Around the time I hit the difficult days of my early 20’s, I started keeping journals.

This was a new thing for me — the journal keeping — for I wasn’t the wistful young girl you might expect. Not the one who filled composition books with poetry and observations of the world, not the one who kept blank spirals on hand for whenever the creating mood struck.

No, younger me was far too concerned with writing something perfect to put words on paper for the sheer joy of it.

Younger me could not comprehend keeping a journal and leaving out important things.

So younger me didn’t write because it was so danged tedious to recount two-month-old news in detail, and when I wrote it was assigned essays, position papers and articles.

In my later 20’s and into my early 30’s, I began to see the value for me in keeping a journal. Not to just log happenings, but as a way to create a roost for the flock of birds that flew circles in my brain. To stop and feel my life, and then see what I truly thought, living its way onto the page in a trail of ink.

For many years, my journal entries were written months apart and began with first lines like, “I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve written…”

The truth is I was positively gripped by the fear that I would sit down to write and nothing would come. Only the idea that I might be trite or cliche (the red-ink scrawled condemnations on the papers of a journalism major) frightened me more.

The other day I looked through one of those old journals. Peppered among the “I can’t believe it’s been so long” and “I’m sorry that I didn’t write sooner” (who the heck was I apologizing to anyway?), I see small declarations:

“I know I need to write.”

“I feel alive when I write.”

“There is something here, and I know I need to keep writing.”

For many years I didn’t tend this stirring. Life is full, and I am a mama of ten years, and I wear lots of hats and love many people and a great many things, so writing took a seat in the back of my world.

I often neglected the tender shoot, watering it just enough to keep it from completely shriveling, unrecognizable. (I most certainly did not bring it into the pure light of day.)

But I did keep writing, mostly letters to my daughters, sometimes other things. In fits and starts over the years, I wrote.

From where I type now, I can see that the little spring of life kept alive in that hidden place in me had bound up in its very fibers hope. So today when I write, I say yes to hope.

When I show up to this computer, terrified no words will come and type anyway, I hope.

When I lay my thoughts out on the page, and subject myself to being seen as cliche or rejected or misunderstood, I hope.

When I trust that if God wants me to write (which I have known to be true over and over) that he will continue to be my help as the words come, I hope.

_ _ _ _

Today our family received some shade-loving vegetable seedlings from one of Michael’s co-workers. Kale and Swiss chard, spinach and cabbage, baby bok choy and leeks, pulled from black plastic trays and plunged into rich brown dirt in an old tub.

With tending and protecting, these seedlings will grow into what they’re intended to be, and we will enjoy them — with lots of olive oil and sea salt and grill marks, thank you, Lord.

For bound up in each of these little seedlings is the hope of what will become.

Hope is a mysterious thing, working as it does in the dark. And it can feel a bit like we’re fooling ourselves, holding onto that seed of a thing we just can’t shake.

But feisty, audacious hope is not shakeable. It yearns for more love, more life in hidden places, small and subtle though the growth may seem. Dreams stir under soil, roots plunge deeper and deeper, anchoring the hopes of souls.

When we say yes to hope and the Source of hope, little things become more and more what they are.

More and more alive.

More and more true.

Is there a seed of hope in you that you just can’t shake? What is one small way you can partner in the tending of your hope today?

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