Sunday, June 30, 2013


I'm sharing a piece I recently wrote for our church newsletter.  Because it was my turn at the time, and now because life requires multi-tasking.  Or multi-purposing.  Tra-la.


I have this backyard that’s kind of a miracle.  When we moved into this house, the glacial till was assertively apparent.  The backyard, not landscaped and therefore with no topsoil to speak of, ate an hour or two of time for every half gallon plant we tried to put in.  The size and sheer persistence of the rocks the kids and I uncovered and dug out was amazing.  I contemplated letting it all go and claiming that we’d settled on a “meadow” theme, but then a letter came from the homeowner’s association.

So we began with a weed eater/trimmer, and hacked back the grasses and weeds.  A couple of cousins came and helped.  My aunt sprayed the worst of the dandelions and other noxious weeds with vinegar and we watched them wither in the sun.  Most of them did, anyway.  We moved on to a stupendous device my mom found: a propane tank attached to a moderate sort of flame thrower.  It sounds like a rocket booster immediately before launch, and makes satisfying work of blackberry vines (check your local ordinances before investing in your own).  Still, it was a battle, and not an enjoyable one.

Budgeting required that any work done in the yard be terrifically inexpensive, if not actually free.  The fact that my helpers mostly consisted of my children added another layer of interest:  children require feeding, their music needs practicing, and in our case, insurance coverage for medicines needed to be argued and re-argued.  And re-argued.  Figuring out how to turn the coin jar the kids had designated for The Yard Project into the thousands indicated by the estimates I had collected seemed a useless task.  But then Cynthia B. visited and began to pray.  One of my lovely neighbors, Gwenn, noticed that out of the entire new community, our house was the one without backyard landscaping (never buy during an uptick in the market), and she began to pray.  

So it was that a couple of weeks before Labor Day, 2012, I learned that we had volunteers, 80 cubic feet of dirt, 300 cement blocks, and more, arriving Labor Day weekend,  starting Friday.  When I had mentioned to Gwenn that a friend from church was praying over this yard too, she decided that was the perfect opportunity to make the idea a reality.  She called me for approval of a flier she produced, the flier went out to the neighborhood, friends from church became aware of the efforts, as did more old friends, and the backyard miracle commenced. 

Isaiah 55:11-13 reads:  11So shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. 12For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

Is that not amazing?  The trees of the field, clapping their hands.  Trees growing instead of thorns and briars.  The imagery is so fantastic to me: the word going out and filling up, nature itself rising to underscore the word and the blessing of God.  

This evening I would be out writing in what is beginning to resemble an “edible park,” as a visitor commented, were it not for crashing rain storms.  But since I’m indoors, let me tell you what I would be experiencing out there.  I would be smelling the clove scented breeze coming off of the stock next to the patio.  I would wonder about the tomato plants, invisible in the gathering dark.  I would marvel at what I could still see, in low light, late in the evening.  I would content myself with holding still for a few moments, listening to the frogs across the valley, around Fennel Creek.

I am so grateful to those of you who showed up and helped create this space.  As I’ve thought about this and other events which bring on deep and abiding feelings of gratitude, I’ve realized how many things I have to be thankful for over the last several years in relationship to Green Lake Church:  A baby shower when life was scary and overwhelming.  Mentoring for my children in service and leadership efforts.  Love and acceptance for the little guy in the green wheelchair.  Service opportunities for me.  And countless other unnamed events, relationships, and processes, each of which have their own significance.  Each of which has been a grace note.  

I hope you too are finding these grace notes within our congregation and that you are blessed by the service and by the opportunities to serve.  Thank you, each of you, for what you’ve come to mean to me and mine.  The yard, replete with joy and peace, is open for visitors. 

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