“Move ON!” a little girl voice shouted from the porch.
She’d been watching me weed then went inside. During that time, I’d moved down the flowerbed but doubled back, pulling stray weeds I’d missed the first time in the tangle of morning glory vines. When she came out, she saw me bending at roughly the same spot as when she’d gone inside.
“You need to move ON!” (She’s no shrinking violet.)
Weeding and praying go hand in hand. I tug and clear and get dirty and think and talk to God and process my thoughts and feelings and listen to the birds and untangle morning glories. And God weeds my soul and cultivates my soil and could, like in the cemetery Easter morning, be mistaken for a gardener.
My aim this summer isn’t to weed perfectly, obsessing over one patch of dirt and plants. I pull the big ones, clear the edges, and move on.
But what about when we don’t move on? When we scratch the soil over and over in one place, ignoring the rest of the flowerbed, poring over our troubles, worrying the soil like we can read clumps of dirt like tea leaves?
A while later something caught my eye. When I was young I collected the dried mud cicada shells left behind by the bugs that crawled out of the dirt. I don’t like the siren calls of cicadas and I don’t like the live locusts flying anywhere around me, but watching one flutter and squeeze out of its shell was mesmerizing.
“Move on!” I wanted to say. “You can’t stay in there forever, you know, and now you’re halfway out. Keep going! The world is waiting and you cannot return to the ground you crawled out of.”
It can seem hard to move on, but consider how absurd it would be for the wet, stiff cicada to attempt to fit back in its dried dirt shell.
In what area is it tempting to stay?
In what shell are you comfortable?
What draws you to stay laboring in one spot over and over, turning the soil over and over, but never planting and moving on?
“Move ON!” There are pressing things just around the corner – in my case, burgeoning tomato plants loaded with promising yellow blossoms – and your eyes are settled on one patch of dirt.
There is promise and a new world and all you see is the struggle of escaping the shell.
This post originally appeared in 2017.