planting a generous mercy

We planted our garden this weekend: tilled soil, sowed seeds, tucked plants into their designated plots. There's nothing as hopeful as a newly planted garden, I kept telling myself. Zinna seeds are more like ashes, like pencil shavings in my hand than anything else. How do they hold two leaves, let alone the promise of bouquets and color?

I walked up the hill to check on things while the kids napped today, the grass still a little damp from last night's rain, and found that some birds pecked up our lima bean seeds. In the rain pocked dirt those white seeds shone like teeth. I'm stubborn enough to poke them back in the soil even though they've already gone soft and may never sprout.

I'm writing about gardening when I really am thinking about forgiveness. I guess I could make a connection because Saturday and Sunday with my hands dirty and my back to the sun I kept thinking about generosity and mercy and how stingy I am with both.

Last week, I was gifted a piece of art (more on that later) for no real reason, maybe simply because I liked it. It set my thoughts spinning though, sifting through what exactly it means to be generous. I do enjoy sharing and giving away things--much to my thrifty husband's chagrin ("that's our only copy of that book," "I thought you really liked that dish"). And though the happiness of an object is fleeting most times, the joy of receiving some generous praise or gift or action resonates. We've been taught to fight for what is ours, to claim it, to box others out--but what if we just opened our hands and allowed the wind to work? To scatter seeds like ashes and hold out for the blooming?

If you are anything like me and lash yourself to the faulty mast of others opinion, then hear the whispering questions rustling through my mind the past few days:

what does it hurt to let another be right? to take some of the credit that is really probably yours? what rewards come with being generous with your time? what do you have to give that could bless someone else? what if we stopped seeing generosity as giving things away and started seeing mercy for what it is--a gift for the giving every day? what if you prayed with your hands outstretched and empty instead of clasped together? forgive the clinging and loosen the grip.

I gave myself to the earth this weekend, not really all that confident that we'll be harvesting bushels of tomatoes or okra...but I tended and am trying to trust.

I'll keep walking up the hill and checking the growth. Hopeful, expectant.

Trusting in the unseen unfurling.