Usually when I write a post for Estuaries, I have a story in mind, complete with a beginning, middle, and end. Sometimes there’s even a nice bow wrapped around it.
Today is not one of those days. In the emotional sense, you caught me on a bad hair day. But if I’m honest, much of life consists of wandering around with average-to-worse hair days, hoping for that magical day about once a month when my hair looks great.
So, rather than wait for things to turn around before writing this, I figured I would speak from this space.
Copyright: limpido / 123RF Stock Photo
For the past couple years, I’ve been learning about gardening. I find it life-giving and meditative to nurture these strange living creatures we call plants and to receive the beauty of life and breathable air they offer back.
Except I don’t exactly know how to do this, so I consult with an array of YouTube gardeners to learn from the best.
In the Bay Area, we can take for granted that pretty much any plant will look beautiful for most of the year, year after year. As it turns out, most of the rest of the world experiences something called seasons.
I follow a gardener on YouTube who lives in Eastern Oregon. Every month she pans the camera across her gardens to show what it looks like for that season. Watching these monthly videos, I’m struck by how long and devastating the winters can be.
After the snow melts in spring, there is extensive cleanup work involved, and often there are several plant casualties. As temperatures rise, many flowering plants and bulbs emerge out of dormancy, and spring is filled with teeming, abundant life.
Yet winter will come again with the same devastation year after year.
I’m amazed that gardeners like her don’t give up. The winter causes so much chaos and the work involved in bringing the garden back is so involved that it seems more rational not to try again. It’s too much work to foster all this life, only to lose it.
Yet, year after year, this gardener and many like her anticipate the joys of spring and gear up for winter as it comes.
Even though it is now spring, I’m in my own winter season of sorts. I have been through several hard winters the past few years, and I was finally enjoying a rich season of peace where many moving pieces in my life were beginning to settle.
But just last week, while traveling out of the country, I found out unexpectedly that I can no longer stay in my beloved office space. And with that a winter storm came in for me.
Many things have not gone well for me recently. Establishing my small business at a new location in San Jose symbolized the peacefulness that would come in this next season. I felt that I could finally relax and stay in this new place for a long, long time.
When circumstances unexpectedly changed, I felt like the rug got ripped out from under me. I felt more than the unexpected stress of needing to find a new office and move. I thought, Why would God let this happen to me when this was supposed to be my season of peaceful refuge? And in moments of greater stress I’m tempted to think, This shouldn’t be happening to me because I’ve already gone through enough.
I sometimes feel betrayed that God would allow such a huge storm to come through and wipe away so much of the hard work I’ve put into my livelihood. I can grow fearful that somehow this could be a bad omen for my business. I can think, Maybe I’m not cut out for this after all.
Turns out I’m capable of throwing internal tantrums of the two-year-old variety. And it’s not pretty.
Like I said, you caught me on a bad hair day.
In the midst of this, I find myself feeling comforted by remembering the seasons. I’ve found myself going back to some YouTube from last winter, which was especially harsh in some parts of the country. I commiserate with the fear of the gardeners who expressed their fear that some plants may have died or roofs had caved in because of the snow load.
Then I jump ahead to current springtime videos and see lush tulips and flowering trees that have emerged from their winter dormancy. It’s as if winter never happened.
This is an unexpected storm for me. It may cause some destruction along the way. But as I wait through my winter, I can trust that spring will come and God has new life lurking for me somewhere.
Though it may seem impossible, perhaps this is an opportunity for something new and good. For now, I’ll keep moving forward with hope that spring will come again someday, just as it always does.
Marie Fang has attended The River since 2012. Before moving to the Bay Area, Marie was involved in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and at Coast Vineyard Church in San Diego. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and works part-time at Christian practices in San Francisco and San Jose.
Marie and her husband, Daniel, have been married since 2009. Marie is passionate about learning to love those who are frequently unloved and guiding others in their journey of developing a healthy sense of identity.