Every fall when the weather begins to turn cool, I plant winter grass at Anne Marie's spot at the cemetery. I pull up the thick, brown Bermuda grass and try and rake out the deep roots. I turn the soil over and mix in some fertilizer. Then I plant some winter grass seed and pray that it sprouts and grows. Each day I go and water because even though it's fall, the weather in Oklahoma varies from day to day -- one day it's 85 and the next day it's 50. And every year the same thing happens. When I go to the cemetery to water all I see is ugly brown dirt. Day after day, just brown dirt without a sign of green grass. This year I thought the same thing that I thought last year: It's not going to sprout. It's been too hot. I didn't water enough. I planted the wrong kind of seed. I poke my finger into the dirt hoping to see signs of life, but it's just dirt. I keep going and watering and then one day I see it, the tiniest bit of green poking through the ugly brown dirt. In no time the ground is covered with thick green grass, and even though it's fall and the leaves are falling and the green of summer is all gone, it is spring at Anne Marie's spot.
There are all kinds of metaphors in that -- probably the most obvious is God "turning the soil and raking out the deep roots" in my life so something can grow. Sometimes I feel like it's a really slow process and I take two steps forward and one step back.
I know that for so long after Anne Marie died I was like that dirt -- ugly, brown, no sign of life. I felt so much sadness that I honestly didn't know if I'd come out of the pit I felt I was in. There's a song called Blessings by Laura Story and part of the lyrics are:
What if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near
When I hear that song I always relate to that part because I remember so well the "thousand sleepless nights." Those dark nights were the worst for me. There were times when I would stay up late with all the lights on just so I wouldn't have to go to bed and lie in the dark crying. But somehow, slowly God began to help me see that He was near. I can't even explain how it happened -- all I know is that He helped me and comforted me and gave me hope. Slowly out of my dark ugly nights the tiniest spouts of life were there.
My life now is a mixture of ugly brown dirt and green sprouts of life, and I know that I will never be whole in this life. Even though there is comfort there will always be sadness, and I've never yearned for heaven so much. Not only because of Anne Marie, but because I will be united with Christ and free from the weight of sin and the brokenness of this world. Another song I love is Beauty Will Rise by Steven Curtis Chapman. Part of the lyrics of that song are:
I can hear it in the distance
And its not too far away
It's the music and the laughter of a wedding and a feast
I can almost feel the hand of God
Reaching for my face
To wipe the tears away and
Say it's time to make everything new
Make it all new
Won't that be a glorious day when Christ reaches out to us and wipes away our tears and everything is made new!