The day after Easter, it snowed. I was carrying in my last buckets of sap before leaving for Portland and was not surprised by the flurries, but they still stymied my expectations of warmer weather. The equinox had passed several weeks before, and while the start of spring had been marked on the calendar, it was (is) dragging its feet in coming.
Who has known the mind of God or even a good 7-day weather forecast?
We see and know in part. Certainty has never been the steady state of the human condition. Our lives are stretched with the awareness that clarity, at its best, comes with a smudge.
The experience of knowing we do not know can be felt in different ways. One is confusion, another, mystery. Both are confrontations of the hidden or unknown, but one brings us to awe and the other despair. One can leave us feeling isolated and the other in wonder at our relationship to that which is so much greater than ourselves.
The space between the two is not in the level of knowledge but rather our relationship to the knowing and unknowing itself. In the midst of our unknowing, we are faced with a choice: passive uncertainty or the stumbling action of faith. The beginning of wisdom is not the expectation of certainty with knowledge but the understanding that the kind of life most worth living is always an act of faith.
A farmer went out to sow his seed …
Whenever a seed is planted in spring, it is an act of that faith in the midst of unknowing. Some might fall on rocky soil and others eaten by birds. You do not and will not know whether there will be enough rain (or too much), enough sun (or too little), or even another coating of snow in the middle of June.
A gardener knows that even after doing all they can, the end results do not rest with them. They are fully aware that there is nothing they can do to make every seed sprout, to make every plant healthy, and to guard what they have worked so hard on from all possible disruptions and destructions. And still, they sow.
Planting a garden is foolishness to the perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the glory of God!
By the time I had finished collecting sap (I had predicted we would be done by March 23) the flurries had finished but the blue sky had not yet emerged. I looked up and saw the bright disc above me and realized that the closest I ever get to looking at the sun is always through the clouds.
Timothy King formerly served as Sojourners’ Chief Strategy Officer and now writes and farms in New Hampshire. You can read his thoughts on farming, food, and faith at his blog, Almost Home.
Image: Iced-over buds, bbernard / Shutterstock.com