"In both my garden and my life, fear of risks does nothing other than tempt me to stand still. Opting not to engage in the things I can’t trust to succeed. I mistake stagnation for comfort and security. And then pass on opportunities for growth."
My potatoes were hit by a late frost last week, lining each row with wilted signs of failure – despite the careful attention we had paid to planting them.
Unfortunately, there is always the risk that crops like this will fail – the threat of weather, disease, or pests destroying them lingers constantly.
But in both my garden and my life, fear of risks does nothing other than tempt me to stand still. Opting not to engage in the things I can’t trust to succeed. I mistake stagnation for comfort and security. And then pass on opportunities for growth.
Leading me to ask myself, what exactly is it that I fear? Failure? A dead plant? Loss of effort? Someone or something dying? Pain? An idea that didn’t work? A swing and a miss? The burn of falling face down before other, more capable, feet?
I wonder, why do we equate failure to death? Using words like ‘dead’ and ‘dying’ to describe our efforts, places, people’s hearts and even our planet when we decide they have ceased to function as we believe they should?
It doesn’t line up with what nature and the Gospel have taught me so far. Instead, both insist that that what we may call failure, could be a gain. That sick things can be healed. The blind can see again. Resources that appear drained can be multiplied. What we call lost is capable of being found. With death can come life. And in that life, everything serves a purpose in the regenerative work of God.
On Easter we turn to the tomb and notice that death can actually be conquered and stones that feel permanent can be rolled away, revealing something entirely different than the cruel image we were left with on the cross. Encouraging us to see everything differently. Our eyes dancing at the notion of light shining into that empty tomb and revealing the true nature our Creator and how He runs this show we call life.
What Easter seems to want to teach me this year is that stopping is more dangerous than moving. And that my decision to cease is the only thing that leads to death. And that deeply embedded in the message of Easter morning is a call to activity.
Mary did not cease to act on Jesus’ behalf. Her story did not end at the foot of the cross. Where death urged her to believe things were complete. Instead, she showed up at the tomb and looked inside. When she didn’t find Jesus there she searched for him. And when she found him she went and told others what she saw. Mary never stopped moving.
Since last week, my potatoes have reemerged. New shoots brought forth fresh new leaves, and looking at them I doubt that the tiny little spuds growing below the surface ever skipped a beat during that short time when my eyes convinced me they were dead.
Karen is a former Bostonian who now resides on a small farm just north of Baton Rouge.
She loves scripture and her garden and often weaves both into her work as a writer. In 2017, Publisher’s Weekly described her debut memoir, Mustard Seeds and Water Lines as an ‘emotional and finely crafted’ account of her personal journey towards healing after The Great Flood of 2016, in their annual Book Life Prize review. And, as her story has made its way across the country, readers have consistently embraced her as an authentic voice with a message of hope in the wake of a disaster.
Karen is a wife, mother and weekly co-host of The Back Porch Book Club, a podcast designed to build community and conversation surrounding books about Spiritual Formation and the Bible.
You can find her on Instagram @karenmilioto or online at www.karenmilioto.com