The year I turned 40 and was diagnosed with cancer, I decided it was time. No more dreaming about my wished-for farm out in the country with acres of land and a lovely old farmhouse. I was determined to have less grass and more vegetables. I wanted chickens free ranging among flowers and fruit. I longed to have my hands in the dirt from dawn until dusk, coming in only because my body was weary with fatigue but spiritually satisfied after a long day’s work.
In 2010, I sat among three raised beds and decided it was time. I couldn’t do much that spring–after two surgeries for uterine cancer, I was told to stay at home, take it easy and for goodness sake, don’t lift, push, or pull anything for a few months.
During this season, I also found myself at a spiritual crossroads. After much discernment and prayer months before, I had chosen to walk away from my church family. I was wounded by politics and even began to question my place in the greater Church as well. Simply put, I was broken, and I didn’t know where to turn for healing.
Searching for spiritual peace and trying to find God in all of these challenges, I ventured out into the gardens of my little suburban farm every afternoon. I sat among the sugar snap peas and lilies and tomatoes and learned how to “just be” in the midst of creation. God and I talked and cried and laughed as we watched snails climb up fence posts and chickadees build nests in trees.
As my body began to heal, I spent more time tending to the earth and tending to my spirit. I dug through tears, I weeded through frustrations. I prayed as I planted, and I listened as I harvested. It was out in those gardens that I finally surrendered the pain and loss and anger and began to experience a sense of reconciliation in my relationship with the Church. I had experienced the Creator’s grace not in the walls of a building but out in God’s great garden, and in honor of this gift, I christened our little homestead Growing Grace Farm.
From that point on, I committed myself to turning my suburban yard into a small homesteading farm. Less grass and more vegetables. Chickens free ranging around flowers and fruit. Hands in the dirt from dawn til dusk.
And what I have found is a deeper sense of peace and connection with my Maker. One that I feel called to share with people in my work as a spiritual director, retreat facilitator, worship leader, and friend.