Category Archives: Musing

The Dandelion

[A 3-minute read]

At the end of its blossom cycle, the dandelion waits for the breeze. It has come again to the pinnacle of its existence. Life-giving nutrients have poured in from the earth, navigating the tubercles, the hair roots, the secondary roots, through the tap root anchoring the plant firmly in the soil.

Day after day, the plant has turned its happy yellow face to the sun, combining water and minerals from below with carbon dioxide and sunlight from above: creating energy. By osmosis through its veins, nutrients get to each cell. I am like the dandelion. My water and nutrients come through my system and into the blood, also moving through veins, deposited in each cell of my body.

The dandelion is all potential and no pretense. When it is ready, it goes. There is no hesitation. The dandelion is faith in action. It is what I would be if I had no doubts. Although I too have potential, I’m often held back by pretense.

Each of the dandelion’s 2,000 seeds has the potential to produce anther plant. There is no pretense in this either; it knows what it is about. It is following God’s command to ‘reproduce after its kind’ The dandelion is certain of its identity, and unconcerned about its future.

A seed may land just a hairsbreadth from its parent, or on a calm sunny day ride a thermal for half a mile. But it matters not to the seed. When it goes, it is ready to go, and it flies without fear. It is ready to go be a dandelion.

The future of the seed is held in the nature of its landing place. If there is good soil with good growing conditions, it prospers. If not so good, it may still prosper, if it is hardy enough. But, if it lands in stones, or water, or on pavement, or becomes some creature’s meal, it will not sprout at all. The seed’s potential to be a dandelion will be lost.

I see myself in this too, spiritual being than I am. Because I have imagination, I unwisely concern myself with my landing pad. My brain insists on knowing about the landing pad before the launch.

However, faith does not work that way. Faith is leap first, look later.

As it is, God has yet to let me down when I leap. In spite of His faithfulness it always seems that, as I ripen into seed, I question whether what He’s prepared will be good, or at least good enough. And – is it safe to go?

In those moments, it is important to remember my advantage over the dandelion. God plants the seed, but I can do my part to help Him prepare the soil. By staying close to Him, by fixing my heart on Him, I remain able to follow His command to be fruitful and multiply.

Yet the dandelion has an advantage over me. It is not a thinking being with doubts and fears and anxieties. It never questions whether God will disappoint. It never ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil like I did. It knows no shame.

The dandelion boldly pushes ahead. It always has more than enough seeds to fulfill what God asks of it. You know what? So do I. The secret is choosing to let Him work and only help when He asks me to.

Not all my seeds may find the best landing place. But I can improve their odds, and that is the best advantage of all.

 

If you liked this essay, you might also like this poem.

(Photo used under CC licence from PiccoloNamek at Wikimedia Commons)

February 1902

February is Too Short

Sometimes, my schedule doesn’t work. What happens on paper, stays on paper, but doesn’t make it into reality.

I’ve been promising that my memoir, Masterpiece (A Love Story) would be released in February.

Well, it won’t. But it will be out soon. I promise.

I could use the excuse that February is too short. But that would only work if the book would have come out on February 30th or 31st.

Rather than bore you with the backstory or deliver any details, I’ll just quote old Robbie Burns.

The best laid schemes
Of mice and men
Often go awry

That’s the only line that is usually remembered from his 1785 poem ‘To a Mouse, On turning her up in her nest with a plough.’

Or, as Burns originally wrote it,

The best laid schemes o’ Mice and Men
Gang aft agley
.

That’s my excuse. The publishing temporarily gang aft agley.

But then, the entire book project has been like that. When I started writing, I dithered for weeks about how much was fit to tell. Or the best way to tell it.

There is plenty of attention to be had in the popular press by Naming Names and Calling Out. The more salacious the better, it seems (see: Augusten Burroughs).

These books are good reads, but nah, not my style.

So I knew I wasn’t going there, but I had to go somewhere. I just wasn’t sure of the direction.

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. So, it took me five months to get serious about writing the book I had hoped to finish in six. When I finally settled down to business, still with a six month deadline, I was handed a cancer diagnosis.

That also slowed things down considerably.

The manuscript was eventually finished. Unfortunately, I hadn’t really edited anything in some years, so I forgot how long it takes to turn 80,334 good words into 68,437 better ones (see: Farming Rule #1).

Seeing as how I had never published a book before, I underestimated how long that might take. Optimism does not always pay out in coin. It can feel good at the time, but…

Then, to top it all off, I also took a well-deserved holiday out of the country in a sunny place. Cancer treatment during a British winter creates that kind of craving.

All of which is to say that you, Dear Reader, get to remain in anticipation a little longer.

March, I think. Yeah. Sometime in March.

Meanwhile, here’s a little taste to take the edge off.

I sat down to begin this account for the umpteenth time. He sat across from me.

Surely you are going to tell them the whole story.’ he said.

That wasn’t actually a question. It was a command. I had been dithering for days, turning over in my mind just how much – or how little – of my story was fit for people to read.

I was planning, self-editing, trying to make a way in a wilderness of words….

You will know when you are done telling the story,’ Jesus said, ‘and then I will take you by the hand and together we will edit it into My story. That way, I become the Author and the Finisher. It is My story that changes the world, Beloved, not yours. Telling what I have done changes hearts and minds, and brings people to know and understand who I created them to be.’

He chuckled then. ‘God knows they all need it.’

Meanwhile, I’ll be back here next Thursday. See you then.

If you want weekly inspiration, and a reminder about fresh content, follow me on Facebook at PleasantLinesWriter.

Calendar Image from Wikimedia Commons, Theo van Hoytema / Public domain

My part of the deal

The Value of Barter

(a one minute read)

We sell ourselves short by only relying on money for economic power.

During much of history, and even back into pre-history, there has been coinage, giving the holder purchasing power. But coinage was and is for the elite. Yet, living in an affluent society it’s hard to imagine life without money.

Money is power, but it is not the only type of economic power.

When I was a farmer, I learned a different view of economic clout. Many of us, especially small acreage farmers, have to do whatever we can to meet expenses, pay our taxes, feed all our hungry mouths, and keep the home fires burning.

The vast majority of us have the ‘town job’ to anchor our financial situation. But there are other methods of reaching a healthy bottom line.

One of the best is barter.

I typically had an ongoing surplus of duck eggs. But I had a friend in the coffee business. He only wanted to bake using duck eggs. I craved his Bolivian roast.

So we would trade. Just as someone somewhere can calculate my assets and deficits and figuring out my net worth and purchasing power, Herb and I would calculate the ostensible value of our barter items. But it was not cut and dried as an accountant might like it.

Our parameters would occasionally change. What was the fair trade market price of his raw beans this month? Were my girls laying robustly, or was a moult coming on? Could I still fulfill the orders of my restaurant customers whose hard cash was important for my bottom line? Herb and I would discuss these things and over time, we had a continuing economic conversation.

It was a relationship, not just a transaction.

I had another neighbor who needed help putting up hay each summer. Being an old Midwestern farm boy, I’m just crazy enough to love putting up hay. I would measure my fitness by how high I can fling a bale. Three rows up? Four? Or five?

Anyway, Chuck could use the help, and I, not owning any machinery, got free tractor work in trade. Or sometimes got paid in bales.

One summer found me getting a great deal on purchased hay for my flock. Since I had a few extra dollars at the time, I overbought. Later, an unemployed friend was hard pressed to feed his goats. So he took fodder in exchange for handyman work to be performed later. We talked it all through over coffee.

We had a relationship.

Barter is more than an economic necessity. It creates a sense of community. It harkens back to the post-WWII farming of my parents. One or two farmers in the neighborhood had a baler, another a picker-sheller, the third a combine.

When the calendar dictated, all would get together and make the rounds from farm to farm until the work was done. The men would work, the women would cook, and the children would play. It created bonds among very diverse individuals, who, as the years went by, came to rely on one another for not only physical, but also spiritual needs.

These relationships prove the connection between communication, communion and community. And it underscores their importance.

If you have only lived in an urban jungle, you may not have any first-hand experience with the value of barter. But believe me, it is a powerful thing. It pays dividends well beyond the things that fit in your pocketbook.

Relationship trumps transaction every time. I encourage you to find an opportunity to try it. I guarantee you’ll get more out of it than you invest.

“What cannot be achieved in one lifetime will happen when one lifetime is joined to another.” – Harold Kushner

Image by Wilfredor  via Wikimedia Commons