It’s June, and I am spending a lot of time working in the garden, thinking of my Grandpa Gordon. Gordon was the son of an Idaho apple farmer, but he worked in a sawmill and raised his family during the Depression in this tiny house by the railroad tracks in the Spokane Valley. He still loved working the soil, so he kept a tiny garden in the summers.
When his daughter (my mother) married and started a family, she and my father moved to California, part of a wave of migration that occured in the 1940’s. Grandpa was crestfallen that his grandchildren were taken from him, and after a few years, he and my grandmother followed us to California.
I don’t think Grandpa would have ever left Spokane, except that he missed his family so much. He wasn’t the wandering type. The burgeoning Los Angeles suburbs must have been disorienting and lonely at first. He and Grandma had to leave behind all the people and places they were accustomed to. But they found a little house about the size of the one in Spokane, where they began a new life in their sixties.
And then, they discovered the California growing season: it was about four months longer than the growing season in Washington! Grandpa and Grandma proceeded to fill their postage stamp-sized garden with plants and flowers of every kind. When it was so full there was no room to walk, Grandpa started in on the garden at our house. He filled it with daisies and shrimp plants, fuchsias and bougainvillia. A puddle of violas appeared beneath an avocado tree. Passion flowers climbed on the horse corral. Outside my window, fragrant narcissus came up one spring. I had no idea how they had gotten there.
Grandpa was not nomadic. If he could have, he probably would have stayed on his father’s farm in Coeur d’Alene for his entire life. But circumstances like the Depression and his daughter’s departure forced him to be transplanted in new places. Amazingly, he bloomed wherever he was planted!
At some point in your life, God has asked you to venture into some new territory you did not want to enter. Maybe that’s happening now in your congregation. In the church, we sometimes talk about church planting–starting new churches. We might also talk about church pruning (downsizing to help a church thrive better) or church transplanting (moving to a new building or neighborhood where your mission might thrive better). Since churches are truly organic things that live, grow, change and die, think of yourself as part of that living garden, and ask yourself if you have the capacity to bloom in a different garden.
And if not–if the spiritual season seems to be autumn, imagine your flowers losing their petals and curling back into the soil. From the hidden seed, what new thing might grow?
Consider your grandpas and grandmas, and all the changes their lives saw. Is anything impossible with God?