I’ve been working on a gratitude garden with my children for school this week. We have been throughly enjoying schooling from home this year. Something we started before the virus and have now continued, with a more isolated form of homeschooling.
We are a family of homebodies so it isn’t that different, but by this point we have missed a lot of play dates and activities. One or two missed outings a week adds up, and the kids are beginning to get restless. Attitudes are becoming crumbier (so is the floor, but we don’t talk about that) and emotions are bubbling over.
I wanted to stop and talk to the kids about emotional health for a few weeks. Academics are important, but I’m more concerned with raising decent and kind humans than brilliant ones. I want to be intentional about pausing to care for our hearts. So we have been reading about God’s provision, the way He clothes the wildflowers. The things we see around us in creation. Springing up in worship of our savior, all of their needs completely met.
“In open fields of wildflowers. She breathes the air and flies away. She thanks her Jesus for the daisies and the roses, in no simple language. Someday she’ll understand the meaning of it all.” –Jars of Clay (Love Song for a Savior)
I’ve had this tattoo on my wrist for several years now. It is a memorial tattoo for my late sister and it reminds me of the way she lived. She was one of those people who saw the beauty in broken people or in things others might call weeds. She loved with abandon and inspired others to open their hearts.
It is a memorial and it is a gentle reminder. A reminder to constantly ask “Where is the beauty here?”
I thought for my entire childhood that fireweed got its name from the way it sets a hillside ablaze. One of my favorite sights is the purple richness of fireweed crawling up the side of a mountain or drastically draped against a glacier landscape.
I didn’t know until I was an adult about the love the plant harbors for charred ground. That this plant is usually the first to emerge after a fire has toppled forests.
It is dreams reborn from dust, beauty from ashes, renewal, and steadfastness in turmoil.
We measure time here in fireweed. It just keeps getting taller as the summer days draw on. It is no challenge to find a plant at least 6 feet high. They make fabulous wands and whimsical (albeit, flimsy) walking sticks. The kids hide among the greenery and scatter petals along the roadside. They are so in love with this beauty that is springing up from nowhere. Receiving no earthly care, but tended at the hand of the master gardener.
The tops start to get scraggly as autumn nears. The plant is beautiful for its season and passes gracefully on, releasing little puffs to seed the ground for next spring.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
So I cut and paste with the kids. I have them measure stem length and distance, and discuss colors and shapes. I figure we should make some schooling happen because “two birds, one stone” and all that jazz. Then we talk. We talk about the things God has already done for us. How we need to hold on tight to those and remember them for the hard days.
“He was a terribly bad hobgoblin, a goblin of the very wickedest sort and, in fact, he was the devil himself. One day the devil was in a very good humor because he had just finished a mirror which had this peculiar power: everything good and beautiful that was reflected in it seemed to dwindle to almost nothing at all, while everything that was worthless and ugly became most conspicuous and even uglier than ever. In this mirror the loveliest landscapes looked like boiled spinach, and the very best people became hideous, or stood on their heads and had no stomachs. Their faces were distorted beyond any recognition.”
Hans Christian Andersen (The Snow Queen)
We read and talk about how the enemy is so good at showing us the ugly things. The hard things and days where nothing seems to go right. Our fears. Failures and shame and how we need to constantly look toward the gratitude. We write down things that we love about each other and our lives and all the beauty God has given us. We search for goodness in the hard moments too.
I want desperately to give them their own reminder. Their own focal point that keeps them constantly asking “Where is the beauty here?” Something to set them on a path of resiliency and growth. That they might have Faith like Fireweed.