What Happens in Our Fields of Gold

13899866064_f32103f2bd_oUnless you’re driving to Wilmington or Charleston, there is no Interstate that takes you directly to the coast of North or South Carolina. Instead, you have to choose a back roads route. This drive to the beach is always one I enjoy because the smaller towns offer vignettes of life you can watch as you drive by. Be careful not to speed, though. The cops love to catch beach traffic speeding through the 35 mph zones.

We passed this house on our way, those yellow fields are straight out of Oz, as if the poppies and the yellow brick road had a baby. I had to take a picture because of course.

While we were at the coast during our short spring break, I thought a lot about the place in life where we are now. The end of April marks 10 months since John left his job at the church. Part of the fog I’ve talked about lately is I’m sure because of this time of transition we’re living in. It’s what we wanted and in many ways what we hoped it would be, but in my eagerness to leave the parts of the job that were taxing on my husband, I forgot to grieve leaving the parts that were good.

One of my own personal struggles is a temptation to always look ahead to the next thing, idealizing the other-ness of what is not rather than embracing the essence of what is. That’s not always bad, but it is a delicate kind of learned art to be able to look ahead while also celebrating now, to imagine what could be without discounting what is.

As I’ve been reading in the gospels lately, I’m reminded of how personal, present, and local Jesus was when he was here on earth. He didn’t teach about roads he hadn’t traveled on or cultures he didn’t live among (even though as all-knowing God of course he could have). Instead, he chose to sit with neighbors in neighborhoods, to walk with them in celebration and in grief, to eat meals and use the stuff of meals – bread, salt, wine, fish – in his conversations. He spoke of the future because that’s why he came, but he didn’t do so at the expense of the present.

Curious once we got back home, I looked up the yellow-brick-road poppy field house on google maps. Here is a screenshot of what I found:

house on hwy 38

Maybe the woman who lives in that house looks forward to those yellow flowers blooming every year. Maybe that field is the first thing she looks at when she walks outside no matter what time of year it is, remembering the beauty that was before and the promise of beauty to come again. Maybe “beauty” is a terrible word for what I’m trying to say here. Maybe she doesn’t divide it up like that at all – the beautiful and the not beautiful. Maybe I don’t get to say what’s beautiful since I don’t actually live there.

As a traveler with a curbside view, I notice her house because of all the pretty color, snap a photo and that’s all I see. But it doesn’t always look that way and the people who live there know that. They embrace the yellow when it comes but they don’t leave with it. They continue to live there, among the brown fields with their golden memory, beneath the sky when it’s blue and when it’s gray, within the little white house on the vast green lawn at the end of the gravel driveway.

Home isn’t either beautiful or not, happy or sad, full or empty. Home is both and home is and, whether home is church or family or a cul-de-sac. Home has good parts, hard parts, marvelous and miracle parts. Home is where we celebrate and where we grieve, where we are broken and healed, hurt and made whole again.

 And if this is your house? Please tell us about the fields of gold in spring and how it feels in winter, about the distant tree-line and living off the highway and if you always have that Sting song in your head. Or this Eva Cassidy version (thank you Katie Reid!):

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    • Dawn says

      Thank you, Emily, for the wonderful insight as always, and thank you God for creating someone like Emily who I can relate to and appreciate in so many ways through her posts! I, too, struggle with the temptation to look ahead for the “next best thing,” so much so that I can miss what’s beautiful and right in front of me in the here and now. This mindset leaves me searching and feeling anxious for what’s to come, and does not make my heart feel good. I am learning to stay in the present and appreciate the moments as life brings them, so I am full of gratitude instead Much better!

  1. says

    This post was perfect for me this afternoon. I’ve been out of college for nearly two years, married for nearly three, and am expecting our first baby this summer. It feels like the transition time is never going to end, like that fog will never lift. As nice as it would be to know where I’m headed again (like back in college when the biggest unknown was which classes to take next semester), I know I’m in this season for a purpose. Eventually, I’ll come out the other side and get to enjoy the fields of gold.

    • says

      Enjoy the fields of gold now, Sweetie. The transition time will never end, as babies get born and teethe and crawl and walk and take Algebra and go to junior prom and get married and have their own babies who will get born and teethe and crawl and walk… Blessings to you as you embark on this exciting new part of your adventure called life.

  2. says

    So beautiful, Emily. As I was reading my devotion this morning I was thinking about the seasons of life and how we need to embrace each one and live in the now. So many times I have lived in a particular season, just waiting for it to end so I can move on to what I perceived as the real life. I have learned that all of life is the real and we will have different seasons. There are lessons to be learned in each one and much living to be had. My prayer today was that God would show me the blessings of the season I am in currently and help me to embrace what he has to teach me. Thank you for your words that so eloquently speak to living and sharing on the present road.

  3. says

    Good words Emily! I was reminded of when my daughter went off to college and I had this funk that I just couldn’t shake. It dawned on me at the time that the reason I felt so sad is that I needed to grieve the passing of a season. Great new and wonderful seasons are ahead, but the ones gone by needed their “just sit in it” time. Doing that allowed for the beauty of college mothering to bloom.

  4. Alyson says

    I was lead here to read this today, thank you for your words, the paragraph about always looking ahead to the next thing, instead of embracing the what is right now was a big AHA moment for me. It stopped me in my tracks & I re-read that section 3 times and wrote it down, too often I am in a rush and impatient for a season or event to be over & completed, this made me stop and pause & I am grateful for your words i was meant to hear today, thank you

  5. says

    Wow. Such a beautiful image after such a long winter. But I love that you offered that maybe the house owner doesn’t break things into the beautiful and the not beautiful. Even in the midst of that long winter, God was faithful to show me beauty. It was all around because HE is all around. And now, with the windows open to a spring breeze and the trees are showing off their gorgeous blooms, I can’t express the beauty in any other way than this: God. He is STILL all around. Thanks for the post! And the song.

