I started cleaning out the yard last night. The air had a crisp edge to it, and as the last of the evening fire died down I noticed my chives coming up fresh and green, pushing past last year’s decay all green and new. I instantly cleared away the old brush, seeing that the new sprouts could use a little more room to expand and grow.
And then I got excited about yard work. Which is really quite noteworthy.
Those who know me know that yard work is not really my thing. I am the kind of person who is happy to leave the grunt work outside for my husband to do. I haven’t typically enjoyed the clean up, weeding, or yard tending in general. This distaste for all things outdoors was so great that for the first years of our marriage, it was my sweet mother-in-law who came to plant petunias in our front yard so that were weren’t the embarrassment of the neighbourhood.
For a long time I couldn’t have been bothered.
But something twigged in me last night as I saw the new shoots. Perhaps it’s because in my life, there are a few areas of growth and newness that have been in the works this past year. Or maybe I have finally come to accept yard work as part of my adult lot in life. Either way, me, some gloves, a rake, and the setting sun were the perfect combo yesterday evening.
A thick blanket of dead leaves had covered the flower beds, so matted that I could literally roll it up like paper. As I pulled and rolled and raked up the rotting mess, the green buds in the image above emerged from under the winter rot.
I found myself excited and actually enjoying the grunt work, because it was immediately evident that clearing out the old was making way for something new. My engagement with the dead parts of the yard were significant and important in allowing room for growing to happen.
At some point I had to address the dead piles of leaves in my flowerbeds. As much as I had initially wanted to pretend they weren’t there, it was hard to miss when glancing around the yard.
And as much as we’d like to, we can’t really avoid the old and decaying parts of our lives. Not if we want new growth to emerge as freely and fully as it can.
Sometimes the ‘dead leaves’ we are carrying may be old hurts. Maybe old fears. Or old ways of coping. Sometimes these layers of leaves make it hard for the sun and the rain and all that is good and healthy in the present to get through.
Sometimes we, just like our yards, need a little clean up work.
And it’s hard. And messy. And not always fun. But it does make room for new growth.
It wasn’t until clearing out the old leaves that I came to realize there were new buds underneath. A cursory glance at the yard yesterday would have left the impression of a desolate wasteland of rotten leaves and winter mold.
But even though it looked like all was dead, new growth was waiting to emerge.
I think this is a lot like counselling. Some people feel like their story is a big pile of garbage. A rotting mess. Yet gentle tending and attention so often reveal the potential underneath, small buds waiting for the right condition to emerge and grow into something beautiful.
So maybe this spring is not just a time to work on clearing out the yard, but on making room within in yourself for growth to happen. Maybe it’s time to clean up, clear out, and start this season fresh and receptive to growing and stretching in new ways.