A Time of Solitude & Gratitude
As a gardener, can you even imagine? What if this time of social isolation and confinement began during January’s cold, desolate grip? As the world around us has come to a virtual standstill and life as we know it has been upended, I have found great comfort and hope in the budding of trees, greening of grass, and returning of songbirds to my yard.
Despite the cancellation of plant sales, conventions, and classes, along with church services, festivals and, yes, desperately needed hair appointments, there is one thing that has not — and cannot — be cancelled…
Spring is not cancelled. And I’m grateful. Opportunities abound to walk among emerging flowers, to get our hands in the dirt, and to watch in awe as all of God's creation comes to life around us. Let’s never forget the wonder of it all.
Prior to the pandemic, I longed for more times of solitude, but when isolation was thrust upon me and everyone else, that longing subsided and was replaced with feelings of inconvenience and, yes, a healthy dose of concern. There’s a difference between isolation and solitude. Both imply being alone or separated from others, but solitude is something we often seek out whereas isolation is something we try to avoid.
Is it a matter of perspective? When all this passes by (and it will), I wonder whether we’ll look back and wonder why we didn’t see it as an opportunity to finally experience times of solitude and reflection, rather than viewing it entirely as isolation and a great inconvenience.
That’s not to say that I haven’t struggled over not spending time with friends and embracing loved ones, or stressed over the economic impact and health risks. I have more than you know. As someone who loves a good hug and whose husband is among the millions suddenly out of work, the struggle is real. Despite my deep love of nature and the spring garden, I know that true meaning and joy comes through relationships with people, not plants, and that those hundreds of hostas in my garden aren’t going to fund my retirement account.
However, in the midst of it all, I’ve allowed myself to feel the delight of strolling among woodland flowers, sitting and watching morning sunlight stream through my windows, and avoiding an overly protective bluebird who dive bombs me any time I walk near the nest box where, encased inside five tiny eggs, are new feathered friends I can’t wait to meet.
I’m really not alone, you see. And neither are you.
If you’ve felt isolated and alone during this time, I am right there with you. And so is Jesus. I hope you will join me in embracing the moments of solitude, rest, and joy that are there for the taking.
Remember that spring is not cancelled. And neither is hope.