It was nearly twenty years ago, that I was completely broken and unarguably broke. Having married at 18, my first baby was born at 21. After her birth, I had sepsis that nearly died from. I survived, but a year later I buried the remains of my first marriage while I lay firmly in the clutches of yet another predator. It would take me several more slaughters and twenty more years before I would wisen to the ways of elite deviants.
Having been consumed to the very bone by this serial predator, I found myself and my child, literally with nothing. No. Thing. We moved into an apartment while various people gave us the necessities to survive. I had child support, but all of that money went to pay the rent. The predator had a pang of guilt and send me a $100 gift card for groceries. Humiliated, but with the hunger of the hopeless, I took the plastic and went to the high-end grocery store where he had purchased it. I selected with great care, food for two weeks. I pulled out the card to pay, but there was nothing on it. No. Thing. I can return to that moment now; the nausea; the heat in my whole body; the radiation of ruin. I could not pull out another card – everything was empty – including me.
My daughter was three, I think. We went to a local park and I was chatting with an elderly lady that I had gotten to know. I explained to her that I needed $10 for bread, milk, and eggs. Did she have any odd jobs I could do? She did. Her rock hard garden needed weeding.
I dug that dirt, wetting every inch of it with my outrage. I ripped and tore out every ruinous weed that choked out what should have been as if I were tearing away at the woman eating roots of ruin that wrapped around my appendages and pulled me into Sheol.
I went home with the $10 and bought, eggs, milk and bread at a low-end grocery store; my lesson in hand; my dignity obliterated. When I had fed and tucked my child into bed I cracked open the Word to a word I will never, not ever, forget:
“Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.” Hosea 10:12
Boy, did I have some serious unplowed ground. I had been scandalously easily led to slaughter over and over and over again. The rain of ruin fell hard and heavy upon my hung head.
I remember learning about the principle of sowing and reaping. I earnestly thought that if I sowed to the good, that in time, and with good care, I could turn this trauma train around. I was not wrong. What I didn’t count on was offenders in the fold. I hold the opinion that faith-based offenders are the worst because they prey along the lines of piety.
I set my hand to the plow. I dug up my own cursed ground. I sowed for myself seed of righteousness and I flooded the fields with my tears. I plowed the plains with my profound pain. I had lots of energy to pour into “right living.” I felt so deeply and fundamentally wrong. If I could make myself right, if I could sow to the good, then make, plow and sow, I would.
When I was a wee girl, a Texan farmer, turned preacher and his wife came to the little town of Truro, NS where my father, stepmother and my two siblings and I lived in a low-end apartment complex. That preacher and his wife loved their Lord and they loved the low. They didn’t know then, and they wouldn’t know until much later, that my alcoholic father was not only beating his babies, he was breaking them too.
They wanted to plant some gardens around the barren landscape of the apartment complex to “beautify” it. I suspect it was a way to engage the lost, the lonely, and the forgotten. All of the children, including myself were thrilled at the prospect. The day before the beautification extravaganza, my father beat me to unconsciousness. The last thing I heard my stepmother shrieking before I blacked out was, “Don’t kill her – you’ll go to jail.” I woke up naked in a cold bath with him peering over the edge of the tub – terrified. Even though I was only four, I could tell he was not scared for me, he was scared for himself.
The punishment in those days in addition to being smashed to smithereens was to be sent to bed for the day/night. I could hardly move, but I was heartbroken that I would not be allowed to plant the gardens. I remember the salt-soaked pillow that lay on either side of the head that I couldn’t move. It was the first time I ever had the opportunity to sow beauty and it was truncated by trauma.
That preacher came to the apartment and interceded on my behalf. Would my father please let me participate? He relented, dressed me in a turtle neck and long pants so no one would see all damage he had done. To this day I remember the broken trying to bend over and plant the fragile.
Some of you know that I/we just barely survived the last “him” a few years ago. Some of you know his name. I never speak it. I not only cannot, but I also will not. That space remains speechless. We moved cities last year to a new smaller but spacious place where nobody knows our names and we like it that way. The gardens needed revamping. Anyone who knows me knows that I DO NOT garden. Anyone who knows what happened to me knows why.
B and I, having survived to replant anything, went to the garden center. We chose beautiful things to plant in good soil. We were going to plant together. B was tied up at work and so I dug up the whole thing and planted it myself.
The soil was soft; the digging light; the beauty bright. I waited for the sorrow to seep into the soil. It did not. I listened for the low moan of mourning. It was silent.
I told that now 90-year-old Texan preacher that I planted a garden the other day. This is what he had to say…
My Dearest Friends,
The unplowed ground is not only worth plowing, but it is also worth planting, and it is worth protecting. I promise to keep growing and growing things well.