Not Empty

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My hands were bright red, they ached, and I had almost-blisters where I’d been holding first the shovel and then the rake. My back ached, my feetsies were grimy and I was dusty enough that there were these deep tracks where the sweat had run down my face.   On this, the third of the Great Fifty Days of Easter, I had needed to get 2 cubic yards of mulch spread out on my flower beds. I got home from work, threw on gardening clothes and a hat and got out there.

As I shoveled mulch into the wheelbarrow, rolled, poured, spread and came back for more, I remembered how 10 years ago, right about now, I had such intense pain in my poor, battered left hip that sometimes I hesitated to even try to stand up, wondering if my hip would simply give out on me. I realized, again, that I literally could not imagine myself doing the gardening I do these days until 3 years ago, when the world as I knew it ended, and instead of taking to my bed and pulling sheets over my head, I moved to a farm in Alabama and spent the better part of a summer mowing grass with a push-mower. I repeated a beautiful line I saw this morning: “Living in the power of resurrection, means refusing to accept that anything that is broken will ultimately remain broken”[Roberta Bondi]. People I serve are dealing with intractable, complicated brokenness; one day at a time, in slow and careful steps, others around them are helping to bring healing. I’m getting to see amazingly creative problem solving. Perseverance with remarkable good humor.

A few days ago, I noticed a deep hollow in one of our trees in the backyard. This evening, as I finished my work, the light was just right. I grabbed my camera and looked in, not knowing what I would find yet aware that in a week when the imagery of tombs looms large, even finding that hollow empty would remind me of resurrection. Not empty. Holding new life.

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