It’s been a stressful few days. It’s about to get a lot better as my parents are flying in today to spend a week with us. I wished we could get some of this work done when they were here, so that we’d have the extra hands, but this will work out better anyway. We’ll be able to “relax” while they are here…as much as 5 kids and a garden allow one to relax. Thursday all of the meat birds for the year were butchered. Also, our internet got fixed. Not that either of those things required much of me besides people just in and out of my house, and keeping the kids out of workers’ way. Friday I spent the day canning peaches. Saturday we husked our sweet corn for the year, and baked it and froze it into baggies for the winter.
In the midst of the chaos, after I got the kids to bed one night, and Knut was finishing up some chores, I made myself go outside. The sunset was just calling to me.
I walked down to the “old” garden, to assess what needed to get done in the coming days. It’s where some popcorn is growing up. We’ve never grown popcorn before, and this is heirloom strawberry popcorn. It’s not strawberry flavored, the kernels are just red. I can’t wait to try it. I was still too close to home, though. Too close to toys left out, weeds needing to be pulled, and tomatoes that were nearly ripe. I needed to get further away.
I ended up across the road, in one of the soy bean fields that has the best view of the sunset. Though it wasn’t my reason this evening, I sometimes go here to pray when I’m upset. It’s just so far away from anything that I feel like I can talk, or yell as much as I want and it’s just me and God.
It has this particular tree right smack in the middle of it that always captures my imagination. Sometimes I dream of running down there, and hiding in it with a book. Of course, walking through a field is not an easy thing to do, as the ground is not smooth and farmers don’t really like you doing it much as it can crush the plants. People don’t realize that these aren’t rows of sidewalks. It’s piles of dirt, sometimes mud. You slip a lot, and need to lift those legs high. I’ve actually never walked down to this tree, but I think about doing it all the time. One of these days I’ll make it there. It’s farther than it looks, as I can walk and walk and not appear to get any closer, and really you shouldn’t be walking in fields this time of year anyway.
Plus animals hide in the plants, and you never know when you come across a skunk or a snake or something. I’d rather go walking in the winter out in a spot like this, where I can see what is in my path, but the freezing wind hits so badly then. That’s why I’ve never made it down to the tree. Maybe this year.
I walked around a bit where I saw a tractor wheel had been, that made a little path for me to walk. Even then I tried not to trample the beans. I thought about what a shame it had been that they had been crushed, and yet how convenient it was for me to have a little path.
Trampled… to create a path.
I dwelled on that concept for quite awhile. Somedays “trampled” is the best way to describe how I feel. I thought about how Jesus was crushed to make a way for us. I thought about all the little plants, or grass that has to die so that paths can be made. I thought about all the things that were sacrificed for the sake of a path. It’s interesting, isn’t it? Clearing a path is essentially cutting away branches, pulling up plants, and trampling down soft spots to make way for firm ground, with little obstruction.
In fact, a good path is one that is travelled often. It’s one where things are repeatedly trampled, repeatedly pulled up, repeatedly put to death. Those paths are easy to identify, and easy to walk.
As I ponder these things, I wonder what paths God is forming in my life, and for what purpose? After visiting a friend of mine recently who is deeply struggling in multiple areas, God has brought to mind the story of Job, and “Job’s friends.” You know, the guys who visit Job and told him how he must have caused all of this pain in his life, and he must have done this to himself, and if he would just get his act together or call out to God, God would take away all of his suffering, and what was the matter with him anyway?
I know when I’m suffering, I need the friends around me who don’t search for ways that I could have avoided my suffering, I need the friends who will wrap their arms around me, so that I don’t feel alone. Friends that bring comfort, and compassion.
Suffering often has a reason, though I do not pretend to always know what it is, or how to stop it. Heck, I don’t even know always how to get through it other than fixing your eyes on Jesus. He helps you breathe. He keeps you from drowning. As I walked this path of crushed plants, I thought about how these crushed soy beans made a good path for me. Their suffering (so to speak) brought me out to the field, brought me time of reflection, and brought me safely back home.
I’m so blessed that I have access to the outdoors. I have lived in big cities where you have to walk quite awhile to find grass. Nature is so therapeutic. It quiets the soul, and awakens the senses. It’s such a gift. I take it for granted far too much. The Bible talks about how it declares his glory.
I’m blessed with roses, and popcorn in my garden, and freezers and a cold rooms for canning jars starting to groan with being stuffed for the winter.
I’m blessed with paths and trails through the woods and through the fields.