Sunday, March 28, 2010

Growing in Grace

We're at a point in our lives when we're becoming very rooted. I'm not ruling out any mid-life crises to come, but things feel stable, united, peaceful overall. Maybe not moment to moment, but definitely year to year. S. and I see friends and relatives still in the crazy, three-kids-and-moving-to-yet-the-next-apartment phase, and it feels good to have fiiiiinally gotten past that ourselves, knock on wood.

I thought it might be boring in middle-aged prosperity, but it turns out it's not. (Though S. might disagree, stuck in an office most of his waking hours.) I feel like there's plenty of scope for adventure despite not having to apartment-hunt long-distance while nursing a newborn while...well, you get the idea.

One of our latest enterprises reflects my budding middle-aged feelings rather well: we've ordered apple trees for our backyard. Two have arrived already and were planted with care, and one more should be on its way soon. Since we planted two (non-apple) trees last spring as well, and one of them may grow to be 70 feet tall, it was harder than we thought to fit all five in our plot without them crowding each other or shading my beloved garden. I spent quite a while out back with a tape measure and a piece of scratch paper on which I had estimated the space each tree required, pacing distances and placing sticks in the ground as markers. I had to redo that spacing more times than I can count, since each tree was so dependent on the other for pollination. I'm still not quite sure I got it right, but I think I couldn't do any better, which is almost the same.

So the trees are growing. They're beautiful out there, so spindly and yet graceful, with such promise of fruit. Today in church I was looking down the row at my kids, thinking about how much I take them and their sweet little desires for granted, and realizing how much I'll miss them when they're grown and I get all my coveted personal space back. When we planted them, so to speak, we had no real idea of whether or not our enterprise would be a fruitful one, but we had faith that it would.

There's a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants that I've thought about a lot recently. It says: "And I consecrate unto them this land for a little season, until I, the Lord, shall provide for them otherwise, and command them to go hence; and the hour and the day is not given unto them, wherefore let them act upon this land as for years, and this shall turn to them for their good." I remember having that scripture pointed out to me years ago, it seems to me in the context of the life of President Howard W. Hunter, who only served as prophet for nine months or so. I've tried to have the faith to live "as for years" ever since, through all the uncertainties and uprootings and seeming impossibilities. Even when we knew we were only living in a place for a limited time, we always tried to act as though it were for forever, and we've grown immeasurably through that attitude.

So we plant our apple trees and imagine kids and grandkids climbing in them, and hope for the future fruit -- if not for ourselves, then for others. And in the meantime, while we're waiting, I'll sit in church and rejoice in my children, already bearing fruit: the closing hymn today was I Know That My Redeemer Lives, which happens to be Ian's favorite, and he was singing with his eyes closed and his chest thrown out and the whole congregation could hear him. If you've never seen this kid sing, you've missed an awe-inspiring scene.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Round the Corner

Three miles from our house are the rolling hills of Ashland and Mt. Cuba. I've always loved the human-sized perspective of hills, the impression they give that something bright and new is just over the horizon. We live in a good place.