Here it is! The chickens couldn't be happier! And I'm pretty thrilled too!
Some of my best musings are done in a quiet morning garden. The air is cool before the heat of the day, the grass still dewy and my mind focuses on my tasks ahead. But somehow, in the midst of my mind churning with the to-do list, the garden always beckons me to be still. God talks loudest in these moments. It is like all of nature is a storybook for our lives, filled with rich lessons in the words of its living pages. We learn such endearing lessons here, and it is here we really see how simple His ideas for life are and how complicated we've made it.
As I came to the arugula patch, I started methodically cutting and sorting the row for the day's picking. Somewhere in this zen-like meditation, I began to realize some very important truths.
Take a look at that patch of arugula. Six rows, all different stages. Some cut and regrowing, some freshly cut and some to be cut later. Each stage is essential. Each stage the plants have experienced. It was then it hit me, and I understood the lessons of the arugula patch.
Sometimes life is like that full row, waiting to be cut. It's waiting. It's so hard to be in this stage. You are so ripe for something to happen in your life! You are waiting for that special something or someone, you are waiting for direction or guidance, you are waiting for forward progression. Life is bountiful and full, but you are ready and done with the waiting.
Othertimes life is like that row that is regrowing. It is fresh and alive, growing back better than ever. The leaves are tender and small and tasty. The hurts are past and this time of regrowth can give us a fresh perspective, a fresh hope and a fresh look. We gain confidence in ourselves and the world around us and are ready again for to be picked.
But sometimes we have been cut. Severed. Scarred. What is left doesn't look pretty. Discarded leaves, weeds, torn and ragged stems litter the dirt around us. There is nothing left to offer, nothing left to give. This will take some time. This will take some tending, some rain and sunshine both, to let us grow again.
The Good Gardener who tends us knows all this. He knows there are all these stages in a thriving garden. A good garden that has sustainability exhibits all of this. A good garden that endures must go through all these experiences. He is aware of this knows this when He plants the garden in the Spring. His tenderness says, "Child, you will flourish. In your time in life's garden, you will know much joy and much pain. Know I am watching and lovingly tending to you through it all".
So when your heart is still and your ears are open to listening, even the humble arugula patch can be a place where He teaches you the lessons of life!
Having a shop and being an artist can be challenging at times. But there are other moments that just blow your mind at the impact you have in the world and the lives you touch. I had a moment like this just recently that was amazing!
Chris is a very talented artist who does needle and wet felting, making all kinds of things with a focus on felted mittens. She came in a few months ago and told me about a project she was going to do with her staff. I suggested she nuno felt the project, a larger landscape wall hanging. She picked out a navy/gray prefelt and some pretty, vibrantly dyed merino top and she was on her way.
Well she came in with show and tell and let me tell you, I was blown away! Her team of about 6 or 7 was skeptical at first at her creative team building activity. Several people confessed a lack of skill and creativity. She made it very approachable for them, laying out the background for them. They then designed the colors and created the sky and the river. The prefelt was cut into the buildings of the skyline and laid on top. This was then wet felted and everyone got involved in the rolling process. Laughs and smiles were shared as they bonded in this creative process. When it was unrolled for the last time and unveiled, the feeling of pride and amazement was shared by all. Chris added the stitching and dozens and dozens of hot-fix crystals to the piece. It really makes the little details pop and gives those Chicago architectural highlights definition.
What makes this piece even more intricately involved is the fact that Chris works for a department of the USDA, in Chicago, and Esther's Place was born out of a USDA Rural Development grant back in 2016. Ten years ago we dreamed of merging the worlds of art, agriculture and education. Ten years later, fiber art has found its way into the lives and hearts of so many, and now, the staff of the USDA itself! Local wool will be decorating the walls of the USDA office in Chicago, and they are even talking about doing another project. This next project would have a more agricultural bend to it.
How inspirational is that? There is nothing that drives a point home like being able to actually experience something for yourself. Here I got to observe it in action, and see a full circle come around. It's been ten years of hard work and dedication to the cause, but I am so thrilled be a part in change. It all begins with a sheep, some skylines and ends with smiles.