I look up to see the path I have been following end abruptly. I scan my surroundings to see an overgrown patch of land, a mess of trees, rocks, and weeds. I had heard a sacred call to follow this path to its end. But this is not where I expected it to lead. I thought I would find an open field, where I could be put to work, planting anew in this land that I had explored, following the sacred call where it led. But instead, I was met with a tangled mess.
I had spent years, faithfully scouring the grounds, discovering new frontiers, and cleaning out the messes uncovered. Each time, I carefully pulled weeds and tended the land that was fruitful. I took care to remove roots that caused me to trip and weeds that ensnared. And I nurtured the plants that brought life, to myself and others, seeing this as my divinely given purpose. Each piece of land uncovered was unique, with its own traps and snares – and its own beauty. Those years of tending to the grounds were grueling, requiring me to lean on the One who made me for strength and comfort, teaching me to trust in the goodness of the divine.
During those years, my days were long, hours filled with examining plants one by one. Day after day, I sat amidst the chaos, inspecting each plant carefully to determine whether it was a weed or a flower. Sometimes, I came across weeds that were so beautiful I couldn’t let them go. And other times, there were flowers that upon further examination, were causing the ground around them to rot. It took such careful attention. And I didn’t get through it unscathed, so many scrapes and bruises, from thorns that pricked me to roots that caused me to tumble down. But day after day, I kept at it, believing that if I was faithful in these things, I would someday be tasked with a sacred, beautiful work to accomplish.
And so, as I came to the end of my path today, I found myself confused. I had done the work of tending to all the fields on the grounds, being faithful even when the work was hard. When I heard that last sacred call, I expected to be led outside of my grounds, to see the beauty of the world. I planned to journey to a new land, a place where I could help others flourish by showing them how to tend to their own grounds. But instead, I found that there was yet another field for me to manage within my grounds.
How had I missed this field in my earlier explorations? Did God hide it from my sight because it would be too much for me to handle? Did I even have what it would take to face this field? Wasn’t it hidden in depths of my heart for a reason?
I didn’t want to be here. My heart began pounding and my hands sweating. I turned around to run, assuming I must have made a wrong turn. But as I did, the roots of one of the trees expanded right in front of my eyes, trapping me here within this blighted land. I looked to my right and saw what seemed like an endless tangle of weeds growing. And to my left, rocks too numerous to count, seeming to multiply before my eyes. Behind me, the roots of the trees blocked the way. I couldn’t run, but I couldn’t face this. It was too much. I started to fight, trying to force the roots to move to allow me to leave. But I just ended up with scrapes and bruises all over my body. I guess there was no escaping it now. I needed to get back to the ground and tend to the roots, keeping what was good and tossing what no longer served me. But I was frozen, overwhelmed by just the thought of it.
Suddenly, I collapsed to the ground. As I did, a mossy cover softened my fall. I lay and slept for what seemed like a blink of an eye and days all at once. When I awoke, my surroundings looked very much the same, but the pounding of my heart had slowed helping me to feel calmer. And in the silence, I could hear a whisper. “Sit my child. I know this wasn’t where you expected the path to lead. But take courage, I am here with you. This land was hidden deep in your heart and needs tending. It will be painful, and you will need breaks. Take it moment by moment. I will be here to comfort you in the dark and lonely nights. And though you can’t see it now, much beauty will come through this sacred work.” And so, I started, kneeling amidst the chaos, sorting through the tangled mess, believing in the promise that one day there would be beauty again.