Thursday, June 23, 2011

It’s time…

My landlady, this morning, walked out her door as I did mine. And, as she’s apt to do, she commented on our garden. “Time to pick those Kale greens. They look great!” I said Thanks, didn’t correct her (they’re Chard…so close enough), then went to my car chewing on the idea.

Truth is I’ve been wondering for a while whether, in fact, it’s time to pick the Chard (and in case you don’t know, Chard is a leafy, nutritious vegetable, quite tasty when sautéed). The garden store label, when we bought them, claimed they’re ready after sixty days. So since we planted early May, I expected to wait a few more weeks. But some of the leaves have already grown rather big, and given that our dryer vent blows directly on them, I’m anxious every time I look. “Should I harvest some now, before bugs and hot air destroy them? Should I wait until they reach juuuust the right size? Shouldn’t I google “Rainbow Chard” and seek an expert opinion?” Now that my landlady has weighed in, I imagine we’ll pick a few this week. Tabitha, who likes them even more than I, will be pleased.

Those of you who garden, or have farmed are likely shaking your heads right now, thinking, “Wow Shane, you’re a rookie.” And yes, I basically am, it’s my second season growing food. I don’t have expert knowledge yet, nor a practiced, veteran eye. Those with greater experience probably would not a) have planted Chard beneath a dryer vent, or b) waver and worry as often as I do. When is it time? I wonder often. How will I know? I should’ve asked before, but if you have wisdom, let me know!

Fortunately, in gardening, I can find such answers quickly- ask knowledgeable friends, read expert websites. But other life situations aren’t so easy, right? I’ve heard many say recently, “Now’s a great time to buy a house!” Quickly followed by, “If it’s a good time for you, that is.” That registers because Tab and I are currently buying a home. But unlike my backyard Chard, when deciding whether “it’s time” to become homeowners, there was no obvious solution. Did many have suggestions and good wisdom? Absolutely! Did anything say, specifically, “Do x, y, then z, and you’ll eliminate all risk”? No way. Not credibly, at least! Or how about those we know retiring, or friends beginning college or careers? They’re maybe thinking, “Is this the right moment, the right major, the best next step?” “Is it time to go forward or time to stay put?” How will I know?

I’ve been thinking this week about Jacob- he of Genesis 25-50- since this Sunday’s sermon is a story from his life. One night, you may recall (and this isn’t the sermon, fyi!), he stood at a crossroad waiting for what promised to be a difficult, eventful morning. A man approached and attacked Jacob. So they wrestled. But Jacob soon realized the stranger was an angel…or maybe God. Jacob says, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.” Bold, amen?! The godperson busts Jacob’s hip, changes his name to Israel, and says, “There. You’re blessed.”

Elusive story, but I find hope in the idea that wrestling with something, with God even, can take the form of blessing. When it comes to harvesting Chard, the comparison’s overdramatic. But other situations, meaningful situations, can feel exactly like wrestling. Unfortunately, sometimes, I’ve felt pressure to not wrestle, to make big decisions quick and clean. “Don’t have a 17-point plan for the future?! Why not?!” Answer: Because it matters and it’s complex and we want to get it right. I’ve met those who think (pretend?) such stuff is easy, who don’t understand my struggling, but it’s nice that God does. That God, even, will wrestle with us- challenge us to focus on what’s good and not what’s easy, push us to risk more than we think we’re capable of- offers peace during times we’re confused, worried or scared. For when we do take that step, whatever it may be, we’ll be confident the Lord’s with us, fighting for blessings for all involved.

Grace and Peace,
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