This column, Barefoot & Preaching, is also published biweekly in print by The Prairie Messenger.

Lying fallow to make space for the wildflowers of my soul

Lying fallow to make space for the wildflowers of my soul

Photo Credit: Blake Sittler 

Growing up in rural Saskatchewan planted a special place in my heart for the wildflowers that grow in the ditches. Blue alfalfa, purple thistles, bright yellow brown-eyed susans. When I moved to the city to study, I saw them less frequently, and I did not realize how much I missed the wildflowers until I spent several weeks at a youth camp this summer, thanks to my husband’s working there and my maternity leave. 

No one tends the soil for the wildflowers. They are not watered if it doesn’t rain. They flower regardless of whether anyone sees them. And still they grow, and bloom, and make the world richer and more beautiful. They felt like a gift straight from God every time I drove the gravel road. 

The time at camp with our family was a fallow season for me. While Marc was working long hours, I got to chop vegetables beside my kids, play in the sand, read to kids piled in my lap in the lawn chair. I heard the birds sing and sat still enough to see a mouse run across the floor. The kids and I got bored and found something to do. 

There was enough quiet in my soul to see wildflowers bloom there. I found songs I had forgotten how to sing. One evening, I spent three whole hours drawing with pens. I was able to watch people from the sidelines and see them growing.  

Somewhere along the way in the last fifteen years, my life became so full that every spare inch of soil was carefully tilled, meticulously planted, and radically harvested. The garden of my life has been producing so hard for so long that there was no room for wildflowers. Grief broke the soil open, but only after the garden had been planted, so I hauled my tired hands out to reap the neglected but still salvageable harvest of the last year. 

The wildflowers simultaneously mock me and invite me. There’s another way if I want to choose it. And I do. 

All the great things that I schedule into my life crowd out the space for the wildflowers: impromptu Saturday morning pyjama play dates with families in our neighbourhood, messy science experiments on the deck, hunting for caterpillars, experimenting with new cookie recipes, repotting succulents to give away as gifts, time to play my guitar (not just try to get an hour or two a week to practice before my lesson).  

I think I’m learning that the domesticated plants of my life pour out my soul and the wildflowers fill it back up. I thought that I could schedule space and time for hobbies and fun and play and it would have the same effect. Turns out, I was wrong. 

Wildflowers require empty space, exposure to sunlight and rain, and a most precious commodity in our world right now: time.  

As we head back into the season of sharpened pencils, alarm clocks, and pumpkin spice, we are choosing an extended fallow season with less activities. We want less obligation, less rushing, less pressure. We are choosing more space for surprises, more choose your own adventure, more time for each other.  We want more wildflowers. 

Puzzles on the kitchen table and wrestling on the floor. Making cookies and delivering them. More weekend hours in pyjamas building blanket forts. Siblings arguing and parents having time to let them work it out. Teaching the big ones to cook and patience to let the little ones help. Cuddles in the bed over just four more stories. 

Picking up the phone instead of wishing I was. Cooking with the love of my life. Walking the dog until she’s tired. Sitting on the couch with tea and a novel. Letting the house get messy because we are living in it. Having time to visit with the neighbours. 

I suffer from an acute case of fear of missing out. My head knows that when I say yes to one thing I say no to everything else.  My heart needed a big step off the treadmill to remember what I have been missing. It just took the brown eyed susans to remind my fingers that they have to stop working to be painted in the sunshine on the deck with lemonade. 

The worst part is that I never meant to crowd out the wildflowers. There were just gradually fewer of them, and I failed to notice they were gone. When I saw them again, I realized how tired the soil of my soul was. And I realized that I had lost something that could be found.

Here’s to more fallow space and the weeds and wildflowers that God will grow in spite of me. May the harvest be richer for the time well-wasted.

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On Being Barefoot…

Before the burning bush, God asks Moses to take off his sandals, to notice and reverence that he walks on holy land. This holy land continues to burn before me, before us, signaling God’s presence before we arrived rather than because we did. This life we are living was holy before we existed in it. This land and creation we call home is the first book of revelation, God’s love letter to us, bearing witness to the Creator of it all.Our lives and the moments that make them up are the stuff of sainthood, our invitations to participate in Divine life to be swallowed up and fulfilled by God. At the grocery store, in the false solitude of our cars and commutes, in our laundry rooms, and over text messages. My shoes run the risk of “protecting” me from the sacredness of this naked moment. And how I love shoes, and how my sensitive toes resist the prickles of grass and the mess of sand. But barefoot is how my spirituality works, daring to live an embodied and earthy love of Jesus who took on flesh. I’m wandering through this life, yearning to let go of my shoes, to walk reverently and with deep attention to what passes under my feet and to what isn’t yet my path. Barefoot is how I write, how I speak, how I work. Experience shored up against an insatiable thirst for knowledge; direct honesty honed by sensitivity; and vulnerability chained to a commitment to competency. And an unapologetically barefoot tendency to speak it as I feel it, which leads me to…

…and Preaching

I’m a preacher without a pulpit, with words that burn until they are spoken ~ aloud or on a page.

My ministry is one of colliding words and ideas, reaching out to find a connection with God’s amazing people.

The world seems to me to be spilling over with grace and we seem to be people who, all too quickly forget that all of this is pure gift.

When I’m driving, eating, visiting, resting, cleaning, working, playing, and almost everything else, I’m frequently stunned by the pure miracle of what simply is.

It’s not all promised joy and ease, but it is all presenced and remembered by the One who gives it. And I can’t stop talking about it, proclaiming it, preaching this good news that we have not been forgotten or forsaken in any moment of this life.

For reasons I don’t quite understand, my words seem to be given to encourage and inspire. In a world where women and girls are still too-often silenced or secondary, I’m barefoot and preaching because my soul won’t rest any other way. If my words can be a gift to you, then that is a gift for me.

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