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row upon row of lavender

The constant hum of bees and the scent of lavender wafting through the air mesmerize me. Row upon row of purple potpourri buds sway in the breeze, a pocket of bliss hemmed in by evergreens.

Sunshine cascades along my sun-starved skin and the cool breeze lifts strands of hair from my neck before sweat beads can emerge.

Each shrub bursts forth like a firework declaring its beauty and inviting me in. I want to lay my head on the earth, perched between rows, and stare at the endless sky for hours.

Each shrub bursts forth like a firework

I surrender myself to the moment, forgetting everyone and everything else to be lost in this sea of purple. Its swells carry me weightlessly along and my spirit gently rises, floating freely.

I breathe in.

I breathe out.

The air seems lighter, easier to breathe.

I begin to wonder if we could have come to this life from such a heavenly scented sea of lavender. To return would then be peace. Yet I fear a void, a nothingness so nonexistent it’s more terrifying than anything I know.

It’s a black and empty space I can picture only now because when it comes, the neurons that communicate with the brain will have died. The brain will be food for worms, so how could the spirit go on? From dust we have come and to dust we will return.

I’ve learned to rely on only what I can see and hear and touch, and death defies all senses for those left behind. I can’t fathom a soul that continues living when I know the spirit’s home as a heart that beats, a mind that churns, a will that loves.

Yet even the body where I’ve found a home, I don’t trust. The mind must rule the limbs, for I crave control.

My friend floats between her own rows of purple, heavy with child. She’s learning what it will mean to surrender to her body when the child comes, to believe there are things the body will know in that moment that are beyond the mind.

heavy with child

If she yields to fear rather than trust, if she clings to control, the cervix can shrink and birthing can stall.

I join her in the learning process for a time, wanting to embrace the mystery more. I’ve yet to yield to even the possibility of birthing a child, analyzing such decisions to the point of paralysis.

I’ve heard some African women squat in a field to have their babies. I suspect they trust their bodies and their God each day throughout a lifetime. I don’t have much practice.

In some countries, they walk with breasts uncovered, naked and unashamed. I’ve been groomed to avoid such topics as sex and pain and bodily functions.

I’ve not been made familiar with my body and how it operates.

I’ve been taught conventionalisms about my soul while being told to master it with self-control – never how a child’s spirit emerges from the dust of sperm and egg. God loved us before we were in our mothers’ wombs, but where and how could we exist at such a time?

For so long I’ve held the black void in one hand, dust seeping between the fingers of time, and resurrection promise in the other hand, an empty tomb of a fist I fight to unfurl.

The buzz of bees brings me back to the moment, as though they exist only to calm my soul with rhythmic tones.

I gather handfuls of lavender, snipping at the base where they’d look best in a jar. The bundle keeps growing, seeming like it will never reach its limits. I want to capture the moment to which I surrendered, to bring it home in a bundle like lavender.


lavender bundleI want to eat up the day, getting it thoroughly in my blood stream so I won’t forget. Or have it swallow me whole. Because I felt whole in that moment, not fractured into roles and questions.

But I can’t capture it. It won’t be caught. It exists in time alone.

Photos taken at Lavender Valley in Hood River, Oregon and Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.