My name means summer meadow. The day I was born I was given this gift, a name that I so long to fulfill the destiny it prophecies of. I want to become a pleasant place for those I love to linger in as they pass through life. To have warm breezes brush over their faces, to have their feet touch the richness of the earth and their hands pick flowers and tuck them behind their ears.
I want their voices to be caught in the wind and carried to the very ears of God. I want their chests full of awe and wonder as they capture that shade of sun soaked orange glowing on the tree bark, the scent of a daylily, the grass softly tossing with the current of the wind. I want them to lay back and close their eyes for a bit and then reawaken to the bright blue sky overhead and a bird singing as he dances along in this place of mirth.
I want my heart to be a place God likes to be. I imagine him taking long walks as each peaceful evening approaches, examining all of his handiwork. He checks on all the things he’s planted. Makes sure all the trees are growing straight and strong. He recounts all the long hot days he’s spent sweating over the weeds he dug up out of me and he smiles. He listens to all the sounds of a thriving land full of life that fill me up, being lulled and quieted down for the night.
He stands still at the garden shed after he closes it all up for the evening and pulls the night air into his lungs. This is a beautiful place I’ve created, he thinks. The stars stretch out above him. He’s so proud of his work and he loves this land. He thinks ahead to tomorrow and all the visitors that will come to enjoy it. He cant wait to see their faces light up when they see what he’s done for them.
You see he spent a long time in the very beginning digging out this hidden place off in the distance. It was so painful as he ripped out deep bitter roots and disrupted all that had settled there. It felt like it would never end as the shovel pierced and burrowed profoundly into my innermost parts each day to unearth yet a deeper thing.
When he had carved out all the scorched dirt and trappings of wild and unruly things that developed below, he let it rest a while. Some days I thought he’d forgotten about it. Maybe this is how he wanted me to be, a really nice place with a massive hole just out of sight. I wasn’t sure what he’d had in mind but it bothered me to be so exposed and have this hideous place in me.
I willed with all my strength that flowers would grow there to cover it up, but they always died. I felt like I had failed to understand what he wanted. Look at all he’s done for me and I can’t even fill this place with flowers. The longer it remained an open wound, the more I began to just try not to think about it.
Life went on.
Then one day I smelled rain heavy in the air. I watched as the sky darkened to a deep gray and black. The temperature dropped so fast I could hardly keep up. Something was wrong. The animals were wild and restless.
With a flash of lightning and crack of thunder the downpour began. It was fierce and tumultuous storm that had rolled in. Each drop of rain was filled with more grief and anguish than the last. The agitated sky violently thrashed with bolts of anger and rage, smacking down on the earth.
I felt the roots of the trees clinging on for dear life as they fought against the unrestrained explosion of air blasting through the land. Oh dear God, why are you letting this happen? I shuddered as destruction came and swept over me. Inside I tried to reconcile what was happening as I heard snapping branches and saw this bird pinned to the ground by the wind and rain.
He was stuck in the gaping hole and he was going to die in there. The hole I couldn’t fill with flowers, the hole that had no purpose or reason. The hole that was filling with water and drowning this beautiful song bird. I couldn’t watch. This was my fault. If only I’d have filled it with flowers! But I knew deep inside there were no flowers big enough to fill that hole, so I just cried.
I never wanted to be a place where things came to die. This isn’t what I pictured when I asked the gardener to come in. I wanted to be a place of rest and peace. I place of celebration, joy and strength. Where passersby could see what love looks like. Not death. Not pain. Not this!
I cried out to God to make it stop! But the storm raged on all the more. I pounded my fists and raised my voice, I poured out all my fury but it only ended in gasps and weeping. It went on and on and on. My strength weakened and finally my feeble soul went slack. I yielded to the unrelenting flood as it choked out my own breath.
I closed my eyes and felt the coolness of the raindrops falling on my face. I watched them trickle down and seep into my earth. These drops of rain slowly emptied themselves of their grief. They became full of something else, something softer, more like relief.
I just laid there alone in the constant shower and listened to the steady sound. I felt lost in time, unsure if I’d ever get up from that place. I thought about God, wondering where he was in all of this. I thought about the bird out there alone like me. There was nothing I could have done to save him.
I was lost in my thoughts and on the verge of sleep when I heard a sound. My eyes flickered up as I strained to hear it again. There it is! That sound! Its a tiny scratch, a bit of movement over there.
Suddenly the rain stopped. I could hardly believe it. I get up slowly from where I lay and take in with my eyes what my mind can hardly comprehend. My hair is matted, face smeared with mud and the guts of the earth but I dont even notice.
Tears of joy erupt out of me as I see what was left behind. That empty place in me where the flowers wouldn’t grow wasn’t empty anymore. It was a lake. A huge, beautiful lake with waters shimmering in the late afternoon sun that was breaking out. I jumped in at once and felt the grime lift off of my skin. Completely immersed, I rejoiced! The water warmed in the sun and cooled in the evening. I bathed and soaked until every last bit of pain and fear was washed away.
When I finally climbed out that night, I sat down at the edge of the water and the Lord came and sat by my side. He wrapped me in a warm blanket and we talked for a while.
He pointed across the field to an old tree. Way up high there was a nest where the song bird slept. It was him that I heard as I got up earlier. He said that bird was on his way home when he got caught in the storm. He was just a young bird, just learning to fly.
I asked God why he let him go through all that and he told me that his wings were weak but God needed him to be strong enough to fly to the ends of the earth with his song. The only way to make him strong enough was to make him fight his way out of that storm.
I thought about all the stories yet to unfold for that sleeping bird who was completely unaware of what God had planned for him.So this is Gods ways, I thought. This is how he does things. I looked at Gods face, with all his laughing wrinkles and eyes that found fondness in me and in everything that he looked at that night. I grabbed his hand that doubled the size of mine and decided to trust him with my life, just like that.
I figured it would be easy to keep trusting him after all that he’d brought me though, but I was, as I usually am, wrong. Times come when my meadow becomes a dry place and I wonder if God has forgotten to send the rain. Or when I don’t hear his footsteps and his humming as he walks along for a while, and I think he must have grown tired of me and moved on to a different meadow.
Time goes by and I get discouraged and that’s when he’ll leave me a note tied to a tree that says, “Trust me, I haven’t left” or, “I love you, I promised you I’d never leave you”. They comfort me for a moment but I always miss him and quickly wonder again if he’s really there.
But tonight, after a long days work in the garden he planted this summer, he washes the dirt from his hands in my lake. I was so ashamed of the weeds he found in me today, at how deep their roots were. How could I let them grow that bad?
But he just pulled them up, one by one. Sometimes he had to really dig, sweat pouring from his face. But he never gets tired, he never gives up.
“The visitors are really going to like swimming in your lake tomorrow,” He says. “They’ve had a long, hard journey. They’re tired and hungry. I think I’ll make them a warm soup out of your garden in the morning.”
I think of all the times my meadow has been used over the years to strengthen the weak. It didn’t matter if I was weak or strong, full or empty, useful or broken, he used me all the same.
I try to trust him with these people that come into my meadow. I worry as I look around at all the work that still needs done. I think of all the ways they might get hurt just by being here. Sometimes my visitors do get hurt by some thorny overgrown bush or broken branch I left laying around. And I hate it. But he always uses it for good. I don’t know how he does it!
There is no one like him. Just remember that Meadow. There is no one like him.