As sometimes happens, my head was full of haphazard clutter today. When I get that way, I often seek something mindless to do to escape my thoughts, but the opposite usually occurs in the process. While engaging in some meditative activity–like cutting back a half-dead tomato patch–my mind is free to work out the mental chatter, with the activity at hand providing the necessary guidance.
I trimmed back my overgrown tomato plants today, and as I did, my mind wandered down an old path where I heard a familiar voice. I would be cursed, he said. “Karma… you’ll get what’s coming to you.”
But I don’t feel cursed. If this is karma, then I am not being punished for some wrong doing. Everything about this, in fact, feels right. It feels like God is saying, “You’ve done your time, girl. Here, rest a while.”
The only curse I carry is that I allow myself to cling to his harsh words. I seem to refuse to let them go. In one person’s eyes, I am the lowest of the low, and that affects me. I left and now he is left alone to struggle with his darkness. My heart breaks for him. In his words, “It’s a lonely existence.” I don’t doubt that. I was there with him through the worst of it. It’s just that it was a lonely existence whether I was there or not, and his lonely existence became my lonely existence. We would have had a chance if he remained steadfast at the work that needed to be done, but he was so lured by the darkness that kept calling him, and I couldn’t light the way.
I’ve seen it before: people who have been visited by Death, only to hear Death say, “Not yet.” And through God’s blessings comes a second chance, and they grab that chance and run with it knowing they are blessed, feeling it deep in their soul. He felt that way, too, for a while.
But something about death enticed him. It was familiar. There was an enslaving comfort there in the shadows. Instead of truly living, he chose to exist somewhere between life and death. Even though there was a hint of fruit still on his vines, he wanted to die. It always felt like that. But he has the chance to live and live well. He, at the very least, has a chance to find someone to be with who can handle his in-between existence. I couldn’t.
He cursed me when I left. He hated me and he loved me. And I loved him too, but I resented him and his darkness more. And I left. And that is all that will be said in my epitaph, “She left.”
I still love him, but that love makes me so sad. There still may be fruit there, but the plant is nearly dead. And it’s time. It’s time to cut back the gnarled growth, to gather up whatever fruit remains, savor it, and lay it to rest. I can’t be present and be happy if I let the strangling vines remain. I can’t funnel my energy to everything that lies ahead if I keep feeding the past. I will never be all that God wishes for me. I will never be at peace.
And the fruit on the nearly dead vines? It is not so sweet. It may look like there is something there worth saving, but just a taste of it reminds me it’s best to let it go.
As I started cutting back the dead vine today, I noticed how entangled it was with the good parts. It was like a horrible cancer infiltrating the brain–virtually impossible to remove without harming the healthy tissue. But to let it just run wild would be certain death to the entire being. At this point, the dead vines have taken over half the plant. I know there is still time to save it. It’ll take some careful pruning. It will take some time, but that’s what needs to be done.
We alone must do the work necessary to survive. There will be no gardener appearing at our door offering to cut back our difficult past for us. We have to do the work ourselves. We are responsible for our own growth or lack thereof.
I harvested about 100 tomatoes from my half-dead plant this afternoon before trimming it down to half its original size. That may sound like a lot of fruit, but in about a month they’ll be 1000 tomatoes on that plant. It will do more than just survive… it will thrive.
Better times are coming. I know that. In fact, they are already here. Sometimes, it takes doing something mindless to let in just the right amount of light to give my thoughts the room they need to breathe, to give my soul the room it needs to grow. I’m reminded of the saying “God helps those who help themselves.” I, for one, agree. When I find that clarity, I feel God’s blessings upon me.