Living Things

My houseplants knew spring was coming before my hopes were up. They turned their leaves toward the sun with vigor, reaching toward the south-facing windows, sending out new growth every day. Plants that rested over winter, requiring very little water, are now dancing in their pots and drinking in the anticipation. I love living things!

Since I garden inside, I do not have to work planting time around spring frosts. Yesterday, I planted my first seedlings in eggshells. The window seat will be covered in Tommy Toe tomato plants, Parisian carrots, chives, rosemary, sage, lavender, thyme, chamomile, mint, marigolds aloe, and lettuce.

I remember this December in the dead of winter, a beautiful bug came inside my house. She was brown with lovely intricate markings on her back and tan, plated legs. She moved patiently, not creepily like a spider (I smash those if they don’t let me put them outside). The trees’ branches outside were barren and stark against a snowy sky, and my houseplants were green but hibernating. I relished this little life, with all its details, who came in from the cold. I knew she wouldn’t live for very long. Winter is not the time for insects. I let her stay inside with me for the day, and she followed me from room to room watching me go about my day. The next morning, I found that she had expired on my desk, curled up on my favorite place, near the sunny window, with access to books and music. How silly, to feel so honored to have shared that tiny creature’s last day on earth, but I did. I felt honored.

I remember that on my 16th birthday, a beautiful green bug landed next to my dinner plate. I gave him a droplet of water to drink and he stayed with us while we prayed over our meal, then flew away. My mother exclaimed, “Megan, I think God sent that little bug for your birthday!” Maybe he did. When I think about the best presents I have ever gotten, I think of the hatbox full of my grandmother’s antique jewelry that I received for my 22nd birthday. And I think of the little green bug next to my dinner plate.

Almost ten years later, I still recall that little green bug. I have always felt small in a very big world. When I pray, sometimes I fear that my voice is a squeak among many squeaks. The stars are so far away. The wind blows from nowhere. The world turns and turns. And I squeak, asking for things like food and love. I do not wish to feel bigger and more important. I am so feeble, I can scarcely handle any more than I already am. No, I wish to know the God who is big enough to cook up a hurricane yet considers me in His thoughts.

I remember another time, when I was 23 and found myself in a very barren time of life. I was exhausted and directionless. Though it was spring, inside of me it was winter. I took my little sister on a bike ride, and we rode all the way out to the horse barn on the edge of town. It was a lovely day, and as we turned around, Katy saw a yellow butterfly fluttering in front of us. The yellow butterfly turned and flew across the two-lane highway, beckoning us to follow her. We pedaled after her and she fluttered before us all the way back home. “She is showing us the way,” said Katy, pedalling harder to keep up. Oh such tiny beauty, fed and sheltered by a God she is too small to know.

I live in the mountains, which are magnificent and daunting. I love how the snow highlights their detail. I love how impressive they are. But I do not recall a time I was ever brought to my knees in worship because of their grandiosity. No, I am brought to my knees by the thought of the lichen, the deer, the creeping groundcover, the aspen, the streams, the teeny-tiny bugs that God maintains just because He is God.

The greatest things we can fathom are “but the fringes of His ways,” as Job 26:14 so articulately words it. I used to tell the children I would lead on hikes that if we think of the biggest things we can wrap our minds around, those things are only God’s fingernails- that is how big God is! Yet He considers the tiniest of details, even preparing food for baby birds (Job 38:41). I would have the children look close at leaves and blades of grass to see their veins. They would notice caterpillars and rocks and point them out in awe. Look at how many details surround us! We most often breeze by them, busy with daily comings and goings. Yet they creep and crawl and grow by God’s grace and creativity. The youngest children would often respond with a quiet, “Woooooooooow…” The older children would usually be quiet, and even seemed uncomfortable. The silence and awe we enjoyed as children is lost as we get older and learn about things like bills and wars and scientific theory.

Oh, that the childlike sense of awe would never die in me. Oh, that I would always have eyes to notice bugs and the veins of leaves. Oh, that I would always have the courage to be quiet even when the details make me realize that God is almost uncomfortably close. Oh, that I may move patiently with listening heart. Oh, that I may find joy in my life as a creature, aware of her Creator.

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