Getting My Hands Dirty Doing the Hard Work


It was a good evening for a walk. Humidity had dropped, the sky was clear and a sunset awaited at the end of the lane. But first, I had some wrestling to do.

Earlier in the day, a good friend had offered me a clump of purple Japanese iris, with a start of Michigan holly as a bonus. How could I say no? So, before the walk, I dragged the iris and holly across the bridge to the edge of our pond. A sunny spot there would make for perfect viewing from my kitchen window. Garden spade in hand, I went to work on the iris. It wouldn’t take long, I figured, to untangle this mess, to divide and conquer the mass of tubers that held promise of beauty next spring.

Nothing is simple in the natural world, I’ve learned. By God’s design, these iris tubers were meant to cling together. I worked up a sweat stabbing and pulling at the clump of roots, bent on breaking them apart, bringing them under control so that I could have my way with them.

Finally, I set aside the spade and stood back. The clump wasn’t giving and all my hacking was just causing damage to the tubers. So, I knelt down, dusted away the mess I was making and began gently pulling at the tangles. Soon, with patience and dirt under my nails, I had spread them into a manageable cluster that I could lay in the soil alongside the pond. I pushed dirt over their shallow roots and scooped water to give them a good start.130628_0007

As I sat, admiring my handiwork in the evening sunlight, I thought about some of the hacking, stabbing and pulling I’ve been doing lately in other areas of my life. A little wrestling, too.

The tangles that families create as they cling together are challenging.

And busy lives can cause us to leave matters untended for too long. When we finally dig them up and examine them, we’re often brutal in our attempts to straighten out the mess… make sense of the clump we call “relationships”. There may still be beauty and promise, but sometimes what’s required is a bit of gentle, patient tearing away and dusting off for real growth to occur. And sometimes we have to get to work and get our hands dirty before we will see results.

My friend assured me that I couldn’t kill the iris, that it would take a lot of brutal hacking and still survive. I’m not so sure that’s the case with relationships. Unlike a tough tuber, our family roots can be fragile and easily wounded. After we cut away at the tangles of our personal lives, there’s still mending, watering and nurturing to be done for the relationship to not only survive, but flourish.

It takes time, sorting it out and making sense of the tangle. And it can be exhausting. But the rewards…….

My wrestling match with the iris left me wanting a little rest and peace, rather than the long hike I had planned. It turned out to be a good evening for a “float”, and for a little thinking, praying and sorting it out.



  1. photosbyandy

    floating is always fun

  2. Aunt Lila

    It’s almost eleven at night but for some reason I searched for you newest writing..I knew there had to be something new and sure enough here it is..How strange, coincident? I think not..My son calmed me as I tore at roots tonight and I will sleep like a least that is my hope..funny how if you will only let it be you can learn so much from your children..God Bless you Ingrid, and good night..

    • Ingrid Lochamire

      Just when we ask God for patience, He comes up with ways for us to practice that very virtue. Hard to remember that our kids are God’s first, ours second. Bless you, Lila!

  3. Shanda Hb Easterday

    Maybe we should have sat down together and untangled that mass of Iris, instead of peacefully going to lunch and catching up. Afterthoughts…..

    • Ingrid Lochamire

      I enjoyed our peaceful lunch and conversation too much to have wanted to trade it for untangling iris!

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