Growing up, my mother would often times go upstairs before daddy would come in from work around 4 in the evening. Sometimes, she would change into clothes less marked by the day's labors. But more often than not, she would simply fix her hair a bit more. Even if she hadn't worn make-up the entire day, she might put on a little blush or eyeshadow for him, something special to show she loved him and was happy he was home.
I've been reminded of this image quite a lot over the past few weeks, not for how I am like my mother but how I am so far from the bar she set. I want to be beautiful for my husband, too, the perfect woman to come home to, but June Cleaver I am not.
Twice a week when husband comes home from work in the evening, he gets to see me at my absolute worst. Any make-up I might have applied has long ago melted off or is smeared from the corners of my eyes and across heat-stained cheeks. My hair is either pulled back in a severe bun or wild and free, windblown corkscrews collecting and dripping glistening sweat onto damp, dirt-encrusted clothes.
That's exactly how he found me this evening, looking the part of a farmer's wife two-hours into watering the sod. Still, I think he likes to find me blooming this way--a different kind of beauty he sees in my living, growing, and working with the land he loves so much.
Like always, he came out to meet me, me clothed in dirt and him in pressed white shirt and tie, black wingtips weaving a path around sod puddles, all to kiss his bride hello and relay the evening weatherman's news that confirmed what I already knew--this spring has been anything but ordinary.
At 103 degrees, today was the sixth hottest day in our state capital's recorded history. It's only June 2, and the land is acting like it has a fever that only a heavenly dose of Ibuprofen will cure. The stifling heat only puts more pressure on already parched land, with 2011 being the second driest year on record in 121 years for our State.
As a child born over a decade after the drought of 1963, this earth literally shrinking from lack of moisture is something I've never experienced before. To try and keep up with watering the sod, trees, shrubs, flowers planted this past winter at our new home is a 6-9 hour a week job...and even with my efforts, it's not enough.
Three days a week, I pull hoses the distance of a football field and a half (500 feet says husband) to water trees at the back of the property. But still, I've lost a blackgum, a loblolly pine, and a river birch over the past two weeks. We won't talk about the sod.
My mother came over earlier in the day, her voice lilting in surprise. "Your lantana looks wonderful!"She was right. Huge mounds of the heat-resistant vine are coated with the clusters of snow white flowers. With just the little water I give, the plants, the trees--they want to grow, blossom, send forth new growth. I imagine they, too, want to be beautiful for their Creator.
But with each tender red leaf or bud that forms, I want to scream, "No! Stop! Don't grow!!! Don't blossom! Not now! Just live like you are! Don't you know it's dangerous to grow right now!?"
These plants and trees would survive the drought so much better if they would just stop growing, stop trying to produce fruit, stop trying to be beautiful, and just maintain.
But it doesn't work that way. It wasn't designed to.
In God's economy, there is no way to simply maintain. When even the smallest bit of the life-giving water is applied, creation tries to grow...or it fails in the process and dies.
There is no middle ground, no lukewarm life here to spit out. There is death. Or there is real living, growing, blossoming...beauty.