The man raises his hand to his forehead, shielding the blinding sun with his weather-beaten hand. He looks out across the landscape. The dry, cracked earth. The piles of discarded treasures. The rusty wheel of an old bicycle turns ever so slightly as a faint breeze passes through. The man uses his worn tennis-shoed foot to clear a spot, then kneels down, bringing his face to the ground. He breathes in. Deep. Smiles. There once was life here. There can be life again.
He stands again, straightens as much as a long life of physical labor will allow, and brushes his hands on his jeans. He breathes in again, puffs out his whiskered cheeks, and breathes out. Well, he tells the shining sun. Let’s get started. In response, the sun shines brighter, almost condemning his plans before he begins. You’ll never win, the sun says, its rays stretching down to the earth in an attempt to hold the man back from his goals. This place will never change, the sun says.
Ignoring the sun the man approaches the first pile of junk. Love letters and framed pictures and pretty dresses. Expectations unmet and dreams shattered. He scoops up the things in his world-weary hands and pulls them close to his body, his arms gathering the strength to toss them aside. As he releases, tossing the momentos of relationship up, the breeze returns and the junk disappears as it passes. He bends down for another armful.
Once that pile is taken care of, he moves onto the next. A computer. Some old DVD cases. A Walkman. A head and a heart full of what everyone’s expecting of you and everybody does it. This pile goes much like the first, with the man bending down, scooping the objects close, and releasing them to disappear into the helpful breeze. The breeze doesn’t scoff like the sun. The wind knows a job worth doing when she sees one.
One by one the piles of discarded treasures make their way away never to be seen again. The man and the breeze work together to clear the land of everything that was cluttering it up, preventing the life from pushing through the dry, cracked ground. But what of that? That dry, cracked ground where surely nothing can survive for long. Not with that vindictive sun wishing ill on the man and his land.
The breeze brings a ho. The man returns to work. Striking the tool into the dry, cracked dirt he at first feels resistance, an unwillingness to be broken, an unwillingness to make way for new life. But he keeps on, almost against the land’s wishes. He keeps on. Faithfully striking, breaking up the ground, line and line, row after row, committing himself to this land.
Still the sun shines on, laughing to himself. Get a loud of this guy, he says. He thinks he can change this place. Doesn’t he know how many have tried? And he does. Of course he knows, but still he keeps on.
The sun has traveled farther up up up into the sky. The man finishes his work with the ho at the hottest part of the day. He sits down, cross-legged and imagines a shady tree providing him a respite from the sun. A tree doesn’t appear but the breeze does. She always does. He looks out over the land, the discarded treasures gone, the earth no longer dry and cracked but turned and tilled, new sides of itself now exposed. It’s beautiful, he tells the breeze. But we can’t do anymore on our own. We need help.
In response the breeze rushes past, ruffling the man’s graying hair, and disappears into the sky. The man waits, his muscles growing sore from the day’s work. He has just begun stretching his tired limbs when the breeze arrives again, this time with a friend in tow. A raincloud! he exclaims, the second smile of the day appearing on his face. Yes, that’s just what we need.
The rain begins to fall and the sun and the breeze look on as the man raises his weary hands to the sky, eyes closed in contentment, mouth open in joy, spinning around on this new land. The sun looks and as the first new signs of life make their way through the once dry, cracked land, he realizes his mistake. Even the most desolate places can be made new again, he admits to himself. And the sun laughs along with the man and the breeze and the rain.
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.