Oh friends, watch this bean.
It was dead, basically, the by-product of an earlier productive and blossoming life. Found itself dried out and useless, buried in the quiet and the dark. It stayed like that for a long time.
Then something within itself started breaking and shifting. Preprogrammed for growth, it sent out roots and grounded itself further into the dark where it was fed and watered in unlikely ways. Everything it needed, amazingly, it found in the dark. Reaching out deep and wide in every place it could, the bean gathered it all in as it continued to break and shift, shedding the shape of what it had previously been. It was like that for a long time.
Straining for the sun, it used its energy to build a new way of being. New structures that would aid in the continued feeding of a new kind of life. More roots digging deeper in the dark, more work reaching for warmth and light, the bean became stronger and more balanced than it had ever been, and almost whole.
The broken bean used what it found in the dark to reach for the light. And in the abundance of that balance, it started to produce fruit for the benefit of another.
Oh friend, does it sound familiar? If you’ve lived any length of a life, you’ve felt the pain of some kind of death or loss and the feeling of being buried. You’ve sat in brokenness, reached out for help, grown a new kind of life, strained for light, and produced fruit to help someone else. It’s a cycle that continues, season after season, as we live our lives and now, on the precipice of a new year and a new decade, I wonder, where are you in the cycle?
Is some part of you dying? Sitting in the dark? Are you reaching out in the midst of trouble? Shedding an old version of yourself? It’s my prayer that the new year contains everything you need to continue on in growth even when it’s painful. Have you broken through a crisis and found yourself changed by it? Are you more ready now than ever to produce fruit with your life that might help someone else? It’s my prayer that your blooming is directed well and that every bit of what you gained in the dark helps you walk a road of light this year.
Because that’s how we’re made. That’s how it goes. Step by step, our quiet breaking and growth builds something beautiful right where we are planted, in a garden with each other. And how wonderful.
In 2019, ‘cultivate’ was my word of the year, and before that it was ‘see’ and before that it was ‘story’ and of course, story is what it’s been all along. One big arc that sometimes makes sense and sometimes doesn’t but is always building to something more beautiful than I could have guessed. As Robert Frost famously said when asked what he’d learned about life: it goes on. And it does, in unexpected grace, beauty and blessing. In my life, in these past years, God has been slowly but surely cultivating a new way of living, a new way of seeing, and new structures on which to rely, find balance, and take in what I need. In this strangely sunny place, I can feel that it’s time to bear fruit. I wonder what shape it will take. I wonder what God will do next. This year, I’ll let him work as I keep on reaching for the light.