I have this memory that comes up every now and again when the weather is dancing in the half-way place between summertime and autumn.
In it, there is a market full of fresh flowers and a German woman teaching me the names of the potted herbs. ”Basilikum. Rosemarin. Salbei.” “Basil. Rosemary. Sage.”
Her arms are full of fresh cut sunflowers and gladiolas. She points to the bright yellow blooms and says, “Sonneblumen.” And I smile, repeat the word, then say, “Sunflowers.”
She says it slowly, with exact intonation and we smile at each other. When I offer her Euro to pay for my herbs, she shakes her head and says something that I don’t understand.
Looking over the farmer’s market before me now, I’m realizing how long ago that time was, how like a dream it is. Back then, if you’d asked me where I’d be now, I would have said I’d be in Germany again, or some other European place.
It didn’t happen like I planned it.
It’s been more than two years since I left Europe. Since then, my dreams have moved towards something beautiful and expansive. My memories of Germany are mixed with images of Malawi’s black sand and Guatemala’s smoking volcanos.
This isn’t where I believed I’d be that day in the market, but God took my little dreams and stretched them out like the sky. And I’m thankful. I’m at peace. I’m laughing more and talking less. I’m learning to be open and inviting. I’ve taken the “Do Not Enter” sign from my forehead and let someone really amazing in.
And I’m waiting for God only knew what to happen next.
I wouldn’t have had to wait if anything had happened as I thought it would. But the truth is, I’m still don’t know all the reasons why it didn’t.
And the truth is, I am learning to be okay with not knowing all the reasons why.
I’m learning, instead, to put my little dreams before the one who gave them all to me to start with and to ask for the impossible things. I’m learning to reach out for the next thing He has for me, because I’m beginning to believe that–even when I don’t understand the reasons–it’s going to be good.
And I’m learning to stop for the joy of life, for the sweetness of a ripe cherry tomato and the simple brightness of a sunflower.