I love spring. The earth seems to come alive all around – bird songs awakening the day, flowers springing forth, trees budding in splashes of new green, and cool morning breezes warmed to afternoon delights. But one of my favorite parts of spring is the smell of fresh dirt. Yes, dirt has a smell. As I enjoy planting new flowers in front of our home, memories flood my thinking. Growing up on a farm, each spring meant seeing field upon field of freshly turned over dirt being prepared for planting – and it smelled glorious! It also meant hours upon hours of work, wondering, and waiting.
Many spring Saturday mornings meant my brothers and sisters and I would head to the fields with my dad. Walking behind a slowly moving tractor pulling a large, metal sled, we would pick up any rock we saw and throw it on the sled. At the end of the field, we would unload the rocks onto ‘the rock pile’ and begin walking again. Each spring there seemed to still be more rocks, but those rocks needed to be removed so that the soil could be made ready for planting. Then my dad would disc the field, breaking the surface open that had hardened over the long winter and finally plow, turning that rich black soil over ready to receive the seed.
Seed was finally planted and fertilized. Now came the wondering, the waiting. Would the seed take root? Would the weather be right for growth – not too hot too early, but not too cold; not too much rain, but yet enough? Nothing more could be done but waiting.
As a child, I never understood the angst that must have caused my father as our liveliihood was out of his control. But my dad knew it was not out of God’s control, and my dad quietly completely entrusted our family to God’s steady, constant care. And when the first green shoots pushed through the soil, I saw my dad’s step lighten just a bit. The work was not done – harvest was months away. Nor had the wondering and waiting ended, but signs of life renewed hope. And the smell of spring dirt reminds me of the same.
As I gaze upon the teachers and students God has placed at CBA, I am reminded of the work, the wondering, the waiting. Side-by-side the teachers work to prepare the soil. Rocks are picked up and removed that might impede learning. Hard surfaces are gently broken through that would keep knowledge from sinking deep. And fresh new experiences are planned and turned over to allow understanding to take root and flourish. I see the hours of work put in before even the first seed is dropped. I see the love for the field of students in the eyes of each teacher as they carefully contemplate what is best for each lesson, for these precious ones placed in their care. I see teachers constantly on the lookout as to how to add the right fertilizer at the right time to nourish growth. I see them wonder and wait, trusting God’s steady constant care. And I see them take a breath as seeds begin to grow.
The work, wondering, and waiting is not over. The year has been long. But renewed hope springs forth. As John Mark Comer writes, “An easy life isn’t an option; an easy yoke is.” God has not left CBA teachers or parents to accomplish this work alone; rather, He invites us to be yoked to Him and allow Him to carry the load. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28 – 30) “Jesus doesn’t offer us an escape. He offers us something far better: ‘equipment’…. like two oxen in a field, tied shoulder to shoulder. With Jesus doing all the heavy lifting. At His pace. Slow, unhurried, present to the moment, full of love and joy and peace.”1
And so we continue to take in the smell of spring dirt – the reminder of work, wondering, and waiting, as soil is prepared, seeds planted, and fertilizer properly applied, walking yoked to Jesus through the fields of this school year. Hope is renewed as signs of growth pop through what was once just a field of dirt.
1 Comer, John Mark. (2019). The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. pg 88.