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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Out of Dirt


Photo by Vi Tran on Unsplash

It’s Sunday afternoon and I tackle the delightful work of unearthing new life sprouting up beneath piles of death and decay. Prior to this uncovering, my landscape wore the protective blanket of last year’s foliage. Oak leaves, which continue to fall through winter, entangle in the prickly remains of hosta and coral bells, astilbe and Jacob’s ladder—creating cozy little hideaways for emerging spring. And as I move from mound to mound, kneeling humbly on unkept ground, I’m awed by a sense of common grace. 


He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). 


Jesus’ words, memorized last week. 


I think, too, of the lyrics of a favorite artist. An album played on repeat during my own spring season. Decades ago, but even today, listening to the songs I remember the miracle of coming alive. 


But a certain sign of grace is this

From the broken earth, flowers come up

Pushin' through the dirt…*


One delicate lungwort is already blooming. Tiny blossoms of purple and pink, and I wish my granddaughter was here, so I could show her. I love this season of being Nana. Three grands so far, five by Christmas. I love these years of enjoying friendship with young-adult sons and their amazing wives. If life has seasons, which am I in? Fall? A season of harvest? 


I imagine myself holding a basket. A lifetime of God’s provision. The bounty of all he’s given. The harvest of autumn. And I ask—


God, what would you have me do with my basket? 


What faithful thing should one be doing in autumn? 


God sends me a book, disguised. Literally, disguised. In a shipment of my own books… each wearing my cover… one of 50 is hiding someone else’s text. And it’s not random. It is EXACTLY what God is saying to me in this exact season. The book gives language to each of my seasons. Honestly, it’s like I’m reading the story of my own spiritual life. 


I remove leaves from my thriving patch of hens and chicks, precious succulents transplanted from my sister’s garden. And I think about grace. Every year, the return of spring. I may not be a spring chicken—but new life blooms in every single season. What new life is blooming now? 


A gust of wind catches my little pile of dry debris and frees a strand of hair from underneath my castoff baseball cap—the name of a son written in Sharpie marker beneath its brim. I think about the wind of Spirit and I feel something stirring, deep in my soul. A shifting maybe, or a new direction. I don’t pretend to know. 


I stand for a moment on a garden staircase created by boulders. 


The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock (Matthew 7:25). 


What will tomorrow bring, and who can see it coming? Not me, certainly. And yet I am settled. My feet on a Rock that can’t be shaken. A firm foundation weathering storms and extremes in every season. What more do I need? 


Chickadees call—one song quickly followed by its companion tune. New life in nests and wombs—and in my own soul, too. Regardless of the season.


So here I am, all of me

Finally everything

Holy, holy, holy

I am wholly, wholly, wholly Yours


I am full of earth and dirt and You…*



*Wholly Yours, by David Crowder

From the Album: A Collision 

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