I caught myself recently telling someone …

that it was the funnest thing I do in life. (My husband, Hule, mumbled an indignant comment in the background :).)

What was that “thing”? Mowing.

Mown paths on our farm

My love affair with mowing began one summer when I was about 11 or 12. I wanted a 10-speed yellow Schwinn bicycle and my dad said if I mowed the lawn for the summer he would buy it for me. So, week by week that summer, I befriended the delightful smell of cut grass, learned the skill of pushing a purring machine in a straight line, and acquired a taste for this delicious cocktail of exercise, sunshine, aromatherapy and beauty.

Fast forward to 2014 when we moved to our Jessamine farm. We had only a push mower and the uneven terrain, big yard, and my age combined to quell my love for mowing until, low and behold, we were gifted with a lovely John Deere riding lawnmower. I was in heaven!

Besides mowing our yard, we had gotten a grant to plant native grasses, forbes, and flowers on several acres on the back of our property, and I relished preparing the fields with a thorough haircut before planting.

Some of our flowers and vegetation

Once the flowers and grasses came in (Purple Coneflower, Black-eyed Susan, Little Bluestem, Virginia Wild Rye, Tall Dropseed, Partridge Peas, and Illinois Bundle Flower), I began cutting paths through them so we could walk freely in the fields. This was the best! The sun would begin to set and I filled with endorphins and life-enhancing neurotransmitters as I finished up week after week during the summers. Eventually I began expanding the mowing to create what I called “living rooms”—little mowed spaces furnished with chairs or benches and decorated for rest, gathering or solitude, prayer and contemplation. I now have 9 living rooms…& counting:

1. Camp Julian

2. Hazel’s Haven

3. Julianne’s Hideaway

4. Sarah’s Secret Spot

5. Memorial Point

6. Naked Holy Rocks

7. The Forest Trail

8. Matt’s Man Cave

9. The Anchorhold

Sometime in the future I will try and feature each of these on the blog with photos and explanations.

Memorial point, a path nearby, and Hazel’s Haven

This year we added a new mower to our “fleet”. It’s an Exmark riding lawnmower whom I have named Hildegard, Hildy for short, after one of my favorite saints, Hildegard of Bingen. We also have been given a Honda ATV named Ruby, and when the sad time comes that the fields and paths and living rooms are all cut, Ruby and I go tour the grounds together surveying the Gardens.

Sunset at Loretta’s Living Room, Julianne’s Hideaway, and the path of Eden’s Loop

In Eden tending the garden and naming were the tasks given by God to the first humans. We were made for this. We find meaning, hope, and home, finding ourselves and one another, with our Creator, while tending, walking, and soaking in beauty.

Paths

I encourage you today, to go find Eden, observe place and nature long enough to name, find our Creator in an outdoor living room and chat, discover fun and meaning while tending the beauty of your place and paths.

The Anchorhold, Maggie’s grave at Memorial Point, and a Harvest Moon coming up at the end of a satisfying mow.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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I was born into motherhood nearly 39 years ago. It is one of the highest privileges and deepest mysteries I’ve ever encountered. Birthing and Mothering allows women to participate in Sacrament—in unconditional Love, Creation, Christ-mas, Baptism, and Communion.

I’ve written a poem for all mothers and their children, for my daughters, granddaughter, and for my mother. It only scratches the surface of this unfathomable mystery. I share it with you here:

I am Mother

by Loretta Goddard

I lie down and surrender to love and risk.

Protection withdrawn, my womb opens to receive another.

My fertile bed prepared by God opens its lips to the seed.

The race is on—unpredictable and exciting—one possibility meets thousands and chooses one.

A match is made

A fire strikes

Burning and burrowing beneath the soil of blood and mystery.

I wait. I look to stars.

I con-sider. I lie still.

Selah

 

We test “waste” to know your presence. We listen and peer in with sound waves.

I lie down once again and look to screen and risk seeing you and falling madly,

deeply,

forever in love.

I carry you around in my purse and pouch and put you on my refrigerator and marvel at the blurry, fuzzy jelly bean sized person in me,

Who is you.

I wait. I look to stars.

I con-sider. I lie still.

Selah

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I begin to pant and feel squeezing—tightness

Yes—pain

Intense—severe

I risk death with joy and moaning, for you.

