The Hidden Life

Those who know me know that I have been called to a new place. No longer in the Midwest, I make my home in the East, in a place also settled by the Dutch, only this place was settled over a hundred years earlier than in my home. Though, the traces of Dutch settlement lie only in place names and the Dutch Reformed churches that dot the landscape in cities and villages, valleys and hills, flatlands and mountains.

And we have settled in a little village on the edge of a mountain and I pastor the church under the mountain and I live in the pastorie next door which was built at the same time as my church called its own minister. And for generations, over a century, the ministers of this little church under the mountain in our little village have resided in this house, walking on these floors, occupying these rooms, doing the ordinary things that comes with life. It is a place which bears the memory of changing people and times. It has many pieces that are original to when it was built in the late nineteenth century. It also has many pieces that have changed over the years.

A couple of months ago, when autumn advanced, we made our mark, or rather, will make our mark. Not an indelible mark but a mark of fleeting beauty. Hopefully. In the cool of autumn with the winds blowing we planted bulbs along our front walk. Daffodils and tulips, to offer the world color and joy come spring.

Is a bulb life, or is it potential life? I’m not really holding a plant, but a part of a plant, something which will become a plant given the right conditions. Perhaps the most fascinating part of this is that bulbs need to be in the ground through the winter. They need the cold, they need to freeze.

And so as I look out my window buried somewhere under the snow are those little patches of dirt that we turned and below that the bulbs that we nestled into the spaces created for them. Looking at it, one can see no difference between this space and the others, no one would know that this space was any different than the space next to it, or beyond it.

Even I forget, at times, of the bulbs which I planted. But whether I realize it or anyone realizes it, the fact remains that life is hidden, in waiting, just below the surface. And that in due time, the snow will melt and the ground will thaw and the days will lengthen and life will sprout forth from the ground.

Life which is hidden remains life, and sometimes what lies beneath the surface is known, other times it is a mystery. But the life which lies below the surface, hidden from view is nothing short of grace.

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