I planned my flower garden a few months ago. I was so excited for the flowers I chose from the little garden shop up the road, different colors and varieties from what I had ever had before. Kevin graciously planted them for me as my pregnant old self was not feeling up to it. It was beautiful and I could just imagine how it would look in August when all the plants truly came into themselves. Every time I left or came home or even just rested on our front porch I would be able to look over and enjoy all the loveliness and all would be right with the world.
I went to bed that night content.
The next day I noticed a few of the flowers looked a little less full and saw a couple of blossoms had actually broken off. I investigated a little and after calling together the boys and asking them if any of them did it (they were convincing in their denials) I noticed some snap dragon flowers tucked into the crevices of the stone garden wall. Hmmm. I had seen that we had a vole living under the porch as it would duck in and out occassionaly, but it hadn’t occurred to me that it would like flowers.
Well little by little 3 varieties of flowers in the same way lost their blooms. I had chosen three types that the thief did not apparently like, two purple ground covers which thrived and a type of white zinnia that managed to eek along either not enjoying our soil, it’s daily amount of light, or something else. So the garden wasn’t quite what I expected, but I lived with it and enjoyed the flowers that managed to succeed.
I had mentioned to Kevin later in the summer possibly getting more flowers to renew the space, perhaps some cold hardy varieties that would last through the end of summer and fall, but I hadn’t done it.
About a week and a half ago, when I was feeling a bit down Kevin came back from the store with 6 pots of flowers. There were marigolds, yellow mums, and purple mums. They were the perfect colors to revive my garden and I felt loved and appreciated and thought of by the gift of them. Kevin immediately got to work and planted each in the spots I directed. The garden again looked beautiful and I could imagine fall with color and beauty.
It started the next day with a couple of the yellow mums stems broken… That same day I noticed the broken stems, I spied a brazen vole skitter up to one of the mums, sniff it and run away. After I had regained my composure I decided to take the “clippings” and use the closely cropped blooms to place at the foot of the statue of St. Mary in our kitchen.
It was a tangible way to show love for this woman living eternally who listened and responded so openly to God during the time she called earth her home. Putting flowers at her feet is a way to honor her like I would my own mother, an acknowledgement and appreciation for someone who inspires me, knows me well, and wants the best for me. It made me feel a little better.
About a week later we were heading out the door to church. The whole crew was in the car, everyone but me. As I headed out of the house and walked past the garden I peeked in. The destruction was complete, the vole had taken all but a couple of blooms from the new flowers and every last one of the purple mums which had been my favorite of the recent bunch.
My face contorted and I stifled a cry. It all felt so cruel.
I had been struggling the last few weeks with feeling hopeless, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Each day a chore to get through, my spirit was fragile. The garden stood as a reminder of the peace and joy that was eluding me.
However as I finished walking down our path to the car and my family it was like a light had slowly turned on.
I couldn’t give Mary any more of those flowers as the vole had taken them, but I still had something to give, my persistence. I can live without the flowers (yes, I thought earlier about an untimely end for the voles, but somehow it didn’t feel right). The destruction in my garden had managed to renew me and remind me to persistently turn to God, even when it didn’t feel good.
What does that mean? For me it means taking time each day when my littlest ones are napping and the big kids are outside for the afternoon, to read what He/God has to say, and listen in my heart to what that means in my life. To take time for silence because it is only in silence that I can hear His whispers. It means to let Him take my worries, my anxiety, my exhaustion, and stop giving the world a lift on my shoulders. It means making the effort to eat better and get more sunshine. It also means to take pockets of empty time to pray for other people, family, friends, and those I don’t know and to reach out in concrete ways to lots of different people. Looking outside yourself when you are feeling low can be so healing.
I’ve been feeling better and am now kind of proud of my garden with its’ lack of blossoms and rickety zinnias, and persistent purple ground covers. It is not for its’ outward beauty, but because my garden is now a living reminder that the voles can certainly lay claim to my flowers, but with Him by my side they cannot take my joy.
Love to y’all.