Winter in Minnesota is not for the weary. The cold wind will not relent. The snow continues to fall. By late February, I am whispering to myself, “This too shall pass.” When my spouse goes out of town for work, I make sure to get things on my social calendar to feed my extroverted side. Last week while he was gone, several friends had to cancel because they had “the crud.” Yoga got cancelled due to weather. I cancelled twice on people because twice my little Prius got stuck– once in the driveway that I shoveled before venturing out and once in the alley that was, indeed, plowed. I was not going anywhere.
I was sore from shoveling icy snow onto the piles that are now well over my head. I was sore from falling hard on ice and driving my hip bone into the sidewalk. Sore, cold, alone and going nowhere, I let myself wallow a bit. Just a bit. Then, like every February in Minnesota, I knew it was time to decide to fight defeat and go out to get life. On Sunday afternoon, Dan and I bought more house plants. We walked around the big greenhouse full of thriving flowers and plants, warmed by the sun. I took off my scarf, unzipped my coat and lengthened my neck. We picked out a few indoor plants and bought seeds, too. We potted our plants and planted our seeds. We added water. I sat down on the couch, dirt still underneath my fingernails, took in my living room filled with new life, took a deep, cleansing breath and smiled. That was all it took to know it would be okay. If you can’t go to the mountain, bring the mountain to you. It was a simple gesture, really, but it made all the difference in the world. There are plants, sitting in the sun coming through my window, living and breathing. They are my sign of hope that spring will come.
In Pastrix, Nadia Bolz-Weber suggests that when Jesus appears to Mary at the empty tomb, maybe she mistook him as the gardener because he was still covered in dirt from laying dead in the tomb for three days. “And how, even after we’ve experienced some sort of resurrection, it’s never perfect or impressive like an Easter bonnet, because, like Jesus, resurrected bodies are always in rough shape.” And of course it couldn’t be Jesus. Jesus was dead and this man in front of her, covered in dirt, was alive. How could life come from death? How could something come from nothing? Nadia reminds us that nothing is God’s favorite material to work with. This beautiful passage from Pastrix came back to me as I basked in the presence of my new plants. We so easily forget that God can bring life out of death. God can bring something out of nothing. February will not have the last word. “God simply keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the graves we dig for ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance, and our addictions. And God keeps loving us back to life over and over.”
When I feel cold and despair creep in, I go check on my new plants and seedlings. Life wins. I thank God for daily resurrection and God’s ability to make me new, to love me back to life over and over.