Sweat drips from my brow; my hunching back aches. The cadences of cicadas replace the melodies of the mockingbirds.
My ankles itch from the weeds I’ve let grow too high. I snap off black-eyed pea pods one-by-one. In my peripheral vision I’m reminded of the okra I must pick tonight. I wonder after the exhaustion of this month — endless harvesting, canning, and preserving — if I’ll have enough energy to tend to the fall crops.
I reflect on the Augusts before this one. Same cicadas, black-eyed peas, okra, exhaustion. Nothing seems to be different this year.
Except everything is different this year.
It’s my first August without my mom. My first birthday without the woman who brought me into this world. My son starts his first year in middle school — the grade my mom taught before she retired. My daughter starts kindergarten, a big change not only for her but for me, as I’ve spent the last three and a half years at home with her. It’s also the first fall in ten years I’m not teaching the MOMs class at church that I began when Drew was a baby. Instead of returning to my church home of 16 years I’m searching to find home in a new church.
I stand up straight, giving my back a reprieve. The sun dips lower now, and a slight breeze cools my damp skin.
Surveying the garden, memories rush over me of the waist-high zucchini in the middle of the summer, the corn taller than me that I finally figured out when to harvest, blackberry brambles once loaded with fruit. Soon the cidadas’ deafening calls will drift into the background. The season is changing.
Memories of last fall trickle in my mind. I had excitedly chosen a preschool curriculum with plans to teach my daughter to read. I readied myself to relish my son’s last year in elementary school. I planned with hope a new study in the MOMs class at church. And my mom would ask me about it all.
So much has changed.
Yet, I find myself doing the same gardening tasks I’ve done each August since I began this gardening venture. In a way, this predictability consoles me. With unusual grip I hang onto these tasks, while with reticence I prepare to embrace an entirely new season of my life.
Isn’t that the beautiful thing about nature? Sure, some particulars may change — like droughts or unforeseen pests — but overall we can depend on nature and its cyclic repetition of planting, growing, harvesting.
Nature’s predictability is cathartic to the soul. It reminds us that although change inevitably comes, some things remain the same.
And at this point in my life, I’m grasping for what doesn’t change.
For all flesh is like grass,
and all its glory like a flower of the grass:
The grass withers, and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord endures forever. –1 Peter 1:24-25 HCSB
In the midst of great change, the predictable cycles of nature point me to its Creator who doesn’t.
My mother read these verses, as did her mother and generations before her. I find comfort in that.
Even when it seems as if everything has changed, I can cling to my Father who will never leave my side, who doesn’t change, and who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.