving us no rest until it was done right. So we plucked and pulled and complained and sang and plotted our days.
I remember when I was very little and still excited by the small miracle of seed transforming to plant, flower yielding fruits and vegetables that would be canned for winter. I was so excited about the long squash blossoms that I poked my finger down the still tight blossom willing it to open. Thinking I was wise in giving nature a little press, I came to the garden a few days later to do my weeding and discovered that the flower had wilted. Unlike the other flowers who had spread radiant yellow and were in the beginning phases of forming fruit, this one lay brown and withered.
I had forgotten about this hard lesson of childhood until recently. As a friend named on Twitter “creativity is taking 50% longer in these times” and my time has been cut back with the round the clock responsibilities of parenthood without the support of school and other social structures. Instead of recognizing that creativity happens slower under stress and the window of time in which to be creative has shrunk and being gracious with myself, I was once again standing in the garden, impatiently poking my finger deep inside the bloom of something not yet ready to flower, surprised when everything blooming turned to wilt.
We are not in a culture that appreciates the long arch of wisdom, the way that only time can compost experience into wisdom and insight. We struggle to revere our elders as repositories of knowledge and hard-earned insight. We value what is fast and efficient over what is thoughtful and sustainable. We mistake the urgency of living this one life with the rush of capitalism. God does not desire our fast production, that has only ever been about us. God desires our hearts.
Sometimes the very best things–insight, writing, work, accomplishments come slowly over time. As we adjust and readjust to the longer timeline of Covid, I am trying to learn into the slowness of time and the goodness that comes in a project, in a life, in a season that unfolds not at my pace but at the holy pace of the Spirit. As the timeline shifts, the questions do too. I am no longer asking “how do we make it through this?” but “how do we thrive within this?” The pacing is changing to create space for flowering in the midst of the day-blinding sun of this too long pandemic. The reminder to slow down is a reminder that God wants my thriving, not my work.
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