The garden is full of delight these days, dahlias are profuse, we gather juicy cucumbers by the armful each week, ears of corn are beginning to form on nine-foot stalks, and the salad bar has been stocked with all of our lettuce and tomatoes for the last month. It’s easy to be pleased when you’re surrounded by abundance. It’s a time to be deeply grateful.
It certainly didn’t happen overnight. There have been hours of aching work to create the conditions for this growth to occur. In fact, I still turn around and discover a new patch of pigweed threatening to choke out something I’ve been tending all season; pernicious bindweed that can ensconce an innocent garlic plant in a minute. It can be satisfying to set myself to the task of clearing this row or that but after a while, hunched over and sweating, it feels like my world has collapsed into an endless battle with insidious plants that are too smart for me. Sweat stings my eyes and I wonder if it’s worth it at all.
Eventually I’m forced to stand up, often because it’s time to pray. And then, standing there in the garden looking out over the 155 acres that comprise the land around Emery House, I’m lifted up out of that tiny, agonizing world. I see the clouds moving in from the West, some of them are the remnants of storms that have been in the news. I see the sun over the meadow where deer draw near to find crab apples on the ground. I see a far larger world that dwarfs me; that actually returns me to the right size, and I’m better able to take my own particular role in the vast sweep of God’s creation.
Life in our community is strategically set up to enable us to lift up our heads from the daily grind and return to our place as children of God. We have regular weeks away to find retreat and respite. We have a weekly sabbath day that breaks the cycle of toil. And our rule even counsels us to find moments of sabbath within each day when we can lift our eyes up to the horizon and return to ourselves and to God.
Perhaps there’s an invitation for you to lift up your head. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already laid aside something else that held your attention. Is it time to spend a day or more away from toil to let the grandeur of God’s good creation breath new life into weary bones? Maybe you just need to behold something beautiful to be reminded of how beautifully you have been made.
We brothers would love to invite you to lift up your heads with us here, at Emery House. We pray for you. Thank you for your prayers too!