When I last published something here on Ash Wednesday, I had plans for other Lenten writings. At the very least, something for Holy Week. Every draft fell short. They were reactionary things; I was angrily, at best, and haughtily, at worst, responding to things I was reading or hearing or seeing in my life. Nothing I wrote felt complete. And after almost 20 years of publishing my thoughts online in one manner or another, I have learned this– I am not the kind of quick response writer who can cull truth from the moment around her. I recognize that is a gift and a calling, and I do not possess it. Bless those who do. They walk through fires and tame winds. I come sifting through the ash. I come raking up debris. What’s been left that only time and distance can reveal?

Last week I returned to my childhood home to help with a chore I spent every year of my childhood practicing: garden planting.

My hand turned pink, dyed by the corn. I remembered that. Mom reminded me how to mound the dirt for cucumbers. I remembered that. Walking behind my Dad, the cr-shhh sound of him dropping the fertilizer — I remembered that.

I remembered anew the hope of it.

In my reading this week, I had to spend time contemplating John 17:24: Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

The cycles of my life, it seems, often return me to the dead seed, covered in the dark — just waiting. Wasn’t I just alive, I find myself wondering. Wasn’t I just fruit? Why, now, am I abandoned in the dirt?

Does the zucchini seed wonder that too? I hope not. I hope she heard my mother’s prayers over her, and I hope she knows that the water and the sun and that time itself is coming to ignite her to growth. It’s the dreaming of that hope that allows me to whisper into my own hands, my own heart, my own body — the water and the sun and time itself is coming. Coming even now to ignite you back to growth.

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