Yard Culture and the Landscapes of Life

A few years ago, we moved into our neighborhood which I adore. When we moved in, I said to Tim, “This place has a yard culture.” He said, “A yard culture? What’s a yard culture?” I took him outside and had him look down the street at our neighbor’s lawns, which were by and large green, groomed and tidy. We live in a beautiful historic urban neighborhood. Most people take pride in their manicured lawns. Since this is the city, it is a postage stamp sized yard, so these are not big sprawling spaces. Once we noticed this, we fell in line. We lined up a lawn care service and got out there ourselves to pull weeds, plant flowers and try to keep things green.
This summer I’ve been noticing landscapes. When I travel to the mountains, there is not much yard culture–aspens, columbines, poppies and weeds grow wild and free together While visiting Israel, I was struck by the different landscapes of desert, mountain, and sea–the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee, and the desolate Wadi Qelt of Saint Georges Monastery (pictured above).
Our souls also have landscapes. We have seasons of lush, green, fruitful living when the beauty and consolation of God’s provision and blessings abound. And we have seasons of dry, arid, seeming deadness and lack. Here the brutal is front and center and the desolation of our circumstances and interior world seem without hope.
In all of these seasons, God is present. In all of these seasons, there is an invitation to grow. In all of these seasons there are gifts if we are awake to see.
Sometimes we need to throw out our neat and tidy lawn mowers and embrace that wild and free landscape that our souls long for. Some days, we need to wake up with no agenda, no devices, and no productivity. Just as beautiful things grow in the unmanicured landscape of the mountains and desert, so beauty blooms in me when I allow space to follow my heart.
“If you cannot go into the desert, you must nonetheless make some desert in your life.” -Carlo Carretto, Letters from the Desert

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