We’ve lived in our home for about 11 years now. Like we did with our previous home, we have steadily added to the landscape of our front and back yards, digging up sod and adding perennials, vegetable beds, and trees. We have become landscape planners and tenders. “Landscape” is defined as “all the visible features of the land,” but as I’ve gotten to know our plot of land better over the years, the most fascinating landscape, to me, is the stuff we can’t see.
At some point in the summer, without fail, a huge mushroom colony will sprout up on one side of our front yard. It always surprises us even though we are watching for it to appear. I don’t know what kind of fungus it is, but every year it changes color and shape. On the other side of the front yard, without fail, sometime between spring and early summer, an ant colony moves in. Again, it surprises us because one day it isn’t there and the next day it is. There is more to my little piece of land than meets the eye. I’m grateful each year for the reminder that there is a whole landscape underground that I don’t even know about. It’s funny how paying attention to the landscape can reflect truths about our inner landscape.
My underground landscape makes me pause and remember the saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” The landscape of our human heart is often more than meets the eye, isn’t it? We might present one way to others without letting on to the pain under the surface. The person smiling at church might be struggling with a broken relationship. The co-worker who seems off might be distracted by a worry about a child. The neighbor who looks like they have it all together might feel like they are falling apart. We get to choose who to share the underground landscape of our hearts with, and I pray that you have those people in your life, and we can also trust that God holds all that is under the surface with mercy and grace. As you encounter others today, strangers or not, I invite you to pray a little prayer for their underground landscape and the battles you can’t see. As the body of Christ may we shape the landscape around us with kindness and love.
Let us pray:
Good and Gracious God, we give you thanks for the gifts of creation. Make us wise stewards, compassionate guardians, and powerful advocates for all that you have made. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.