It was a weird shape outside my childhood bedroom window. A trapezoidal spot of dead grass that appeared during a terribly hot stretch of a long August, drawing unwanted attention in an otherwise green yard.
My parents had built their dream home several years prior, and they had taken particular care to tend the lawn. My parents had done well, which made this blight of death even more odd.
I remember digging with my dad.
I remember the smell of dirt, of mystery being unearthed.
And I remember striking plywood, oddly shaped, a few inches below the surface. Apparent detritus from the building process, it had somehow gotten buried under two or three inches of dirt. The grass had grown well there, for a time. But the roots weren’t deep enough for the long haul. The grass had withered.
For many in this season of pandemic and politics, of race and abuse, the grass has withered. It’s been a long season in our country and in our churches, and some things have wilted in weird ways. Blades that were once virile are burned, and we’re scared of digging. We’re scared of what we might find if we start overturning sod.
For some, the digging has already commenced. It’s terrifying, for sure, but the mess of unearthing the blockage is paving the way for a reseeding. Maybe.
Have you found yourself wondering where the life has gone? Have you felt the scorch of disappointment and confusion, like you’ve been bearing witness to the scouring of the Shire?
Perhaps it’s time to grab a shovel, not to destroy or annihilate, but to exhume. Perhaps there’s some piece of plywood that’s been neglected a season too long.
But remember, shovels are useful for planting, too.
Scot McKnight spent a few newsletters talking about these ideas, so if these musings resonate at all, continue your excavation here: