I didn’t want to plant my wildflowers this year.
For years I’ve bought a sack of 30,000 wildflower seeds in early February and then guerilla garden them like Johnny Appleseed on any patch of ground needing beauty. This year I bought my seeds around the New Year. I sought them out specifically because they are supposed to attract a particular species of hummingbird that I always wanted to see in person.
I stowed them in the trunk of my car and planned on scattering them in a section of forgotten dirt behind my office window. I couldn’t wait for bland and dusty to get transformed to wild and zesty. I imagined savoring the mischief and enjoying comments from my observant co-workers.
Then the world started to erode around me. A family member lost their job. I had to start wearing gloves to the grocery store and things that were reliable all my life were no longer trustworthy. It felt like the manual I’ve pieced together on “How to Live” got drastically revised, and I didn’t get the updated sections. And throughout it all I just kept thinking about those seeds, still in my trunk.
The first few weeks I subverted the issue by being prudent. I didn’t even know if I would be in my office to see the blooms, so I might as well save them. The next few weeks I told myself I’d be better off without them. After all, it’s just another thing to look after in such a turbulent time. As these half-truths were held and set aside I finally started to move into the land that I’m always reluctant to visit…
Sadness. Grief. Loss. Heartache.
The feelings beneath my anger and my fear. The ones that feel so much more than the heat of my rage, and the ones I’m struggling to hold even now as I type this.
I love laughter, mirth, mischief and silliness. I can make most people chuckle and a select few spit out their drinks. As a young man I never questioned that, like I never questioned my ability to sit with people in pain. And I never considered that the two might be connected.
As the years ticked on I awakened to the truth that my joy, my laughter, and my zeal had counterweights in my heart. My joy knew my sadness, my laughter knew my pain, and my zeal knew my stillness. God didn’t screw up in my design. I was beautifully and wonderfully made. But, believing that doesn’t make feeling sadness any less arduous. It feels so grown up, so mature. I always feel that I’m not the right man for the job when it comes to sadness, even though I’ve known so much of it.
So here I am with my sadness, allowing it to happen. Feels like I’m eight years old looking for Mom, like I’m thirteen years old needing Dad. In this moment it’s accentuating the pain of this life in high definition. It’s that hunger behind my heart and the worry I might be tearful at an “inopportune” time. It’s the tension of wanting to cry out and the fear of not being heard.
It’s just awful…
…and it’s so necessary.
It’s the messenger that will wait years for my attention, patiently and calmly. Some messages of grief have become so old on the doorstep of my heart that they forgot the content, but unfortunately still look the same. Today I know that I must struggle to feel them. I must let them in. For grief isn’t here to tear up my life and cause wreckage. It’s the gentle caregiver that sits with me in my tears, holds me in my weakness and heals my heart to hold hope again.
It’s my grief – my terrible, awful and majestic grief – that allowed me to get my sack of wild beauty out my trunk and scatter it over the ground. It’s my sadness that reignited my hope to see a hummingbird I’ve never seen in person.
So for this moment I’ll feel my sadness. I’ll live with the tension that feeling this might cause me to live outside of my pre-approved parameters. I’ll bear the burden that my sadness might reveal a need. I’ll let go and grieve. And, hopefully, I’ll watch those wildflowers grow and finally see that hummingbird.