Tuesday, October 1, 2013
The leaves call to me as I huff past.
They, clattering against what remains of their brittle, dry stalks, are still holding corn. But not for much longer, if this wind continues. Meanwhile, I'm keeping my pace up and hoping it does the same to my heart-rate. Today my knees and ankles feel every tick of my almost 36 years on the clock, but I'm as committed to these gravel roads as I am to seeing the sun rise with all the hope of the morning, and so I walk. Glowering autumn dawn stretches out naked fingers toward me, providing a rich backdrop for the tassels of the stalks, their songs reaching heavenward.
We rattle a bit in unison.
I scuff my foot against black dirt on the side of the road. Rich stuff of life, there, under my shoe. It supports the young growth, nourishes the tender, and holds fast the rickety. Soon, there will be a harvest and the earth's nakedness will stand exposed again. Laid bare before hopeful daybreaks like this one and belligerent frosts and stoic moons and whatever else the Good Lord sends. But before those days, there is one more thing left to do.
The soil must be turned.
What remains of the old growth, the brown stalks, the smatterings of golden cobs, gets plowed into the earth. It goes down into the blackest darkness. Into the grave, even. For only there can it provide fodder for the voracious appetite of next year's seeds.
And this is a lesson I know well.
Because there are many ways for me in which yesterday's verdant green has become today's crusty brown. The excitement with which I used to greet the newest Christian how-to book that promised to grow in me stronger faith, sturdier convictions, more genuine certainties, has waned. I turn away from these books now. The passion I used to exude when talking about church politics or with what color we should carpet the sanctuary - these zealous pursuits of my past - is dead to me. Dead as the hollow stalks that rattle with my knees in the staunch autumn breeze. Even the careful dissection of other Christians' lifestyles - everything from who got their vote in the last election to the words uttered when they stub a toe - has faded into a crunchy tawny. Try as I might, I can't think this way any more. And this, I believe, is as it should be. See, I was not intended to live life as a static character in a pedestrian novel, but to be as free and willful, as dangerous and wild, as a tongue of fire atop a Pentecostal brow. The lessons that grew in the sun of my youth have been harvested now. Their nourishment, assimilated. Their seed, spread wide. But they themselves are not lessons that sustain life any longer. It's time to move on.
Somewhere beyond the farthest barn, a hearty puff of smoke rises to the horizon.
I watch it drift until it becomes part of the sky.
And I think about the soil. How moving on doesn't mean the past is forgotten, whether we're talking about farming or personal growth. It means that the past is part of the process. The lessons behind us have completed their cycle of life and now proceed to under-gird the fresh beauty of the new. I do not despise these things for all the immaturity and imperfection I now see and I do not despise the me that was ravished by them. To everything there is a time and season. There is no disrespect for what used to make my heart beat fast or bring a tear to my eye, for it is still with me. Under me, like last year's compost. It takes its turn to become part of the welcoming soil and (joyfully, I believe) watches the eternal circling of the process.
A tractor surprises me as it rumbles past on the road. I scoot off into the grass to give him a wide berth. He waves his baseball cap in my direction and I'm left marveling that people get up and to work this early ... ?
He turns into the field. With a mechanical crunch and a poetic smile, the harvest has begun.
Writing on the prompt word SOIL with Nacole and Concrete Words today.
Also sharing this with Jennifer, Emily.