There are places in our world, and our hearts that feel so utterly dead; it feels like nothing hopeful could ever grow there again. Areas that we and others turn away from because to face the grave's lifeless place reminds us of the temporal condition of our own lives.
I have a compost pile on our property. It is a stinky place sometimes, filled with dead plants, kitchen scraps, and pony manure. I wouldn't say I like to hang out there. I just dump the waste and move on.
December 2019, I had some pumpkins that I no longer needed for fall decorations, so I wasn't sure what to do with them. I know - I could have cooked them and made all sorts of pumpkin deliciousness, but I didn't feel up to it, so please don't judge me. My husband, Larry, had a good idea. He thought I should use them for target practice with my little shotgun. We put them on hay bales and had great fun watching the pumpkins explode as I shot them. After I finished shooting, we tossed the shot up, pumpkins into the compost pile, and forgot about them.
Winter came and went. I used the tractor to turn the compost pile so that the waste would be equally distributed. The pumpkins were long forgotten, as were all the other scraps that I had covered up in the compost pile, like a grave.
Sometimes my heart is like that. My anxiety or grief gets buried in the rumble of the compost of my life. Sometimes I feel like hope or happiness is gone, and there is no chance of anything ever growing in the garden of my soul again. Sometimes my heart feels like a grave.
Late this spring, after a tornado hit our area and the COVID pandemic was just picking up steam, I was in one of those "grave" seasons. I felt hopeless and anxious. I was surprised when I walked by the compost pile and saw a vine with the biggest leaves I had ever seen in our garden. I almost reached down to pull out the vine but decided to use an app on my phone to identify the mystery vine. Much to my surprise, I saw that it was pumpkins. Not only pumpkins, it turned out that they were the unusual variety that I call Cinderella pumpkins.
The shot-up pumpkins that I had discarded the previous year had sprouted and were flourishing in the compost pile's rich soil.
I loved to visit my accidental pumpkin patch throughout the summer and was amazed to see the abundance of beautiful pumpkins growing there.
It reminded me of those sorrows in my life that are lying dormant. Buried, like a grave, so I don't have to even look at them. Discarded hope - because it's too risky to hope.
But friends, we can hope. God is working in those barren, hopeless places of our lives to bring forth a garden. A garden of love, delight, and surprise. Maybe not what we pictured, but beautiful in its own space and time.
Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.