The first day in February that's warm enough to tolerate being outside for more than a few minutes, I dart out and plant my snap pea seeds. Usually by mid March tiny little buds are popping out everywhere. This year though the cold weather has been unusually tenacious, punctuated only here and there by the shameless teasing of a wonderfully warm day. With one lonely exception, the little seeds are still hiding in the ground. Quinn no longer goes to check them and has already forgotten he helped me plant them. I still go out in fair weather to check their progress and stare at the bare ground wondering if the grackles found and ate all the seeds when I wasn't looking.
Just the other day I was out watering when I saw the tiniest green shoot coming up from the ground. Sheltered by the leafy compost, it was almost impossible to see. My heart leapt with joy as it always does with the first stirrings of life in spring, but there was a deeper level to my joy this year. I see the same tiny green shoots poking through the soil of my heart, opening fragile buds to the sun after a long, cold winter.
Parenting, working, and life mean that my gardening becomes more of a haphazard adventure in survival than an intentional, thoughtful process. I'm never quite sure what will come up (partially because Quinn helps me plant the seeds), what will live long enough to bear fruit, and exactly how to keep the ravenous wildlife away. Thankfully God is a patient and thorough gardener, cultivating my heart with a skill beyond imagining. And though I've spent this winter wondering whether there was any life hidden in the soil, I am beginning to see tiny shoots poking cautiously out of the soil of my heart.
That's the kind of hope I've needed lately.