  6. says

    “to imagine what could be, without discounting what is” ~ yes. That speaks to me, as I dream about {excited} to retire… but to keep my eyes on the gift of now that God has given me… good, insightful thinking I will pray about from here on out! golden fields and all. Thanks much!

  7. says

    Emily, in England the countryside is full of blankets of yellow – rapeseed – grown for canola oil. I took loads of photos captivated by the color in May a year ago. And I had the same thoughts you’ve had here regarding those who live in the midst of them instead of drive by on the way to “somewhere”. Car trips provide opportunity for lots of pondering, huh?

  8. Hlumisa says

    Emily. God Bless you for Him. You speak life. The one that we are living, which has seasons and times. You speak a revival, the same one that happens when winter says bye; and spring says hi or summer and autumn.
    Indeed without all these times and seasons in our lives we wouldn’t be grateful for what we are or where we are nor would we be hopeful for where we would be or what we would be.
    #Indeed let us celebrate the “now” more than idealizing the other-ness of what is not. Of course we can imagine what could be, but without discounting “what is”.


  9. says

    Just beautiful-reminded me of Ecc. 3. “To every thing there is a season” and every season in our lives can be beautiful. Just loved the contrasting pictures. Thank you!

  10. says

    Can’t even explain why, but I needed to read this today. It simply resonated with my restless, aching soul. Thank you for reminding me that things are not always what they seem…at least not always.

  11. says

    Emily, first thanks for sharing and that beautiful!! video. I wanted to encourage you today. My husband was a youth pastor and pastor who needed to go another direction also, and yet we didn’t know what that was for a long time. (Read Moses in the wilderness raising a family and wondering if he would ever leave that place!!) He did other work and had years of unemployment as well….extremely “challenging” just plain HARD! I had many serious health issues and a severe car accident with disabilities resulting in this time, too. The encouragement! is that during the last layoff time, he got the word of what to do next…it involved us spending money for more training for him (yes, blind leap of faith). After he finished that, he began applying for jobs in the field of chaplaincy, and has now been 4 months as a Hospital Chaplain in a new state….he has never loved his work so much! What he does looks painful to many, but to him it is being part of sharing God’s amazing grace with people going through death and dying. He constantly sees God at work and it is plain to see that this was where God was leading…probably my near death illness and accident even was part of his training. Before my accident I was a nurse, so am able to get his stories and relate with him, too. Now we walk in fields of gold. I can’t say that every day in the fields of brown that I trusted well. ..however, the honest journey between us in those days of unknowing and brown seemingly dead when you can’t even see the seeds underneath the dirt, that journey has renewed our marriage beyond what I could imagine. I have been reading your blog through the past couple years and often shared it with him too. Thank you for your soul sharing and weekend blessings, and I hope our story can give you another breath of hope or trust today.

  12. Veronica says

    Emily, thank you for sharing this wonderful post.

    “But it is a delicate kind of learned art to be able to look ahead while also celebrating now, to imagine what could be without discounting what is.”

    I can so relate to the thought you so beautifully expressed. Looking ahead to the future, but learning each day to be grateful for the now, even if the now isn’t so pretty.

  13. says

    I’m late to comment but there’s a really good reason. This knocked the wind out of me. I couldn’t breathe and I certainly couldn’t talk about what it did to me, much less be able to type the words. So I’m better able to breath now and I need to tell you this. You have no idea the impact you have on people, Emily. Clearly it is your mandate and you do it faithfully and well. You are blessed.

    Even though I couldn’t talk about it, I sent the link to friends and family. One of my daughters forwarded an email she received from a friend. Apparently on the way back from church Easter Sunday, they spotted a field of gold and had to stop and take photos of their daughter. I’m sharing the link so that you can see how connected you are to what is real. This is in Georgia.

    God bless you,


  14. says

    Ah, Emily.
    Aren’t fields of canola simply breathtaking in their unabashed yellow?
    But then the elegant swaying of wheat on the other rotational years?

    This post is, as always, exquisite — you served me a feast.
    *Thank you*

  15. Sissy says

    I tend to look forward too much. Way too much. And try to plan and get ready and be prepared, but life isn’t like that. In leaving our church because Charlie decided to take a different career path, he didn’t realize how hard it would be for me. I didn’t work there. I didn’t go there everyday. But those people were my people too, and it was harder than he thought.

    For me, this song (especially this version with Eva Cassidy) has always been about this moment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1r9u8ye8ME. Now, granted, this clip is from some Japanese news thing, but it was the clearest one and she interprets the song so well. Yes, I’m talking about Michelle Kwan, but I love it. At the end of her performance, she’s crying. It’s one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in skating and I want to fly over the ice with her, in gold sequins, with this song enveloping me.

  16. Bonnie says

    For many years I didn’t understand seasons of our lives. Now it is something I talk about to other women, especially young mothers grappling with all the things they think they shod be doing but aren’t.

    LOVE Eva Cassidy! A gorgeous voice taken so soon.

  17. says

    I agree with what you said about perspective. And how you just viewed her house in the moment and maybe she looks forward to the beauty.

    And then I thought about taking that perspective further. Maybe the beauty is only pretty from afar. That maybe those yellow flowers put pollen over everything and it is something she lives with and deals with during that pretty season.

    Sometimes pretty from the outside is hiding more within.

    Love this post!


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