I do not know why
Some plants grow
In the sun, and some
In the shadows,
But I do know
They still grow.
Morgan Harper Nichols
A long, rectangular patch of dirt runs along the side of our house. It’s a garden, but no one would call it that at the moment. Pine needles lie like a blanket on top of the soil, an old kale plant stands tall, yellow, and bare, and rusty tools lean on each other in a corner.
It will stay as is for the rest of winter, but when the weather warms up, this patch of dirt will become a garden again — full of lettuce, chard, white radishes, and an abundance of garlic chives.
My mother-in-law tells me the plants grow every year even when they aren’t tended well. The sporadic California rain pools on top of the silt-like soil and slowly drains into the ground, and somehow this is enough to keep the plants going.
This past spring the kids and I took responsibility to care for the garden. We watered it, attempted to keep the weeds at bay, and soon enough we witnessed tiny green sprouts everywhere in our garden.
One week after an unusual bout of steady rain for several days, the plants were wild with growth. The radish leaves hung over the sidewalk, begging to be cut and pickled into kimchi. The red lettuce was plenty for salads and wraps. The kale and chard were robust, and the garlic chives quickly took over its part of the land. I was most surprised though that they seemed to grow exponentially at night, without sun and without any human help.
Darkness isn’t one of the key ingredients that make plants grow. We’re taught plants need water, air, light, the right soil, and the right temperature, but darkness isn’t mentioned. I’m neither a botanist nor a gardener, but witnessing growth in darkness spoke volumes to me about our spiritual growth.
We’re keen to want light in our faith journey. We pray for clarity and direction, and we ask for plans and thoughts on our future. We ask God to grow us, lead us, teach us, mold us, but we’re surprised when He does this in the dark, in the middle of the night.
I’m learning we can’t know light without darkness. We can’t know life without death. We can’t know morning without night. We can’t know growth without first being a seed hidden and planted in the ground.
I’m in that place now. Like a seed, I am soaking in nutrients through mentoring, counseling, and cultivating life-giving relationships. But a seed only becomes a plant through its undoing, through its death, and I am like that seed. God is breaking me down to build me back up again. He is chiseling the uneven parts of my character so I can better reflect His holiness and goodness. He is revealing the broken parts of my story, the wounds that have stayed open for too long, and His loving hand is a balm. He speaks His truth over me like a mother shushing her crying baby with words of love, telling me He loves me even before I do anything for Him, affirming that I am His beloved, fearfully and wonderfully made.
I was afraid of being in the dark, of being hidden lest I become forgotten. I was scared of being undone, of exposing my hidden darkness to His healing light. But I’m learning not to fear the dark and instead to embrace this intimate and sacred space with God. He is good in this place, and He is doing good.
The seeds in our garden lay dormant, and on the surface, the garden looks hopeless and dead. But we wait. We long for the rains to come again, for the sun to warm up the land. And this is the promise we hold onto in the dark: seasons will change, and new life will come.
This is the promise we hold onto in the dark: seasons will change, and new life will come. -@gracepcho: Click To Tweet