Hope swells from every about-to-burst bud, cracking egg, and sprout. Earth is awakened with the Spring Sound. Returning songbirds announce warmer days are here for new life begin. Spring feels alive, well-rested, new, fresh. There’s a certain magic in the breeze that blows in and around our very beings. It awakens new ideas and brings life to old ones that have sat dormant during the harsh winter season.
Our living room is bursting with baby plants of all kinds. So many varieties of flowers. Tomatoes that will bear fruits of all the rainbow’s colors and sizes from 2-pound beefsteak to tiny garden-snacking grape tomatoes. There are cruciferous seedlings being protected in our greenhouse living room; enough cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale to keep us crunching from late spring into summer. Delicate little celery sprouts that always take longer to peek their tips out, and eager sweet peas that long to climb the garden fence; all ready to get out of their cramped little pots and into the garden where their roots stretch out like a traveller after a long flight.
Watching these little seeds sprout in their first home (which also happens to be our home) has always brought me a bubbly, child-like joy and fills my heart with hope. This year, I couldn’t keep my eyes off them. I didn’t know why, at first. All I knew was that gazing at their delicate, dedicated beginnings was stirring something in my heart. I allowed myself to stare at them as often as I wanted without feeling sheepish or strange, and I knew, in due time, I would discover something.
It came to me one February morning, as the very beginnings of a book started to “sprout” from my mind onto the page. I suddenly realized these wondrous little seedlings reflect our creative process. It starts with a tiny seed. We tuck our dreams, songs, ideas, books, poetry, formulas, words, deep within our hearts and let them quietly germinate for as long as they need to until there is a sprout. We see there is life on it and we water it, nurture it, and keep it away from harsh winds and extreme temperatures. If we expose our little seedling too early, it will die. So we continue caring for it in the secret place, making sure it gets just enough sun from the windows. As the seedling matures into a baby plant and the warm spring breeze begins to softly blow, we must take our little plants outdoors to harden off. Just a couple hours at first, not in direct sun, and only on a mild day when the breeze is gentle enough to strengthen it’s stems but not blow them over completely. With each day, the little plants harden off longer and longer outdoors, until they are strong enough to be tucked into the earth. If we don’t release them into the world to stretch their roots deeply, to feed from the soil, and to bear fruit that will nourish us and others, they will become root-bound and die. It can be scary to release them to that vulnerable-feeling place, but it is where they were made to go or else they would never get to fulfill their destiny and bear fruit. Their fruit will be worthy of gathering friends and family around a table; a gathering table, the epicenter of humanity, where laughter, good food and drink are enjoyed. A place where memories are created, ideas are shared, stories are told, and news is spread. There would be no feast if those plants weren’t first nurtured, protected, hardened off, and later planted in the earth at the right time.
These little plants have given me permission to keep new ideas inside of me for a time. At first it's something only between the Creator -- the one who first planted the seed inside my heart -- and I. We fertilize it with our relationship and His Word alone. They are a sweet little secret that we get to cultivate, nurture, protect, and care for. When the idea is formed enough, I surround myself with a few safe friends and share it with them. Their input is the soft breeze that brings life and strength. Eventually the idea needs more room to grow. It's no longer healthy to keep it inside and the gentle breeze of my friends has helped it begin to mature into a more tangible form (the book/song/formula/movement...). The matured idea must be planted into the earth so it can continue to stay alive, strengthen, and grow into the offering it was always intended to become.
My little seedlings revealed to me that those most precious ideas have been planted in our hearts because we were the perfect starting place for something that has in it’s very DNA the potential to change the world. They start with one person, but cannot continue to thrive without a safe community to strengthen it before being planted into the earth. My seed babies taught me the intense importance and interconnection of those ideas that start from deep within, then rely upon close-knit, loving community to strengthen it enough to thrive in and nourish the world. Each part of the process, no matter how insignificant or overwhelmingly huge it can seem, is vital for an idea to mature into an offering that eventually betters this beautiful, needy world.