I bought a house. A perfect little white cottage with a fireplace and built-ins and a great back deck. It has lots of windows and sunlight streams in all day long. I pretty much never want to leave.
I’ve become quite the little DIY-er. So far I’ve pressure washed the deck, removed a glass shower door, and painted the trim, cabinets and ceiling in the center hallway nook. I’ve spent more money at Lowe’s than I spend on my mortgage.
But one of the best parts of owning this little house is seeing all the flowers that bloomed this spring. I have hydrangeas, roses, azaleas, lilies, and a few other things that I can’t really identify. They’re bright and vibrant and bring so much life to my yard.
But apparently there’s something else growing in my yard.
I went out of town a few weeks ago. When I left there was nothing there and four days later there were bamboo stalks up to my hip! The neighbor behind me has a bamboo forest and apparently it spread scattered throughout my yard. So to determine how to get rid of, I did the only logical thing.
I asked Facebook. And within ten minutes I’d received two answers:
That’s when I realized the problem was serious. So I did a little more research.
Turns out, bamboo is incredibly invasive. It has a complex root structure underground and the stalks are all connected. The only real way to get rid of it is to dig up the entire root system and then dig a trench adjacent to the bamboo forest and pour a cement barrier at least a foot deep. That wasn’t really in the budget, so I used a saw and a shovel and keep mowing it down each time it peeks back through.
In my research though, I learned some interesting things about bamboo.
There’s a type of Chinese bamboo that takes five years to grow. It’s planted and tended year after year after year after year with no visible progress on the surface. In fact, except for the farmer who planted it, no one would even know it’s there. Finally, in the fifth year it breaks through the surface. And it grows so quickly in that fifth year that people say you can actually hear it growing! It can easily grow up to 90 feet tall in the first 60 days! It takes four years for the root system to become strong enough to sustain that kind of rapid growth, four years of hiddenness before it has its moment.
I’m on the back end (I think) of a season I’ve dubbed “The Hidden Season.” It’s been one of those seasons where I feel like many of my gifts have laid dormant, where things I’ve been known for in previous years have gone unnoticed and unrecognized, where I sometimes feel overlooked and invisible. And God has surely blinded they eyes of every man in a 60 mile radius of Atlanta, right? I feel a little lost on how to contribute and participate.
For most of my life I would have struggled fiercely against this. I would have demanded attention, noticing, territory. But this time, I’m not. This time the Lord has given me the sweetest gift of understanding and appreciating this season of hiddenness. I’m so aware of the work that’s being done, so thankful that I’m not on display while the Lord stretches and refines me. So grateful that, in His tenderness, He’s pulled me underground to prepare me for whatever happens when it’s time to break through the surface again. It’s not just that I’m content with waiting until I have my “fifth year” moment, it’s that I am genuinely so thankful for this underground season.
I don’t know how long this season will last. And I don’t know how long I’ll remain grateful for it depending on how long it does. I’m not even entirely sure I want it to end. But today, I’m grateful for the lessons from bamboo in my backyard and hiddenness underground.