At the beginning of a season of gardening, I was digging out a section of rocky soil with my shovel – a useful digging tool, and my eldest son was “helping” me. Helping is defined as he was in the same general area of me working, and he wasn’t whining or getting in the way overly much.
The process of digging had taken over my body and I had given in to its methodical rhythm:
1. Place shovel
2. Put foot on shovel
3. Lean with all my weight
4. Step back while pushing shovel handle down
5. Flip rocky mud
6. Chop into smaller chunks
7. Repeat. Over and over and…
I would do this along the length of the area I was digging out, then would start over at the beginning of the line…and do it all over again, working my way to the end of the area. It was about three-fourths of the way through a line of slightly concave marks in the rocky soil that I realized I had lost something I used to treasure greatly in the process of growing up; because my son said, “it looks like a monster with giant teeth came and took a big bite out of our back yard!”
I paused…looked at the repeated shovel marks anew…and with the eyes of my son saw all of life again. I remembered when life was more than work, when simple places had magical potential and when I played with the best toy ever…my imagination.
I then went back to digging.
…and said, “Do you think he liked the rocks, the dirt or the worms the best?”
“The worms!” said my son with that kind of laughter that’s mingled with a little bit of “that’s gross and cool all at the same time” .
In Deuteronomy, God tells the Israelites to talk about what he had done for them with their children as they got up in the morning, walked along the road and as they laid down at night.
As I was reminded of this mandate to Dad’s everywhere, my son and I talked of Goliath and the Anakhim in the Old Testament as my shovel made its rhythmic sucking sounds…and the giant ate the worms in our rocky soil, and we helped each other see the world as it is, a little more clearly.