News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Digging deep

Gardening can be a therapeutic pastime.

Planting, feeding, watering, weeding are all part of tending and keeping the garden that goes back to man’s beginning.

I admit though, that gardening in Central Oregon, and in Sisters Country in particular, is wrought with frustration.

The soil, the weather, the deer, the rabbits, the insects can all launch their own attacks on our best efforts to create a beautiful garden.

So, it was with particular joy a few years ago that we were delighted with the emergence of our “volunteers.” All along our stone path pansies popped up, seeded from the window box above.

What a delight! Bright, cheery, yellow and purple pansies to complement our yellow yarrow and purple lavender garden.

They were back this year in full force — blooming and spreading. But the hard times proved the roots of our volunteers. The core of the bloomers were sturdy and healthy, but the plants in the shallow, gravelly soil died. In the cooler days they were just like their deep-rooted buddies, green, blooming, and flourishing. Happy plants, enjoying the sunshine and living the good life in Sisters. But when the heat came they withered.

Hmmm, which am I? Deep rooted or shallow rooted? I guess it depends on what I am rooted in.

I thought about this in July as our vehicles were packed with our important documents, 72-hour Go Bag, and a few valuables and parked ready to evacuate.

Smoke was in the air and we were on Level 2 “Get Set” fire alert. Waiting and not knowing if this was it.

So I did some inner digging.

How had I handled this past year? Was I rocked by the fear of contracting COVID-19 and by the isolation that came with the shutdowns? Was I lashing out at the “others” as the problem with this country during the election cycle and even now? Was my thriving threatened by what might be lost in the fire? My house! My stuff! What will I do without all of it? Did I wither with worry and anxiety, collapsing and fainting with fear?

Certainly the threat of COVID and of fire are fearful and painful experiences. They are hard to endure and can be a troubling struggle to manage. They are very much like the heat wave to our pansies. They make us dig deep for refreshment, nourishment, strength, and hope. Or they make us fearful, angry, depressed, and looking for scapegoats on whom to place the blame for our troubles. If our lives are sustained by the abundance of our possessions, our active social life, our home, and even our health, we’ll wither when these transient resources are threatened. Shallow soil won’t cut it.

A wise teacher, Jesus, once told a story about soil. The seed that fell on the rocky places without much soil sprang up quickly. But when the sun came up the plants were scorched and they withered because they had no root. The seed that fell on the good soil produced a crop — a hundred times what was sown. That seed had deep roots.

The truth is in the next few years COVID-19 and fires may very well be just the tip of the iceberg as far as the troubles we will experience. History does repeat itself, and the world has seen much, much worse. It could be the “heat wave” isn’t over but is just beginning. I sincerely hope not, but I also see these current troubles as an opportunity. An opportunity to wake up and do some digging. If I am withering with worry and anxiety now and my only hope is that things will return to “normal” so I can carry on with the good life, it’s a sure sign my roots are shallow and I need to do some soil work before the next heat wave comes. Because it will.

Dig deep.


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