Hoping For A Spirit Like a Field of Fireweed

Parker Palmer in A Hidden Wholeness writes, “Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.  Knowing this gives me hope that human wholeness — mine, yours, ours — need not be a utopian dream, if we can use devastation as a seedbed for new life.” I’ve been meditating on this concept again and again lately.  I can see how my mother’s death produced a seedbed for fields of wildflowers in my soul; the brokenness there in my story created a dynamic that formed in me an ability to sit in the darkness with others as well as a tangible sense of God’s presence in my story.  Looking backward at that story I can see how that brokenness bloomed into something beautiful; it’s not a perfect story – but I can still see myself as a whole even without having my mother prominently featured in the majority of my life story.

Where I’m struggling now is trying to figure out how my current brokenness will bloom into something thriving and lush and beautiful down the road.  I can see that infertility continues to increase my capacity for patiently waiting in uncertain and seemingly unfair situations.  I’ve learned a resilience, patience, and steadfast hope that I didn’t think was possible.

But, now I’m hitting a new point in the infertility journey.  The “so what?” portion.  So what if we can’t have kids?  What does that mean?  I had a dream for my life which involved a whole lot of kids.   As the days go on with no new pregnancy and my resignation from fertility treatments, I’m beginning to experience the death of dreams.  Langston Hughes’ poem, “Harlem,” which explores “what happens to a dream deferred” keeps popping up in the back corner of my mind.

The dream is slowly deflating like a mylar balloon.  And now, while I grieve the loss of the dream of biological children, I also am trying to re-imagine a dream.  I’m looking for a way to find a way to make a garden out of loss – rather than leaving my soul feeling forever charred and burnt by the trial of fire.  There’s this plant called fireweed that grows up in northern Minnesota (among other places), and it’s called fireweed because of its propensity to colonize heavily in areas that have been ravaged by fire.  The flowers are clusters of bright fuchsia growing up a stalk.  Seeing these plants is one of my favorite parts about driving along Highway 61 in northern Minnesota.    And that’s what I’m trying to find here in my story – something beautiful, something to look forward to once the fire damage is healed.

And, really, isn’t that what the Gospel is all about anyway?  What is the hope of resurrection – as Jesus was resurrected – if not, for the hope that new life will spring from death?  That death, that loss does not ultimately get the last word.  That something incredible, something mind-blowing, something radiant blooms from tragedy.  And that, dear readers, is what I’m waiting and hoping for.  Both in my narrow sense of this situation and in the totality of my life.

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