“…God, who makes things grow…you are God’s field…” (1 Corinthians 3:7,9)
field – (noun) an area of open land free of woods and buildings used for cultivation or pasture.
meadow – (noun) open, sunny areas vegetated by grass and free of woody plants that support a unique collection of flora and fauna.
Meadows are the fields of alpine ecosystems. Flat, open, and an oasis for flora and fauna, some which can thrive no where else.
To walk upon a meadow is always a surprise, a delight. Even if you know they are coming based on your topo lines of your map, even if you have been that way before, they never-the-less inspire awe. In spring they are in their finest form – a vibrant green grassland ocean, a confetti sea of diversely hued wildflowers. In spring meadows sing with life and liveliness, attracting birds, amphibians, rodents, and deer. To stumble upon a meadow in such a season feels like finding a celebration, a party you didn’t know about but are undeniably invited to. The conversation is expressed through color and the scent of growth, which utters discussion straight into thoughts, drunken in through your eyes and nose.
Meadows, perhaps, go a bit underrated for their awe-worthiness, especially in seasons when they are not in bloom. But I find it is their openness, their blank-slate state, that is something to stir the soul. They have no height of the surrounding mountains, they have no shade of the bordering forest. It is their lack of topography that makes them a breathing space for your mind – instead of a geographic vacuum, demanding in dramatic detail, they are an extra lung of contagious rest.
They are a platform for a unique composition, for no two meadows are the same. Some are well adorned in vegetation, some have a sparse sprinkling. Some of rock outcrops, peaking like an ice berg just above the soil’s surface. Some have ponds full of frogs and fairy shrimp. Some get regular visitors of bears, deer, and smaller fauna, their footprints decorating the meadow in a mark of their passing. Where as a mountain is bold in its tapestry, a meadow requires closer inspection, demands that you, as the walker, pause on your passing through to get to know it, to discover its modest wildness. A meadow is constantly in flux, but is also constantly the same. So the meadow you visit on your walk today is both familiar and strange tomorrow.
I think that we as beings can relate in a great deal to meadows. If meadows are in some senses the fields of the wilderness, then the verse above could just as truthfully say, “you are God’s meadow.”
We are an open, eager landscape for God to breath life into. We in partnership with the Author of Growth have the great opportunity to bring in a unique collection of enriching things (figurative flora and fauna) to take root and thrive. Those things materialize as both visiting, temporary and recurring, constant experiences, friendships, passion points. So much of growth in meadows and in ourselves is about changing and remaining the same.
We go through seasons, just like the meadow. Sometimes we are in vibrant bloom, and our life has so many colors (as in the sea of wildflowers meadows often have in spring) that we seem to overflow with joy and encouragement to spare, drawing others to similar sentiments themselves. It is easy, in such times, to be glad to be a meadow.
We also go through winter freezes and enduring droughts. We hit what should be a spring, expecting flowers to blooming as they should in the meadow that is ourselves, but they are simply no where to be found. These freezes and droughts tend to result in a blindness, a forgetfulness that we are as a meadow: a creature composed of fertile soil. Our grasses and wildflowers might be absent now, but our soil is ready to support them in the next rain.
I personally often forget that God is The Cultivator, He is the Author of Growth. We, as His field…as His meadow…are a constant project of growth. He plants some things in us which sprout immediately. Other seeds lay dormant for years, waiting for a particular kind of rain to come forth. Some such seeds might even require drought prior to rain in order to properly bloom. Even when we feel barren, drought-worn, or frozen-over, there is a fertile soil at our base, hidden from view. Even when we feel so browned, dried-out, and sun-baked, there is always another chance at a future Spring. It is actually much more like a guarantee.
Like the meadow we are constant but ever changing, both familiar and always strange to ourselves. We have a constant platform, a soil base that is familiar. We have routine seasons that often unfold in a regular pattern, but sometimes that pattern is broken temporarily…or even forever altered. We, as a meadow, are a canvas on which we get to collaborate with the Creator on a landscape design. Like a meadow, there are so many possibilities for our making, options for temporary and permanent characteristics – purely green grasses, abundance of wildflowers, visiting mega fauna, flocks of song birds, rabbits to pass through.
It seems to me that any time we happen upon a meadow, whether in bloom or barren-brown, we should recall to mind that it is indeed a fine thing to be a project of He that “makes things grow” and to know that we are are a meadow ourselves, both changing and the same, but ever capable of a new and vibrant Spring.