You have kicked in me, punched my ribs, rolled like a bowling ball inside me.

How I have longed to see you and touch you and now it is immanent and I am scared.

As you emerge I am born.

I am mother.

I hold you.

I wait. I look to stars.

I con-sider. I lie still.

Selah

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I give my days and nights to you.

I give my body once again—my rest and food, vitamins and drink all churn inside me until milk comes flowing through my chest to nourish you…sustain you.

My hours are yours, my body is given—scarred, stretched, engorged.

This is my body, broken for you. Take and eat.

You snort and grunt, draw near to suckle, your hands knead like a cat on a blanket, like a baker with his dough.

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I wait. I look to stars.

I con-sider. We lie still.

Selah

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Covid-19 from the farm

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I began the morning while it was still dark–6:30ish a.m.

A quiet house

Heating blanket on

Furnace catching up from nighttime turn down to morning turn up

67 to 72 degrees

No coffee yet

Papers shuffled

Nest made

Bible at side…waiting

Candle lit

A week ahead

The new way…

Last week I was “off” from babysitting because it was my daughter’s spring break; but the whole world is shuttering now for the novel coronavirus–isolation, lockdown, shelter in place….  On Wilmore Anglican Church’s Sunday morning sermon Facebook feed, Hule echoed musings by Andy Crouch who was referencing Osterholm, an infectious disease specialist, asking:  Is this a blizzard? a winter? or an ice age? We went into this thinking–a blizzard–just a few weeks.  Now it’s apparent it will be at least a winter.  But with political stalemates and the tenacity of those numbers and climbing curve, and the falling stock market, we are all wondering if it’s ushering in a new metaphorical ice age.

Lord, You are in control and You are good!  Hule’s quote of “Granny Rene” is right:

“God is God.  God is good.  And God loves us!”  This is what we know.

But God, what are you up to?

I am reading the Old Testament book of Job.  What God was up to in Job was not apparent to Job’s children, his employees, his country, his wife, his friends–not even to Job; but from heaven’s perspective it was made clear.  In human eyes we might say, “That’s not fair!”  “I don’t get it!”  But God is God.  His ways don’t have to be explained or justified.  He is sovereign.  We are not equipped to push back the works of God, or meant to question them.  God allows Satan, with limits, to seemingly wreak havoc at times for His own purposes.  Jesus himself experienced that:

His corona–His crown–His thorny, blood-stained crown, because God loves us;

His isolation and His own body shut-up, quarantined–in a cave, a tomb,

While hell was harrowed.

And Job lost it all:  his livelihood; his house and farm; his children and his wealth.  When he faced the sudden calamity, the sudden blizzard, he said:

Naked came I from the womb

Naked shall I return.

The Lord it is who gives

and the Lord takes away.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

And “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.”  God is good.

Then entered winter.

Satan was given even more permission and Job’s body was ravaged.  Was it a novel virus that was unleashed on him?  His wife told him to “curse God and die.”  And Job said, “Shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil?”  “And in all this Job did not sin with his lips.”  When we never acknowledged that it was the Lord who gave and it was the Lord who provided good all along–when we think it was our own goodness that brought it about—besides being extremely blind and arrogant–we don’t know what we don’t know.

How is it that we believe so often that we create the good but it is God who brings the bad?  And how is it that we believe it’s all about us?  That our purposes are at the center instead of God’s purposes?  Do we fault God for acting like God?  …for putting His purposes above our own?

The suddenness of Job’s losses brought on a stunning: a sitting together on the ground in silence together for 7 days before a word was uttered.  A 7 day silence.  7 days of ground-sitting together before a word was spoken.  Something gigantic is there–something absent from our culture; a language few of us speak!  A practice foreign to our list of possibilities: sitting together 7 days in utter silence.

Be still and know that I am God

Be still and know that I am

Be still and know that I

Be still and know that

Be still and know

Be still and

Be still

Be…

It’s that empty, wordless nothingness–

Silence

Stillness

No raging

No questioning

No figuring out

No philosophizing

No doctoring

No leading

No consulting

No data collecting

But sitting still with the circumstance together with a few friends in wordlessness–on the ground:

We are but dust and to dust we will return.

Naked came we–Naked shall we return–Blessed be the name of the Lord!

This is part of practicing Lent.

And what we always know is:

God is God.

God is good.

God loves us.