Sweet Relief

I remember being a child and running outside to find my mom on her hands and knees in one of her gardens.  I remember these times being mostly after dinnertime when Florida's hot, humid heat was no longer hammering down on us, when all six of us had been fed a hearty dinner, after she'd already fed us breakfast, lunch, snacks.  After she did laundry for six, hung most of it out to dry, kept a clutter-free, clean home, and worked as a nurse part-time. Of course then how these things all came to fruition, daily, never even occurred to me.  They were just mom things.  She took good care of us like that.

She always went out in the evening to weed; said she loved to weed.  She'd talk out loud to herself while she picked each and every annoying intruder, and she'd groan a little as she moved her body along like I imagine a field worker picking cotton from sunup til sundown must have done, and most likely all the time in between.

I know for sure now that she was working out her mind's troubles as she yanked those weeds and talked to herself out loud.  Unlike her, you will never hear me say that I love to weed, because I really dislike weeding.  But I love my garden beds like she loves hers.  And more importantly, sweet relief seeps into me with every little bit of time to myself, plucking noxious thoughts out of my mind.  I understand that time now.  I even talk out loud to myself.  Recently, I was pulling weeds and Theo was nearby.  He called over to me, "Are you mad, Mama?"  Oh, I smile.

I've got something heavy on my mind.  It's been bothering me for awhile now.  It involves my children and their future schooling which makes everything so much worse. If I think about it too much (and some days I do), that clear, calm relief comes to me when I'm tending in my yard at day's end, when everyone has been fed and cared for.  And then last night I read these words that instantly brought these tough issues to mind.  They read like the balm I've been needing to ease my worried mind:  "...there is something just past the heartbreak, just past the curse, just past the despair, and that thing is beautiful.  You don't want it to be beautiful. at first.  You want to stay in the pain and the blackness because it feels familiar, and because you're not done feeling victimized and smashed up.  But one day you'll wake up surprised and humbled, staring at something you thought for sure was a curse and has revealed itself to be a blessing--a beautiful, delicate blessing."

So I don't know what will happen in the end.  I did go out and get involved for once with our school district and community, instead of feeling sorry for my family and all the families I know who are in the same boat.  I'll keep weeding and tending because that is how I learned to care for myself--thank you, Mom--and with great care, either way, I will tuck those words in my back pocket.

--quoted words by shauna niequist, cold tangerines--


  1. lovely words.
    whatever it is that is bothering you...it will unravel itself and you'll figure it out because you have that as your end plan.

    And yes, keep weeding! It's such a good metaphor!