Springtime! How many of you are thinking about getting the vegetable garden plot ready, or clearing out the flowerbeds?
Long ago and far away, I grew vegetables for a few summers. It was nothing prize-worthy, and the quantity was only what we could eat fresh with little to freeze. But there was a sense of accomplishment. Now I don’t grow vegetables, but I still try to coax flowers along. My front yard is under control. It’s the back yard that is an agricultural albatross. The soil is sandy, the climate is dry, and the terraced design that keeps the hill from sliding into the house also makes it difficult to water anything but the bottom level.
Yet I keep trying! Why do I do that, when it feels like so much work, and I do not especially get my jollies out of rooting around in the dirt?
I think it’s the surprise that those flowers are there because of something I did! It’s the mystery of orange daylilies unfolding. It’s the joy of a yellow swathe of sunflowers, and the wildness of purple and pink larkspur, and the determined announcement of survival that comes with white mounds of snow-in-summer.
Even though I don’t enjoy the work, I relish the beauty that results.
This time of year makes me think about the relationship to the land we all have. Our food comes from the land. The beauty of nature nourishes our spirits. I can look out my front window and see Pikes Peak as I type this sentence.
My faith reflections, too, turn to the land. We came from the soil, from the dust of the earth and enlivened by God’s Spirit. From their first consciousness, Adam and Eve were in a garden of abundance. Beginning with Abraham, God’s promises to his people included the promise of land that would sustain them for generations.
The land is a sign of God’s generous, creative abundance. In my determination to grow flowers, I am looking past barren circumstances and setting my heart on the hope that lies ahead.
Authors commonly hear the question, “What part of you is in this story?” As I think about my new book, Hope in the Land, I think the part of me in the story is the part that embraces the work now for the joy that comes later. Even though I’m not an organized gardener, there’s a part of me that looks around and sees what’s possible, not just because of my own labor but because of the ways I am connected to so many other people.
Hope in the Land is a Depression-era story that explores the various ways people respond to the land and to the hope that is in the land itself. When Henry Edison turns up in Lancaster County to survey farm women about their domestic contributions during the 1930s, the last thing Amish housewife Gloria Grabill has time for is the government agent’s unending questions. Gloria’s hands are already full with a farm to run alongside her husband, a houseful of children, and an English neighbor, Minerva Swain, who has been trying Gloria s patience for forty years. Gloria’s oldest daughter, Polly, wants nothing more than the traditional path of an Amish farmer’s wife, but everything she does seems to push Thomas Coblentz further away. While the Great Depression shadows the country in gloom, can Amish and English neighbors in Lancaster County grasp the goodness that will sustain hope?
Thanks so much for wandering over to my blog! Olivia is giving away a copy of HOPE IN THE LAND to one lucky reader. To enter leave a comment for Olivia. Giveaway starts today, Wednesday, April 6th and ends Wednesday, April 12th.
*Giveaway is only open to US residents*
Hope in the Land, releasing April 1, 2016, is the fourth novel under the banner of Amish Turns of Time, stories that explore points in time that shaped Amish history. Her Amish stories also include the Valley of Choice series.