Saturday, August 11, 2012

Broken Pieces

Several years ago I needed to find some beautiful vessels in which to plant flowers. Most of mine were cracked and broken, or I didn't like them. I ended up placing a wholesale order. Decisions are not my favorite thing in life, so choosing from a catalog (yes, it was before online catalogs were popular) was not an easy thing. Plus my love of pots, container gardening, and flowers can tend to make for agonizing decisions balancing between practicality and the pocketbook.

My treasures came one spring day. I remember Kira sitting in the stroller while I unpacked the pallet. One particular stack of pots was my favorite. I stashed one of the big ones aside, hoping to use it later in life. It was grey...a color I was sure we were going to utilize on our new house. A new gray pot would be fun to have; so I stuck it in the basement.

Fast forward several years. It is spring again and I am hunting for pots. Of course I am finding all the broken and cracked ones for me, and leaving all the nice ones at the inn. Moderately irritated and mostly exasperated I rummaged through the shed. Lots of different things went through my head. The thought of returning to our dirt yard and weeds was rather depressing. I want to beautify the world, namely my new house, and I need nice things with which to do it. We had moved several months earlier and I was badly missing the courtyard garden and surrounding flowerbeds, which I had worked so hard to keep up for eleven years. The trees were blooming and everything was coming to life. Soon the mockingbird would come back to mimic the children who had moved away, and now it could rear its family in a peaceful adult world. Alas, I don't like to live with mud, as is so often the case when one builds a house. "All good things take time" as my mother would say. I was determined to find a pot that was nice yet which I could take home.

Then something stirred in me. That pot. The grey one that I saved. Where was it? After some searching I found it, still wrapped with cardboard. Thrilled I put my treasure in the van and headed for my dirt yard. At least I would have a nice pot to look at all summer long! Home at my new home I carefully stowed it away from little people's antics until I would find the right plant for it.

I found the plant a week or two later. It spoke to me right from the shelf at my favorite greenhouse. I bought it and left it at the inn thinking the innkeeper would find a spot for it. Two weeks later it was still there without a permanent spot so I put it in my van. It was a pot full of big, green, gorgeous elephant ears. I love them. When it rains they gather up the drops in their huge leaves and dump them in the pot. They love to be in shade and wet. I had the perfect spot for them right outside my back door. In yes, you guessed it... the weeds. I didn't care. It was my stab at beauty among the ashes. My grab at gratefulness and determination for beauty among the mud and summer weeds that I knew would all too soon follow. If you would see it right now you would probably say why try? I didn't care. I was going to look at the pot and huge elephant ears all summer, not the weeds. In my imagination they were already up to six feet.

Planting was the best part. I left it for last because I knew it was going to make me happy. They matched, the pot and the elephant ears. It was Saturday night and time for bed when I finished. By the time I was finished my big pot and big elephant ears were too heavy for me to move. I would have to wait for Merlin to help me. He was away, so I came in and thought I would ask him after the children were in bed.

We have a garage at our new house. I am not used to garages. I grew up on a farm. Our garage was down by the barn, not attached to the house, and not with doors. We never even thought of putting things behind it, especially not flower pots. At the inn we didn't have a garage, just a parking lot. For some reason unknown to a woman I had put the flower pot behind our van outside the garage door. But it didn't really matter, right? Because I was going to ask Mr. Muscle to move it anyway.

Sunday mornings can be a little hectic around here. Apparently our children take after their parents well, especially this one, who likes to sleep. Things weren't going so well...and we lost some precious time. Plus the fact that it was Merlin's turn for devotions before Sunday School added to the drama. We are supposed to be there at 8:40 and it is now 8:45. After frantically brushing my teeth, stuffing Cheerios in my bag, and racing out the door to the garage, I plop in the van, breathless.

Merlin steps on the gas, maybe a little harder than usual, mostly a little late. Crunch. My heart fell into my stomach. My pot. My elephant ears. Merlin is thinking: "the van."  I jumped out, and yes - to my great dismay, my beautiful grey pot with huge elephant ears was smashed, along with the elephant ears. Smashed into quite a few pieces. I look at the pot...Merlin looks at the van, wondering "What was she thinking?" The van floor was dented. But my pot is crushed. I scooted it aside and picked up the pieces. Yeah, you might wonder how I moved it. I cried. My stab at beauty was gone. Now I am going to have to live with dirt, mud, and weeds all summer, and won't be able to look at my pot or elephant ears. Drab, drab...

Over the hours that followed I began to realize a message from God to me. I had been struggling immensely over a number of months with the whole thing about "Wounded Trust" coming out and exposing myself to the world. But even deeper than that was the fact of my journey of grief being on paper. So real, so un-erasable. The book was going to print, and I was tempted to send it to the Recycle Bin instead. The temptation to deny the reality of the loss of Kira still haunted me. I knew once I hold the book in my hand, I will not be able to turn back. Sure the blog is live, but could be erased if I wanted to do so. I could still delete by book file. But thousands of printed books? Nope. Set on paper for good. Really I am just hanging it out on the front lines.

My broken pot. My broken life. Shattered dreams. Harsh reality. Pain, grief, depression. Burial. CPR on your kid. Death. Goodbye to a little girl dearly loved. Caring for grieving children. Darkness. Satan's taunts. God's peace. God's grace. God's redemption. Redemption... Redemption. The words rang through me like strands of hope. Redemption. Can I really trust Him to take my dirty laundry and truly redeem it, making it useful? Redeem it enough that other people are drawn to God? Or want Him more? God's message to me was clear "Do you trust me put your broken life back together? You are going to have cracks, sorry. Your tears might wash out the dirt sometimes. I am sorry. You are going to look taped together, but I can promise you this: you will grow. Your leaves will gather raindrops to water the earth. Your roots might not stay in the broken pot, but that is okay because I am putting you back together. You need to TRUST Me." Ironically, the book title minus the Wounded part.

I didn't realize when I picked this title how much of an ongoing thing for me this would be. I picked it because grief mirrors a wound. It can appear negative to be wounded. It can also be comforting because wounds heal. But this God? I need to learn more? I finished the book, now I learned it, I argued.

Proverbs 3:5-6 reads "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths." This verse does not leave a whole lot of room for finding one's own way. TRUST and I (God) will direct.

Okay. I get it.

So I thought of ways to tape my pot back together. Merlin, ever the realist, said it won't work. If I would take the dirt out it would collapse the whole way so crazy glue was out. Besides it wouldn't hold all the dirt when I would put it back in. So I asked  Dad for some tape. He loaned his massive role of duct tape to me. I taped and taped and taped.

My elephant ears are thriving, yes among the dirt, mud, and weeds. But the dirt, mud, and weeds don't really bother me. The duct tape is grey too, about like my matches nicely. It is cracked and yes, the water probably comes out, but it doesn't matter. The roots are probably growing out by now, but who cares?

This I know: my broken pot is a symbol to me of the beauty of being dependent on the Heavenly Father. No, it is not easy to live in a taped vessel. But God does not promise life without pain. But He does promise to provide and care for us.