Through most of my life, September, more than any other month, has announced to me, “Fresh start,” “New year’s beginning”—even more than January.
September’s approach typically conjured visions of new school clothes, unbroken crayons, erasers sans graphite smears, pristine tablets and notebooks waiting to be filled with new ideas and words and learnings and imaginings.
To all this I looked forward breathlessly. Even fall’s dying leaves seemed more alive in their vivid colors, swirling from branches and flying free on autumn winds, than their former chlorophyll-shrouded, static summer selves. A sense of adventure filled the air, filling me also with the desire to fly free and discover my own deeply hidden true colors.
But the past two or three years have spelled… not new words on carte blanche pages, but trouble getting September off the ground!
One big reason: the exuberance recent summers have given me. Happy, whole-hearted exertions have produced (by the sweet grace of God) satisfying accomplishments. I’ve spent more time outside, again growing tan, as my former, childhood, self had done by running pell-mell laughing in summer sunlight on hot lakeside sand and plunging into shimmering mountain waters.
You see, once again this summer, as in the previous two or three, I was pursuing a passion (you might even say obsession): the expansion of a garden, green and growing in more ways than one, developing more and more into the Eden I’d vaguely dreamed all my adult life of having. “The Garden” gradually took on a beautiful personality of its own, and sometimes seemed to embody God’s presence palpably.
Closing the door on that wrenches my heart!
But close it I must. The air will grow too chill for my asthma-vulnerable lungs to breathe rightly, the ground too hard to accept a spade, let alone eager fingers. The annual plants will melt into wet, withered corpses, and the perennials will go into hibernation like children curled into themselves to keep a warmer dormancy.
And the time to close that door is now. About mid-August air-born allergens start driving me inside—increasing the push as pollen count rises. More importantly, if I let extended garden projectts block hopeful planning of autumn/winter pursuits, I’ll end up, as last year, like a newbie sailor cast upon the open sea without map or compass.
I’ve made forays into possible cold-time pursuits, experimented with art journaling methods and jostled fabrics into patchwork patterns.
But these forays, though pleasant, felt somehow vapid, and failed utterly to conjure the gusto of “the garden.” At least so far.
Only here and now, in my writing of this post, is the root reason coming to light.
The clue word above is “vapid.”
Compared with the garden building and growing experiences palpable with the Presence of God, these more recent indoor endeavors seem lifeless… because they are!
It’s the God factor. It’s “the living God” my heart and soul long for, my heart and even my body thirst for (Ps 84:2; Ps 143:6; Ps 63:1). He was in “the garden,” no doubt about it, but He doesn’t seem to be in the “creativity room,” in the quilt-making or even the art journaling.
This need not remain so. God’s presence fills every micro-inch of His Creation, surrounds paint brush and sewing needle as much as garden trowel. My soul thirsts not for the outward occupation of busy work, but the inward occupation of Himself, filling my space, my soul, my all.
The collage at top contains a phrase from an old September Victoria magazine: “Finding the quiet center of our lives.” I know full well what my quiet center is: Himself. And as Augustine said, no matter what I do or don’t do, my heart will remain restless till it finds its rest in Him. He’s the fount from which flows the richest vitality in any endeavor.
He has been the real life of “The Garden,” the ultimate reason I haven’t wanted to close the door on it. He, the Creator, will be the real life of whatever proceeds from the Creativity Room as well, if I allow it.
How to do that I need to write in a separate post.