I am terrible at growing plants. I have killed every plant I have ever tried to nurture.
I mean, I KILLED A CACTUS, ya’ll. True story.
I am a terrible plant mother. I am a better real mother. I mean, the jury is still out…but to date, all my kids are still alive. 😉
I think a lot about being a good mother, not just in the clothes/food/exercise/school/sleep departments but in raising my boys to be good men, men that love others and love God.
I want them to know God and follow Jesus when they’re ready. So I take them to church, and we fold our hands before meals, and talk about how Jesus lived and loved, died and rose again.
Most of the time, I feel like they aren’t listening, like somehow my “preaching,” and praying, and showing The Way isn’t reaching their hearts.
But I keep trying.
Like for Easter this year, I decided to try Something New. I had high hopes for Something New, like the Something New would result in this special moment in my sons’ spiritual education and relationship with God.
This is how it went:
Our church put together a contemplative walk for Easter Week. A couple from our church invited families to walk the trails in their woods marked with 14 stops, each with a chair for sitting, thinking, praying, and reading selected scripture from the last hours of Christ, ending with his death and burial. The story, of course, would be finished on Easter Sunday. Our pastor put together booklets with the scripture and invited people to come walk the trail.
Since my boys really are not huge fans of sitting still (or traditional church stuff), I though, “Wow! This could be great! It is really active. We can read the Bible! This is gonna be good.”
So on Good Friday, I loaded up all 4 of my little guys in the car: two 7 year olds, a 2 year old and a 3 month old.
The boys were ready to RUN! The pastor greeted us when we got there and tried to explain the walk as I squished the baby into the front carrier, kept one hand on Silas, and kept telling Micah and Benji to WAIT FOR ME! THANKS FOR THE PAMPHLET! K’ BYE!
And we were off!
We made our first stop. The boys fought over who would sit in the chair while I quickly scanned the scripture passage (wow! This is really long…ok! Paraphrase! Paraphrase!) Whoops! Ok, we’re off to stop #2!
And speaking of #2….before we were even 10 minutes in the woods, I hear this phrase from my 7 year old:
“Mom. I gotta go.”
“Honey! Pee or poop?” Please be pee…!
Gah! NOOO! This is the child who coined the frantic phrase “IT’S COMING CLOSER!!!”
I thought we were going to have to squat by a tree while other church members passed us by, contemplating their Good Friday in silent prayer. Don’t mind us! Just a little pooping going on here! But…a miracle happened.
“Don’t worry. I can hold it.”
After asking “Are you sure?” six times, we continued our walk.
Or run, I should say. The boys were going FAST. We kept catching and passing people on the trail. “Ok, boys.” I reminded them. “People are thinking about Jesus and praying. Let’s….ok! Listen! Let’s BE QUIET!!!”
We got to stop 6….and it started to rain. Oh….great.
It was just sprinkling. BUT I was alone in the woods with four children and we had 8 stops left to go.
“Uhh…I think we should go back, boys. It’s rain–”
“No, Mom! No! It’s ok! Let’s go!
So we went. I kept going, the rain-spattered scripture pamphlet in one hand, and a yellow race car and snack cup full of goldfish–compliments of Silas–in the other hand.
Despite the rain, it was a beautiful day and a beautiful walk.
There was a stream.
There were trees.
There were rocks.
There were big splashes.
There was dirt.
And sword fighting….all while I struggled to read them Bible verses about how Jesus prayed in the garden, was kissed and betrayed, then beaten and mocked, taken to the cross.
“Listen.” I urged. “Let’s listen!”
It started to rain a bit harder. The boys found a big rock and threw it in a mud puddle. SPLESCH! It made a great noise.
This is hopeless. They aren’t hearing anything I’m saying.
Silas kept falling down. Eli was slobbering all over the wrap because he wanted to nurse.
The boys kept running. “Woo hoo! This is the best day EVER!”
I was struggling to keep up. Why did I wear skinny jeans and nude flats for a walk in the woods? What is wrong with me?!
It was really raining now. Silas was crying because he fell down…again.
“Ok, boys. Ok. Alright…here. Last stop! ‘And they…um..they laid him in a tomb.’ That’s like a cave where they put people when they die. A man named Joseph gave the tomb to Jesus…ok…and we’re off again!”
We made it back to the car. The pastor asked, “How was it?”
I laughed a little bit. “Well, it was a little–DON’T GET MUD ON THE SEATS–it was a little crazy. I am not sure how much they heard. But they seemed to enjoy it.”
He smiled. “Well, you’re planting seeds.”
And I smiled back and nodded. And then I dashed to put all those little boys in the car because it was REALLY raining by this time.
Planting seeds. There must be a reason Jesus used that metaphor in his parables. Planting is dirty work, and pretty boring. There’s a lot of waiting, and hoping, and wondering if anything is going to come up.
There is nothing super-spiritual about the act of planting a seed. Just poke a hole, push the seed in, cover it up, brush the dirt off on your skinny jeans, and hope for the best.
I turned on the windshield wipers and backed out of the drive way. I glanced at the clock: we walked for almost an hour.
“That was awesome, Mom!”
“Yeah. This is my favorite day.”
I decided to gamble a question: “Do you guys remember anything we talked about while we walked?”
“Uh…about how Jesus died on the cross?”
“Yes! That’s right! Anything else?”
“Yeah, he healed that guy’s ear that got cut off with the sword! Right?”
“And he wore a crown of sticks on his head.”
“Yeah, thorns. And then he went in the cave. And then he rose from the dead!”
“Uh…no. That’s all.”
I smiled. That’s all.
It wasn’t some big spiritual breakthrough or deep conversations or special prayers or warm fuzzies. There was dirt and rocks, sticks and slow-down, crying and falling, yellow cars and goldfish, shushing and slobbering, poop-scares and rain. There was so much…Human.
And that’s what He came for.
Planting seeds…it’s enough.
UPDATE: A month after I published this post, Micah came to me and told me that he wanted to “follow Jesus with his life.” He was baptized the following summer. The seed? it sprouted. And it’s still growing. All glory be to God.