But he also needs the Great Milky Way
above him and the vast sea spaces,
though neither stars nor ocean serve his daily needs.
~Antoine de St. Exupéry
For me, autumn, especially late autumn, is a time for reflection, contemplation, and soul searching–a time for ruminating on the things that move me and make me who and what I am. And so as I worked out in the yard on this sunny last day of November, the windmills in my mind started churning up memories of the events that led to its door. Rather than covering every step of the journey, I decided to start when I found my “closed place” in this house with its spacious yards where I began to “strike roots.” In the beginning, though the home and its conveniences served my physical needs and provided me with creature comforts, relief from old emotional wounds and peaceful contentment remained elusive long afterwards. Years passed with little change in the status quo until one summer while recalling the beautiful flowers surrounding my childhood home (above) in California, I decided it was time to try growing my own flowers right here in hot old Texas. Since I wasn’t sure I’d inherited the proverbial “green thumb” of my ancestors, I resolved to begin on a small scale. So I cleaned off a corner of the patio, bought some bags of potting soil and an assortment of pots and seeds, and thus commenced what I know now to have been a pivotal moment in my life. From the minute the first seeds germinated, a soul-saving passion for gardening was being birthed in me. Despite the summer’s miserable heat, I faithfully watered and fussed over my thriving “little flock,” and it was those familiar flowery scents that were the catalysts which sparked my spiritual reawakening. The next summer with the success of the previous year under my belt and a renewed recognition of Ruach Elohim (the Spirit of God), I decided to branch out and actually sow seeds in the ground and dig a few holes for bedding plants. Success came again and with it the quickening in my spirit intensified so much so that I decided to take my recently commissioned mentor’s advice to attend church once more. This was the first step in righting the derailment of my faith journey that had begun after the early death of my father.
Scripture tells us that Christ is the vine, and we are the branches. Until those first two growing summers the branch that was Natalie had been withering, not because the Lord had been doing less but because I had been turning a deaf ear and blaming Him for the loss of my father as well as for painful, emotional wounds and the awful, unrelenting migraines that had started in my mid-twenties. Since then I have spent season after glorious season planting, replanting, listening, seeking His presence, and marveling at the wonders of heaven and earth. This pilgrimage that was involved in becoming the Natalie I am today has taught me that He, His Church, and His Creation, which includes the Great Milky Way, the vast sea spaces, and a garden, are the “holy foods” I must have to survive and live in peace and harmony. Now minute by minute in this place where I have deeply “rooted” myself, the hungering need for “more” has been forever silenced by miracles great and small, blessing upon blessing, and the amazing grace He continues to bestow upon me.
I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener… Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:1 and 4-5